Reykjavik, IcelandReykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik – Defrosting in THE Icelandic city

After our ice-cold dive in glacial water between the continental plates, it was time to defrost.

We decided for a small detour to a hot-pool before heading to Reykjavik. We were looking for something local, very well hidden, that we can have for ourselves  *smiley winking*

Luckily we got a hint and a description of the way to the “Schafswanne”. Approximately 40°C warm water directly flowing out of a small hill into a pond at a very small shelter…what a treat *smiley smiling*

On the route to Reykjavik we passed by once more Silfra and Thingvellir, the spot of our dive adventure the day before. We took the opportunity to explore the surroundings being warmed up and in proper clothing.

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Silfra, IcelandSilfra, Iceland

Silfra – Diving between the continental plates

Already since millions of years, the continental plates of Europe and America are drifting apart, leaving behind a crack in the crust of the earth. This crack is mainly invisible as it goes through the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

As Iceland is looming out of the Atlantic Ocean and also can’t resist the forces below, the crack here becomes well visible. At Thingvellir national park you can see how the island slowly, very slowly, but unstoppable gets parted in two with a multitude of cracks in the earth.

Parts of these are filled by a stream of glacial water from the surrounding mountains, making a great diving terrain: Nearly unlimited visibility under the surface, fresh and stone-filtered water you can drink during the dive (way different from the usual salt water).

However, 2°C water temperature demand for different equipment than we normally use – dry suit diving is required. *smiley worried*

After some theory in a text book and a trial lesson in a nearby indoor swimming pool, to ensure the suit fits (and does not leak in cold water), we were ready to go *smiley smiling*

Freezing cold despite the suits, but great views…

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Kerlingarfjöll, IcelandKerlingarfjöll, Iceland

The Highlands – Getting to know the limits

Our way from Myvatn on the ring-road until the turnoff to F35 would have been unspectacular, aside from the “usual” waterfalls along the route. But, we managed to meet a DHL colleague, circling Iceland the other way around, just in oncoming traffic and briefly stopped along the road for some exchange on tips and tricks – and of course to say hello *smiley smiling*

However, the title of this post promises more, right? Well, we discovered 3 limitations to us and our equipment within 3 days of travelling through the interior highlands of Iceland:

Limit number 1 hit us several kilometers onto road F35 (“F” roads are the ones, you are only allowed to use with a 4WD) and after we already spend quite some time only on a gravel road and its surface becoming more and more bumpy. On the way we already drove through some patches of the road that were still flooded with water from melting snow – sometimes using the straight way through, sometimes more circulating around what we expected to be the deepest areas of the water.

So approaching yet another such flooded stretch, despite it being quite long didn’t seem to pose a risk…

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Krafla, IcelandKrafla, Iceland

The North: Many “Fosses”, Myvatn and Akureryi

We needed to leave behind Bakkagerdi and the cute puffins going back the same route we came out here, as there is only one road connection. Heading towards west, we passed by a church from about 300 years ago – not in its original state of course, but reconstructed according to old descriptions, mainly made of turf for insulation.

Driving through seemingly endless empty planes where you only find stones, harsh winds and a lot of dust the gigantic waterfall Dettifoss looks somehow out-of-place. It is an unbelievable amount of water flowing over the cliffs, while the surrounding is dry and nearly without vegetation.

However, Dettifoss and close by Selfoss make a welcome opportunity to stop, stretch and have a short hike *smiley cool*

Icelandic for beginners: “foss” means “waterfall”

Just leaving the two waterfalls behind, we passed by the turn-off to Askia and, to our surprise, the road was open *smiley surprised*

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Bakkagerdi, IcelandBakkagerdi, Iceland

Puffins at arm length distance and wonderful landscape at East Fjords

We wanted to see Puffins, the cute black and white seabirds which dive for their food supply and have a parrot color bill (therefore called “Papageientaucher” in German). You can find them on every postcard in an Islandic Souvenir Shop in Reykjavik. The question was, if it is possible to find them very close by on land (i.e. avoiding a shaky boat ride and a 500mm lens). Guidebooks recommended boat tours but why not just asking the locals?

In Höfn we found a very nice woman who told us, that in the northern part of the East Fjords, there is a “small town” called Bakkagerdi and in season there is a huge puffin colony for breeding close by. Season was on, so why not heading to the “small town” to check this out?

The route to that “small town” was via a pass with snow and ice. All felt a bit remote and extinct, but with some entertainment from time. For example a group of sheep using the street for a race, a fantastic view at the pass and insight that the expression “small town” is an exaggeration. Bakkagerdi has 300 (human) inhabitants, a church, a small kiosk and a camping ground. That’s basically it, but what’s most important for us: the sun was shining and the landscape was amazing *smiley cool* !

Internet research leaded to the opinion that it is best to check out the puffin colony either in the evening or in the morning. At the end of the road there is a little harbor with a cliff which is the home of the little fellows. So we hoped being lucky to find a few and went there. Well, we were lucky… not a few… A megacity with 20.000+ puffins!!

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Berunes, IcelandBerunes, Iceland

South East Iceland: Glaciers, Sea, F985 and Waterfalls

The night at Skaftafell was good, despite quite some rain the tent kept us dry inside. Next morning also our car was “ready” again and the engine started up right away *smiley smiling*

We headed further east along the south coast towards Jökulsarlon a glacier lagoon very close to the sea. We could have taken a boat ride on the lagoon, but there were two things preventing us from doing so: 1) The boats do not really get very close to the icebergs as its too dangerous and 2) Just too many tourists of the kind “Ohhh my god, have you seen this? This is sooooo awesome!

While they are right, the lagoon and the icebergs really look awesome, we opted for the walk along the shore of the lagoon…

Continuing along the ring-road we passed by an intersection that announced the F985 leading left into the mountains up to Jöklasel. I read about this before and that it offers great views and you really make it up to be nearly on the glacier. A 4WD was announced to be required – our Suzuki Jimney was one, so after some discussion I convinced Iris to go up there…

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Skaftafell, IcelandSkaftafell, Iceland

The South #3 – Canyon, glacier…and a car

Note: It has been quite a while…we are already back, left the tent behind and enjoy the memories. However for our dear followers we of course want to complete our Iceland adventure here *smiley smiling*

Leaving the Thankgil campsite behind, after a very nice and – thanks to the sun – warm breakfast, we made our way back to the ring road.

Our motor still protestet various times on the way, but we decided to worry about it, when it wouldn’t start at all anymore. If everything goes wrong, we just put up the tent next to the car and wait for “the guy” from the car rental to come and fix the issue *smiley winking*

Iris has seen some pictures on Pinterest when looking about destinations in Iceland, we want to visit – and the Fjadrargljufur canyon was one of them…

Simply an amazing piece of art – carved out by a river over thousands of years *smiley smiling*

And the best of it…

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Vik, IcelandVik, Iceland

South Iceland (part 2): Waterfalls, a plane wrack, rock formations, glaciers and ice bergs

Iceland has not too many summer months but it has plenty of water and beautiful waterfalls. Even such waterfalls you can walk behind. Which we did of course, but only with rain gear *smiley laughing* . It is amazing how much water is thundering down the cliffs…

Of course, lunch is always where you get hungry. And most of the times, there is a very nice scenery around, of course always in the “table at the window” – even if there is no window *smiley winking*

As a surprise I told Thorsten to turn right at a little track in the middle of nowhere…

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Þórsmörk, IcelandÞórsmörk, Iceland

South Iceland (part 1): River crossings and hiking in Þórsmörk

After arrival in the middle of the night at the Keflavik airport (which is in desperate need for process improvement…) we got our little 4wheel drive and made it to our B&B – in full daylight! The famous white nights are really bright – 2am could easily be like 4pm on a cloudy day back home…

We stocked up with the essentials in Reykjavik: food supply and a tent. The guys from the outdoor equipment shop where we rented the tent were very helpful. Since we both cannot remember when we have built up a tent the last time, we were quickly taken to a playground with some grass around and were shown how this works. Looked easy *smiley smiling*

Since most of the highland roads are still closed – “This was the strongest winter since 50 years and the worst spring since then – the snow is only melting now” – we unfortunately could not go to Landmannalaugar which was the original plan. Therefore we picked Þórsmörk. Of course, it did not take long after leaving the city to meet the first Icelandic ponies! To reach Þórsmörk however, only two smaller rivers to cross on the 4wheel drive road and then the last hop across the deep river with a special truck/bus. Those little two rivers where 6 and some were not so little as expected / hoped…

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