The Eastfjords of Iceland are also some of the least traveled in the entire country, probably due to their distance from Reykjavík and Keflavik. They are also some of the most beautiful.
We woke up pretty early and for the first time, there was not a cloud in sight. It was strange though being nestled in a valley with huge mountains looming all around, so the sun didn’t seem to come up until much later in the morning than usual. Breakfast was bleak this morning skyr, bread and peanut butter. It got the job done but we had more important matters at hand; Seydisfjördur is waiting for us.
The town was extremely quiet this morning. There was no bustle in the camp ground, apparently everyone left already. We learned from a fellow camper that the only passenger ferry between Europe and Iceland is the one that just landed here yesterday, no wonder it was so crowded. All those people have already gone on their way so it felt like we got this adorable city all to ourselves.
Architecturally, it had an old-world Scandinavian feel. The buildings were modest and painted bright colors to contrast the surrounding lands. The ferry ship was ENORMOUS and looked so strange in the little bay area all by itself amongst tiny little fishing ships. Now this would be a great place to sail! If I could bottle this beauty I’d have struck gold me thinks 😉
We were hopeful that some of the museums in town would open up but it seemed we were waiting in vain. Though it was a nice walk, we learned nothing really happened here until later in the afternoon. And with our very first clear day since we got here, we were motivated to keep exploring.
The drive out was totally different from the drive down, with steep, winding roads going uphill instead, it felt much less dangerous, though equally pretty. We thought there was an overlook to shoot some photos but somehow we missed it and didn’t have a chance to turn around anyplace so we just kept on going 🙁
We did stop at the overlook to Egilsstadir and topped off on fuel down in town. Fuel here is SUPER expensive, like $8/gallon of diesel. Our van got 45 miles to the gallon, which is AMAZING if you consider the type of vehicle we have. And again, we learned that in Iceland, most cars run off of hydrogen! And all of them get amazing mileage per gallon because they are very concerned about the impact on the environment (take note rest of the world!).
On we drove through glorious mountains, only today we get to see them with a blue sky for a change. In the distance there was some cloud-age and thats the direction we were heading…but at least we got to enjoy this clear sky for awhile.
The road took a strange turn, and changed from decently paved into a studded pothole mess leaving us wondering if we took a wrong turn somewhere. We reached a T and the street signs pointed out Highway 1 in both directions. The markings of the arrows were slightly different though, one was dotted and the other solid. So we assumed the solid one meant the direct route, vs. the “off road” or scenic route. We followed the solid arrow, making a left at the T and hoped for the best.
It was pretty much uphill for the next few miles, but the road seemed to be getting more and more rough and rocky. It definitely doesn’t feel like the type of road that trucks would be able to drive down (maybe they don’t go this way?) but we couldn’t find a better alternative and decided to just commit to this direction. We were most concerned about RV Bosco though, because while he’s a tough nut, he isn’t an offloading vehicle, and it would be a pricy mistake to force him to go off road.
We stopped at an overlook where we saw another camper van similar to ours and asked if this was the Highway 1 route. They did confirm it was, but were going the opposite way, so maybe they were heading back toward the “alternate” Highway 1. Oh well…we’re here now we just went with it.
One really nice thing about this part of the drive is that there was not another car in sight for the next several hours. The downfall is that because of the road condition, we had to VERY slow. The scenery was stunning too, we passed a couple of sporadic farms and random sheeps along the way. The road grew SUPER steep and it was a little scary since there is no guard rail or anything, so if we hit a bank too quickly goodbye Bosco and Jake and Jill!
We took the opportunity at the bottom to stop for a lunch break at a little pullout, next to some sheep and a lake. It was a perfect stop and there wasn’t another human in sight.
Finally, the road came to another T and sure enough, we were back on the paved part of the highway. Phew we made it! Despite the fact that we moved super slow, this little detour was pretty cool.
We stopped at a half dozen more overlooks since now we are driving some new terrain along the coast. The fjords were stunning off the water and there were tons of bridge-crossings that made for some great-looking photos. We shot a bunch of film through here (which we will post later). As soon as I would put down the camera we made another turn into a whole new set of beautiful sights. It never ends, though I think if I were to repeat this trip, I would prefer to just sit back and enjoy the beautiful sights instead of worrying about capturing them in a photo.
It took us a long time to traverse the Eastfjords because of the winding road along the coast. We didn’t make it too far today what with stopping and slow-going for most of the morning. We stopped off at one random waterfall and hiked up to the top which was REALLY fun. Then we decided to pull over at a little sight to rest for a bit, since Jake is doing all the driving and needed a break.
We pulled over and followed a long road up towards the foot of a set of rocks surrounded by forest. Thats when we noticed signs for a little hiking path. The most impressive feature was this huge forest among towering rock faces. It felt like we teleported back to Colorado! I guess reforestation is working well! From here you can also see the ocean in the distance. The ground here was super soft and moist and the little trail took us through its enchanted forest. Thats when Jake noticed weird little creatures that looked like a child’s art project in the trees. It appeared they took trash objects (soda bottles, old CD’s) and turned them into little animals painted fun colors all along the path. Trees here were tagged in their Latin names – and then we figured this must be an educational field trip type of place for students. It was adorable either way, and totally hidden (or so it seemed). A lucky find for sure. There was even a little amphitheater in the trees.
There are no camp sights within many miles of where we are. And we lost a lot of our day to slow-going, so we didn’t make it too far as the sun was setting. We decided to stop at a random pullout that was right on the water. It was gorgeous spot and completely empty. Its not technically a camp sight but we decided it would work for us for the night and pulled in. There were wild sheep roaming about and to one side a huge volcano, to the other a black sand and rocky beach. We could see the entire span of fiords jutting out in the distance from both directions. I don’t think a more beautiful spot could be found!
We hiked around a bit, down by the water and then scoped out some decent photo spots. Hopefully tomorrow will bring more good weather, because we were both tired after the long day. Sea birds chattered in the air and waves crashed on the rocks down below. The familiar sound of the ocean and lack of any other people around made sleep very pleasant and reminiscent of the boat.
I set my alarm to try to wake up late to see if I could get a glimpse of some northern light action, but the 2 times I woke up it was cloudy and raining. Dang…
The following morning was slightly cloudy but there were patches of blue sky. Yay it appeared we would get at least a rain-free morning to enjoy and decided to walk on the beach for awhile. Jake and I couldn’t resist the huge rock cliffs on the water, how fun would be to climb these bad boys? The rocks kind of looked like trolls that turned to stone.
We met a Swiss couple along our walk who told us about an Iceburg lake not too far from here, called Jökulsárlón. This was a place we were most looking forward to visit since we got here, so that motivated us to hustle back to the car and get a move on.
We did stop at a few other beaches along the road. At one point we thought it would be fun to run across the black lava rock-sand! Jake beat me but I rolled my ankle a bit in the process. It was fun either way and we loved just acting like silly kids. It was a very easy drive today. There were a few great spots to pull out and take pictures, my favorite was the big red chair nailed to a rock. We even spotted a couple of reindeer, but they were too well-hidden to get any pics of them. We also got to meet some adorable Icelandic horses!
Jökulsárlón was packed with humans when we pulled up. Its a pretty big area in itself, and there are lots of tourist things setup here, gift shops restaurants even a boat ride through the lake. Jake and I were more excited just to capture the beauty in photos. It was another unreal sight to behold and just another reason this country is so marvelous. In the distance we could spot the huge glacier, called We could also see the huge Jökulsárlón glacier! Its size covers almost 1/3 of the entire country.
We hung out here for probably 2 hours, mostly due to the harbor seals who made an appearance amongst the bergs. Jake was done with this area, and opted to fix us lunch while I snapped photo after photo, hopefully I captured some good ones!
After lunch we drove over to the opposite side, to where the ocean meets the lake and played amongst the black sand beach and icebergs that escaped. Now this area was SUPER cool!!! The sea was pretty intense out there, I would definitely NOT want to be sailing right now in those conditions.
As we walked on the beach I rolled my ankle again, though this time it really hurt. I thought maybe I sprained it or fractured it, but tried to put on a brave/tough face. Eventually the pain was too much and we went back to the Bosco and onward to the next destination.
The rain and clouds enveloped the sky again but thats okay. The pain in my foot was distracting enough for me to not really care. And before long we were rolling into the next large town Vík í Mýrdal, or Vik, which is the southernmost village in Iceland. The beach stretched for miles with black basalt sand to one side and the cliffs looming opposite made it a stunning sight to behold. Its impossible not to see the stacks of rocks of Reynisfjall jutting up from the sea in a way that makes them look like skeletons. According to folklore, they were trolls who tried to drag boats to sea, only to be caught in the rising sun. The sea around them is wild and stormy, so they appear even more foreboding.
My foot was killing me by today’s end. I was really concerned because we have a glacier hike coming up in the next few days and I definitely didn’t want to miss that because of a silly injury.
In the camp ground we met up with a couple that we met in Skjól from the Netherlands who were SUPER nice and chatty. They told us about some great places to explore around these parts and gave us some great tips for the next few days’ excursions. It should help make our last few days here ones to remember.