The Long Drive
Since I had planned to leave Ólafsvík this morning, I had to prepare myself for the over 400 Km drive to my next destination. I felt that the best option was to get on the road early so I was packed up and on the road by 6:30 AM.
In hindsight, my trip ended up being almost 500 Km.
The weather couldn’t have been better for the drive, mostly clear skies and around 7-8 degrees and leaving so early in the morning allowed me to make good progress on the highway with very little traffic.
On the way, I made a 70 Km detour to a site that I was interested in seeing called Hvítserkur. The photo at the top of this page was taken at this place and I was also able to get on a hike necessary to reach the location down by the water. Black sand beaches are common in Iceland, likely a result of the volcanic soil which makes up much of the country and they often make for a striking photo in the right light.
After making this detour, it would take me another 3 hours to get to my destination of the small town of Akureyri. By the time I arrived, I was completely beat from being on the road for 8-9 hours and just ended up staying in my room the whole night trying to recover from the long drive. Tomorrow I’ll have a considerably shorter drive ahead of me and will end up being in one place for 3 days which will be a welcome change. There’s plenty to see in this area of Iceland and I may end up using all three days to get it in.
The Worst Weather Ever
I only stayed one night in Akureyri as a resting point but my real destination in the northern part of Iceland was the very small town of Reykjahlíð, with a population of about 300.
In case you’re wondering, there isn’t a lot of backstory as to why I choose the small towns in which I often stay. Generally, I’m usually just trying to stay in a central location that makes it easy to get to the places I want to see and often just book a relatively inexpensive room while I’m there.
The drive here to Reykjahlíð, although very short compared to the drive from the peninsula the day before mostly stood out due to the wind gusts and snow that kept coming down the whole day. A snowstorm was blowing during the entire drive with wind gusts above 100 Km/hr. There were times when the wind was blowing so strongly that if I opened my car door and didn’t hold onto it with all my strength the door might have been slammed all the way open against the car’s fender.
When I was deciding what types of clothing to bring on this trip I had planned for a lot of extreme weather. Even though the temperatures were dropping and a snowstorm was coming down I was staying warm and dry wearing my storm jacket and Gore-Tex pants. It was definitely not photography weather but I made it to my bed and breakfast safely at this point the whole landscape changed to winter within one day.
The day after the snowstorm, the weather stayed cold between -5 and 1 degree but the skies cleared and it made for some unique photo opportunities. Being located in the small town of Reykjahlíð made it very close to a number of the sights that I wanted to visit. One of them was the Dettifoss falls (picture below). Dettifoss is supposed to be the largest waterfall in Europe and it was amazing to witness this force of nature.
I made an early start again to get on the road to Dettifoss as I had read that it’s an incredibly popular site with dozens of tour buses arriving every day. It was to my great surprise that I saw almost no cars on the road and there were only about 8 cars in the parking lot. Of course, when I left that site a few hours later there were several hundred cars that had arrived.
Two days after the snowstorm, the skies cleared and I had a full day of sunshine. Taking advantage of the clear skies, I drove just down the road to Hverfjall which is a large volcano crater which you can hike up and walk around the rim. The views of the countryside from that high-up were spectacular, offering visibility of the lake and the entire valley.
Time to Move On
I’m glad that I stayed put in the Reykjahlíð area for three days as it gave me a chance to explore all of the major sites in the area and also discover out-of-the-way hiking trails that never made it to my to-do list.
Tomorrow morning I’ll be packing up and leaving and moving on to my next location in east Iceland. By the time that I check in next time, I’ll probably have moved to the south of Iceland.
I’m now down to less than a week left in my time in Iceland. I’ve already seen so much and I’m looking forward to the sites still to come.
I’ve also uploaded lots of new photos to my website: https://www.photos.excellentadventure.ca/Iceland-2018/