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

12 September 2021

Thor mends our wheel

19 August 2021

Asbyrgi Canyon

Asbyrgi Canyon

Oops. Today I drove too fast down a dirt road that was being re-graded, and kicked up a hidden rock which dented the inside wheel rim and so deflated one of our tyres. On the plus side: I heroically changed to the spare wheel once we had limped two kilometers on to Dettifoss car park (with the help of a stronger chap to loosen my nuts). On the other plus side: the mechanic in Myvatn looked like Thor and fixed the problem by beating the wheel rim back into shape with eight blows from his massive hammer, then reinflated the tyre. This all took less than ten minutes, so our day was not ruined. Yes, he hit it eight times with his hammer. And looked like Thor.

Dettifoss

Dettifoss

So what did we see today? Dettifoss, the biggest waterfall in Europe by volume. It’s a ginormous foaming torrent of brown glacial water. Just upstream is Selfoss, which looks equally mighty. A few kilometers downstream is Hafragilsfoss, another big waterfall and a great overall view of the canyon (made more special by being only the second place in Iceland we ever found ourselves alone, although four more cars had arrived by the time we left). After that we went on to Asbyrgi Canyon, a magical and peaceful place that’s almost impossible to photograph. It’s a horseshoe shaped canyon, with an eminence of rock in the middle of it making it look even more horse’s hoof-like. The river that now flows over the Dettifoss falls used to flow this way (and was much bigger) but changed course, which is why there is a canyon here with no river. The birch forest at the top of the canyon is tranquil and beautiful. I think it felt even more beautiful because there has been so little forest in the past five days. Most trees in Iceland scarcely grow over head height!

Hafragilfoss

Hafragilfoss

After this we headed off to Myvatn and looked into some of the volcanic wonders in the area around this huge lake. The whole landscape here is again utterly Icelandic (i.e. weird and unique). Never have we seen such tortured ground, with small jet black mountains emerging from the plateau, with humpbacks of rock cracked and split like buckled asphalt on a huge scale, or steam pouring out of vents, and out of the chimneys of little buildings where the geothermal energy is being trapped and utilised.

We stopped at Dimmuborgir first, where the black lava forms weird structures said to look like the houses of dark elves. Kinda yeah, I guess. Meh. I feel that the main problem with this place is the tarmac paths they’ve laid down. I’m sure it was a carefully made decision to preserve the area, but nothing sucks the mood and atmosphere out of a place like a tarmac path. It feels like a theme park.

Myvatn

Myvatn

So we instead clambered up the astonishing lunar crater of Hverfjall. Its shape is an absolutely perfect radar dish, and the whole thing is a consistent grey colour with no trace of vegetation. You really could be on the moon. Except for the annoying flies. Everywhere in the Myvatn area there are flies, clouds of flies, and they instantly gather around you and unabashedly land on your face or wherever they feel like. It’s. So. Very. Irritating.

One of the reasons we chose to stay in Akyureri instead. Got back very late, as usual, but managed to get out to dinner by 9:30. At some point we’re going to conk out from getting on the road at 8:30 every morning and getting to our hotels after 8:30 every night… but until we do, there’s simply too much to explore!!!

Hverfjall

Hverfjall


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