Iceland Day 6 – Friday, September 12, 2014
Seyđisfjörđur, Ash Storm, Dettifoss, Tjörnes Peninsula, Gođafoss




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From the dock in front of Nord Marina Guesthouse a/k/a our front porch

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From our front porch, looking the other direction

It was beautiful when we got up, warm and sunny with a bright blue sky. This morning we explored the lovely village of Seydisfjordur, with its multicolored houses situated beside the deep blue sea, nestled between steep peaks decorated with flowing waterfalls. Now this is a proper fjord!

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Fetching fjord

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Seyđisfjörđur

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Bláa Kirkjan (Blue Church)

After seeing the town, we climbed back out of the fjord on Rt. 93, trying to keep our eyes on the narrow road rather than the distracting scenery. Again, no place to pull over for photos. Too bad.

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Lagarfljót and beyond from the top of the pass

It's a longish drive through epic landscape from Egilsstadir to the Rt. 864 turnoff to Dettifoss, first through the breadbasket of Iceland (replete with waterfalls, of course), and then into an uninhabitable but interesting badland.

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The breadbasket of Iceland

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A beautiful heartland valley

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Roadside waterfall

A couple of hours and a couple of hundred kilometers into our day, we encountered a very high wind which became a horrendous dust/sand/ash storm. We were directly in the path of the ongoing volcanic eruption, and the sulfur dioxide gave both of us headaches and made our eyes burn and our throats scratchy. It was pretty scary really. There were dust devils, and I was fighting with both hands to keep the car on the road as I raced out of the area as fast as I could (okay, except for a couple of very quick photo ops).

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Distant dust cloud

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The dust descends

During the height of the ash storm, we were in the Jokulsa a Fjollum floodplain. The Ring Road was still open here, but many side roads were closed because the authorities are afraid the area will flood catastrophically if a big eruption happens under the ice cap!

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Closed - Risk of volcanic eruptions and floods

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Driving through dust and ash

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Bridge over Jökulsá á Fjöllum

An hour or so after entering the ash storm, we turned up Rt. 864 off the Ring Road, and suddenly it was all sunshine and rainbows. There was still wind, but no debris being carried along with it, and we went on our merry way viewing magnificent waterfalls. The weather in Iceland is more chaotic than even my great home state of Oklahoma!

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Emerging from the ash

Rt. 864 is a 60-kilometer-long, washboard-rough gravel road along the east side of the Jokulsargljufur Canyon, connecting the Ring Road to the major paved road Rt. 85 to the north. I had a little trouble pre-trip figuring out if the road was passable in a tiny 2WD car. It is (at least in decent weather), but it takes a while.

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Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon

Dettifoss is Iceland's most powerful waterfall, with a greater volume, in fact, than any other waterfall in Europe. The plume of spray can be seen half a mile away. It was actually pretty hard to photograph with all the spray flying in our faces, but we tried!

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Tom at Dettifoss

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Dramatic Dettifoss

I added on a 3-kilometer round-trip hike upstream from the Dettifoss parking area to see the also impressive Selfoss. Tom had had enough hiking for now and stayed behind taking photos of the rainbows created by Dettifoss's spray. Incredibly, when I got to Selfoss, I was the ONLY person there!

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Selfoss

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Dettifoss-spray double rainbow

A bit further up 864 we pulled into the parking area of the very nice Hafragilsfoss. We were able to access that parking area in our little car, but it was kind of hairy. I wouldn't recommend it. Pull over and park at the side of the road when you see the sign. It's close enough to walk.

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Hafragilsfoss and Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon

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Hafragilsfoss

Happily, we returned to the pavement at Rt. 85 and turned west toward the Tjornes Peninsula, where we were treated to our first views (ever) of the Arctic Ocean. Brrr... All of mainland Iceland lies south of the Arctic Circle, barely, but we could see to the Arctic from here.

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The Arctic Ocean!

Husavik, on the west side of the Tjornes Peninsula, is the most popular place in Iceland to catch a whale-watching tour. It was a little out of whale season, so we didn't bother with a high-priced boat trip. We just kept our eyes peeled for whales anytime we were near the ocean. Nope, we didn't spot any. Husavik is a cute, colorful harbor town in any event.

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Húsavík

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Húsavík Harbor

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Húsavíkurkirkja

This time we actually booked a room for two nights in a row, at Guesthouse Storu-Laugar, in the very small village of Laugar, population 150. We chose it because it's conveniently located almost equidistant between Husavik, Myvatn, and Akureyri, and I'm glad we did, because it's the nicest place we stayed in Iceland. We had a nice big room with a super comfy double bed, a separate sitting area, a private bath, and a geothermal-spring-fed hot pot (hot tub) right outside our door. It also had heated floors, a towel warmer, robes, and breakfast was included. We got it for a bargain rate of $116 per night since it was shoulder season and we were staying two nights. These folks were even friendly and cared about customer service. (Pretty uncommon.)

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Icelandic unicorn

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Comfy quarters of Stóru-Laugar

We still had some daylight left after we checked in, so we headed for nearby Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), one of the prettiest falls in the country. A girl could get spoiled.

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Careful, Jana!

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Gođafoss

There's a restaurant at Storu-Laugar which is supposed to be very good. They serve a set menu each night, and tonight they were serving trout, for $50 apiece, not including drinks. No thanks. We used a shared kettle outside our room to make ramen noodles. That plus sandwiches and some Pringles suited us just fine.

Twice tonight we saw magnificent displays of the Northern Lights. They were visible for a half hour or more around 10:00 p.m. and again for a half hour or so around 1:00 a.m. The lights danced around and were visible in colors of yellow, green, and pink. Wondrous! In between displays of light, we relaxed in the wonderfully warm hot pot, which we had all to ourselves. What did I say about getting spoiled?

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The Northern Lights!



Continue to September 13, 2014

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