Iceland 1999 Trip

Keflavik to Vik

Njarðvík youth hostel

Njarðvík youth hostel

Our first step of the tour was the Reykjanes peninsula. Situated about 40km from Reykjavik near the fishing town of Grindavik lies ‘The Blue Lagoon’. A natural lagoon which is fed by natural underground geothermal water. It was created by run-off from the Svartsengi power plant, which pumps up the geothermally heated water from a full mile below the surface.
After a regenerating bath in the 40°C degrees heat water, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the southern coast of the peninsula and took many photos at the Krysuvik hot springs with their enormous jets of steam gushing their way out of the earth and rising into the sky.


Reynisbrekka youth hostel (burned!)

Heading south along Route N.1, on our left we drove along the mountain Hekla, an active volcano for centuries; on the way we found lots of beautiful natural wonders such as Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, a scenic, 40-metre high waterfall that flows over a massive overhang in the cliff face; this makes it possible to walk completely around the falls.
The magnificent Dyrhólaey, the southernmost promontory in Iceland, is renowned for its precipitous cliffs teeming with bird life and the huge sea eroded arch – through which large boats can sail.
There is a lot of bird life in Mýrdalur, with gulls, Arctic terns but we could see not even a puffin – God bless them !!!!!!


We took a rest in a remote youth hostel near Vik and we planned to visit the interior even if we had only a non 4-wheels car. We headed toward the southern highlands of Landmannalaugar, one of the pearls of  Icelandic nature, along a narrow graveled road with many unbridgened rivers.
Landmannalaugar is an oasis in the middle of nowhere, where hot springs allow you to take a hot bath in the river. Its unspoiled rhyolite peaks, glacial rivers and geothermal hot streams provided a steady supply of breathtaking panoramas. Unusually coloured volcanic rocks include blues, greens, yellows, tans, and blacks. Fierce winds threatened to push us from the narrow paths that clung stubbornly to the jagged ridgelines.

Geysir and Gullfoss


Reykholt youth hostel

One of the natural attractions of Iceland is now Strokkur, another geyser 100 meters south of the old Great Geysir, now dormant, which erupts at regular intervals every 5 minutes or so and its white column of boiling water can reach as high as 20-30 meters. The whole area is a geothermal park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron.
Not far from there, in the sunset hour, we took a view of Gullfoss (The golden waterfall) Iceland’s most famous waterfall, and one of the natural wonders of the world.. The enormous white glacial cascade drops into a narrow canyon. Its spectacular two-tiered cataract hangs in the air like fine drizzle, which forms a rainbow in the sunlight. It is Iceland’s all-time spectacle.

Central Iceland

We went up to the north coast by the road of Kjölur which passes in the middle of the two glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull.
The landscape changed really abruptly, no more green bush with “cotton” flowers, only earth and stones, and no paved track.
The road temporarily leaves the main Hvítá river valley climbing to the pass between Bláfell mountain and Langjökull. That’s, in our memory, one of the most scenic part of the journey: the contrast between desert and ice, under a deep blue sky, is really an unforgettable feeling.
The road descends peacefully back in the main valley towards the Hvítarvátn lake, renowned for the icebergs released in it by a Langjökull’s glacier tongue.
In the middle of the Kjölur road we arrived at the hot spring area of Hveravellir with its coloured ground at high temperature where you can take a relaxing bath. Here, a series of over 20 hot pools, some sprouting steam geysers, others boiling madly, blues and greens with small sintered pools, are beautifully set in the desert.

Akureyri, Myvatn and Askja

Ósar youth hostel, Vatnsnes peninsula

Ósar youth hostel, Vatnsnes peninsula

On the way to the North coast we took a rest at a beautiful youth hostel in the Vatnsnes peninsula with a beautiful landscape and scenario over a seal-populated bay.

Akureyri youth hostel

On our way along Route n°1 we arrived in the sunny Akureyri, the capital of the north.
We decided to stay here for two days so we were able to see much of the surroundings. Akureyri is a pretty town, so much clean and after many days spent in the desert we enjoyed the return to civilized society.

Next day we decided to attack the interior of Iceland and head towards Askja. We rented a 4WD vehicle and travelling quickly through Myvatn area, with the “must” stop at the Goðafoss falls, we took some photos at the geothermic fields of Hverarönd with its labyrinths of sulfure springs, mud marmites and smoke holes.
Myvatn area is famous for its shallow lake which is the breeding grounds for thousands of migratory birds feeding on midge fly and their larva. These midge hatch from May to August and although some bite most don’t, and just swarm around you everywhere you move outside. They are so thick they penetrate your ears, eyes and nose rapidly driving you to frustration. Unfortunately we were there during the peak season so we couldn’t stop here so much.

At last we rode the 70 km to Askja. The first 30 km was through volcanic ash interspersed with harder tufa. We crossed many deep and wide rivers during this part of the track, then we headed out on the F88 past Herðubreið. The desert scenery was broken only by the oasis at the base of the mountain. The final 40 km was generally harder surface and in the end we were weaving through a lava field to arrive at the Askja caldera.
The Askja lake is bounded in the south and east by precipitous cliffs and to the north and west by cliffs cutting the lavas that cover the bottom of the Askja caldera. The present level of the lake is 50 m below the bottom of the caldera. Soundings of the Askja lake reveal a roughly circular crater-like depression. Vigorous geothermal activity is manifest on the eastern and southern boarders of the lake. A large crater, Víti, just northeast of the subsistence, contains fumaroles and a small pond with warm constant water at 25 degrees .
We returned tired at Akureyri at night after exciting 500 km of tracks by Jeep in a day.

kopaskerNext day we were on the road again and moved to the fishing town of Husavik famed for whale watching, but the windy weather conditions not allowed us to do one of the guided tours by boat. After heading north we rode past several farms and then turned inland and climbed up and around the back of a high headland. Then down and into the small town of Kópasker where we took a rest in the small youth hostel which had a beautiful view over the Artic sea. Along a bad road, we arrived at Dettifoss, the largest volume waterfall in Europe. It turned out to be a lot of water falling into a canyon, and as often happens, impossible to photograph in a single shot. The spray and the noise was incredible, giving the effect of a full rain for a 1/2 km downstream.