Fall Travels on the Ring road
Our journey begins with the flight from Düsseldorf to Reykjavík on the 28th of September 2017.We are looking forward to 14 days of exciting adventure and breathtaking nature.
Day 1 – Arrival
The trip started at 9:30 pm from the airport in Düsseldorf. After an uncomplicated flight we landed in Keflavík, where we took the bus company Airport Express to Reykjavík, 50 km away. We checked into a 16-bed room in the Bus Hostel. This was already an experience worth. We fell asleep somewhere between a ringing mobile phone and snoring people.
Day 2 – Golden Circle
With 6 hours of sleep and a lot of excitement we went to our camper rental Rent.is to pick up our camper. Our anticipation got insulated, because the ring road is closed between Jökulsárlón and Höfn for another week. We got this information on the websites Road.is and Safetravel.is, which are really important to check from time to time while you are traveling Iceland. On roads.is you can see for instance the road conditions, if some roads are closed or which roads need to be driven by a 4WD (especially needed in the highlands, basically the middle of Iceland). Safetravel.is gives you for example general information about traveling in Iceland and very important: alerts about strong wind, floods and so on in different languages.
Nevertheless we drove after a long inspection of the car to the supermarket Bónus, which is one of the cheaper ones, as Iceland is quiet expensive and some say it’s the Aldi of Iceland.
After a short planning we decided to go to the Golden Circle. We started from the capital Reykjavik to the national park Þingvellir, where one of the largest lakes of the Þingvallavatn is located. In front of us laid Mountains in the most beautiful autumn tones. The nature is breathtaking. Our first stop – a small parking place next to the street. We had some undisturbed moments whereas a bit further down the street there was a lookout platform with a lot of tourists. We continued to the geysirs on the road 36. Strokkur is an exciting geysir which erupts every 10 minutes. It is located right next to the geysir, „Geysir“ who was one of the first ones ever discovered and who gave name to all of them.
We found a sleeping place in Flúðir, where we went swimming in the morning in the „Secret lagoon“. It is like the Blue Lagoon but less crowed and it is also less expensive. Furthermore this building reminds us of a swimming pool because there are clean and warm showers and the personal is friendly. Next to the pool there is a lifeguard and it feels like an exquisite place. After that we went to Gullfoss – to the Golden Waterfall.We spent a few hours here and then went back to the geysirs, where we enjoyed our dinner with a nice view.
Day 4 – Skálholt and Keldur
First we went along the road 31, where we saw a church between all the meadows. From the outside it was just white and monotonous, but from the inside the sunlight shone through the colorful mosaic windows which was quite beautiful. We listened to the mass, and exchanged the greeting of peace with the priest, which was sweet. Outside the world was quite and the time stops. A very spiritual place, which was once a significant bishop’s seat of Iceland. After this historically important place, we looked for a café to plan our further trip. Unfortunately, the Ring road is still closed and should be opened next week. Nevertheless we decided to drive clockwise. So we went on Road 1 (the Ring road), heading south. We had nothing marked on our map for the next few kilometers and found some nice places, like the old bridge just by looking out of the window with that beautiful landscape passing by.
We kept on driving and visited the small village of Keldur, which was a bit off the Road 1. Nothing but beautiful old buildings and sheep around. This place had a really sweet atmosphere.
From afar you could see many waterfalls coming down the mountains. However, when we stood in front of it, it was even more breathtaking and quite wet. The Seljalandfoss. Unfortunately, it was crowded by tourists so the magic got a bit lost – just be early. But when we went behind the waterfall we were really impressed.
Water masses made their way downwards and you could almost touch it. After that we drove to a natural pool, which was colder than expected but with an awesome view. You can find a list of many pools (especially the hot ones!) in the article “Hot springs in Iceland“, but not every pool is a hot pool and the admission is not always free.
Day 6 – The Mysterious Ghost Wreck and Skógafoss
Our day started in the early morning hours because we went to the mysterious ghost wreck. The place was a bit hidden and it does not has any signs, but it is about 10 minutes south form Seljalandfoss with a big car park. We took the 40 minute walk surrounded by nothing but black sand. We arrived just in time for the sunrise, in front of us the remains of an old US plane in the most wonderful colors. We’ve read that the old plane is the most photographed motive in Iceland, so again – be early or maybe really late. Back at Skógafoss we enjoyed our breakfast with a view of the waterfall. After the refreshment, we hiked a few kilometers along the hiking trail, which is one of the most popular in Iceland. The route was along the waterfall and was dominated by more and more smaller waterfalls. After some climbing and rain, we decided to turn around. Completely soaked we arrived at the campsite and were happy to take a hot shower and relax.
Day 7 – Dyrhólaey and Hálsanefshellir
The seventh day began with an extensive breakfast. Additional information and maps were given to us by the friendly lady at the campsite in Vík í Mýrdal, where we stayed the night.
Today our destination is the lighthouse on the coast of Dýrhólaey and the Black Beach. Here you can observe many Puffins from May to August. But unfortunately we couldn’t see this notorious bird because (obvious) it is October. The view platform was filled again by numerous tourists, whereupon we had a nice view of the rock faces and the beach. After a short time we went on to the Black Beach. There was black sand and stones instead of a white beach with mussels. The water is cold but it is forbidden to go swimming anyway. Nevertheless there is a small cave, which could be seen at low water level. We relaxed in the sun on a small rock.
The Ring road is open (yeah!) and we are so happy that the bridge is finished. We spend the next hours in the car as we drove through the dusk. Behind us the sunset, in front of us the rising moon – a beautiful picture. After a long search we found a campsite, the stars were shining in the dark and we made our self comfortable in the camper.
Day 8 – from Svartifoss to Höfn
In the morning we had a breathtaking view of the glacier and enjoyed our breakfast in the sun. Afterwards we walked a few kilometers around the waterfall Svartifoss (the picture above). The nature shone in the most wonderful autumn colors. In this area you can do many trips like the Ice Cave Tour by Vatnajökull Glacier from Jökulsárlón or the Skaftafell Glacier Hike. You can book it on the spot or for instance on the website https://glacieradventure.is. It is so important that you get the information what is included and what you need for this trip. Unfortunately we didn’t plan a hike in advance, so if you want to do these sort of trips, bring some hiking boots and be prepared.
We continued to the east of Iceland by car on the Ring road. Our next stop was a lake, with the same glacier which extended over an big area. After a few kilometers there was even the same lake but now with ice floating. They just swim in this cold water and it was so quiet. It was a deoxidize place and sometimes you could hear that a little flow was separate by the big glacier. Then we went to Diamond Beach. Apparently the river moved next to the street. You just stand there, watching ice flow going out to the sea sometimes accompanied by seals, that’s so cool! The washed ice pieces glittered in the sunlight at the beach, and we watched the waves hitting the big ice masses with full force. After that we went to the hot pool, where we had a wonderful view of the sunset. Our journey continued at full moon to Höfn.
Day 9 – From Höfn to Breiðdalur
We started the day really relaxed and slow. After lunch we continued to drive through the east of Iceland. During our planning we noticed that there were not many tourist attractions. This got confirmed by the fact that we’ve only seen cars every twenty minutes. The weather also changed noticeably fast, so we got some drops of rain. We couldn’t see the mountain peaks because of some clouds and there was a rough wind blowing, but all this made the atmosphere mystical and special. Not a nice weather to take a walk, but we were here to see the nature. We looked for signs at the roadside and found some nice places quickly.
Of course, the landscape was covered with waterfalls. In between we went to a restaurant in a fishing village and enjoyed the view onto the harbor and the small boats. An idyllic place – how quiet and peaceful life is out here. After the refreshment we went on the road around the fjord Berufjörður. It became mystic and dark. The sun sets down quiet early therefor you can see many stars. Too bad I do not recognize many of their constellations. Here you would have certainly seen many, which you won’t see at home. In addition we where really lucky to see Northern lights last night. A dream came true. But as fast as they danced in the sky, the faster they were gone again. You can get more information about the Northern lights on the website vedur.is. The most likely you will see them from October to march and you basically just need no clouds and luck.
Day 10 – Continue to Reykjahlíð (arrival in the north)
We opened up the trunk of our camper in the early morning hours and there the sun just rose. Beautiful Iceland. Unfortunately, she was also quickly crawled behind the clouds again and we went off. Weather changing Iceland. In the east we had only one stop. A small village with a harbor and a great view. Then we spent the next 160 kilometers in the car. Such a ride can be quite long. But Iceland offers a unique nature, so we saw not only waterfalls, but also our first snow.
Following the road signs, our next destination was Dettifoss, another big waterfall who let you feel as small as you are.The first road we took was blocked, so you better check the roads on roads.is (as we told you above 🙂 . But there was another road. So we drove to the waterfall. Meanwhile, we have seen many and I am always amazed how many masses of water fall into the deep. Dettifoss is a fairly wide waterfall, but unfortunately you can not really see how deep the water falls, so yes it’s deep.
After a little walk along the river bed, we continued our trip. Just close by there came a real Mars landscape. Steam emerged from the earth through a volcanic surface, and you could smell sulfur. So thats one fascinating thing of Iceland: the variety of landscape on a relatively small area. Afterwards, we had a separate cave visit, where we had to climb over some stones. But for that we were rewarded with a small lake inside.
Day 11 – Blönduós
Our day started from Mývatn. The first stop was a landscape covered with craters. There were, like always, some tourists gathered. But to be honest, I found the sheep much more interesting. They are sweet even as they are all over the island. The waterfall Goðafoss was next on our program. This is strongly reminiscent of the one yesterday, but it was still breathtaking. Then we spent more time in the car, because our goal was to get close to the Vestfirðir, obviously in the west. We could not drive to the highlands because we are missing a four-wheel drive camper. So we went on to Akureyri. A quite big place for Iceland. There was even a small shopping street through which we strolled. We also looked at the church, unfortunately only from the outside, since it was closed. We spent the next few kilometers in the car and watched the sun go down and stopping at some of the sights along the street.
Day 12 – Vestfirðir (Arrival)
The day started with rain and we had to drive a few kilometers because we wanted to have a look at the Vestfirðir. So we spent the time in the car, listening to music and enjoyed the scenery. When the rain stopped briefly, we ventured out and looked at the small church and a bird island through the binoculars. Probably there were some ducks. This region of Iceland is very little populated and only 10% of tourists dare to go here. It was already eerie because there were no other people, so if you want to escape the tourists, while driving through a beautiful landscape with many fjords, watching through the window and just forget the world around you for awhile – that’s the place to be.
Day 13 – Drive to Búðardalur
Early in the morning the alarm clock rang and we wanted to go into the hot pool near by our campground, somewhere along road 61. But the camp door did not open – it was frozen and we waited a few minutes. When we were finally outside, it was bitterly cold and we were happy to swim in the really warm water.
After this we drove many kilometers to our next stop. It was an old moss-covered house surrounded by a stone wall. We read the history of this small village Lítlibær which was build in 1895. In the summer you can have a coffee and see the little house from inside. But now it was closed and we only looked through the windows. The rooms are tiny and the ceilings are low – it is amazing that back in the days 20 people lived in this house. After this historical event we visited Dynjandi – another waterfall.
It is the highlight in the Vestfirðir and said to be „the“ most beautiful waterfall in Iceland. On the way up you can see even more smaller waterfalls. The walk lasts a few minutes and it is so beautiful to stand near by Dynjandi. We enjoyed this destination before we continued our way on the gravel road (no 4WD needed on most roads).
Day 14 & 15 – Reykjavík
Our fourteenth day began without much sleep, because we had to drive again a few kilometers. The reason was that we had to return the camper on the next day at 12 o’clock. This time we even saw a beach as we know it in Germany. A real contrast when you have seen the coasts of black sand. The last evening we spent a comfortable meal in the restaurant before we entered the last stage of our trip. Shortly before Reykjavík we drove to the last campsite and we saw the Northern lights dancing in the evening sky again.
Our last day started with a warm shower and a delicious extensive breakfast. We packed our stuff together, which was quite a bit longer than we expected, since we had been living in the camper for more than 14 days and drove to the camper rental.
From there we went by bus to the capital city. There we parked our bags in the bus center, which allowed us to explore the city by foot. The pompous church was one of our highlights. From the top you had a wonderful and clear view of the often colorful small houses. We strolled through the shopping streets and enjoyed our last hours in Iceland.
Of course, the Harpa – the concert hall – was also on our list. The honeycomb-architecture was impressive and we were astonished as we stood in front of it. The lights of the city grew stronger, the sun disappeared and we took the next bus to the airport. Thank you Iceland, we fell in love with you!
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