May 8th – 22nd.
… and I came back for another tour of the Westfjords and the North of Iceland.
Another walk at the shore in the morning to say goodbye to the seal, but unfortunately it didn’t show up again.
Continuing East, I stopped around lunch time at the small town of Djupivogour, to get coffee and cake. Like at many places in Iceland, you get free table water as well as free refills on coffee – so nice!
Arriving at Egilsstadir really made clear to me that my round trip on Iceland was coming to an end. This was the first town stop I did after arriving with the ferry. Now it was my last stop to shop for some snacks for the 3 days ferry ride via Faroe to Denmark. The Bonus supermarket there is the first and last supermarket stop on Iceland probably for many who come by ferry.
I drove the last 30min to the ferry terminal at Seydisfjoerdur through fog and light snowfall. Iceland really showed how true this saying is: If you do not like the weather on Iceland, just wait 5 minutes.
Checked in at the ferry at 5.45pm, I was on board with my van shortly later. I looked like the ferry would be quite empty again – besides a handful of cars, a number of buses and container trailers were loading. I expected to leave at 8pm – surprisingly the ship left 7pm. The ship schedule followed the official ship time which is Faroe time, so one hour ahead of Iceland now. Lucky me I was early enough. 😉
Thank you Iceland! You rough beauty. Land of fire and ice, sunshine, snow and rain and storm, of solitude in the North and mass tourism in the South.
I came looking for a wide open country and solitude, what I found was so much more. So much contrast, constant change. I met a number of inspiring people. I lost my heart here. Tears of joy and goodbye. I will come back.
Spotted a reindeer around the campground again in the morning – maybe the same one from last night?
Drove on East to Stokksness with its famous black beach and rocky coast. There was an old viking village, a possible movie location nearby. Really looked like the great Viking series might have been shot here.
After that, walked along the coast, looking for seals at the black beach but no luck. Still a special landscape with the beach and mountain so close.
The ring road followed the shore closely. I stopped to take photos.
There were hundreds of swans! Impressive view with the sun setting. The photos can’t really catch this scene.
For my last night on Iceland (for this trip ;-)), I wanted a wild camping spot again. The Hvalnes lighthouse turned out to be beautiful spot for that. At the evening walk along the shore there, a quick glance of a seal! Beautiful round black face appearing in the waves, just for 3, 4 seconds, then gone again. Just like with unexpected spotting of the whales at Gardur – these few seconds gave me a long lasting smile, feeling happy, lucky and connected.
I stood there for a good while, maybe hoping for another glance. But I was happy and content.
“God never made an ugly landscape. All that sun shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild.”
– John Muir
The sound of rain on the car roof that night made this such a beautiful evening – could not ask for more. Except maybe more time on Iceland.
Had slept very well with popped up roof, plugged in electrity. Cozy and warm, snuggled in. Glamping. Woke up around 8am… planning to get some laundry done. What a great camping ground! Not only has the Skaftafell NP campground nice and clean grounds, toilets and showers – next to the visitor center are also washing machine and dryer free for use. After starting laundry, the campground was still quiet. Had a delicious breakfast with freshly made scrambled eggs and onion – surely making other campers jeaoulus with the nice smell. I walked a bit to an empty area and did a short drone flight, just taking some photos of the beautiful mountain landscape around me from above (see first photo of this post). Even the camping fee was cheap comparing to other campsite. Definitely my most favorite campground on Iceland so far – but finding wild spots is still the best. 😉
With the laundry done and dry, I left for a hike aiming for a 10-12km loop trail. As I climbed higher and higher, the views become more and more gorgeous. So much beauty around me. Passed a few waterfalls, one with remarkable basalt columns.
Pushed on further for a higher spot for a lunch snack. Even though it was a short hike only, no more tourists walked around here. A lunch break with a view so beautiful I won’t forget. Watched the mountains, the moving clouds. In the flat lands towards the sea, dark clouds formed and some dust or sand storms raced through the open lands. I planned to hike around two peaks, but at this altitude, there was already so much snow that following the trail all the way would be difficult if not impossible without proper gear.
With the clouds getting darker and closer, I hiked back and got ready to move on further East.
Could not get far before the next stop. A glacier reached so close to the ring road that I had to stop right away. A really bumpy road with a warning 4WD cars only led me to a parking right next the the glacier.
With the bumpy road, not too many other tourists were around. So after enjoying the beauty of the icebergs for a while, I took another drone flight. Still careful about possible winds and gusts specifically, I did just a very short fly around. But that’s exactly the footage why I brought the drone in the first place.
Back on the road, I followed the advice from Iceland veteran Herbert.
I did not stop at the famous iceberg sightseeing spot at Joekulsarlon but a bit before at Breidarlon. Also there, a small store offered boat rides around the icebergs but I chose just to walk around the shore. It got more windy, cloudy and with that colder by now. But that didnt make the view less magnificent, just the photos more difficult with so little contrasts between the massive glacier and the grey skies.
I continued East on the ring road, checking out a possible location for the night just before Hoefn. The dirt road leading there was narrow and started to get more and more muddy. I did not want to get on private lands and potentially even get stuck there… so I opted for an easier alternative and drove to the Hoefn campground. Just opposite of a gas station with small shop, it is located an the beginning of the small town. Drove up all the way up and to the end with nice view on the town and the nearby water and meadows. I spotted a reindeer just below grazing. This campground is really basic – most facilities were broken resp not working, still they were asking a steep price.
With the good feeling that I had actually given some wear to my hiking boots today, I fell asleep.
After a good night in the van, I left the Fludir campground in the morning going South towards the ring road. But one more stop was planned before – the Kerid crater respectively crater lake.
Even from a distance, you could see lots of people walking along the crest of the crater. Yes, I am still in the golden triangle. This was the first attraction that actually asked for an entrance fee. I did the walk around as well as walking town to the frozen crater lake. It was one of the places where you really see how Iceland is struggling with mass tourism. Even though there were marked trails and lots of fenced off areas with the respective signs, the whole area was disturbed, the grass destroyed.
I am a tourist too, contributing to this situation. But I wished more people would stick to the paths to keep the impact to Iceland’s beautiful nature as small as possible.
Continued towards the ring road. Arriving at ring road, taking the road South East towards Vik. Next stop was the beautiful waterfall Seljalandsfoss – the one where you can walk behind the waterfall itself, so you get a 360 degree perspective on the water falling.
Quite special – and quite wet. 🙂 I loved the water spray in my face. Standing there in my rain gear in the wet wind, this took me right back to the last weeks hiking the Pacific Crest trail in Washington. Oh PCT – I miss you so.
But I only brought two weeks for Iceland, not like the 5 months for the Pacific Crest Trail. So I kept driving on, further on to the Skogafoss waterfall. In search of Wifi, I took a coffee break in the restaurant there. No Wifi… :-p but a salad. Around 5pm, I walked up to Skogafoss, stair cases leading up offering a nice view from the platform above.
I passed the famous airplance wreck/respectively the parking for it at the ring road. My plan was to visit the wreck at sunrise next day – with maybe less other tourists around. So I drove on Dyrholaey lighthouse. At 630pm in really strong winds, it seemd like I would not be lucky to see birds. The winds were so strong that I could barely open my car door.
I didn’t give up on internet yet, so I drove into the town Vik in search of Wifi. It turned out the biggest store of the town (Icewear) had a connected coffee shop with decent internet. I stayed there backing up photos and blogging until being kicked out at the shop’s closure at 9pm.
As planned, I returned to the airplane wreck parking for the night. No other cars, looking good. Plan to get up 4.40am next day to make the one hour walk to the wreck before dawn.
After a late breakfast, I continued South towards Reykjavik. Stopped at a Bonus supermarket to get food for the next days. Food is not that expensive in Iceland if you buy at Bonus. It is still higher priced than in Germany, but Germany has quite low prices. Many of the products I bought like fruits and vegetables from Spain or Italy have just the same packaging like in the German supermarkets.
I checked into the Grimur hotel, a nice yet affordable hotel with self checkin. Drove into downtown, visited a nearby barbershop for a quick trim. Rakarastofa Ragnars & Hardar – Highly recommendable. Then I walked downtown to see some sightseeing spots like the famous church Hallgrimskirkja and the Harpa concert hall where a StarWars piece was playing.
Had my best (and first) fish and chips in Iceland at the Reykjavik Fish restaurant. Before heading back, I stopped at Perlan, an exhibition center/water tower at a top of a hill with a good view on Reykjavik. They had an exhibition on Iceland’s flora and fauna and its vulcanos – quite interesting and well done.
Had an early start with lots of driving planned for today. I wanted to make it into the Westfjords, even if just for a day or so. And of course I needed a hotpot – something you get used to way too quickly as a daily treat on Iceland.
Stopped at a campsite near Burdaladur for a quick fresh up. Shortly after, I stopped at the hotpot Gudrunalaug, just a bit off road 60. Blown away by the beauty of this natural hotpot with a view into the snow covered mountains, I forgot to take photos. There is a old small wooden building where you can leave your clothes just next to it. I had the hotpot for myself, forgot the time and fell asleep a few times. Two hours later, I continued way too relaxed on the road 60 North.
The ride turned out very beautiful – and long. Road 60 follows the South coast of the Westfjords. It is a winding road with lots of hills to climbs, turns and changing weather and road conditions. Some parts are unpaved and very steep. I felt glad to pass these without snow or ice.
On the exposed parts, the winds got stronger and stronger. It is irritating because there are few indicators on the wind outside the car. Being used to driving in Germany, you see trees and bushes shaking in the winds. In Iceland with so little trees, you just suddenly feel the push of the wind and the car swerves to a side of the road.
The winds can be beautiful too – like when blowing the snow over the road in the clip below.
I made it all the way to the small community of Talknafjoerdur around 5pm. I was planning to stay near a dirt road for the night – and the map promised another hotpot!
I went late to the hotpot around 11pm. It consists of several pools made of concrete with different depths and temperatures. I went so late because I was hoping for Northern lights. The skies had cleared up in the evening and the aurora forecast looked good – a promising evening.
A bit off track, I felt this hotpot is rather used by the locals of the small nearby village. And indeed – I connected with some locals. I ended up chatting a lot about living in the Westfjords, in a small 250 people town like Talkajfoerdur. I was so curious. And it seems fascinating. It is a functioning community, just really small. Everyone knows everyone. Many people function in multiple jobs. You can get some food and basic needs covered in the village’s small supermarket. There is one bit bigger shop in the the town in the next fjord. They do monthly shopping runs to Reykjavik, a car drive/ferry ride that takes 4-7 hours. And even if your internet is broken – the internet company has a support guy in the next town, so the wait is not more than 2 or 3 days for a home visit.
Not only a different world than Germany. I feel we are moving in Germany even further away. Everything and everyone gets more specialized. Speed and cost pressure dictate life. It was an engaging discussion. Thank you.
And one more thing. The Northern lights that night. Wow.
And then the Northern lights came and blew me away.
A couple of more shots. Shot with my Sony RX100 with a tiny tripod. First taken at 2am from outside the car. Late I moved in and realized the shots are still pretty good through the car windows.
This was really beautiful. Iceland might be a country mainly black and white in winter time. But nature has this beautiful show for the people there. And of course there are the hotpots… 🙂