The route along the southeastern coast and into the East Fjords is said to be one of the most underrated parts of Iceland. The West Fjords get all the attention but this time of year there is still too much snow and, on this trip, too little time for us to venture that far so the East Fjords will have to fulfill our craving for the beauty and drama of the fjords.
This should be our longest driving day, about 6 hours without stops and I really don’t think not stopping is even an option especially when you consider he drive will be characterized by spectacular fjords, tranquil fishing villages, rugged tundra and sweeping landscapes. It looks was a very long day, especially for Susan who is doing all of the driving.
It doesn’t take long for the drama to unfold, mountains in the distance and long sweeps of black sand beach against the deep blue sea.
Nearing Djúpivogur we see a photo op and walk out into a field where there is a large rock, good for an overview of the valley. We are shooting when I notice something in the field that at first I think are more rocks but on zooming in I see a herd of reindeer resting in the grass.
The village of Djúpivogur boasts a new outdoor artwork “Eggs of Merry Bay” by Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson and intrigued us enough to go looking for it. The artwork consists of 34 eggs, one representing each of the species of local birds. The eggs are all similar in size except for one, which is the largest one and belongs to the red – throated diver, the characteristic bird of Djúpivogur.
There were some tunnels through the mountains rather than around and these were one lane! At the entry point was sign designating who had the right away inside the tunnel and inside there were small spots provided (marked with an “M”) to pull over but there wasn’t much room, a real nail-biter.
The roads are very narrow, steep drops to the ocean below or broad plains stretching form the mountains to the sea, many of the roads had no guardrails and lucky for us very little traffic, it was slow driving around the fjords but jaw dropping gorgeous.
And then we began to see more and more snow as we climbed into the mountains, leaving the coast behind. The first sight of the white wonderland was beautiful but after a couple of hours we were weary of it, just a vast plain of white, it was mind-numbing and we just wanted to get to the lake, anything to break up the monotony! It seems we have become quite spoiled I mean, after all, it is a beautiful day, the sun is shining and the snow is glistening but oh what I would give for a change of scene.
Then . . . as we came around a bend . . . a beautiful valley spread out before us with countless mountain peaks dotting the landscape – look for a pull out, look for a pull out, even a small one, WE HAVE TO STOP!!!!!!
Revived, refreshed (it was really cold) and our senses sated we climbed back into the car and continued on our way. Boy did we ever need that little break!
On to the Lake Myvatn region, an interesting unusual part of Iceland. On the east side of the lake is the Namafjall geothermal field also known as Hverir, a trail is dotted with boiling mud pots, surrounded by sulfur crystals of many different colours. The geothermal activity makes it look as though the Earth is slowly trying to turn itself insideout It is quite smelly as you would expect, the soil in the area has little growth and is sour due to erosion and the sulfur from the atmosphere. Indeed, the old rock-covered boreholes in the area give off a lot of hot steam, beware.
We knew that we were in striking distance of our hotel now and my back was screaming GET OUT OF THE CAR! As we pulled out though Susan mentioned that she hadn’t see the turn-off to Detifoss Falls yet, a place that she really had her heart set on seeing. We had talked about it earlier in the day and I thought we had decided to return in the morning since it was going to be such a long day but she still had the energy and desire to find it tonight. I couldn’t go much farther and the turn-off that I saw was snow covered and about about 12 miles back. She kindly offered to drop us at the hotel, 9 miles ahead, and I gratefully accepted her offer. We drove around Lake Myvatn to find our hotel, checked in where I collapsed on the bed and Susan headed back out. I admit to feeling pretty guilty as we enjoyed a glass of wine and dined on Arctic char then bellies full fell into bed.
Map of today’s route.