I didn’t know much about Iceland before traveling there except that even though it’s called ICE-land, it’s mostly green.  Whereas as Greenland is all ice.  Sneaky!

Well for us, arriving before summer hit, meant a lot of brown.  Brown dead grass from the year before.  I could picture where all the green would be a month or two from now.  There was definitely still a lot of ice too.  After all, it can’t be called Iceland for no reason.

The next few days of our trip around the island led us from East Iceland to the South.

After a night of hot-tubbing, we took our time in Seyðisfjörður the next day admiring the colourful architecture and quietness of this isolated place.   This was favourite stop of the whole trip.  We really wish we had more time there.  Not that there would be a lot to do except gaze at the quaint houses and baby blue coloured church reflecting in the mirror-like flat water and back dropped by snow dusted mountains.  We took our time to savour a much-needed coffee in a cute little place called Skaftfell and to ask a local for advice on how to continue our journey given the snowy horrible day we had.  He told us he had driven in from Reykjavik (i.e. the opposite end of the country) the night before at over 120km/hr and that the roads were okay.  He specifically mentioned that he had studded tires and knows his car, but advised us to take it slow and not exceed 70km/hr!  Recharged and confident in our day’s plan, we were off on another long road ahead.

We took our time hugging the coastline and taking the scenic route along the fjords.  We had no choice because part of Hwy 1 (the Ring Road around Iceland) had not yet opened from the winter closures.  Regardless, it’s a drive one should take anyway.  You wouldn’t want to miss the expansive views of snow-covered mountains meeting the cool blue ocean, colorful lighthouses and charming towns including one influenced by the French called Fáskrúðsfjörður.

Just after checking into our guesthouse in Hofn, we spent the evening in the local hot pots at Glacier World in nearby Hoffell.   We paid our entrance fee and by pay, I mean stuffed a few bills in a plastic container with a hole.  Very trusting people.

As the wind howled past us, we tested the waters.  They didn’t seem that warm.  But since we had already paid, we figured we’d try to enjoy it.  We hesitantly stripped down to our swimsuits, shivering in the cold, and dipped in our feet.  On the second try, it was damn hot.  Almost unbearable actually.  Slowly we all slid in where we’d stay for the next 45 minutes in what felt like a ceramic pot dug into the ground.  It was a Canadian and French stew.

The wind continued to howl, thus cooling off our faces in contrast to our warmed bodies.  Views of mountains and bare fields surrounded us.  We were the only ones there.  Getting out was not pleasant but it was well worth it.

We had great expectations for our journey from Hofn to our next two-night stop in Hvolsvollur.  This is the part of the photographer’s map that was covered in four-star rated sights to see.  We spent the morning at Jökulsárlón admiring nature’s ice sculptures floating from the glacier to the ocean.  We arrived early before a wave of people joined us but in that first hour, it was so peaceful and serene.  Flocks of birds found their resting spots among the white and blue shapes floating in the crystal clear water.  Further along, medium and small icebergs had washed up along the shores of the black sand beach, glistening in the sunshine, awaiting their ultimate fate.

The nice thing about traveling while it was still cold is that larger icebergs were still there; available to us to get up close and personal.

Hwy 1 took us on another beautiful drive, butting up against Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe outside the Artic.  But our favourite stop of the day was at Fjadrárgljúfur Canyon.  We walked to the top and followed the edge as it snaked along with the ravine below.  It’s not for those scared of heights!

Another favourite that day was a stop at the US Navy Plane Wreck from the 70s.  This was the visualization of my worst nightmare.

With two nights in Hvolsvöllur, we planned a day trip to attack some of the sights of the well-known Golden Circle and surrounding areas.  Unfortunately we had yet another setback.  After a few calls and mechanic’s help, we were on our way.

Our first stop was Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s impressive waterfalls.  The icy cold wind was a real change from the balmy 5C weather the day before.  Just goes to show that you have to really prepare for any kind of weather when in Iceland.

There were certainly a lot more tourists there than at any of our stops the days before.  We saw mega expedition tour vans and pimped up tourist shops.  A short trip from Gullfoss was the Geysir where we watched it unleash its fury… about every 5 minutes.  It was fun watching in anticipation as the water bubbled, pulsed and gurgled increasing in intensity just before letting off the jet of water about 3 metres high.

Later that afternoon, as if we hadn’t already learned our lessons, we made an exploratory 4×4 drive over rocky and barely used F-road (at least we think it was a road) in search of more waterfalls that our map indicated.  Perhaps we should have clued in when we first passed the dam and hydroelectric plant that the waterfalls were in fact, no more.  Despite my nagging and anxiety over once again heading off into the middle of no where with a potential faulty tire, we were rewarded with a look at Þjófafoss.  Spectacular and impressive … like all the beautiful waterfalls of Iceland.  And it was nice being alone again with no other tourists in sight.

We ended the day with a quick jaunt over to Skógafoss to see the sun reflect the mist and create a double rainbow.

{Insert corny but wildly appropriate reference here}  We truly spent the day chasing waterfalls.  We didn’t just stick to the rivers and the lakes…


About Author

My name is Emilia - I love versatile trips! You might find me at a trendy new restaurant one night, but the next day you're just as likely to find me at a local market sampling exotic foods. I'm open to just about anything when I travel and I want to encourage you to be open too!