After exploring all of the south and the east of Iceland, we hit the ring road from our pit stop in Seyðisfjörður on the east coast and headed for the north. It was amazing to be in this region and to compare how vastly different the entire landscape was to what we had already seen. It was a lot more dry feeling, desolate, and filled with far less people. But, I really liked that part.
Our first stop up in the north was another waterfall known as Dettifoss. I remember seeing images online for it and just being amazed at the power that waterfall seemed to give off. And when hiking the trail to get to it over what looked like parts of the moon, it didn’t disappoint. After walking the trail, we came to realize that Selfoss – another major waterfall – was within walking distance just south of it! So of course we had to explore that one too. And the amazing part? It wasn’t raining at all. First time we had experienced no rain in a week! So we walked around together until the sun started to set over that rocky, barren land.
After exploring the waterfalls, we hopped back in the car for another PBJ picnic and headed to Mývatn Lake to camp for the night. I remember using the map we found in the glove box to tell us where the location of the closest campground was and luckily, there was no rain while setting up camp so we pitched the tent with just enough light left to actually see what we were doing. And the best part was there was a pizza place on the campground called Daddi’s Pizza where we got to eat fresh, Icelandic pizza together. And it was the best tasting pizza ever.
We woke up the next morning to find that our tent wasn’t soaked! We were so freaking happy about it too. I remember wanting to dance over it. But, my morning sickness had me do otherwise and I spent the majority of the morning in the bathroom while Paul packed up camp…
After I got my morning sickness under control, we decided to head toward Hverfjall crater. The crater is the remains of an old volcano that exploded a couple thousand years ago. It was a short, but very testy hike, up to the top of it where we got to see the inside and get incredible views of the entire area of Mývatn. We could see lava fields in the distance, steaming vents coming straight out of the earth, hot springs, and hills that looked like Mars. It’s incredible how different the landscape is here within a few short miles of each other. I really don’t think there’s any other place on Earth with such variety.
After exploring the crater, we headed back down to the bottom where we would cross the street to explore Leirhnjúkur Lava Fields. By the time we got over there though, a huge fog rolled in and made it impossible to see a lot of things. But we decided to trek on and see as much as we could since we would more than likely never be back to do it again.
I remember the entire area reeking of sulfur and it was really hard for my morning sickness to deal with. And with the fog that rolled in, we found ourselves lost in the middle of the lava field. And I do mean actually lost. It took us quite a while to find our way back and some others who were hiking around were lost as well! But, when we did finally make our way back from hiking around endlessly for a couple miles, we called it a day and headed back on the road.
When we hit the road we headed for Akureyri which was a couple hours drive. I remember sleeping almost the entire way and rain made its way to us once again. We actually had a hotel booked thankfully in Akureyri called Hotel Kea which was RIGHT in the middle of the city. We planned to be there just for a night and then hit the road for the Westfjords but we were both especially worn out from all the weather, traveling, and exploring we had been doing the entire week up to that point. So we actually booked another night in our hotel room, took some time to explore the city, clean ourselves up, and dry out all our clothes once again.
I remember feeling as though I didn’t fit into this charming little place. Paul and I were so dirty and rugged from our travels that city life felt weird to be back in. But we quickly fell in love with Akureyri for it’s small town feel and amazingly nice people. We had great food, relaxed, and even got ourselves our own Icelandic wool sweaters in that little city. It was the first time we felt like we were on a vacation rather than an adventure and honestly, it was really nice to experience. We were almost able to appreciate it a lot more because of the traveling we had do thus far.
After our explorations in Akureyri, we headed west to check out Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Be sure to stay tuned for my post on our adventures through there next week!