We are sitting in the warm camper. It is 21:30 and still light outside. The sun is, as usual behind the clouds. Outside the swimming trunks are drying in the strong cold wind. This campsite in the middle of the Iceland, between 2 snow cap volcano’s has a natural hot pool. It was the main reason why we suffered the vibrating drive over the corrugated road for some 90 km. But first what happened before..
The town of Stykkisholmur is nice. They have done their best to preserve the last remaining old houses. The harbour, where the ferryboat from the West Fjords arrives is full of small fishing boats. Some tourists wander the town. Not much is going on. The coffee shops and lunch rooms are not open yet.
We leave town the same way we came in and drive again over the mountains to the other side of the peninsula. There we set course to the east towards Borgarnes. The road is excellent and the countryside is dotted with remains of old volcano’s. In Borgarnes we drove straight to the “Settlement centre of Iceland” museum. A recommendable museum which only has 2 exhibits in the form of a story. The first audio tour takes you through the first 50 years or so of the settlement of Iceland in 830. It describes how the first families arrived and settled themselves in different parts of the island. The second audio tour re-enacts one of the old saga’s (oral stories) which describes the ins and outs of the chieftain and his family that settled in Borgarnes. The night was spent some 60 km inland at the town of Husafell. There is a waterfall nearby and busloads of tourist come to see it. The camping was also full despite that it was very large. It is also holiday season for the Icelanders.
On Friday 30/7/2021 we first drove a bit North over the F578 (4×4 road) to look at some lava tubes. Here a 3 km long lava tube is caved in at various points and therefore accessible. We took pictures and walked over the top. Walking though the tube is possible but with so many boulders everywhere it is not easy.
We had more confidence in our camper and decided to take the inland gravel road 550 which runs close to the Langfjkull glacier. With the binoculars we could see the truck driving over the snow with tourists. The sights of the snow-capped flat volcanoes was fascinating. Nothing grows there and the road was not busy. You felt you were far away from civilisation.
However at the end of the road is Pingvellir. This is an Unesco site. It is where Iceland in 930 established their first parliament. The chiefs sat in a 3 ringed circle outdoors, below the cliff and debated the law of the land. The setting on the large Pingvallavsatn lake is beautiful. This is the first stop for the tourist coming from Reykjavik and doing the “Golden circle”. It was busy. We walked along the cliff in the warm sunlight. There are pine trees planted so you had a bit of a feel of walking through small patches of forest. The cliff is actually formed by the continental drift. The 2 plates drift some 1.8 cm per year apart. The room in-between caves in and thus forms the lake. They have an excellent exhibition explaining the geology but more important the history of the parliament at the site.
The next day we did our own Golden Circle and drove further up the road to the geysers Geysir and Stokkur. The original Geyser does not blow any more but the nearby Stokkur does every 10 min. Not very high but nice for the picture. A bit further on is the last nugget of the Golden Circle: Gullfos. This waterfall tumbles over a ledge made by a crack/gorge. Since it is a main attraction the facilities are good. Nice walkways to reach the lookout points.
The sunny weather of the day before and the morning had turned to gray and windy. We drove on up route 35 north, in-between the invisible mountains. The tarmac stopped and a very bumpy washboard road started. 60 km of this lay ahead of us. The fog get denser and denser. Since we were not the only ones on the road, we had to watch closely for oncoming traffic (visibility was very bad) which suddenly emerged out of the mist. Very terrifying drive for Jamaliah. Fortunately after 30 min we descended again to below 600 m. There we are below the cloud and could see where we were going. After a total of 90 km we reached the thermal site of Hveraveillir. The first thing we did was go into the thermal bath despite the rain. Even Jamaliah went in. The campsite was full of small and large 4×4 drivers. On the grass field there were quite a few tents. Several of them from cyclists who withstood the challenge of the rough road and strong cold winds.
On Sunday 1/8 we drove out of the interior again over the rough washboard road. This time we let some air out of the tires so it was a bit less bumpy. The sky was clear so we could see the mountains in the distance around us. We bypassed the tourist attractions we visited yesterday and drove on to the south coast. The road is nice and smooth. A relief from the very bumpy and rattling drive on the gravel. Suddenly quiet. Going south, you drive through a large wide green valley. There are lots of vacation chalets dotting the landscape as well as several campings which are not indicated on our map. The Hvita river (the same as at the Gullfoss falls) is vast flowing. There are several white water rafting outfits along the way. On this road we passed by a small volcano (Kerid) which we climbed on. On the rim we stood face to face with a friendly local bird. He sang for us a beautiful song and followed us down. Obviously it wanted more pictures taken from him/herself.
At the coast, we drove towards the west, towards Grindavik. Some 8 km before the town is a volcano which is currently active. There are large car parks established along the road. We walked towards the volcano. Smoke is still coming out of the top but no fire/magma. To see into the crater you had to climb a steep slope. Since she was not active at the moment, we decided to walk down to where the fresh lava was cooling down and becoming hard. The rock is still warm. In several places gas/steam is coming up through the cracks. The solidified rock is very light and full of holes caused by the gas. It is very abrasive. Visitors told us the volcano may erupt again during the night. We decided not to wait and drove on to a nearby camping (35 km away). In the evening we saw via a webcam that the volcano is in fact coming alive. It was midnight and too late and far to drive back and make a 2 hr. climb up to see it. Instead we saw the live stream in the morning. Pity but we will make another attempt to see it after visiting Reykjavik. That is where we are now. We agreed to meet Petra at her apartment at 11:00 hrs. Rudy knew Petra because he had followed her blog of her round the world trip as preparation for our Russia trip back in 2013/14. She was a great inspiration for that trip. After Canada her trip stopped in Iceland where she has been living now from 6 years and drives/guides tourists around.