Day 24: Skaftafell – Höfn

Day 24: Skaftafell – Höfn

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Day started well, with a nice warm sun-lit tent, with blue skies outside.

Skaftafell Campsite

This nice weather remained the theme of the day, with only occasional showers, becoming windy towards the end of the day.

We departed Skaftafell Campsite, with a wonderful view of Vatnajökull glacier directly behind us.

Vatnajökull Glacier

We then drove along Iceland ring road Highway 1 eastwards (anticlockwise), following the coastline, having both Öræfajökull & Breiðamerkurjökull on our left hand side.

Icebergs - Fjallsárlón

Good Reflections

We then stopped at the 2 famous “iceberg lagoons”: Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón, which are fed from the tongue of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier.

Icebergs - Jökulsárlón

Icebergs - Jökulsárlón

Here, we not only experienced the wonder of icebergs at close hand, but also wildlife (e.g. Seals, Arctic Terns, Geese, Ducks).

Ducks

Seal in Jökulsárlón

The ice was crystal clear, and also nice to eat…(according to Neil)

Neil Holding Crystal Clear Ice (before eating it...)

The icebergs float downstream towards to the sea, and are commonly trapped in the river bottleneck where the road bridge crosses.

Here you could literally watch the icebergs float by you on their way out to sea, and with the river flow so high, this movement was at considerable speed.

Icebergs flowing out to sea underneath Highway 1 road bridge

We then followed this “iceberg river” to the sea, where smaller blocks of ice which have fallen off larger icebergs, become beached on the black sands.

Beached Ice Blocks on Black Sand Beach

We then drove onto our destination: Höfn í Hornafjörður where we rented a “very small” hytte for the night at the camping ground, to get away from the strong cold biting wind.

Highway 1 close to Höfn

Our "Little Hytte" in Höfn

In Höfn, we ate at the Pakkhus Restaurant, where we really enjoyed the local delicacy, Langoustine – which comes highly recommended.

Langustine Dinner - Yum-Yum !!!

 

Day 23: Vík – Skaftafell

Day 23: Vík – Skaftafell

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Today we left Vík, to continue on our travels.

The weather started out perfect, with blue skies, no wind and not too cold.

Neil’s condition has improved sufficiently, to allow us to move on, albeit at a slower pace than usual.

After leaving Guesthouse Carina, we visited Reynisdrangar sea stacks and Halsanefshellir basalt columns, so that Neil could also experience what the rest of the team saw the other day. Here we saw a seal close to the shoreline, checking us out.

Seal

After this, we then visited the sea cliff arch at Dyrhólaey, where we saw more Puffins, both on the cliffs and at sea.

Puffins on the sea

We then drove out to the DC3 aeroplane crash site, on the black sand.

DC3

Neil, Tuva and Dina on top of DC3

Inside DC3

Afterwards, we drove back into Vík to do essential shopping and eat lunch, before taking the long drive along the south coast Highway 1 to Skaftafell, via Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

Unfortunately, the weather turned much for the worst on this part of our journey, so we didn’t get to take any nice photographs as hoped for.

This drive along Icelands Southern Coastline is quite bleak, completely flat, and remote, with first the Mýrdalssandur glacial outwash plains, followed by the extensive lava fields from Laki, followed by the very wide and flat rocky sandy plains of Skeiðarásandur.

Remains of Old Bridge after 1996 flood

We crossed a number of newly built bridges, following the catastrophic flood of 1996, when most of the bridges and sections of the roads were simply washed away. One piece of the old bridge has been left where it stood, to show just how powerful the flow was, and to remind folks that this will probably happen again some time in the future, given the right volcanic / glacial interaction conditions.

We then established camp at Skaftafell Campsite, which forms part of the Vatnajökull National Park.

Skaftafell Campsite

The campsite was quite busy, with lots of campers, as this is a Bank Holiday Weekend in Iceland.

Day 22: Vík (Neil Sick)

Day 22: Vík (Neil Sick)

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Today was an unplanned “rest day”, to allow Neil to begin to recover from his very bad case of food poisoning.

Whilst the rest of the team found things to do throughout the day, Neil slept most of the time, when not visiting the bathroom !!!!

Gunnar took the kids to the local swimming pool, whilst Anja knitted in the sunshine at the back of the Guesthouse Carina.

Anja had the nice opportunity to meet up with her cousin Harald, and his wife Margret & child, who by chance were visiting Vík from Norway at the same time as we were here.

Family Reunion in Vik

Later in the evening, the rest of the team went out to the local sea cliffs, to watch the Puffins, whilst Neil slept and recovered.

Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks & Sea Cliffs, Vik.

Puffin on Sea Cliff at Vik

Close-Up of Puffin

We would like the owners and staff of Guesthouse Carina for all their help and support during Neil’s sickness – much appreciated.

 

Day 21: Hvolsvöllur – Vík

Day 21: Hvolsvöllur – Vík

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Today, many things happened that was certainly not on the agenda.

First of all, we could not get onto the ferry to Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) on the south coast, due to a nationwide youth festival taking place there, with literally hundreds of youths in front of us trying to get on the ferry. So we had to abandon that idea, and move on to our next agenda location.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

We then visited Seljalandsfoss, which is a really nice, tall waterfall you can walk all the way around the back.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Back View

it was here that Neil started to feel quite unwell.

Skógafoss Waterfall

We then drove on to Skógafoss, which is a spectacular and wide waterfall. Here, the rest of the team checked out the waterfall, while Neil quickly returned back to the car, feeling quite sick and very unwell.

As a result of Neil’s worsening condition, we drove on to the next town, Vík, where we stayed the night at the very nice Guesthouse Carina.

Guesthouse Carina Vik

Soon after we arrived at the Guesthouse Carina, Neil became a lot worse, with diarrhoea and vomiting all night.

We believe it was a bad case of food poisoning, as no one else in the team was either unwell or sick.

Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks

While Neil tried to relax in the Guesthouse, the rest of the team took a walk to a local restaurant, and then onto the black beach, where the winds were very strong, where they had a good view of Reynisdrangar sea stacks, and column basalt columns at halsanefshellir.

Dina Sitting on Basalt Columns

Neil was very ill the whole of the night, which resulted in the decision to stay an extra night, to allow him to recover.

Tracking Data Update

Tracking Data Update

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We have now driven 3000 km since leaving Sandnes.

Currently, we are in the central region of Iceland, where we will spend the next few days exploring, before driving south to the coast, which we will then follow mostly, for the remainder of our expedition.

Hope you find this tracking data interesting.

Tracking Data to 27 July 2015

 

Day 18: Hafnarfjörður – Fluðir

Day 18: Hafnarfjörður – Fluðir

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The day started well, with a warm sunny morning, that continued most of the day.

Arctic Trucks Shop

We packed up the campsite efficiently, and then drove to Arctic Trucks, to spend a few very interesting and enjoyable hours with the Arctic Trucks & Arctic Trucks Experience Teams.

We were fortunate to be given a tour into their workshops, were we saw two 6×6 Toyota Hilux Arctic Trucks undergoing final build preparation for a future Chinese South Pole / Antarctica expedition, as well as viewing one Toyota Hilux that has just returned from the South Pole – Amazing how good it looked after such a trip.

New Toyota Hilux 6X6 - Next Stop South Pole

We have to say a special thank you to Freyja Ágústsdóttir for all her help in not only setting up this visit, but also all her additionally help in trying to find contact details for one of Tuva’s old school friends, that returned back to Iceland a few years ago. Unfortunately, we did not have the right opportunity for allowing her to meet her old school friend on this visit.

Neil with Arctic Trucks Team

Also, many thanks to Steinar Sigurðsson (Sales Director) For his personal guided tour into the Arctic Trucks workshop, to see what happens behind the scenes, and to have this wonderful experience first hand.

Tuva wants one....

We then drove to Selfoss, where we look lunch in the town centre, before driving on to Geysir.

Strokkur/ Geysir

At Geysir, we experienced the geothermal experience that the famous Geysir has given its name to science.

Today, Geysir does not “blow” unless induced by soap, whereas its neighbour Strokkur, provides the constant “geyser show” today. Interestingly, I noticed that Strokkur is a lot more “unreliable / unpredictable” than it used to be – possibly a result of recent earthquake events, that may have disturbed its “blow period”. However, we managed to gain a lot of excellent photos, capturing the geyser explosion event, and the water / steam column. What was clearly obvious to us that have visited this site many times in the past, is how many more tourist were there this time than before – a significant increase.

Gullfoss

We then drove to Gullfoss, to see this truly amazing waterfall. Here, the weather was perfect, so we were able to take some great photos, including some with rainbow effects, resulting from the waterfall spray uplift.

Gullfoss Spray

Later, we went tourist shopping at the Gullfoss Centre.

We then drove to Fluðir, just south of Gullfoss, where we established camp, before visiting the local natural open air hot pool called Gamla Laugur (old pool) / Secret Lagoon, which was really enjoyable experience.

Secret Lagoon

Due to technical problems, we have not been able to recharge our laptops, or find sufficiently decent internet connection options, to allow us to update the blog for the last few day (many apologies…).

However, we are back in action, and here is the latest blog news – hope you liked it.

Day 17: Hafnarfjörður – Inside Volcano – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavík – Hafnarfjörður

Day 17: Hafnarfjörður – Inside Volcano – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavík – Hafnarfjörður

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Today was a severe test of our limitations & patience on the subject of “waiting”.

The day started well, with a slow and easy start from the campsite.

The weather started off poor, with grey overcast clouds and showers, but gradually improved throughout the day.

We drove to Bláfjöll area ski centre, just outside SW Reykjavik, to meet with the Into the Volcano guide. Unfortunately, the was some highly unfortunate mix up with the timing and tour schedule, which resulted in us having to wait for almost 2 hours at the meeting point, before the start of the tour.

However, the wait was well worth it.

The Into the Volcano tour was absolutely excellent, very professional, well thought through and executed, and the guides were really great. We can highly recommend this tour to anyone.

Not only was it a geoscientists / volcanologist dream to be able to be lowered in the only know empty volcano vent in the world, but to also witness first hand such a fantastic geological sight first hand.

Volcanic Vent & Base Camp

The colours within the volcanic vent were absolutely amazing, and the flow / drip structures on the wall as the lava retreated were truly amazing.

Multi-Coloured Lava within Volcanic Vent

It’s not certain what happened geologically, but it appears that as the volcano was actively producing and flowing lava, there was a catastrophic event that suddenly completely drained the lava chamber, leaving a hollow structure ca. twice the high of the statue of liberty – 120m.

Cable car to the inside of the volcano

The guides were great and very informative, and we also had the privilege to meet the main person behind this incredible project, Kristjan Maack, who personally signed the book we bought about this volcano Þríhnúkagígur.

Kristjan Maack & Arctic Fox Cub

They also had a semi-tame arctic fox cub living under their base camp hut, which occasionally came out to greet the new guests, in hope to gain some of the delicious lamb & vegetable broth soup they provide everyone at the end of the volcano visit (due to the temperature within the volcano being ca.4°C).

Lava Cave / Tube Exploration

On the way back to the car park, we also experienced a journey through a long series of interconnecting lava tube / caves.

 

Blue Lagoon

After this amazing volcano experience, we drove on to the Blue Lagoon to chill out and relax.

Unfortunately, the Blue Lagoon was fully booked this day, so we had to add ourselves onto their walk-in waiting list, which resulted in a ca.2 hour wait, before we were finally admitted to the pool. However, the wait was well worth it, and the very nice warm relaxing swim and soak was just what we needed after a very trying day when it came to “the waiting game”.

Blue Lagoon

After the Blue Lagoon soak, we then dove to Reykjavík, to meet David Hemstock, Neil’s distant Icelandic relative.

We then took the opportunity to take a very late dinner together in the city centre, and catch-up with the last 13 years since we last met.

Dinner in Reykjavik with David

At the end of the day, we had to drive back to Hafnarfjörður campsite, where we arrived very late and tired after a long but very fulfilling day.

Neil & David - Catching up withover 12 years of news

 

Day 16: Húsafell – Hafnarfjörður

Day 16: Húsafell – Hafnarfjörður

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The day started with a fairly slow start, as we didn’t have to be at the Into the Glacier meeting sight until 11:00.

The weather today was good most of the day, with a warm start and sunny blue slies, which turned to overcast dark clouds and rain later in the afternoon / evening.

Neil checking out the Glacier Truck

On Top of Langjökull

After breaking camp, we drove up to Langjökull Into the Glacier Base, where we transferred to MAN Glacier Trucks, which drove us to almost the peak of the glacier, to enter into the recently opened Into the Glacier tunnel.

Into The Glacier Tunnel entrance on Langjökull

Inside the tunnel, we moved ever deeper into the glacier (ca.600m into the glacier, with ca.30m ice roof above us).

Into The Glacier Group

Into the Glacier Group & Tour Leader

Ice Tunnel

Dina in Ice Tunnel

We all really enjoyed the experience and can fully recommend the trip.

After the glacier experience, we then drove the mountain rough gravel road 52 south to Þingvellir and Þingvallavatn

Drive down from Langjökull

Gunnar Deflating Tyres ready for rough gravel road ahead

When we arrived at Þingvellir the weather had taken a turn for the worst unfortunately, making our visit a wet one.

Þingvellir

We walked around this historical area, and enjoyed standing on the landfall version of the Mid Atlantic Ridge.

Þingvellir

After arrival in Reykjavík, we drove to the city centre campsite, Laugerdalur, where we found it totally overflowing with campers already there, and the campsite essentially already fully occupied. We therefore had to find an alterative solution to our plans, so we drove out of the city to the commuter town of Hafnarfjörður to their campsite, which was a lot more open and less crowded.

After establishing camp, we grabbed a local pizza and eat it on the park bench in the campsite area, before catching-up with website taks and blog updates.

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