Today was a day of waterfalls. First we drove out to mighty Svartifoss, which we had skipped over yesterday because of a heavy downpour. Now I’m not adverse to getting out in the pouring rain but it was just miserable out and the fog was pretty heavy which meant that there was a high chance of not so great photos.
It’s a long hike to the falls – a very long uphill battle as a matter of fact that is until one has to head back down into the valley below to see this waterfall up close and personal. It is a beauty with all the basalt columns surrounding it. While here we were able to experience a few different weather patterns while we photographed – it went from drizzle to hail to snow to sun. All in the span of an hour or possibly less – I didn’t time it. Crossing a bridge and up the other side Kathy and I clambered up onto the tallest peak in this park to get a view of not just one but two glaciers! (Still working on finding a great photo to show you). Then it was off to meet up with Paul and Galina who missed our waving from above.
As we walked downhill we found another waterfall, Heygotufoss rushing out of a crevice on the lower cliffs. I had to get a few different angles but my favourite is the one above. After shooting for awhile we realized that we had to get our butts back to the car because the other two were waiting for us by the car. To our surprise we were the first ones down and when Paul and Galina showed up we discovered they went on a side path to check out some more turf homes. There’s definitely a lot to discover here in the park and I wish we had more time to explore.
Foss á síðu
On the drive back to the hotel there was a waterfall by the side of the road that when the wind is just right it looks as though it flows skyward. It was our lucky day when we drove by that it was windy enough to see the phenomenon. It is very strange to wrap your mind around – you know its flowing down but visually its not what seems to be going on. Iceland continues to amaze me with strange and wonderful things.
Our plan this morning had us backtracking to check out a Viking village my friend Nick had told me about. It was an old movie set that someone had on their property. I have to say it looked pretty cool from a distance but up close you can see the wear and tear mother nature has doled out.
I explored the area inside the fence before wandering around to the back near the foothills where I found this little guy (or girl, I didn’t really check).
Well Hello There
He was mostly uncooperative munching away at the grass but as soon as I started to give up he raised his head and I was able to get this great shot. I love the distorted view.
Our next stop was one of the more anticipated locations – the Glacier lagoon. I was super excited to visit here and we were told that we picked one of the best days with quite a lot of icebergs in the lagoon. Yay us!
The lagoon is not the only place to see these lovely beauties. On the opposite side of the road lies the ocean and stranded icebergs along its shores. With black sand beaches as far as you can see and crystal blue and white icebergs dotting its beach its no wonder that most people look forward to visiting this surreal place.
From small pieces of ice to ones taller than me stuck on the shoreline it is incomprehensible that you are looking at ice that quite possibly is thousands of years old. We spent quite a bit of time here but eventually we had to move on. We had to reach the town of Vik to get settled in for the night and enjoy some hot springs before dinner.
We had just one more stop to make along the way. I had found a photo online of a turf church whose grave mounds were also covered in turf. It looked pretty neat and so we made the stop.
And I’m glad we did. Although it was a short 10 or 15 minute stop it was well worth seeing this church and its graveyard. A recommended stop along this route and not too far off the ring road for a quick look.
Today we were headed down the east coast with our final destination in the south, in the town of Hofn. Along the way rugged cliffs stretched below and sometimes above us with us as we drove fjord after fjord.
We made a pitstop at one of these soaring cliffs to check out something a little unexpected…a short, stubby orange lighthouse.
At barely two stories high this little lighthouse sits atop a huge cliff at the top end of a fjord warning those on the ocean to watch out. There were some ruins on the property marked with names which may indicate either the first settlers, the vikings, or maybe something from a more recent past. I’m not sure and still haven’t found much on this area.
Continuing towards Hofn we started discussing the fact that we hadn’t seen any reindeer and that really by this point we should have seen something. Just a few minutes after bringing up this discussion we round a bend and there was a large group of reindeer that all at once, upon seeing us, ran parallel to the car before veering to the right heading uphill. One thing about reindeer is that they are bloody hard to see. There is seven in the photo above but the almost blend in to the landscape. Good camouflage there reindeer! Makes me wonder if we may have passed some previously but didn’t spot them. I don’t think so since they seem to be easily spooked. But one never really knows.
Last night we got in later than expected to Blönduós but were able to get in a late night dinner before our host for the evening closed up shop. Our comfy little house, part of the Kiljan Guesthouse, is highly recommended if you travel though that area. Having paid for breakfast at her restaurant the previous evening we indulged in some great food before setingt off towards Akureryi, our home base for the next two nights. But first there were things to see before we made our way there.
To the Left
Mostly we saw many an Icelandic horse as we travelled along the ring road and then up into the Vatnsnes Peninsula. Our first encounter with the iconic horses this morning we stopped to spend some time with them and discovered they don’t like apples. What?! I mean what kind of horse won’t eat an apple. Well, I guess when there are no apple trees growing on the island and the cost for fruits and vegetables are exorbitant you don’t waste them on the livestock. As we got back into the car we prepared ourselves for meeting our first Icelandic troll.
Near the north end of the peninsula below the cliffs stands a troll whose attempt to reach land was thwarted when the sun rose and turned him to stone. Hvítserkur stands 15 metres high and is impressive from the first glance. As you get closer its size becomes daunting. Finding the right location for a photo was challenging as everything had potential. I choose this view because of the clouds and how they pointed you into the photo.
On Top of the World
Continuing along the peninsula we came across another colourful lighthouse but our hopes were to see some seals. I think we may have been tad too early in the season as not one was around for us to photograph. But luckily there were more horses to snap some shots of by the road. lol
We have situated ourselves for the next couple of nights at Grundarfjörður Hostel with astonishing views of Kirkjufell mountain from our bedroom and kitchen windows. In speaking with the lovely lady at the reception desk when we arrived she told us a few good spots we could explore while we were here. After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast we got the car packed up with our gear and headed west. It was a drizzly kind of morning and at our first stop near the town of Ólafsvík we took a few photos but unfortunately most of mine had rain droplets on them. I just couldn’t keep up with the rain on the lens. Driving around the west side of the peninsula heading south we turned onto a little road that took us to a hiking trail. The trail headed to the ruins of a home (?) on the shore. We wandered the shoreline getting shots of the waves crashing and just taking a breather. Of course the drizzly rain still giving me issues but ah well, it is Iceland after all.
North of Saxholl
Walking the trail back to the car I stopped to take the shot above. There were a few of these pools of water in the field at random points along the trail. I passed three of them on the walk back to the car but I’m sure there were many more. It made me wonder if they were fed underground or if at one point the ocean reached out its long fingers this far in from where it crashes now.
As we continued our drive along the southern part of the peninsula we noticed a strange rock sticking out in the distance so we turned at the nearest road to find out what it was. We had found Malarrif, a coastal hiking trail part of the Snæfellsjökull National Park. The magnificently shaped rock that drew us in stood in the distance and we knew we had to get closer.
Depending on your angle and what side you were on it took on different shapes. I got up around the massive rock to the other side; from here it looked like Poseidon’s Crown as he emerges from the water. We spent a good deal of time here exploring. As the daylight starts to fade a little and the skies clear slightly we head over to the famous black church in the town of Búðir.
The Black Church
The small church can be seen from the main road – it is kind of hard to miss. It’s not very often you find an all black church. Although the gates to the church were locked we wandered the perimeter taking our photos, trying to get a different view of this often photographed structure. With our stomachs grumbling we knew it was time to head to our temporary digs to make some dinner and download the days photos.
Room with a View
As we sat eating we noticed we had a front row seat to the sunset behind Kirkjufell. Grabbing the camera I took a few shots by sticking my camera out the window as I ate my dinner. I also ran back to the bedroom to get some shots from there. Yup, that’s right folks I was too damn lazy to get myself into a car and find a spot to photograph the sunset. It happens to us all. After the long day I was happy to stay warm and dry. There are still 11 more days to go and so much more to see.