The final days of Iceland are upon us, and we have almost completed the entire Ring Road experience, but we still had a few last minute details to cover.
We woke up hopeful that we would get some good weather for the day. At first we got some morning sun, but soon the clouds came in and wiped all the cheer from the sky.
It suited our moods well, with little sleep due to rowdy campers at 2AM and then a failed breakfast experiment. It was actually comical in retrospect. We bought some crepes in a jar, so like you just add water and walaa. Upon closer inspection however we learned that these crepes needed more specialized ingredients and flavor. Plus the directions were in all Icelandic making it a challenge to figure out exactly what to do. The pan sort of turned them into a mushed up pancake. They were pretty bland and way unappealing, but Jake threw in some raspberry jam and stomached them down. I stuck with my Skyr.
Our friends we chatted with from the Netherlands, Robert and wife (not sure of her name) told us about some trails nearby to see the famous Reynisfjall,, a row of spiky basalt sea stacks that look like a submerged stegosaurus. The myth is that these iconic rocks were once two trolls sailing their 3-masted stone ship and got caught in sunlight this turned to stone.
Nearby are some huge cave features that could easily serve as troll sanctuary. We caught this at the best part of the morning where we actually had some sun for a change. We could see the other rock formations across the way a bit down the lava rock and black sand beach. The waves were kind of fierce out there but it was so pretty.
After our fun, we thought we might go check out the Sólheimasandur Plane Crash that draws a lot of attention from travelers and tourists visiting the area. It would be an 8km hike on the beach to get there, since the road is impassible by car. But my ankle was in a fragile state from the other day, and I really wanted it to be good for the glacier tour we booked. Plus the bad weather sort of made the decision for us to skip this.
Neither one of us was really in the mood for touristy things today. We actually just needed an escape from the crowds but didn’t want to cut short these beautiful exhibitions of waterfalls along the route. We stopped at Skogafoss, another of Iceland’s monstrous falls, and it was packed! I thought it’d be fun to try to shoot some photos, but found the crowds and bad weather were just a pain to work with. My ankle was also killing me today, so I opted to skip the hike to the top, but Jake took one for the team and made the trek (and got some great video!).
As we drove the weather got pretty bad. It was hard to see the road in front of us with thick fog and hard rain. We did stop a few times to take some pictures and even spotted a couple of turf houses along the way. These things are SUPER cool. Its hard to imagine living in a mud house in such cold weather conditions.
A few kilometers further we spotted another turf house, or what appeared to be and was actually the entrance to cave. The cave is haunted (or cursed if you prefer). 12 sailors sheltered here after a storm and died waiting it out. I guess the ferns that grow on the ceiling are haunted and if you pick them you will take the spirit of one of the sailors with you home. Naturally, we believe in ghost stories, so we weren’t going to mess with anything here.
Jake invented a new funny character (if you have seen our videos then you know about his characters) we call this on Gunter and he is Icelandic and very funny. He invents songs and talks with a crazy accent, some day I’ll post a video with Gunter.
Anyways we were both wet and starving and decided that we needed a dose of Icelandic hot dogs stat. We drove to the next town to get some diesel and then hit up the market next door for groceries. It was still early, but neither of us was in a touring mood, so we headed straight for the camp sight in a tiny little town called Stokkseyri. It’s well out of the way, rural and adorable.
When we pulled into camp there is a horse nearby that we named Henry and he talks with a low and slow voice…“Heeey guuuys”. Oh Henry is such a kidder. He let us pet him and feed him the good grass on the other side of the fence. It was weird that there was no one else around for the entire day, we had this place all to ourselves!
The next day we felt pretty great. I’m sure glad we took an easy day yesterday because we both needed it! And today we only planned to visit Keflavik for the morning and then head back north to where we would setup for the Glacier tour tomorrow.
Camp meals for breakfast – woo! We hit the road early and drove for a few hours down the most desolate road that we’ve seen since we got here. Plus the drab weather didn’t’ add much to it, but I was sort of glad for the break of taking photos nonstop. The route took us down side roads for the most part, so we only saw a handful of cars all morning.
There was some commotion on the road ahead and we saw sheep hearding in progress. There were about 30 people spread out along a valley and hundreds of sheep were being moved down the valley, under a tunnel to a grazing area on the other side of the road. It was pretty amazing to see this in action and hear all that BAAAAAA-ing. Though we didn’t stop to linger we slowed to try to take some pictures and video before continuing on.
Today is holiday for moving just sheep. All the sheep in Iceland are more or less owned, but they are left out in the wild by themselves or in herds for 6 months. When Spring arrives, they are wrangled up and distributed accordingly (to their owners) and then there is a big sheep sheering “party”. The horses, too, are left alone in the wild for the most part even though they are all owned. How fascinating!
We made it to Keflavik just before the Icelandic Rock and Roll Museum opened. This city is way less exciting than Reykjavik in that it seems to be more of a working-town. There isn’t much in the way of touring over here, and I guess its biggest highlight is the airport!
The museum was SUPER fun. Jake and I are avid musicians and used to be in a band, The Firebird 4000 Project so we were stoked to visit this place! We were very impressed with its setup and spent hours touring this place. It was so fun to learn about and listen different Icelandic music of old and then of course the music of today. My favorite is Emilíana Torrini!
After our fun we thought it’d be fun to shop, specifically for some cool Icelandic sweaters. The mall we did find was really high-end, European styled, but not quite what we were hoping fall. Somehow we ended up in an outlet “mall” type of area, which was pretty awesome! I found exactly what I wanted for half the price of the city.
Once we felt satisfied, we headed toward the campground called Akranes, which is situated closest to the glacier we are hiking tomorrow. It was a nice enough camp ground, right on the water, but the bathrooms were closed, so that made it “interesting” to find a place to do your business. That’s okay, its not camping without a little adventure!
Finally its here…we tour a glacier today. We had a bit of a drive to get to the base in Husafell, so we left our site early and followed the now familiar road back around and up north. It was such a gorgeous drive, through tiny villages scattered in mountains, farms, greenhouses and to top it off, the weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky!
We had to wait awhile until our shuttle bus would take us up to the glacier so we walked around a bit, taking photos and ate a quick lunch of sammies. The bus was pretty beefy and filled with maybe 20 passengers, all heading to the glacier. I’m sure glad we didn’t drive up this road ourselves, as its more of a 4×4 type of road. It felt extremely dangerous at times, I couldn’t imagine how terrible it is when it snows!
At the Klaki base camp we met up w the rest of our tour group and checked in. I grabbed a pair of overshoes to go over my gym shoes (like rain coat for my shoes) and then we hopped on the big ice mobile. It’s actually a repurposed missile transport made in Germany or Sweden or somewhere but works great for glacier travel, this was a beefy machine.
There were 36 ppl on the glacier mobile and it felt like another world. The ice vehicle was pretty badass and super beefy. There were 2 guides, an older guy named Thor and a younger guy who’s Icelandic name was too hard to pronounce so he told everyone to call him Carl. He was super funny, and we immediately decided he would be our guide!
We learned that this glacier provides 80% of the entire populations’ water as well as heated water and energy via underground water turbines. The drive up to the glacier took about 20 minutes and we passed some spectacular vistas as we crunched along the icy road. we learned all about crevasses, cone heads, how sediment forms and creates other lines and patterns in glacial ice. Its sad to think how fast these glaciers are receding because of global warming. Icelanders have to face this hard reality that most of us don’t necessarily understand. It will devastate their way of life.
At the top, or rather, the middle, we stopped and got out. The ground was crazy slick – I almost fell a bunch of times just getting out of the way of other people. We split up into 2 groups (We stuck with Carl) and then went off in different directions.
The tunnel down into the glacier was lined with mats so we didn’t slip, then we sat around and put on crampons so that we could walk around without falling and breaking our bodies (or cameras).
We toured the glacier for well over an hour starting at the top or the part where water drips and then winded our way down into the thick ice that was so cold that no more drops fell on our heads. But you could actually hear the water flowing through the ice, like an underground river. We even took a drink from the water directly from the glacier – it was supreme.
There were several rooms carved out, one they call they chapel, where they actually have weddings. There was also a room with a huge crevasse that we could see, and another with such beautiful acoustics. It was fun to see and feel this living ice and learn all about its significance to Icelanders.
On the drive back down, we chatted with an Icelandic mom with her son, who took the tour, and they were curious about us and our camper van (so of course we had to give them a tour).
Then we decided to work our way back down to a camp sight only a few miles from the Keflavik airport. The drive was stunning as always…my favorite was a small village of Fossatun, which is known for its Troll heads!
We had such an excellent time and though it is our last day in Iceland, we felt we ended it on a perfect note! And now we’ve come Full Circle. This really was the perfect way to explore this amazing country, and I can’t wait until we come back again (maybe on a sailboat!). We still need to make it up to the West Fjords, which are more remote and require offroad-type of vehicles. We also need to come back to check out the infamous Northern Lights (maybe a winter trip!)
Until then, BLESS ÍSLAND