I’m reposting visits to some of my favourite places, today I’m taking you to magical Iceland. I was on a 105 day trip to visit the countries still on my ‘want to do’ list, (this is where the name of this blog comes from see ‘105 days’ from the menu for more about this). It was a very busy trip, visiting 14 countries, I wrote about every day of the trip and recorded the number of flights; modes of transport, as they were quite diverse; hotel stays; etc. Iceland was the last country on my trip that I had not previously visited, and it did not disappoint. I met a dear friend in Iceland, I flew in from Boston, USA, and he flew over from the UK, we met up at the airport and hired a car for the week we were here exploring a small part of this island. I took these photos on a very cheap smart phone, so the quality is not always great, but good enough to give you some inspiration.
Day 95, July 21 2016
Countries 13 Hotels 43 Cars 70
Flights 27:flying time 78.24 hours
Rickshaw 4 Bus 13 Elephant 1 Boat 14
Cog-wheel train 2 Cable car 8 Subway 8 Ferry 2
Minibus 37 Coach 2 Catamaran 1 Funicular 3
Pick up truck 5 Land Cruiser 8 Hydrofoil 4
Llama 1 Cycle Taxi 1 Train 5 Motorised Canoe 9
Canoe 2 Sightseeing truck 1 Sightseeing bus 10
Golf cart taxi 2
This morning after breakfast we set off for a five hour drive to see an iceberg lake, with stops on the way to break the journey up. The weather wasn’t that great and we often drove through rain. Katla UNESCO Global Geopark covers nine percent of Iceland, 9542 square kilometres. Characterised by active ice-capped central volcanoes, black sand from glacial outbursts and lava fields, the diverse and frequent activity changes the landscape, and we certainly saw a diverse range of landscapes on our drive. Our first stop, after about ninety minutes of driving, was Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Sixty meters high with a footpath leading behind it that we walked along.
Thirty minutes later and we were at Skogafoss Waterfall, just as good to look at as Seljalandsfoss but because we could walk behind Skogafoss it was fun, even though we got wet.
Next Solheimajokull Glacier which flows south of Myrdalsjokull glacier in a u shaped valley. It is about eight kilometres long and between one and two kilometres wide. The glacier advanced about 900 meters during the last few centuries, however it has retreated significantly during the period 1930 to 1964. It was quite odd as the ice was full of volcanic ash, so was black and white, I thought it looked like a pencil drawing.
Dyrholaey is where a sheer headland rises 120 meters out of the sea, it overlooks a beautiful, black, sandy beach. Here we saw puffins nesting on the rocks, it was difficult to get a shot of the puffins with my little camera, however you can just make them out on this photo. The beach was stunning.
We then drove through Vatnajokull National Park, which covers fourteen percent of Iceland. Few places in the world exhibit such a wide range of natural phenomena, and the park contains the worlds largest glacier, outside of the arctic regions. The scenery does constantly change: from pastures where sheep and horses graze; to cliffs dotted with waterfalls; to smoke like steam, rising from geothermal areas; to swathes of barren, black gravel; areas of lava rocks; and glaciers. We also drove through residential areas too.
In 1783 a huge lava flow streamed from Lakagigar, in what is believed to be one of the greatest lava flows, in a single eruption, in history. We drove through Eldraun, moss covered lava fields, where thick woolly finger moss, green in the rain, grey when dry, covers the lava field and looks like green velvet. It has taken two hundred years to grow and one human step on this delicate moss could take a decade to grow back. There wasn’t anywhere suitable to stop and take photos.
Our final stop was due to be Jokulsarion, however we decided to stop off at another iceberg lake called Fjallsarlon, when we saw the signpost. Fjallsarlon is a glacier lagoon complex just west of Jokulsarion. Fjallsarlon has no direct access to the ocean and the lagoon extends a short way to the glacier shelf. It also provided great views of the glacier.
We got to our last stop, Jokulsarion, just before 6pm, and although the glacier was quite far away and so difficult to get a good photo, the lagoon was full of icebergs. This same area was covered in ice in 1932. The lagoon, about twenty square kilometres in size, flows into the sea, and so the icebergs get grounded in the shallows and sit there until they melt and are small enough to float away under the bridge and out to sea. We walked along the black sand of the waters edge, around the lagoon.
We saw a seal, seals come into the lagoon hunting for fish, as there are many species of fish here, and to sleep on the ice. In winter there can be hundreds of seals here, we only saw one today.
We left the lagoon around 6.30 and stopped on the way back to the hotel, for supper. We had a long drive back to Reykjavik and as part of my role as navigator I pointed out items of interest and provided ‘entertaining’ conversation. However, this was very tiring and about 90 minutes away from the hotel we were starting to flag. So I selected various songs from Erol’s phone and we sang along, I say ‘sang’ in the very loosest of terms here! Car karaoke was great fun, livened us up and was a great way to end our journey. We got back to the hotel at midnight, very tired. A brilliant last full day in Iceland.