ICELAND RING ROAD, part 7 (July 14-25, 2018)
After a pretty decent night's sleep we packed up the little red 4x4. We told our hostess that we would really like to return some day to ride her beautiful Icelandic horses through the wide open spaces she calls home. I think the next time we visit would be in the shoulder months with some darkness to sit up in the fields with barely a twinkle of light to watch the aurora borealis show. She told us that the oldest standing forest is a half hour south...unfortunately no extra time since she also told us where we would be "GUARANTEED" to get up close and personal with a Puffin colony and that would be north east! The 70km drive out to Borgarfjordur Eystri would take us probably 1.5 hours if we don't stop, time to hit the road! Driving down the center of the valley out to the shoreline was amazing, all gravel and dirt and beautiful open farm land. Once we approached what is officially either the Greenland Sea or Norwegian Sea (assume we were looking at both!) we turned hard right and up, up, up! The roads were in decent shape, but again very steep in parts and lacking guardrails! After descending the mountain there was a very small seaside village called Bakkagerdi and it had the coolest turf house. We saw many grass covered structures from the start, but I wish I had read more about these traditional homes before the trip, pretty unique.
Once we finally arrived at the small harbor it was easy to find the Puffin nesting area. Immediately we noticed the whimsical birds flying overhead. The weather was perfect with nice blue skies. There were only a handful of people who made the same trip this morning, perfect. We walked up to one small platform away from the main platform and a Puffin was either cleaning out its nest or deliberately sending a signal that we were too close, maybe 6 feet above our heads. He or she pelted us with dirt, ha! Maybe it was an elf?! The main platform runs right up a ridge with literally hundreds or maybe thousands of these beautiful birds! They make the most amazing sound uuuArrrrrruug! We watched them interact with each other, many flying in and landing with multiple bait fish hanging off their beaks. They waddled a bit going in and out of their nests burrowed in the turf. I'm happy to store away this memory. FYI, the Puffins apparently only nest on Iceland from late April to early August, our timing was perfect.
That was certainly a highlight from this trip and we could have stayed all day, but time to get back on the road. Today would require a lot of driving, more than 300km. Our destination is Akureyri in North Iceland, so farewell East Fjords..we had a blast! After about an hour I hit the fatigue wall and took a spot in the back seat and crashed hard for over an hour. When I woke I noticed very cloudy skies and what looked like the surface of the moon outside my window. The ladies said it's been barren most of the way. We stopped to take a break at the base of a hill with a volcano way off in the distance, we went from lush colorful seashores to the moon in such a short distance.
We drove another hour and started seeing thermals letting off steam around us. The cloud cover was getting real low and visibility was decreasing rapidly so we simply headed for a must stop at Dettifoss falls about 30 minutes off the Ring Road. It's reported as having the largest volume of water of any falls in Europe, cool. The falls lie within the Jokulsargljufur Canyon. We had hoped to see more of the canyon, but the fog and drizzle started seriously setting in. Walking back to the car we saw a trail head marked 1.5km to Selfoss falls, ok one more short hike since we had our rain gear, glad we chose to go.
Myvatn was an area that we had intended on exploring, researched lots of interesting sites, however Mother Nature dropped the heaviest fog on us that I've ever driven in! We did stop in Krafla, passed through the awesome geothermal power station and hiked in near zero visibility to try to see... anything! Pretty interesting really, walking through a lava field with occasional steam coming from the ground and watching people just a few yards ahead disappear into the fog, heard giggles but saw nobody...perhaps elves? Apparently there's a volcano and huge lake right there, but we couldn't see anything so back to the car.
We were crawling much of the way down the mountain towards Akureryi . Once out of the pea soup we saw a sign for Godafoss falls, it sits real close to the Ring Road! How many amazing waterfalls can one island have?!!! Our last stop before the rains came.....
To be continued.........