We read about a little waterfall near town so before heading east we went looking for it and found it; Stjórnarfoss, a small but picturesque waterfall surrounded by rugged volcanic hills just outside of the little town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. To reach the base of the falls we walked through a camping site called Kleifar with but one orange tent pitched, very quiet place and then along the river bank to the base of the falls.
Yesterday we had ran out of time before we could explore the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Susan carried a picture of the canyon with her that she had torn out of a magazine and once we saw the photo there was no turning back, we were smitten and had to go back.
The canyon was not far off the Ring Road on a gravel track that while narrow, was in good condition.
Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is not massively deep about 100 m and 2 km long but its beauty lies in the colors and contours. It was created over thousands of years, some say 9,000 years, by progressive erosion by flowing water from glaciers through the rocks and the result is stunning.
From the parking area we hiked along the rim of the canyon with it’s constantly changing and breathtaking views of the sheer cliff walls and the serpentine Fjaðrá river that flows through the canyon. At the end . . . another waterfall cascading into the river below.
The canyon does not exactly end at the waterfall but it seemed a good place to end our walk after spending a little time simply enjoying the sound of the water, the majestic view in all directions and of course snapping a “few” photos.
There are endless opportunities for photographing this canyon, hiking or, simply enjoy the beauty. We even found a lone goose perched high above the river, perhaps nesting.
Still a fair amount of territory to cover today so after a couple of hours we are back on the road, heading for Skaftafellsjökull glacier, a spur of the Vatnajökull ice cap and situated in the enormous Vatnajökull National Park.
Along the Ring Road
From the Vatnajökull Visitor Center there is an easy walk through low scrub along the base of the cliffs to the glacier. The trail ends at a pool formed by glacial melt water beyond which stretches the glacier’s rather unattractive face, streaked with mud and grit.
Next up the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park. We thought that we were getting close and saw some cars pulled off to the side of the road so decided to see what there was to see. There are very few pull offs on the Ring Road and usually a pull off means something scenic so we parked and climbed over a hill that was obscuring the view to the lagoon, it was indeed what we were looking for and we almost missed it. At this point along the road the lagoon is unsigned and before the main turn-off to the boat tour dock. Luckily for there were no boats cluttering up our photos today but I can imagine with the right light it could be quite magical to be on the water.
Situated at the head of the Breiòamerkurjökull glacier, the lagoon formed as the glacier began receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and it has increased in size fourfold since the 1970’s. Currently the lagoon is 1.5 km from the ocean’s edge and the deepest lake in Iceland at over 248 meters.
You might recognize the lagoon from some of the movies it has appeared in – A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Tomb Raider and Batman Begins.
That was the last stop for today, now to find our next farm stay near Hofn. I think the mountains are getting bigger.
Our accommodation for tonight is a small hotel in Hoffell, a community that consists of few farms at the foot of 800 meter Hoffellsfjall. The views are incredible; we look out to the mountains and glacier with horses and foals in field – idyllic.