June 11 to 28, 2011
Saturday june 11 : take off from Roissy at 8:05 am. We arrive at Keflavik International Airport at 9:00 am (local time - 2 hours time difference with France). Once in the airport, we get our luggage and the car: a Ford Mondeo estate, should not be smaller for us 4. We go to Reykjavik around 12:00. There is a Subway open to eat because we had nothing on the plane. Then we visit the capital, between the harbour and the lake ; Hallgrimskirkja church:
we go up to the top for 500 isk (~ € 3), we have a magnificent view over Reykjavik, its houses of colours and in the background snowy mountains. We do some shopping and we then go to the hostel Reykjavík City. It is not bad: clean room with bathroom, dishes a little less! We go to bed around 11pm and it is still day. It's a bit disturbing !
Sunday june 12 : we have our breakfast out in the sun, it is 11° C ! Around 10 am, we leave to Thingvellir. There is about one hour of drive on the road 36. This is the place where meet the two tectonic plates of America and Europe. A ballad allows to see the cliffs, the site of the hemicycle (place where the first united parliament meet - World Heritage by UNESCO), the cascade Oxararfoss,
the chapel and Lake Thingvallavatn. It's pretty nice. We picnic on the spot, among the fir trees. We leave around 3:30pm to Laugarvatn. It's 17° C. We easily find the Dalsel hostel on the main road. It is quite family, but not many sanitary. The breakfast is taken in another house 5min walk. We dine in the local restaurant. On the menu, BBQ pork and lamb.
Monday june 13 : it's overcast and rainy. We take the direction of Geysir. We visit the small park where the geothermal area where we can see geysers and pools of bubbling mud. The two main attractions are the "Great Geysir" whose eruptions are irregular (not during our visit!) and "Strokkur" which erupts every 5-8 min. We spent a lot of time trying to photograph his blue bubble before the explosion.
Very nice! Around 12:30, we go to the Gullfoss waterfall. It is very impressive : 32m high, 130m3 / s throughput and plunges into a narrow crack. It is still raining, it's windy and 8° C. We'll warm up to the shop with a local soup: pieces of carrots, potatoes, celery, mutton... it's good but a little too peppery. We hit the road for Hella around 3 pm. On the road, we made a stop at Kerid, a small crater full of water with cool colours. Finally, we arrive at the campsite Arhus where we rented a cottage. The latter is top: new and clean. We do some shopping and we inquired about the bus tour that leads to Landmannalaugar. These trips do not begin until June 15. What a shame, we wanted to go there tomorrow. We will attempt by us to get as close as possible.
Tuesday june 14 : departure for Landmannalaugar by car. We take road 26 which is in fact a gravel track, then road F26 (normally, with a car like ours, we are not allowed to use F roads because insurance doesn't cover). The landscape is lunar and desert. We stop a few times to take pictures. On this track, we can see the Mount Hekla, still covered by snow. We stop a little further on route 208, because it's a little too rocky. So we stop there for a walk to the cascade of Krokslon. We go to a station with a dam where we picnic. Then we go back to the cottage. We have dinner at the restaurant of the campground : burger, french fries, local cake. Very good !
Wednesday june 15 : departure under the sun, 12°C. We continue on the road 1. The first stop is at Seljalandsfoss. It's a superb cascade 40m high where we can go behind. But beware, it's slippery ! We meet a french tourist group that live in our region ! Next stop is at a viewpoint with a sign showing the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull in 2010. We then go to Skogafoss. Another beautiful cascade 62m high we can see from the bottom or the top using steep stairs. The view up there is not exceptional. Then we continue our road to Vik. Small village on a black sand beach. There the weather turns bad, very windy and cold.
So, it's very impressive : the waves are wild and there is a sense of landscape in black and white. We picnic in the car ! We leave to Kirkjubaejarklaustur. We hike for 2.5 miles (1h45 with pictures stops) and we can see the cascade Systrafoss, the lake and the "pavement of the church". This walk is quite cool. At 6 pm, we do some shopping in Klaustur and we then go to the hostel of Hvoll. It's lost in the middle of nowhere, it's big with a lot of rooms and several small kitchens. It's clean, a little bit noisy in the kitchen. Our room is too small for 4 people.
Thursday june 16 : we start the day with Svinafellsjokull glacier. It is black ash. We are somewhat elevated in relation to it so it's less impressive. We then go to the Skaftafellsjokull which is also black. The starting point to get there is at the visitor centre and it's a 1 hour walk roundtrip. Then we picnic near the visitor centre. Then we hike to the waterfalls of Svartifoss and Hundafoss. The walk is 2.5 miles long. It's nice! Around 5pm, we go to the guesthouse Bolti nearby. The place is very typical and rustic. We can stay in a bungalow or room in the house of the owner. We have two rooms in the house. The interior is very "kitsch"! The communal kitchen is located at the end of the ground and it is difficult to eat inside. That's why there are tables outside! The isolation is total!
But it's to be done and the owner is friendly.
Friday june 17 : on Highway 1, we stop to see the glacier tongue Kviamyrarkambur. We pass the bridge and walk along the river almost to the ice wall. It's worth the stop but it takes 1:45 to walk back and forth. Then we drive to Jokulsarlon. This is one of the must of Iceland: it is a lake formed by the glacier of Vatnajokull, on which float icebergs shimmering blue and black. It's beautiful!
Before a ride, we picnic on tables in the shop then take a hot chocolate and dessert. It is very windy. We then walk on the west bank of the lake. Then joined the hostel Vagnsstadir. 300m from the road, the hostel has a superb view of a green meadow.
The hostel is very clean, the rooms are spacious, the kitchen is very nice with a veranda.
Saturday june 18 : we drive on Highway 1 and we stop in Hofn for a short walk to the port and a view point. Then we take the road to Seydisfjordur. Temperature drops to 8° C at 1 pm and the sky is charging. Then you stop in Breiddalsvik to drink hot chocolate. New stop at the entry of the Fjord Reydarfjordur with its little orange beacon. To reach Seydisfjordur we must pass a mountain pass: the higher up the more the temperature decrease : 3° C and there is snow. Seydisfjordur is a small town at the bottom of a fjord where houses come in all colours. The registration of the youth hostel is located just outside the city. The hostel is a former hospital, old- fashioned. The room is too small for 4, the bunk beds are small and not sturdy. There are not enough toilet and bathroom. Not a good impression!
Sunday june 19 : departure for the cascades Hengifoss et Litlanesfoss. We have to pass in Egilsstadir to join the departure of the 3 miles roundtrip walk. We start the hike : the path begins with steep stairs. The first cascade is Litlanesfoss : it's surrounded by basalt columns. A little further, we meet Icelandic horses. hey come close to us. There's only a small river between us. They are too cute ! We finally reach Hengifoss which makes the noise of an airplane at take off. It's impressive. The cascade, 118 m high, is superb with its red, orange and black layers. We picnic in the mountain, before going back using the same path. We hit the road to see the fjord Mjoifjordur. It's the most beautiful in the area. The track winds down. There is still a little snow, it's 6°C. The few big clouds combined with the rays of sunlight give sympathic and disturbing colours to the landscape. It's beautiful. We take the track and drive 30 miles along the sea arm. We see a fin in the water... maybe a dolphin ? We then return to Seydisfjordur around 7 pm and we have dinner at Aldan restaurant : salmon for the girls and lamb for the boys, pancakes in dessert. It's very good but quite expansive.
Monday june 20 : we go to the small village of Borgarfjordur. We visit the church, then pass the typical Icelandic house. Then we drive a little further (~ 3 miles) to Hofn to observe puffins and sea gulls, eiders. It's paradise for birds. They have their little grassy hill where to do their nest and their young. They can be observed from very close.
They look very soft! We return to Borgarfjordur for a hot chocolate at the Alfa Café, typical and friendly. Then we go back to Egilsstadir in the clothing store 66° North, but it's too expensive. We're going back to Seydisfjordur to visit the fjord and the city.
Tuesday june 21 : on the road, we stop to take pictures of a lunar landscape with a snow-covered mountain in the background that is supposed to be the Askja. We arrive at the Dettifoss east side parking . We picnic before starting the ride to the waterfalls. It takes 10 min to go to Dettifoss. This is the most powerful waterfall in Europe : 44m high, 100m wide and a flow rate of 200m3 / s. It is magnificent. We continue our walking for 1.4 miles to see Selfoss.
Then we reach the guesthouse Grimstunga. We are housed in a separate house from the owners.
There are 4 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and lounge. It is very comfortable.
Wednesday june 22 : we begin our tour of the Myvatn area by road 863 which leads us to the geothermal plant. It's strange to see all these big pipes that go in all directions. We then go to the site of Leirhnjukur. True lava field still smoking in places. It's lunar and makes a curious feeling. We walk on the trail in the middle of the black and sharp rocks. We continue our way to lake Viti, 4-5 photos and we left for Námafjall. This is a small site with solfataras and pools of boiling mud. Orange, yellow, brown, white, blue are waiting for us. Around 4 pm, we make the must of Myvatn : hot baths of Jardbodin Vid Myvatn. We spend about two hours in a water at 40° C as it is 10° C outside. Too good ! We drive to our hostel passing south of Lake Myvatn. Photos stop at the crater Hverfjall. We arrive at the hostel Berg around 9 pm. It is very well, class and clean.
Thursday june 23 : 9am : departure toward Husavik for a whale watching boat tour. We dress with seamen clothes.
Fortunately, because it's very cold. We spend 3 hours in the sea and by luck, we can see 2 blue whales. Our guide told us that it's very rare to see the big blue whales and even more to see 2. She explains that the blue whale is 33m long but we can only see one tenth of it. On the road back to the harbour, we are offered hot chocolate and donut. It's good, it heats up. Then we go to the restaurant Gaumli Baukur to eat an Icelandic soup. We visit the other main attraction of the city : its Phallological Museum showing all kinds of mammalian phallus !
Not very interesting. Then we go to Godafoss, another impressive waterfall. Then towards Akureyri with a photos stop in Laufas : small site of houses made of turf and green roof. At our arrival at the hostel , the receptionist tells us that there was a problem with our booking. When she realised that, she booked a room in a guesthouse in town : Gula Villan. We think we are lucky because we did not heard only good things about the hostel. The guesthouse is very well, but once again, there are not enough bathroom. In the evening, we eat at the restaurant Greifinn.
Friday june 24 : departure under a grey rainy sky. Towards Stykkisholmur with a few stops. The first being at the Vatnes Peninsula, non scheduled. We go around anticlockwise. We stop at Hvitserkur where we can see seals. In Illugastadir, we can also see seals, arctic sterns and eiders in their nest made of tyres ! It's a private place, opening in late june. The owner has opened a room in his house where you can have hot drinks. We finally arrive in Stykkisholmur around 8 pm. We find the guesthouse Heimagisting Olmu. The owner is pretty cold and weird. The rooms and bathrooms are very nice, large and clean. By cons, there is no kitchen - just for breakfast. So we will eat out in the restaurant Narfeyrarstafa (fried mussels and fish).
Saturday june 25 : we spend the day visiting the Snaefellsnes peninsula, starting with the Mount Helgafell. The goal is to go to the top without talking and without looking back. Once to the top, look at the ruins, heading east, and make 3 wishes. It seems that it works ! In Olafsvik, we stop in a Bakari (bakery) to buy croissants and Iceland cakes that we eat on a picnic table at 11 am. At the Museum Sjomannagardur in Hellisandur, there is a beautiful view of the volcano / glacier Snaefellsjokull.
For the little Miss story, this is from here that starts the "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne. Photo stop at Saxoll : colourful hill. Around 12pm, we arrive at Djupalon / Dritvik. Here, lava cliffs, remains of wreck facing the sea. We picnic on the beach of black pebbles against a rock representing an old woman petrified Troll: Kerling. It is very beautiful: sun and blue sky, 16° C. At 3 pm, we take the road to Arnarstapi. It is a short walk along the coast and the port. A little further, we stop at Ytri-Raudamelur to photograph a wall of basalt columns. The weather is covering when moving near the crater Eldborgarhraun. The temperature drops to 10° C. At 7:30 pm, we arrive at the hostel Borgarnes. It is quite noisy because it is located along the main road.
Sunday june 26 : we go to the gorges of the Hvita. It is covered with a little sun and it is 12 ° C. We go to the parking of Hraunfossar. These are mini- waterfalls that flow into the river over nearly 1km. It's beautiful.
By a path, we reach the waterfall Barnafoss upstream. Around 3 pm, we take the road to Glymur. Finally, we do not hike to the waterfall. We decide to go directly to Reykjavik via the Hvalfjordur Fjord. We arrive at the Reykjavik City Hostel at 5:30 pm.
Monday june 27 : we start the day at 10 am to do the hike of Hveragerdi and the hot springs of Hengill (from 11 am to 4:30 pm). It is ten miles long in a beautiful green, mountainous landscape. On the way back, we let ourselves be tempted by a dip in the river. A river of cold water crosses the road to a river at 100° C, resulting in a river of 40° C water.
It's too good!
Tuesday june 28 : it's our last day. We leave the hostel at 10 am. We visit Reykjavik whole morning long, we do some shopping and eat in a restaurant. Then we hit the road to the Reykjanes peninsula. We stop quickly for pictures at the lake Graenavatn because it's very windy. We go then to Seltun, a small site of bubbling mud pools and sulphur springs. And finally, we enjoy our last hours in Iceland at Blue Lagoon.
It's too good but a bit more expensive and less hot than Myvatn. We dip for about 2 hours and in the evening we grab a bite at a Subway on the way to Keflavik. We bring the car back to the rent a car centre at 10:45 pm. It is very fast, we dispose keys. They do not even control the car. The shuttle takes us to the airport. We take off around 1:00 am to arrive at 6:30 in Paris. Holidays are over! Strongly the next!
Copyright Magali and David BELLEC