This is Part 2 of our two part Iceland road trip.While the first 2 days involved some planned activities, the rest of our trip was just driving through the eastern and northern wilderness of Iceland.
Today was all about exploring the rural wilderness, rugged terrain and landscapes of Iceland. We were going to drive up north along the Eastern Fjords.
Djúpivogur – Berufjörður Fjord
As we drove away from Hofn we entered into a more secluded and pristine Iceland, away from the golden circle and the touristy crowd. On our way to Djupivogur, we stopped at a place surrounded by two mountains with contrasting textures on two sides and a lake on the third side with sun shining on it. It was extremely windy and chilly when we stepped out car!
As we proceeded, the elevation got higher and the roads got winding and narrower. You can go miles and miles with not a trace of a town or human beings, few of our pee breaks were behind bushes or large rocks on the side of the road. As we got closer to Djúpivogur, we could see thin stretches of cliffs protruding into the sea. These cliffs or fjords is what Eastern Iceland is famous for – long, narrow inlets with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. We parked our car atop the Berufjörður cliff overlooking the Atlantic. The view of the sea and the cool breeze is so relaxing that we just lay there idling soaking the sun!
Reyðarfjörður, East Iceland
Eastern Iceland is where you see reindeers but we were yet to encounter our first! But no regrets, after all the views were no less amazing. So dramatic is the change in the scenery that every 10 minutes was another ‘wow’ moment. And never get tired of it!
We came across a junction and instead of taking the normal route we took a detour along the F road – gravel road where the speed limit is not more than 30 km/hr. We wanted to experience one F road on our trip and it paid off. Just 5 mintues on the road, we caught sight of our first Icelandic reindeer!
Soon we reached the town of Reyðarfjörður. Normally people visit the Hengifoss waterfall, instead we chose BÚÐARÁ waterfall. Hidden behind the town it turned out to be our private waterfall. A good 20 minutes hike down rocks and boulders and we were at the base of the fall.
Our stay for the night was at Borgarfjörður, the eastern most tip of Iceland. The drive leading into the town was really scary with steep falls on either side of gravel road.
This town with a population of 70 is known as the capital of elves. There are a lot of hiking trails dotting this town. Make sure to take one when you are there.
We stayed in a beautiful guesthouse with wooden bath tubs, steam and sauna. Just what we needed at the end of a day long drive! After an early dinner and quick rest, we set out to hunt for Northern Lights.
Blessed with our experience of northern lights we drove towards North Iceland. Our first stop for the day was Dettifoss – at 45 m tall and 100 m wide, this is Europe’s most powerful waterfall and can be viewed from either the west or the east side – both sides offer great views. To reach there you take Road 864 from Road 1 and travel patiently through gravel road. From the parking lot its a 5 minutes walk on a rocky path to get to the fall. As we got closer and leaned to get a better view we realized the intensity and magnitude – it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it even got a bit scary.
The sheer force of the fall leaves you awestruck! We decided to give Selfoss a miss which is about 1/2 hour hike from Dettifoss.
Back from the fall to our horror we realized our gas tank less than 1/3 full. As anyone would, we panicked initially and then for the first time took out our GPS to search nearby gas station. To our relief we found nearest gas station was only a few kms away. Hardly did we know going to this gas station would later put us on a really bad and torturous long gravel road for Lake Myvatn.
We thought our car would fall apart any moment, crawling through this road set us back by couple of hours! Thanks to our 4*4 car we managed just fine without any damage to the tires. But again as they say if you haven’t taken the gravel roads and gone through the scare of empty gas tank you haven’t truly experienced Iceland 🙂
We continued driving on Road 1. You know you have reached Lake Myvatyn area when you are hit by the strong smell of sulphur in the air. We stopped at a nearby geyser but the repungent smell and swarm of mosquitoes meant we hopped back just as quickly.
By evening it got cold and windy and what would be ideal in this weather?! Hot geothermal bath may be?? 🙂
We stopped by at Myvatn Nature Bath treating ourselves to a much needed hot bath.
Reluctantly we got out of the pool. We picked some groceries on our way to cook some homemade dinner at our rented apartment in Akureyri.
This was the last day of our trip. 4 amazing days had gone by so fast! Another day of driving through the west wilderness before finally reaching the airport in the evening. We stopped at a few places on our way and spotted many many beautiful Icelandic horses – very different breed from whatever we had seen till date. Icelandic horses are legendary and the most beautiful we have ever seen with silky hair long mane and tail.
As we neared the city of Reykjavik, the weather suddenly turned from sunny to rainy. But this time it brought along not one but two back to back rainbows – parting gifts from Iceland!