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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

12 September 2021

Hot bath in the rain

17 August 2021

Hafrahvammagljufur, the big crack

Hafrahvammagljufur, the big crack

In complete contrast to yesterday, Tuesday dawned cloudy and became foggy and then rainy. We drove eastwards in the hope that the weather might lift as we reached the scenic beauty of the fjords, but no such luck. With nothing to see above maybe fifty metres over sea level, we took a shortcut north to Egilstadir… which proved to be our first experience of Iceland dirt roads. In the rain. And fog. Up a mountain. Exciting!

Egilstadir is like every Icelandic town apart from Reykjavik: it’s small, nothing appears more than a few decades old, and there doesn’t appear to be much worth seeing, doing or eating. I’m just saying.

Dreary day

Dreary day

With the weather being pants, we made a new plan for the day and abandoned our itinerary. Instead, we headed up onto the vast plateau of the interior. This turned out to be a savvy move, as we left the low cloaking clouds below us and behind us. There was still precious little sun, and occasional drizzle, but at least we could see the huge vistas, including the lonely mountain Snaefell and behind it the gigantic white shield of Vatnajokull. The ice sheet is half the size of Wales, so you can never see all of it.

Hafrahvammagljufur

Hafrahvammagljufur

Our destination was the Hafrahvammagljufur Canyon. It’s only accessible down a truly 4WD road; steep, occasional rocks, occasionally gullies cutting the road, occasional places where other 4WDs had detoured cross-country around a broken bit of road. This was fun. And even better, we had the place entirely to ourselves. The canyon is just a vast crack in the earth, hugely impressive and another eerily “nowhere but Iceland” sight, but honestly doubly as great for being our own private vista. Nowhere else in Iceland did we ever find a car park with less than a half-dozen cars already in it, and usually twenty or more.

A few kilometers from Hafrahvammagljufur was the hot pool of Laugavellir, our second happy discovery. There not much more pleasant than relaxing in a bath-hot natural pool in the middle of absolutely nowhere, while overhead the skies are grey and drizzling on you. Getting dried and dressed again is a bit of a faff, but curiously worthwhile. Having seen photos of many of the other more popular hot pools in Iceland, it really feels like we found the most natural and the quietest.

Hot pool of Laugavellir

Hot pool of Laugavellir

And so we drove back towards our overnight stop of Seyðisfjörður, marvelling that medieval Icelanders actually farmed and fought in these utterly barren and bleak uplands. As usual we stretched the day out a bit much and checked-in after 8pm!

Seyðisfjörður is a little seaside village at the head of a fjord surrounded by mountains and about as close as Icelandic habitations ever get to being picturesque. Of course, in the morning a huge cruise ship had pulled up at the dock to dwarf the town and spill out seven coachloads of tourists. Hey-ho.

Cruise ship over Seydisfjordur

Cruise ship over Seydisfjordur


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