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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

FINDING THE ICE IN ICELAND


The snow doesn’t last long, but the day continues cold & grey as we head on to Egilsstadir. The ferry from Denmark has arrived and the town is full of foreign vehicles – motorhomes, overland vehicles, vans & cars. A bit of a culture shock for us. On checking at the Info Centre, we discover that all the F roads (these are the inland dirt routes we want to explore) are still closed, so we rethink our plans out next few days. We head over the mountains to yet more fjords and end up for the night not far from an old Spar mine that we explore. Very little is left – but there is plenty of glittering pieces of calcite crystal.

Well more fjords today. Eskifjordur, Reydarfjordur, Faskrudsfjordur, Stodvarfjordur, Breiadalsvik & finally the rather pretty, but very touristy Djupivogur. There is a quaint old port surrounded by some lovely old buildings. Out of town, at a second port there is a long row of marble eggs – Eggin I Gledvik (or The Eggs of Merry Bay). Here we stop for lunch & John uses one of the many free car washes to give GR2 a bit of a clean. We can now see out the windows in the back again.

We are now following the south coast, passing more lovely scenery, finally arriving at tourist central in a town called Hofn. Everywhere we look we can see glaciers spilling down from the majestic icecap Vatnajokull (Just for your info it is the 3rd largest icecap in the world after Antarctica & Greenland). After clicking lots of photos we head out of town to find a secluded spot for the night beside a stream. Tomorrow we have decided to go up to the icecap snowmobiling.

We meet our van at 9.30 am at the start of the F985 – a track that goes to the ice on Skalafellsjokull. Here we are rugged up in suits and introduced to our snowmobile for our tour. John is a tad disappointed that he can’t just race off, but of course we have to travel in convey. It is snowing, but the all-white is rather awesome.

Next stop: Lake Jokulsarlon – this one I have circled on my map, & it doesn’t disappoint. So far, the most amazing sight in Iceland. First, we go to the main carpark with loads of other tourists to gawp at the all the icebergs that have calved off the Breidamerkurjokull glacier into Jokulsarlon lake & are slowly floating down the river and out to sea. There are boat trips continually heading out, but instead we walk around the side of the lake just watching. Then over to the beach side carpark to walk along the black sand beach to see the totally amazing ice sculptures -the final remains of the iceberg. They do die beautifully. We stop and stay the night so we can keep watching. It is well worth the wait, because as the tide changes we watch the icebergs at midnight surging out of the river & making more ice sculptures on the beach. Just magical.

We finally tear ourselves away. But there is more “ice” to come. There are heaps of glaciers to explore.  We drive up all the little side roads, even the ones without signs, and are rewarded with lots of great views & walks, that few others bother to see. Eventually we reach Skaftafell National Park where we walk up to the Svartifoss waterfall with heaps of other tourists. Obviously, this is another must do. Pooped (well I am) we return to GR2.

As we continue driving we can see huge expanses of black sand threaded with rivers. These are the Sander – vast volcanic plains. Looking inland we see amazing green hills rising up from the plains. Many with waterfalls cascading down. There are many huge farms here – it is so lush & green.  But time for a few more detours. At Kirkjubaejarklaustur we drive by Systrafoss & on in to Fjardragljufur gorge. End up walking the whole thing, despite still feeling pooped. What an amazing gorge. Definitely worth the stop. But it is getting late, so we head down a track amongst the lava fields to find a quiet spot for the night.

Wake to a full day of sunshine. A real bonus. And dare I say it is getting warmer. On to the town of Vik – a pretty little place touted as having the best beach in the world. Black sand, with lots of sea stacks. Hmmm A bit more coastal exploring – lots of caves & sea stacks, and even more tourists. Next explore is inland to Solheimajokull glacier. It is a rather black glacier, but this is where lots of “glacier walks” are done. We do our own, minus the crampons and the exorbitant price.

Just to wind up the day we have a few more waterfalls to visit. The superb Skogafoss, and the twin falls of Seljalandsfoss & Gjufurafoss. It is getting late so we head out to the sander to find a spot by the river.

We are heading back to Reykjavik to complete our circumnavigation of Iceland. But after Selfoss we decide to venture off the main ring road again, & head back to the coast. So, we head south to Eyrarbakki – once the capital of Iceland, but now a simply a pretty little old village with a neglected wharf. As we pull in to the wharf a girl asks us if we want a ride in the Zodiac lifesaving boat. It is Fisherman’s Day and they are taking people for free rides. Well of course we do. The weather is again gorgeous, & we enjoy a spin out in the waves.   More coastal towns before following the coast through amazing lava fields. We see a scenic detour up to a geothermal area that we find on our map. What a lovely surprise it is. A maze of boardwalks around some pretty bubbling pools. Then a gorgeous lake. As you know John prefers not to return anywhere on the same route, and there is another road marked on our map back to the coast. Magic scenery, but an extremely slow bumpy ride. Then on to Grindavik, but when we see signs to The Blue Lagoon we decide to detour and have a look. At over $100 each for a swim (and it has to be prepaid & a time slot booked) we head in for a free nosey. Now I have my photo. Finally, we round the last corner of the Island & head to the big smoke – Reykjavik. We know just the spot to stay – right on the waterfront near the water treatment plant.

Finally the F roads open in our final chapter from Iceland.


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