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.

Day 15: Ólafsvík – Húsafell

Day 15: Ólafsvík – Húsafell

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Day began with a very nice warm start. It was quite unusual and extremely nice, to wake up to a hot warm sunny tent.

Today’s weather was the best we have experienced since we departed on our journey, with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and summer heat, to warm the body.

Interesting Cloud Structures

We did experience some quite interesting cloud formation around midday, which an artist would describe as “broad brush strokes”.

After we packed-up camp, we drove from Ólafsvík to Húsafell, returning to the highlands, via the southern coastal road Highway 54 along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula southern coastline.

We stopped for lunch in Borgarnes, where we also did some essential shopping, including our first visit to the Iceland version of Vinmonopolet called Vínbúðin.

We then drove on to Reykholt, to visit the home of the famous saga-writer Snorri Sturluson. Here we purchased a number of interesting books, about Viking Gods, Sagas, Runes, etc. which we will read along our next half of our expedition journey.

Snorri Sturluson Hot Pool

We then completed the rest of our journey on to Húsafell, where we pitched our tent, before going for a nice relaxing swim in the geothermally heated swimming pool and hot tubs.

Later, the weather was so nice and warm, we could actually eat outside, as well as write up the days blog article on the pickup tailgate – another first on this trip.

The campsite really began to fill up later in the evening, probably due to the good weather and weekend – mainly with Icelanders, not tourists.
We fortunately had a couple of very nice and friendly Icelandic families camping next to us.

Husafell Campsite

Quick Thank You to some of our Sponsors & Supporters

Quick Thank You to some of our Sponsors & Supporters

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We are basically half way through our expedition now, and so far its been a great trip, despite the weather being much colder and wetter than expected for this time of year.

We have been using a lot of equipment that our Sponsors and Supporters have donated to us, and as such we would like to take this opportunity to say another quick THANK YOU, to you all.

Here are a few “quick personal messages” to some of our Sponsors / Supporters, which I hope they will appreciate:

Origin AS – All the equipment we purchased is in constant daily use
Game-On AS – The Leatherman Multi-tool is in constant use every singe day.
Praesto 4X4 Ltd – The Frontrunner Roofrack is carrying our Spare Wheel.
Tove Kilhavn – Your “old” Iceland Map is in constant daily use (well worn now…) and the Tour Food Packs were excellent
Proactima AS – The 2 old iPhone 4’s are in constant use, and form part of our communication and network system
Smith Optics / Polaroid (Safilo Group) – Polaroid Sunglasses & Equipment are in constant daily use
Arctic Trucks Norge AS – We are using your equipment daily, and wearing the promotional T-shirts and Hats
Arctic Trucks Experience – We are using your equipment daily, and wearing the promotional T-shirts
Trine Eriksen Olden – The Lilleborg AS Personal Hygiene Products are keeping us all clean & healthy
BilXtra AS – Vehicle Equipment Donations are proving very useful and in constant daily use
NJFF (Norges Jeger- og Fiskerforbund / Norway Hunters & Anglers Association) – Expedition Equipment in constant use
Glenn Angell – GPS / GIS Advice & Support – The Expedition Vehicle Tracking Maps are great

Pauline Otręba – The Geology of Iceland Book is an excellent read, and we are using it
Eni Norge ENIMS Team & HSEQ Quality Unit Team – The “Iceland Special” CD is great
Betty Smith – Financial Donation & Support – Its been a great help in this expensive country
Robert Leulier – You would be proud of your old Arctic Trucks (Expedition Vehicle 2)

If we have missed you off this quick blog article, we humbly apologise.

We are using all the equipment and once again thank you all for your wonderful support.

We hope you are enjoying our daily blog news updates.

Greetings from Western Iceland

ICE2015 Team

 

Day 14: Laugar – Ólafsvík

Day 14: Laugar – Ólafsvík

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Today was another efficient campsite pack-up & departure, with the sun trying to break through the clouds.

As the day progressed, the weather became more and more like a summer day, until late in the afternoon, the sun finally broke through, and we were actually feeling warm for the first time, since our arrival in Iceland.

The start of the day began by driving south on Highway 60, before turning directly west to follow Highway 54, along the northern coastal road of Skógarströnd and Snæfellsnes peninsular.

We stopped for lunch at Stykkishólmur and visited the Norwegian House Regional Museum.

Norwegian House Regional Museum, Stykkishólmur

We then drove to Londranger, to view the lava sea stacks that resembles a Viking Boat, with its sail up, setting out to sea.

Londranger lava sea stacks that resembles Viking Boat, with its sail up, setting out to sea.

We then drove on to the end of Snæfellsnes peninsular, to visit Vatnshellir Lava Cave, in Snæfellsjökull National Park, which was very interesting, and well worth the visit.

Icelandic Gunnar - Our Cave Guide

Lava Cave Access

Our final location of the day was the extinct volcanic crater of Saxhóll, at the of Snæfellsjökull.

Saxhóll Volanic Crater

View from Saxhóll Volanic Crater

We finally camped for the night at Ólafsvík campsite.

Today, Anja did some “light shopping” for Icelandic wool – as you can see from the photo below, she ended up buying 24 balls of yarn…….

Ólafsvík Campsite - Note the 24 balls of yarn next to Anja (knitting)

Day 13: Ísafjörður- Laugar

Day 13: Ísafjörður- Laugar

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Today started really well, with the most efficient campsite pack-up and departure so far on the trip, which may indicate that we are really getting into the rhythm now, and that everyone knows what to do and how to do it.

The weather remained “reasonably ok” all day today, meaning no rain, and some occasional blue sky between the usual grey overcast clouds, and cool winds. However, having said this, it was a few degrees warmer today, than it has been the last few days, but certainly still remains a lot cooler than expected for this time of year.

Tracking up to Ísafjörður

Today we drove from Ísafjörður to Laugar, via some of the most spectacular roads and landscapes so far witnessed on this trip, mainly following highway 60 southwards.

Dynjandi Waterfalls

At midday, we stopped at Dynjandi waterfalls, which is a spectacular wide waterfall, which you can climb right up to if so inclined – so we did, and of course, got completely soaking wet from the spray, but it was well worth the experience.

Expedition Vehicel 1

The mountain gravel road pass after these waterfalls was a spectacular drive, with some exceptional views from the summit, and some interesting and challenging driving conditions along the way.

Expedition Vehicle 1 decending spectacular gravel road mountain pass

We had planned to camp overnight at Reykhólar, but were quite disappointed with the campsite on arrival, so we continued driving to Laugar, where we were very pleased to find a very nice campsite next to the Edda Hotel in Saelingsdalur, which also hosted a 25m open air geothermal heated swimming pool and steam room saunas – excellent !!!

Edda Laugar Hotel Swimming Pool

Throughout the day, Anja was able to take a lot of great photographs, and take time to experiment with both the Nikon cameras and lenses, and her new macro lens attachment for her Samsung mobile phone.

Lupins in Iceland

The evening ended with Anja taking the kids to the hotel for cake & drinks, which was great treat for them.

Tuva & Dina

Day 12: Hólmavík – Ísafjörður

Day 12: Hólmavík – Ísafjörður

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We were very happy to have stayed a second night in accomocation, rather than tent, especially given the very poor weather conditions outside.

This morning, the weather had started to slowly improve, which continued for the better throughout the day, with occasional glimpses of blue sky, between the grey overcast clouds and strong cold winds and occasional light showers.

SS Suðurland, Djúpavík

We first drove north to Djúpavík, at the head of Reykjarfjörður, to visit the rusting shipwreck site of SS Suðurland, which is an old abandoned cargo and passenger vessel, that is now spending its final days rusting on the shore next to the abandoned factory – A photographers paradise.

Here, Neil was attacked by a couple of Arctic Turns who were probably defending their territory, which promptly shit all over his hat…
(Bird shit means “good luck” where Neil comes from, so no worries….).

 

Fjord Road Views (note the farm at the bottm of the cliff)

We then drove on to Ísafjörður, which is the largest town in the peninsula of Vestfirðir (Westfjords).

The drive was a very long and at times quite interesting, following very close to the coastline most of the time, along potholed dirt track roads winding in and out of the many fjords and inlets.

Its not surprising that this part of Iceland is the least frequented and visited, given its remote distance and challenging landscapes.

Arctic Fox Centre, (Icelandic: Melrakkasetur) Súðavík,

Just before arrival in Ísafjörður, we stopped at the Arctic Fox Centre (Icelandic: Melrakkasetur) in Súðavík, where we toured the museum, as well as witnessed the feeding of a captive Arctic Fox puppy at the back of the museum. The staff were very nice and we really enjoyed our visit to the centre.

Arctic Fox Puppy Feeding

We then established camp (Tungudalur) in the Ísafjörður campsite, and eat dinner.

20150721_175047

We then took a trip into town to take a look around, as well as clean the 2 Expedition Vehicles, which were extremely dirty after todays additional mud and dirt from the gravel roads.
It was good fun cleaning the cars, although quite cold.

Half Clean Car

Gunnar Cleaning Exploraton Vehicle 1

On returning back to camp, Neil and Dina took a trip on the mini cycle we have brought along for fun.

Gunnar trying to fix damaged quadcopter

Later, Gunnar worked on the badly damaged quadcopter, after its crash landing (see blog article: “Day 8: Mount Askja (Dreki) – Reykjahlið (Mývatn)“). However, after all the efforts of this evening, it appears that this quadcopter is unfortunately possibly beyond repair at this stage. Luckily, we do have an identical second quadcopter to use for the rest of our trip, but we unfortunately don’t have a second gimbal for the GoPro camera. The GoPro camera on the crashed quadcopter is also probably a complete write-off, as we cannot get it to function.

Dina Drawing on tablet in tent

Neil Tracks Down Distant Icelandic Relatives

Neil Tracks Down Distant Icelandic Relatives

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Today, Neil final established contact with his Icelandic relatives in Reykjavik.

Unfortunately, a lot of his Icelandic family are currently away, or will be away on summer holiday when ICE2015 arrives in the Reykjavik area.

Neil originally established contact with his Icelandic relatives in 1979, when he travelled to Iceland for one month, to track them down and visit their homes.
See blog article: “The idea is born…

We will be establishing meet-up arrangements over the next few days, before we reach Reykjavik.

Below – Local South Yorkshire Newspaper clip, about Neil’s first trip to Iceland in 1979.

Newspaper Clip - Neil First Trip to Iceland

 

 

 

Day 11: Blönduós – Hólmavík

Day 11: Blönduós – Hólmavík

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We were so glad to have rented a small hytte at Glaðheimar campsite, in Blönduós for the night, as the weather last night was the worst since we arrived in Iceland – strong very cold winds & rain, with a temperature of ca.3°C.

Glaðheimar campsite hytte

At least we had the opportunity to not only sleep in beds and not in a cramped tent, but also to get clean, dry-out, fix and re-waterproof a lot or our equipment, ready for use over the next days ahead.

The day began slowly, as we needed to repack a lot of our equipment, before we started.

Hvítserkur Lava Sea Stack

We then drove Highway 1 westwards for a while, before taking local roads to Hvítserkur, the famous whitened 3 legged lava sea sack.
however, the wind was so strong and cold, that we didn’t spent much time there, other than take photographs.

Húnaffjörður

 

Iceland Seal Centre Logo

We then drove on to Hvammstangi, to visit the Icelandic Seal Centre, which was a very interesting small museum.

Iceland Seal Centre, Hvammstangi

Inside Icelandic Seal Centre

From there, we continued to drove Highway 1 westwards, along the eastern side of Hrútafjörður to Brú, before taking Road 61 north, along the western side of Hrútafjörður to Hólmavík.

 

Neil Driving Expedition Vehicle 2

While some of us drove, others took the time to take a snooze in the cars.

Tuva Sleeping in Back Seat of Exploration Vehicle 2

Here we see Tuva, wearing a newly knitted jumper by Anja, catching a quick sleep, with her 66°North hat over her eyes.

 

Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft Logo

In Hólmavík, we first visited the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, where Anja felt quite at home…

Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft

Due to the very strong and bitter cold winds, with frequent showers and rain all day, we decided to rent an apartment for the night at Steinhúsið, next to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft and town harbour.

Steinhúsið, Hólmavík

Hólmavík Harbour

Due to the very wet and windy conditions all day, the Expedition Vehicles acquired an additional thick layer of dirt, to really make them look exactly as expected from an exploration vehicle – cool & dirty.

 

 

Dirty Back of Exploration Vehicle 2

Dirty Expedition Vehicle 1

Note how “clean” the Expedition Vehicles appear in the photo at the top of this page at the begin of the day.

What a difference a day makes on Icelandic Roads…

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