After seeing the puffins last night, we left the campsite in Bakkagerði at approximately 9:30 to see our little feathered friends at Hafnarholmi. We were ecstatic to have visited them last night as they clearly had gone out for their morning fish, leaving a sparse amount of numbers left on the ridges that were covered in orange beaks only 12 hours ago. Instead, they had been replaced by squawking gulls whom had decimated the beauty of the rock with their irritable bowels. Before leaving this remote, minute village, we stopped to take a few photos of the Linderbakki House, a little red home sheltered by grass. The house is owned by Elísabet Sveinsdóttir (85) and she lives in Kópavogur town during the winter, as it’s extremely difficult to survive the extreme weather here. The locals help her maintain the home and even give her a hand mowing the roof!
3 hours of driving then ensued, to get us to the Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls in the north. We’ve completely exhausted the playlist at this point and I’ve resorted to making my own lyrics about Iceland’s scenery. That’s to be shared another day…! The drive was what you’d expect of Iceland, scenic, ever-changing, expansive & of course a random chair to take photos along the way! I think they may put these things in just to stop drivers from going crazy from all the monotonous straight roads!
We arrived at Dettifoss & Selfoss at 12:45 and spent an hour and twenty minutes here, including dining overlooking nature. There’s a third, less populated waterfall that’s just so close to the primary waterfalls called Hafragilsfoss. We opted out as this, on paper, was our busiest day and although they’re all stunning, we were slowly getting all waterfall’ed out! Still, the pictures hopefully capture it’s magnificence. It was also our 5th consecutive day of brown rice, lentils, spinach and sardines. Healthy, yes. Monotony, yes!
After an hour, we took the relatively short drive over to Namafjall Hverir. As per usual, there were an infinite amount of opportunities for photo’s, including a stray white love heart chair overlooking the volcanic activity. Hverir, looking like a set from The Martian (or any Mars based film), it’s easily identifiable. Not just by the boiling mudpots and fumaroles but more so by the horrifically eggy sulphuric smell. As pig wrote in our diary, “geothermal areas smell f**king dreadful” (Piggy, 2017). Overshadowed by the Namafjall mountain, this geothermal area provides a whole host of colours to be in awe over whilst battling the migraine the sulphuric smell gives off. There’s hikes to various crates from here but after writing our names in the mud, we thought we’d left our mark and hopped in the van across the road to Krafla. This was piggy’s & my favourite landscape, a real stunner and unique to the world.
Krafla’s caldera is approximately 10km in diameter, with a depth of up to 2km! Interesting fact – Krafla includes one of the two best known “Viti” craters in Iceland. Viti is defined as hell in Icelandic to which people often believed hell to be under volcanoes. How satanic… To arrive at Krafla, there’s the drive through the geothermal power station to the top which is intriguing in itself, followed by plenty of hikes around the craters. As we were pushed for time, we ran to one, got trigger happy on the camera and drove to our next stop, Grjotagja Cave.
Grjotagja Cave is a little local gem used for bathing in the winter and tourists in the summer. It’s too hot in the summer for a dip and after doing a little heat test myself, I can confirm that it’s blooming boiling! It got to this point where we couldn’t believe all these magical places were in such a small circumference, yet here we were. It’s great to look around and reminisce about Jon Snow finally getting his way with Ygritte, for all you Game of Thrones fans!
Dimmuborgir was next on the list and yet we still hadn’t drove more than 40km in this area. Astounding. Another perplexingly different landscape, these coagulated rocky formations that wouldn’t look out of place in another sci-fi biopic are unique to only Iceland and off-shore Mexico. It’s also home to Gryla, an old homicidal troll and their sons, the Yule lads, which are now linked to Christmas. Strange how old folklore pans out sometimes. There are numerous paths to take in the park, varying from 20 minutes to 2 hours, all with their own unique blend of rocky goodness.
AND FINALLY, we came to an end in the Myvatn area with a lovely snack around Lake Myvatn at the Cowshed Cafe (££) (but in our opinion (££££)!). We sat outside and had a magnificent view and clearly picked our times well, as we were “treated” to seeing the cows being milked at 6PM and given a complimentary shot of cows milk. They do a morning time too, in case you needed more calcium in your life. For food, we sampled Arctic Char, a fish in the salmon and trout family, with a smokier flavour to that of smoked salmon. It was accompanied by geyser bread, a local delicacy, that is fermented in soil for 24 hours, giving it a delicately sweet taste and being irritably moorish.
Finally, we were leaving the Myvatn area. Or so we thought. We’d initially planned to visit Godafoss Waterfall, otherwise known as the Waterfall of the Gods. Rather enticing name, right? We’re glad we made the trek. As I wanted to be different, I chose this as my favourite waterfall of the trip. The shape, the power, the depletion of tourists around made my experience truly memorable. I’ll leave the pictures here, I think that’s all I need to say.
What felt like an eternity of a day was almost over and we headed over to Camping Ólafsfjörður, at the very North peak of Iceland. Due to it not being summer season, there were no signs of life here and we genuinely believed we pulled onto a random field. The village was quaint, with no more than 100 residents but was home to a mini ski resort with a very cute ski-jump by the campsite. A sports centre was there for a swim too. We actually ended up camping on a dirt path in Siglufjordur as we weren’t willing to pay the price for the camping, as there were minimal facilities. We had our strangest story of the trip here though, meeting a New Zealand footballer called Ben who had moved to Iceland to pursue his football/soccer dream in the third division of Icelandic football. Being knowledgeable in the sport, I know that’s not the most competitive league and bearing in mind there was absolutely zero going on there, it was bizarre how he was coping, especially as his part time job was working in a fish factory. Oh well, thanks for the memories Ben!