Its been a sublime few days here in Iceland since my last post - Hot pools, Icebergs and loads of other weird stuff...... Heres what happened between Sunday Morning and Tuesday night,,,,,
On Sunday we woke at 4am when the sun come up but managed to get back to sleep and veg out till after 9am when we finally got up. After a quick breakfast and a bit of map planning we got our hiking gear and set out for the day. Everyone else on the camp site was headed uphill toward the top of Skaftafell and the view of the glaciers, but we have both seen many glaciers and so headed off along the valley floor where we were in search of hidden treasures.
The hike was fairly easy until we started to come across rivers and the flooded vegetation surrounding them. We had to remove shoes many times and wade through and across rivers made up of waters cascading down from the frozen glaciers above. It was rather chilly on the toes!
At one of these river crossings we came across a huge rock in the river which when we explored it had a hidden lagoon behind it and a place where you could scramble up and onto the rock itself. We nicknamed this place ‘Sunday Secret Cove’ and spent a while exploring it and the deep pools made by the rushing waters, before building a small rock stack and moving on.
We were nearing our destination by early afternoon and after one more cold river crossing we saw a small pathway leading upwards away from the main track...we followed it and after a hundred metres or so came across a stream with a manmade rock dam across. This was the destination for the day...a small dirty stinking pool of water halfway up a hill. But this wasn’t a normal dirty stinking pool of water, this was a dirty stinking pool of Geothermally heated water about the same temperature as a good bath, but with amazing views down over the valley to the volcano opposite and the glacier sitting just below on the horizon. If this pool was in a hotel, the hotel would be a very very expensive one. We got down to our shorts and sat down in the lovely warm water where we stayed for the next hour. At one point I accidentally knocked a rock out of the dam and the water started to gush away, but we plugged the gap and made it even better than when we arrived. The clouds were gathering above the hills opposite and we thought of all the tourists up there covered in fog and not seeing a thing whilst we enjoyed our little piece of paradise.
|Whats the best view you had from a bathroom?|
|Not too shabby|
Eventually it was time to return and so we dressed and walked back the two hours or so the campsite and a quick look at the Jokull glacier that sits at the end of a short path. It was then time for a well deserved huge bowl of the nicest soup I have had in ages. We don’t know what type of meat was in it, but it was delicious and filled us up after a great day out.
Day 3 continued in the amazing way that day 2 had happened.... We were up early and I packed up the tent quickly whilst Buffy checked her work emails quickly in her new outdoor office. Then we were on our way around the south eastern part of the country. We stopped a couple of times for photo opportunities and also when other tourists stopped in the middle of the road to take photos! We have actually just spent a while in a sauna with an Icelander who hates tourists who stop in the middle of the road and after today I wholeheartedly agree with him! Knobs!
Anyway at one such photo stop for us we pulled off the side of the road and were greeted by the sight of hundreds of icebergs floating majestically in a small lagoon on their way to the ocean after falling from the end of a glacier. One of the best sights I have seen in Iceland so far and just indescribable. We crossed the road to a black volcanic beach where some of these huge lumps of ice had washed ashore and you could carefully climb onto them and touch the thousand year old ice before it melted. A great and mind numbing morning.
After stopping for a spot of lunch we spent the afternoon driving the magnificent roads through the Eastern fjords, sometimes on hard tarmac and others on slippy gravel roads alongside steep dangerous cliffs. We passed through some small fishing villages and towns before hitting the main road again and crossing a desolate volcanic landscape past stunning mountains and through torrential rain to our destination for the evening – Myvatn Lake and a lovely little campsite overlooking the water.
|Messing about on the beach|
|I hope it doesnt float away|
After putting the tent up we –retraced out steps to the local and awesome geothermal pools, where we spent the evening lounging in the heated waters and moving between the sauna, steam room and lovely warm pools - we even joined the crowd and took a couple of cold beers in there to while away the evening. A fantastic little place that we are both now sat above watching the sun go down over the steam laden earth and glad to be alive after another great day.
|An abandoned farmhouse - Beautiful views|
|Is it a mountain or a Pyramid!?|
|Not a bad place for a beer|
The night was interesting with strong winds and lots of rain. As we were in our little tent we enjoyed huddling together to keep warm even though it was actually quite nice inside our bags. The morning arrived without a break in the winds and so we left our heavy bags in the tent to hold it down while we went out for the day. A quick look around the local church which survived a lava flow a few years back when it was deflected by the cemetery walls and we headed off out of town. First stop was a lake in an old volcanic crater. It was snowing when we arrived but it didn’t stop us wandering around and taking in the views of the lake as well as the hot pools and geothermal power station nearby with steam rising high into the air and the noise like a fighter jet taking off. We also spotted a random fountain by the side of the road with no signage or explanation. We stopped to look closer to discover it was a warm fountain of thermally heated water! Have a think – have you ever seen a warm water fountain!? We have and we gave our pet duck ‘Digby’ a little ride on the spurting flume before heading onwards.
|Digby having a wash in the warm fountain|
|The entrance and power station pipes|
|Peaceful and colourful lake Krafla|
|Crazy and mental Dettifoss falls|
|Surviving church and lava flows|
Then we saw what we both agree are the greatest waterfalls we have ever seen. Dettifoss is a dirty grey waterfall that falls over 70 metres into a steep ravine. But they have the highest volume of any waterfall in Europe. The thing is though, most waterfalls are pretty to look at with rainbows and the like, but Dettifoss is dirty and noisy and dangerous looking. Buffy described the water falling like you could see hands and faces in again as they fell into the depths of hell and I agree. It is the scariest falls we have even seen and the noisiest and we both loved them. The cold windy day made it even more awesome and even though we were soaked we didn’t want to leave. Interestingly Dettifoss is known as ‘Death Falls’. Brilliant!
After the falls we drove to the North coast and the furthest north either of us has been (We think) The road was just a gravel track and we drove hard and fast to have a bit of fun before hitting the swirling winds of the coastal road, where we nearly got blown off the road a few times. The sea up there was wild and the waves huge, so after nearly losing the car door at one stop, we decided to spend a while in a cute little cafe in the town of Husavik to rest and recuperate with a coffee and a chat with the locals.
|A boat called FANNEY!!|
|hUH? wHAT WHY? aYE? wE HAVE nO IDEA!|
|The cute cafe where we spent a while!|
After our rest we left the little cafe and were surprised to see a clearer day outside, so we took a wander around the cute little seaside town. The harbour was really pretty with lots of fishing boats and the views over the bay to the mountains beyond. There was also a fishing boat called ‘Fanney’...class! We also tried one of the local chocolate bars which was basically a Liquorice all-sort covered in chocolate called ‘Tromp’. It was delicious!
|Digby enjoys the dirt roads|
|On the beach with mountains behind|
|Bread baked in the hot earth! Yum!|
We drove out of town and found a private little beach where we could take in the views over the raging ocean to the snow-capped mountains behind. We really could have stayed there all afternoon, but it was still quite windy and cold, so after a while we drove the hour or so back to our campsite.
The tent had survived the days weather and we were hungry so stopped at the store in town to get a hot sandwich for dinner and pick up some of the local bread which is actually cooked under the ground in pits, where the heat caramelises the added sugar of the bread making it quite sweet and tasty – a bit like a malt loaf. We saved most of the bread for breakfast in the morning and after a quick drink of ‘Krap’, in a local cafe we brought an end to day 4 of our Iceland Epic venture. It’s been yet another fantastic day. Even the wild weather couldn’t spoil our enjoyment of the local sights and hospitality.
Thats it for the last two days. This has been one of the longest posts I have ever posted with more photos than most. Iceland is an amazing place and we still have two and a half days left! More to follow soon!! Thanks for reading!!
|Buff on a distant hillside taking photos|