Iceland 2016 A Journey of epic proportions

Early on the morning of April 1st, 2016, we were leaving from our Hotel at Suðurgata 6 in Reykjavik in a Chevrolet Captiva to head out on a tour of the Southeast of Iceland. Below you can find a map of this road trip.

First Stop: Gullfoss

After driving for about 7,5 miles (12 km) on some dirt roads, we arrived at a bridge over a river. I was so fascinated by the color of the water, that I felt compelled to take a few pictures.

The river's name is Ölfusá, and it begins at the junction between the Hvítá and Sog rivers, just North of the town of Selfoss, and flows for 15,5 miles (25 km) into the Atlantic ocean (Source: Wikipedia)

The river is shimmering in turquoise on this overcast day.

After another 65 miles (105 km) we arrived at one of the most impressing waterfalls of Iceland: Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland. Seljalandsfoss is located in the Southern Region in Iceland right by Route 1 and the road that leads to Þórsmörk Road 249 (Source: Wikipedia)

The waterfall drops 197 feet (60 m) and is part of the river Seljalands that has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. (Source: Wikipedia)

After another short drive of 18 miles (30 km) we arrived at Skógafoss.

Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland
These two pictures were taken two years prior to this year's trip.

The Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in the country with a width of 82 feet (25 m) and a drop of 200 feet (60 m). (Source: Wikipedia)

The most surreal experience was our march over the black sand of the Sólheimasandur. We started with clouds, had a small hail storm, came across a wonderful 180º rainbow, and in the end, the remains of the famous DC-3 plane wreck emerged under the glistening rays of the setting sun.

Sólheimasandur Beach Plane Wreck

The wreck of a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 plane crashed on November 21, 1973 (according to an Icelandic newspaper published on November 22, 1973). (Source: lastadventurer.com)

The coordinates are as follows (63 27.546-19 21.887). From the Parking on the side of the road, it is about a 45 minute walk (one way!).

Before heading back to Reykjavik, we had one more place to visit: Dyrhólaeyjarviti. A lighthouse which is towering above the Solheimasandur Beach to the West and the Rxynishverdi Beach to the East. We were able to see a wonderful sunset from there and a perfect end to this day.

The light station at Dyrhólaey was established in 1910. The first lighthouse was a skeletal steel tower prefabricated in Sweden. The present lighthouse was built in 1927

Panoramic View of Reynishverdi Beach
The Dyrhólaey Lighthouse in the bright Afternoon Sun
Massive Rock Formation with the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse on top
Some images of my trip to Iceland in 2014

Reykjavik

What started as a small walk around Reykjavik, got extended to the inland airport and back - an almost 12-mile (19 km) round-trip.

Soccer Field near Reykjavik, Iceland
From Seltjarnarnes to the beautiful homes of Háskóli Íslands
Airplane overhead
Back in Reykjavik: Clockwise from top left Bæjarins Betut Pulsur (Hotdog Stand), Hallgrímstorg (Church) and Harpa (Concert Hall and Conference Centre)
Sólfarið (Sun Voyager) is a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason

Exploring the Westfjords

On Tuesday, April 5th, 2016, we embarked on a 490-mile adventure, which led us to the Westfjords. We were heading North through the Hvalfjarðargöng - a street tunnel, which partly goes under sea level to shorten the drive from 31 miles (50 km) down to 3 miles (5 km). On the way we stopped at a parking spot near the Hitara River, Vesturland, Iceland.

Hítará is located in the West of Iceland, about 68 miles (109 km) from Reykjavik. Hítará is a medium sized river with a long fishing tradition.

The Fishing Lodge Lundur is 16 miles (26 km) north of Borgarnes along route 54.

The Hítará Lodge has a unique atmosphere with a stunning view over the river from the sitting room. It houses a famous collection of mounted wildfowl. The food and service is very good. At the beginning and at the end of the season the lodge is self-catering. (Source: www.icelandicflyfishermen.com)

After leaving route 54 and heading up North on route 56, we were able to test the 4x4 capabilities of our car. The road down to Baulárvallavatn (a lake famous for its summer fishing tours) was a dirt road with partly snow - no problem.

Baulárvallavatn is located at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the Western part of Iceland.

Baulárvallavatn covers about 395 acres (1, 6 km2) and has a maximum depth of 154 feet (47 m). It rises to an altitude of 633 feet (193 m) above sea level. The lake receives water from the Vatnaá river, and dispatches it to the Baulá river. The latter merges with the Straumfjarðará river, which is renowned for salmon fishing.

Being the first at a tourist spot allows for people-free images. This was the case for us when we arrived at Kirkjufellsfoss.

Kirkjufellsfoss is located at the North side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the Western part of Iceland.

It is named after the mountain Kirkjufell next to it. Kirkjufell (Icelandic: Church mountain) is a 1520 feet (463 m) high mountain on the North coast of Iceland's Snæfellsnes Peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður. (Source: Wikipedia)

Lower Parts of the Kirkjufellsfoss

After heading over some other dirt roads towards Stykkishólmur, we arrived in time to get the tickets for the ferry to Brjanslaekur in the North.

Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjördur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the North via the Flattey Island. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the South and Midwest of the country and the Westfjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

Car is parked up in the belly of the beast. Ready for the 3,5 hours crossing of the bay.

On the Ferry from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur
Wake of the Ferry from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur
Ferry Baldur is a car and passenger ferry that operates all year round from Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to Brjanslaekur on the Westfjords.

After being back on land, we were driving to the spot which triggered this whole journey to the Westfjords: Garðar BA 64 Resting Place.

Gardar BA 64 Shipwreck is thought to be the oldest steelship in Iceland, built in Norway as a whaling vessel 104 years ago. In December of 1981 Garðar BA 64 was deemed unfit for duty. Instead of sinking it at sea as was the custom in these days, when ships went out of service, it was rammed ashore at Skápadalur Valley in Patreksfjörður. (Source: stuckiniceland.com)

Before heading to the hotel in Patreksfjörður, we were in for our second magical moment of this journey to Iceland. When coming over the crest of Rauðasandsvegur route 614 - another small dirt road over a pass to end up at Rauðasandur (Red Sand) beach - the landscape revealed itself underneath us in the red color of the setting sun - awesome, epic!

Rauðasandur (Red Sand) Beach

Looking back at where we were coming from ...

Not one soul for miles and miles ...
The beauty of the icelandic landscape in its best form
With abundant impressions, we were driving towards the spot for the night: the Fosshotel in Patreksfjörður.
not the end of the day ...

Around midnight, we received a phone call from the reception desk - there were faintly viewable Northern Lights Activities reported.

Aurora Borealis in Patreksfjörður, Iceland
Polar Lights (known as Northern Lights in the northern hemisphere, scientific term Aurora borealis): 1st row was taken right after the phone call, 2nd and 3rd row were taken 30 minutes later on my second going outside.

Another Day ....

After a short discussion, we decided not to take the already travelled route 62, but instead try another adventure in form of the unknown route 63.

Bildudalur, Westfjords, Iceland - 2014 population was 171, down from 397 people in 1989.

After 22 miles, we passed the Bíldudalsflugvöllur, an Airstrip in the Westfjords.

Bíldudalsflugvöllur, Airstrip in the Westfjords, Iceland
Bíldudalsvegur Route 63
Unknown Waterfall in the Westfjords
View along Route 63 Bíldudalsvegur in Iceland, heading up ...
Driving up the mountain pass towards route 60, which brought us back to Breidafjördur Bay.

The different roads, we travelled on during this road trip.

Icelandic horses

Icelandic horses weigh between 730 and 840 lb (330 and 380 kilograms) and stand an average of 52 and 56 inches (132 and 142 cm) high, which is often considered pony size, but breeders and breed registries always refer to Icelandics as horses

We are on the home stretch back to Reykjavik.

Thank you for flicking through the adventures we had in Iceland. All images are © 2016 by me - Adrian Funk.

The End ...

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© 2016 Adrian Funk

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