Posted by: lindsaygoes | August 20, 2012

Exploring Iceland

After my last update we spent the morning driving through the mountains through bleak and desolate terrain, which has been compared to the surface of the moon. We also had clear weather and sunshine, which made us feel like we had been transported somewhere else. There was also a brief rest stop where we all tried the local delicacies, as pastry known as a love ball. We then had our compulsory waterfall stop of the day, Dettifoss, Iceland’s most powerful waterfall. It was amazing how much water was turbulently pouring over the edge, and because of the clear sky we even got a rainbow! Our next stop was Ásbyrgi , a natural horseshoe shaped canyon which was thought to be created when Odin’s eight – legged horse Sleipnir touched the ground. It is also rumoured to be the capital city of the hidden people of Iceland, who live in cracks among the rocks. There was a small lake at the bottom full of ducks feeding, leaving their bottoms bobbing up and down in the air humorously. Next we went to Námafjall, a geothermal area full of steaming fumeroles and bubbling mud pits. Apparently the sulfur stench was pretty bad – lucky I have a bad sense of smell. Then it was on to Dimmuborgir, a lava maze filled with ancient lava cones which we walked through. As we still hadn’t done enough for the day we also went and saw some pseudocraters, which look just like craters, but weren’t formed by an eruption, rather from venting steam when lava settled over a lake. Then we had an horse ride on Icelandic horses through the mist (the sun had gone by this stage). It was nice to see things from a different angle, and Icelandic horses have a special gait (????) which is supposed be very smooth. I think I was doing it wrong because it felt pretty bumpy to me (although perhaps my expectations of a glide like experience were a little high?). We rode the horses along the edges of cliffs, through rock formations and along the old Icelandic highway (basically a very narrow dirt track when the only means of transportation was horseback).

The following day we went to Leirhnjukur where we walked through a 30 year old lava field, the ground still gently steaming around us. We had a nice walk around the area, also seeing a couple of bubbling mud pools and mosses growing on the warm rocks. You could also see the ripples in the lava where it had set while flowing, giving you a real idea of how the terrain was created. Then we visited the Myvatn hot springs where we relaxed in the hot mineral water until we turned pruney. And then relaxed some more. So we were all a bit sleepy when we got on the bus. But we had to get up when we got to Godafoss waterfall, the waterfall of the gods. There was a bit of a tricky walk over a stream which ran next to the waterfall, stepping on various rocks, but luckily neither myself nor my camera got wet. Our final sightseeing point for the day was Akureyri, the second largest town/city in Iceland after Reykjavik where we had a bit of free time. So we sat and ate for most of it. In the evening we had an Icelandic buffet with a selection of meats – lamb, pork, horse and minke whale. To be honest, the horse and minke whale weren’t all that bad.

On the next day we explored the Snaefellnes peninsula, visiting the Breidaf Jordur nature reserve where we had a cliff top walk to a lighthouse, and had lovely clear skies and sunshine. Then it was the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, which had numerous vantage points for lots and lots of photos. And then a few extra photos to make sure. We then went to Djupalonssandur, a lovely pebbled beach surrounded by volcanic basalt formations and we also saw some lifting stones which were used to work out the strength of sailors and how much they would be paid. The heaviest was 154 kgs, the lightest (known as the weakling, 23kg). Further along the peninsula we had a walk along the coastline seeing lots of birdlife and rock formations, with a particularly lovely rock with a hole in it. Then it was a short stop for some icecream. Our final stop for the day was Budir with a lovely old wooden church and the one example of non-black sand, which was created from shells digested by catfish. Delightful.

Our first stop the next morning was Grábrók, an old volcano which we walked to the top of. From the top we could see into the crater, but also another volcano close by. More lovely scenery followed at the first of the days waterfall stops when we saw Hraunfossar (lava waterfalls) where the waterspilled out in multiple streams from small breaks in the lava, and Barnafossar (children’s waterfalls) a short walk away. Our next point of call was Deildartunguhver thermal spring, Europe’s hottest spring (100*C), which also has the largest output of any spring in the world. It was steamy. Then we saw another waterfall (I don’t know what it was called, but it probably ended in foss) before getting back to Reykjavik where we had a bit of a wander and our final group dinner, followed by delicious ice-cream, ending our final day in Iceland.  

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