Around Iceland

06/28/2016 - 07/17/2016
by kuba10


DAY 1 - flight from Prague via Rome to Keflavík

DAY 2 - Grabrok Crater, thermal bath

DAY 3 - Snaefellsnes, Snaefellsnesjökull, Arnastapi, the Lóndrangar, Helgafell

DAY 4 - the Westfjords - Rauðasandur Beach, Látravík, Breidavík, thermal bath

DAY 5 - the Westfjords - Dynjandi waterfall, seals

DAY 6 - Vatnsnes peninsula, Hólar

DAY 7 - Goðafoss, Húsavík, Ásbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss, Selfoss

DAY 8 - whale-watching in Húsavík, Hverir, Krafla, Mývatn Lake

DAY 9 - Dimmuborgir lava field, Hverfell Crater, Mývatn Lake, Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters, Höfði

DAY 10 - the Eastfjords - reindeers

DAY 11 - Lónsöræfi, Vatnajökull, Jökulsárlón, Svínafell campsite

DAY 12 - Skaftafell, Svartifoss, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Vík

DAY 13 - Skógafoss, airplane wreckage, thermal bath

DAY 14 - Eyjafjallajökull, Gjáin valley, Hekla

DAY 15 - hiking Hekla (1 491 metres), Landmannalaugar

DAY 16 - Landmannalaugar - hike to Sudurnámur (920 metres)

DAY 17 - Geysir, Strokkur, Gullfoss, Þingvellir

DAY 18 - Reykjanes, Grindavík, Gardur Lighthouse, Blue Lagoon

DAY 19 - Reykjavík

DAY 20 - flight from Keflavík via Rome to Prague

DAY 1-2 - Grabrok Crater, thermal bath

We have decided to explore the country of fire and ice - Iceland. To see the most of the country we rented a car and tried to go around all country in less than 3 weeks.

After long travel from Prague we landed on Keflavík airport around 2 A.M. We picked up our car and tried to find some place to build our tent and sleep. We succeeded after a while and we could finally go to sleep. It was very cold and rainy night, but we were tired after long travel, so we were sleeping like babies.

When we woke up, weather got better, so it lighted up our mood and we could start exploring Iceland. Iceland caught us right from beginning, amazing sceneries everywhere you go, green or white mountains or fjords.

Our first stop was Grabrok pseudocrater. It is very interesting phenomena. It resembles true volcanic crater, but it was formed by steamy explosions as flowing hot lava crosses over a wet surface like lake.

First night in real Icelandic nature was very special thanks to hidden thermal bath we found after crossing our first lava field.

DAY 3 - Snaefellsnes, Snaefellsnesjökull, Arnastapi, the Lóndrangar, Malariff Lighthouse, Helgafell

Our next stop is Snaefellsnes peninsula with Snaefellsnesjökull volcano. The mountain is known for its entrance to the center of the Earth from novel Journey to the Center of the Earth written by Jules Verne.

First thing we saw on this peninsula was amazing rock breeze. We continued to small village Arnastapi with cliffs and a lot of Artic terns that were attacking us when we came closer to their nests. It was like from Hitchcock's horror.

From Arnastapi route lead us to the Lóndrangar a pair of rock pinnacles. We could see also Malariff Lighthouse from viewpoint of the Lóndrangar.

We ended the day by climbing to the top of Helgafell (73 metres) - the "holy mountain".

DAY 4 - the Westfjords - Rauðasandur Beach, Látravík, Breidavík, thermal bath

We entered the Westfjords today. First we headed to Raudasandur Beach that is known for its red sand. It is amazing large beach and we were lucky to have amazing weather, sun was shining, although there was strong cold wind, but it is impossible to avoid it in Westfjords.

After hanging out at the beach we continued our way to the one of the westernmost point of Europe Látravík. This geographical fact was not the thing that brought us here. Our aim was to see colony of puffins and other birds. Puffins are very cute birds, kind of looking like parrots. The wind was very strong, so we had to be careful at the edge of cliffs.

When we played enough with puffins, we continued to Breidavík Guesthouse for coffee, chocolate cake and free WI-FI. What is the better way to wash out your fatigue than another thermal bath, this time right by the road?

DAY 5 - the Westfjords - Dynjandi waterfall, seals

We went on through the Westfjords to reach Dynjandi waterfall that is 99 metres high and 30 metres wide. We encountered a lot of species from local fauna. Especially meeting seals in their natural environment was great experience. We met a lot of birds as well. Colony of Arctic terns, Common redshank or Eurasian oystercatcher.

DAY 6 - Vatnsnes peninsula, Hólar

This day was a "hunt" for seals. Not a real hunt, we just wanted to see them again. There is quite big colony on Vatnsnes peninsula. They are under supervision of guardians and scientists that are studying the impact of tourism on this colony and try to keep the right distance between seals and tourists. This colony was very lazy comparing to the one from yesterday. It was probably because of weather. Sun was shining, so seals were sunbathing on rocks.

On the way to Hólar we encountered beautiful family of Icelandic horses. It is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. They are smaller than normal horse, but they are long-lived and hardy. It is forbidden to import horses in Iceland and when they export Icelandic horses, they cannot get back.

In Hólar we saw typical old houses with grass on their roofs.

We were sleeping in our tents under supervision of omnipresent sheep. We have nearly 2 000 kilometres behind us.

DAY 7 - Goðafoss, Húsavík, Ásbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss, Selfoss

Our first stop on this day was Godafoss that was a bit disappointing. Nice waterfall, but a lot of tourists everywhere. If we had skipped it, nothing would have happened. We continued towards Húsavík for whale-watching, but another disappoitment was waiting for us. Weather was not good, there was a strong wind and big waves, so they didn't recommend us to go. It was wise decision to postpone it to next day.

Instead of whale-watching we went to Ásbyrgi Canyon, where we went for a short walk. The road was one of the toughest we experienced on our trip. 

After that we moved to perhaps the most powerful waterfall in Iceland Dettifoss. It was imposing view of how strong water could be. We were on the bad side of waterfall, because all water gushing from it was going on our side, so we were completely wet after couple of minutes. Nevertheless we went for a walk to smaller Selfoss waterfall lying in walking distance from Dettifoss. They both lie in moon landscape in the middle of nowhere. No wonder American astronauts were practising in this area.


DAY 8 - whale-watching in Húsavík, Hverir, Krafla, lake Mývatn

We woke up at beautiful place to amazing weather as you can see from photos. It was good idea to postpone our whale-watching in Húsavík. When we arrived to Húsavík, we boarded ship called Sylvia. We saw many whales, firstly far away from us, but one humpback whale emerged right next to our ship and scared us a little bit. It was great 3-hours boat trip full of humpback whales.

We headed towards Mývatn Lake full of emotions. Meeting such giant animals was great experience. Firstly we stopped at geothermal field called Hverir. It is area with pools of boiling mud, hot springs and hissing chimneys.

Then we moved to Krafla. Krafla is volcanic area including the crater Víti. The Icelandic word Víti means "hell" and it couldn't be more appropriate. The surrounding area looks like Mordor from The Lord of the Rings.

DAY 9 - Dimmuborgir lava field, Hverfell Crater, Mývatn Lake, Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters, Höfði

We stretched our muscles this day. First we were walking through Dimmuborgir lava field until we arrived to Hverfell Crater. It offers amazing view of Mývatn Lake. The lake was created by a large lava eruption and the surrounding landscape is dominated by volcanic landforms, including lava pillars and pseudocraters.

Pseudocraters Skútustaðagígar were our next aim. There is a small group of pseudocraters, you can walk on. It is also good place for birdwatching. On our way from Mývatn Lake we stopped at small green "peninsula" Höfði. Then we were heading towards the Eastfjords and towards next adventures.

DAY 10 - the Eastfjords - reindeers

We continue our trip through Egilsstaðir to the Eastfjords. This area was one of the best we have seen in Iceland. Pointed peaks of mountains sticking out to black beaches. Black beaches are made of small stones or black sand and they make the fjords unique. We stop every now and then and enjoying spectacular views.

We also met wild reindeers. They crossed the road right in front of our car, so we stopped the car immediately and tried to follow them and take nice photo.

We ended our day at amazing hidden place in beautiful valley between mountains.

DAY 11 - Lónsöræfi, Vatnajökull, Jökulsárlón, Svínafell campsite

After waking up we were heading to Höfn to check our car and give it a proper maintenance, because it deserved it after such a long and exhausting way.

When we are done, we go to glacier valley Lónsöræfi, or Thor's Valley as it is sometimes called. It is amazing scenery with maze of streams going from glaciers and colourful mountains around. We wanted to get as deep to the valley as possible, but soon we ran into big river crossing and were too scared to cross it with our Duster.

Our path was slowly taking us to Vatnajökull - the biggest glacier of Iceland and the second biggest glacier in Europe. We wanted to get as closest to the glacier as possible. We took a road with very steep ascending and got from zero to 800 metres in very short time. We were rewarded with great view of glacier.

Glacier was the theme of this day, because we visited also glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón. It is one of the hits of Iceland, so the place was swamped with tourists and amphibious vehicles cruising the lagoon. Nevertheless the lagoon is amazing and it is worth it. If you are already there, don't miss the beach where parts of glaciers are casted up. If you are lucky, you can meet seals as well.

Since Vatnajökull is protected area and camping is forbidden, we chose to sleep at Svínafell campsite.


DAY 12 - Skaftafell, Svartifoss, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Vík

To rest a little bit from all the driving, we went to Skaftafell. We were walking a short circuit including Svartifoss - very photogenic waterfall thanks to its basalt panorama and view of one part of Vatnajökull

Our next stop is spectacular canyon with tricky name Fjaðrárgljúfur. When you look at the photo it doesn't even seem real, it looks like painted.

Small town Vík is popular for its black beaches, rocks and cliffs and those were the reasons why we stopped there as well.

We spent this night in green "matcha" valley that really looked like sprinkled with green matcha powder.

DAY 13 - Skógafoss, airplane wreckage, thermal bath

Skógafoss was for me one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen on Iceland. There lies the beginning of famous trail Laugavegur and we went up the waterfall and walked along the river. We have to definitely get back for this trail one day.

Our next task is to find airplane wreckage of Dakota. It used to be possible to go with car to the plane, but the road is closed now and you have to walk around 4 kilometres there and 4 kilometres back. It was perhaps the worst idea of our trip. The route seems like never ending and the wreckage itself is nothing special.

We had to lighten our mood with thermal bath. This time in large pool and with other tourists, but the valley and view from the pool is breath-taking.

DAY 14 - Eyjafjallajökull, Gjáin valley, Hekla

We wanted to get to Thórsmörk valley from the other side of the river to avoid big river crossing, but we were not able to get there with our Duster. However we could have finally seen volcano with hard-to-pronounce name Eyjafjallajökull. Eruption of this volcano in 2010 caused collapse of air transport. Actually it didn't look dangerously, just a small hill covered with ice and snow.

What we were approaching was much more dangerous - stratovolcano Hekla. On our way there we made a short break at beautiful hidden Gjáin valley with Thor's hammer. Then we headed to Hekla, visited its museum and spent the night at its foot. 

DAY 15 - hiking Hekla (1 491 metres), Landmannalaugar

Stratovolcano Hekla is one of the most active volcano in Iceland. When you compare it to Eyjafjallajökull it is like comparing puppies and grizzly bears. Hekla is the bear. It is also called "the Gateway to Hell". The longer Hekla is dormant, the bigger eruption is expected. And now it is couple of years late with its regular eruption. Perfect time for climbing this mountain.

We wanted to get with car to upper parking lot, but there were some landslides blocking the way up. So we had to leave our car at the very foot of Hekla and walk the way up. We met mountain guide with his group and he asked us: "Do you know this area is active?"

Me: "Yes, of course we do."

Mountain guide: "OK, so when you see us running down, you should run as well."

On our way up we had to overcome old lava fields with sharp basalt stones, fields of volcanic ash making you go one step up and two steps down and also snow fields. Orientation in first half of trail was quite easy. The second part was worse and we were just assuming the right path. Nevertheless we safely reached the top and enjoyed beautiful view of surrounding scenery.

When we got back to our car, we went straight to Landmannalaugar - "the Rainbow Mountains". The road was very bumpy and we enjoyed our first big river crossing in front of Landmannalaugar campsite. When we reached the campsite, heavy rain came. Campsite was full of people and very loud. Fog came with heavy rain and helicopters and big off-road cars of mountain rescue service were active all night. It wasn't warm welcome to Landmannalaugar.

DAY 16 - Landmannalaugar - hike to Sudurnámur (920 metres)

The weather got luckily better next morning. Sun was shining and we were able to enjoy beauty of Landmannalaugar at its fullest. We went for a hike over Sudurnámur mountain. I would like to describe how amazing Landmannalaugar looks, but I don't have enough words to describe it. Just look at the pictures and enjoy yourself.

DAY 17 - Geysir, Strokkur, Gullfoss, Þingvellir

We crossed the river in the morning again and took a bumpy road away from Landmannalaugar. We went to Golden Circle - Geysir, Gullfoss and Þingvellir. If you went to Iceland only for couple of days, these are the spots you would definitely visit, but they are not meant for adventure souls looking for unexplored spots.

First stop was Geysir that gave name to this phenomenon. However Geysir stopped erupting, because people were throwing stones in it and block it. His smaller brother Strokkur is on the other hand still active and erupts every 10 minutes.

After that we went to Gullfoss. We have seen many waterfalls on our trip and were not expecting much, but Gullfoss was nice surprise.

Our last stop was area called Þingvellir. It is the place where national parliament of Iceland was founded. The area is also interesting in terms of geography. There is a canyon that was created by the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates.

DAY 18 - Reykjanes, Grindavík, Gardur Lighthouse, Blue Lagoon

We wanted to spend this day by relaxing in Blue Lagoon. It is a spa with warm seawater that is rich with minerals such as silica. When we got there, we were surprised that all day is booked and there is no space for us. We had to book time from 10 PM.

As alternative plan we chose to go around Reykjanes peninsula and visited few birdwatching spots, but it was raining all day, so it was hard to enjoy ourselves. We also made a short break in Gardur with two photogenic lighthouses. To cheer up we went for a good lunch in Grindavík. It is small fishing village with great restaurants known for its fresh products. Our meals were delicious.

Our night in Blue Lagoon was perfect end of our trip. It wasn't as swamped with people as during day time and at the end of our stay, there were only few other people with us. Blue Lagoon is a little expensive, but we didn't regret to go there at all.

DAY 19 - Reykjavík

Our last day in Iceland started with packing all our staff in Grindavík campsite. We made a short break at two lakes on our way to the capital of Iceland Reykjavík. Reykjavík is small town that does not offer many landmarks. The most famous one is Hallgrímskirkja church.

After saying goodbye to Reykjavík we headed to Keflavík airport where we returned our car and prepared for flight back home.

To sum up our trip I have to say that Iceland got me from beginning until the end. It is country full of amazingly varied nature, so it is perfect for wanderer's souls that like exploring hidden places. I just hope that horde of tourists that travel to Iceland every year don't change or ruin this magical place. It is everyone's responsibility to behave and be considerate, so other generations have the same opportunity to explore this country as we did.

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