North Iceland

The last I left off, we were in Borgafjordur seeing puffins. That is is north east Iceland. After a successful puffin adventure, we began across the north of Iceland travelling east to west. The #1 highway cuts across the bottom of all the fjords and large peninsulas. Driving up and around all of these can mean lots of unpaved roads. So we were selective about what we wanted to see. We did not try to do them all.

From Borgafjordur, we got back to the #1 and went to Dettifoss waterfall. This spectacular waterfall is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Unfortunately, there are two ways to get there. When we drove up the east side, the road was closed. We drove around the barrier as many were doing. It was a rough gravel road all the way… about 30 km took us about 45 minutes I think. When we arrived there were other cars there but we could see the bus people on a platform on the other side of the falls. I suppose it would be like taking some back road to Niagara Falls only to find bus loads of tourists standing on a nice platform. That said, I think we had a better up close view of Dettifoss. BTW, those people took the road on the west side… not sure if it was paved but it must have been better.

Dettifoss

Before we started up to Dettifoss, on the side of the road, we booked two things. First, we booked tickets to go into the Myvatn Nature Baths. Second, we booked a whale watching tour for the next day. After visiting Dettifoss, we drove to Myvatn. As we arrived in Myvatn, we went to Krafla where we climbed an lava field from 1984. After this hike (about 9 km), we stopped at an area that was all bubbling mud and steam. We took some neat perspective photos… I am all about the fun pics.

Krafla
Bubbling Mud

We went to the Myvatn Nature Baths at 7:30pm. The naturally heated water is loaded with minerals that are supposed to be amazing for your skin. It is not cheap… about $50 CAD. It was totally worth it sitting in water that was about 40 Celsius while drinking a local beer. The outside temperature was about 5 C. A very cool experience. We camped in Myvatn that night.

Myvatn Nature Bath

The next morning we went to Hverfjall Crater which was very close to our campground. It was about 3 km to hike around the rim of the crater. The harder part was the 420 m hike to get up there. It was quite windy and I think that is where I first got wind burn. After this hike, we drove to Husavik which is the whale capital of Iceland. We booked a tour for about 8500 isk each (about $92 CAD each). We used a promo code that we got in a coupon book which saved us about $10 each.

Hverfjall Crater

The whale watching tour was about 4 hours in total. We spent a lot of time trying to find a hybrid blue whale/fin whale. We saw him but he was a little shy and didn’t spend a lot of time surfacing. We went on to find humpbacks. We saw several… but as always it is challenging to photograph them. Still no comparison to the whales we saw in Antarctica… but still very amazing. More wind burn on the boat, and throw in some sun. After whale watching, we shared a large order of fish and chips in Husavik.

Thar she blows

After Husavik, we drove to Akureyri where we camped overnight. The next morning, we went to the Bonus and did a little more shopping. Then we went downtown and did a walking tour I found around the town. This included a stop at the Botanic Garden and walking through old town. We then started west again… stopping first at Reykjafoss (another amazing waterfall). The maps.me app led me down the wrong side again. I could hear the waterfalls but could not see them. We could see people on the far side so we looked for a road that would get us there. It was totally worth the hunt.

Reykjafoss

From Reykjafoss, we headed towards Hofsos. Along the way, we stopped at the oldest church in Iceland. It is a sod covered church. It is just about in Hofsos. We camped in Hofsos for the night and decided to visit their public pool the next morning… We went to Hofsos specifically for the public pool. It is an award winning pool… It is built on the side of the cliff and looks like an infinity pool. Amazing views. Unfortunately, about ten minutes after we got in the hot tub, a bus load of Icelandic high school kids showed up and we shared the hot tub with a bunch of teenagers.

Turf Church
Hofsos Swimming Pool

After a good soak and then a nice hot shower, we continued west. We found another amazing waterfall called Kolufossar. I am always amazed how close we can get to fantastically powerful waterfalls. It was another incredibly windy day… my face is so red right now. We began heading towards Hvitserkur. It is a large basalt sea stack. It looks like it is defying gravity and should blow over at any moment… But it is a very cool geological formation. We also saw some seals in the water and basking on a sand bar out in the water.

Kolufossar
Hvitsekur

We are now in Hvammstangi for the night. Tomorrow we will hunt more seals. The Icelandic Seal Centre is here. The campsite is pretty cheap… but has great wifi and a nice warm common room. We will start tomorrow down the west coast. We still have a few days to go with the campervan. I am also going to post a Google Map that I have been working on… Might be helpful for those planning an adventure of their own.

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