Close to the Arctic Circle

Posted by in Travel

(Click on the right/left side of the image to see more.) When we started with our second hike from Ásbyrgi up the canyon towards Dettifoss waterfall, Iceland honored it’s name and temperatures dropped below 8°C during the day and close to freezing at night. Northerly winds pushed clouds and wet air upstream and covered the landscape in fog and drizzle. Soon our feet were soaking wet and the pleasure level dropped gradually with each step.

Nevertheless, the little we saw from the landscape was impressive, the river meandering through the canyon with small waterfalls joining the stream. Because taking breaks allowed to body too cool down very fast, we marched at once to Vesturdalur campsite where we quickly came to the decision to cease the hike the next day once we would reach Dettifoss. The huge waterfall, it has the reputation of being the most powerful waterfall of Europe, was still a day’s walk away and it proved to be a challenge for us to get there. Due to the foggy weather, the path was difficult to find and we got lost on the slopes of the canyon. Once back on the path, the humidity made for some tricky crossings of ravines and slopes.

The part we would have hiked had the weather allowed it, we covered by bus and after some detours arrived at lake Mývatn, an area which is, amongst other things, famous for its abundance of birdlife. To make the most of the time available, we rented mountain bikes and rode around the lake along the many interesting sights of different volcanic origin. We went op the wind mountain Vindbelgur with gale force winds on top but also good view on the pseudocraters, a unique volcanic phenomenon. After a stroll between the lava pillars of Höfði and Dimmuborgir later in the afternoon, the day was already nearing its end when we reached the huge crater Hverfjall. Before leaving Mývatn again, we did a last small hike, once more through a very active volcanic area.

During my journeys at sea, I have seen whales several times, but never as close as on the whale watching tour in Húsavík. It was very unfriendly weather, so unfortunately there are no photographs of that day. But I would recommend the experience to anyone, to get as close as 1om to these gentle giants is very special. Even on a stormy day as it was at the time, it was more than worth it.

That experience marked the end of the rather cold days in the north-east. We had picked up our rental car, turned on the heat and decided it was time to head west towards a warmer and sunnier area. The Westfjords.

This is the fourth part of a series about Iceland. Click below on the Iceland button to see the other parts.