ICELAND Part 5: Northern Iceland
RING ROADTRIP DAY 6
We dedicated 10 days to our campervan roadtrip around Iceland's Ring Road. On the morning of Day 6 we woke up in a remote area surrounded by snow capped mountains, we made breakfast in the back of the van, and then continued our drive west to the Vatnajökull and Myvatn areas.
We had plans to drive into the Vatnajökull National Park to see the many waterfalls and canyons we had heard are absolutely magnificent. We drove north from the Ring Road on road 864 hoping to connect through the east side of the park, but were turned around by a closure in the road and had to take road 862 that only provided partial access to the the park and waterfalls. Visiting Iceland in May presents many advantages over visiting in the busier summer months, but one disadvantage is the road closures due to unplowed snow and thawing muddy roads.
We were able to see just one waterfall in the Vatnajökull National Park area and that was Detifoss. Detifoss was glorious, of course, but the road closures had all of the tourists hoping to see the many sights within the park funneled into seeing this one waterfall, and trudging along a designated path in snow and mud to do so. Eager to continue to less congested sights, we grabbed a couple of pictures and went on our way.
As we approached the Myvatn area we started to see steam rising from the ground, and smell that distinct eggy hot spring smell. We came to the Hverarönd geothermal area, and stopped to have a walk around. It felt as if we were walking on Mars, with the red ground and bubbling pots of steaming volcanic mud.
Hot spring pool in a cave? Yes, PLEASE! I was very excited to visit this cave, hoping to have the opportunity to swim in a steamy pool in a cave. Like many locations in Iceland, this cave pool was featured in Game of Thrones... which meant very little to me because I have yet to watch a single episode. The cave was very cool, but unfortunately actually too hot to swim in. Signs outside the cave warned that bathing is prohibited, due to the dangerously hot and unpredictable temperatures of the water. I dipped in my feet for a very hot foot soak.
My disappointment in not being able to swim in the hot spring cave didn't last long, because just around the corner is a big blue hot spring lagoon called Myvatn Nature Baths. The Nature Baths are the less touristy Blue Lagoon, our Icelandic friends recommended we skip the Blue Lagoon by the Reykjavik Airport altogether and go here.
We made it to Dimmuborgir just as the sun was setting, and had just enough light for a little walk around the lava formations and a flight of my drone to capture the sunset over Myvatn lake beyond the snow sprinkled fields of lava.
We made a stop at the very charming and very Icelandic Glaumbær turf house and farm where I grabbed one of my #HotDogOnTheLoose hot dog costume around the world photos.
The Hvítserkur arch is known as "the troll of north-west Iceland". The stone arch is an island during high tide, but when we first arrived at the arch the tide was out, allowing us to walk out and climb under the arch.
The Best Meal We Had in Iceland: Geitafell Seafood
If there is one meal that you should skip cooking and splurge on, its Geitafell Seafood. We were driving at the base of the Vatnsnes Peninsula and were hungry for dinner and not in the mood to cook. We were researching restaurants on our phone and came across the stellar reviews for Geitafell Seafood. GPS said we were 30 minutes away would arrive at 10pm. As I sped down the long gravel roads it seemed unlikely that we were headed towards any restaurant, much less one that would be open at this time of night on a cold windy May night.
This seafood soup was quite possibly THE BEST SOUP I'VE HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. The soup has a rich creamy seafood broth that has a slight Indian curry flavor to it, and the freshest chunks of fish. For dessert was the skyrterta (skyr yogurt torte) which was fantastic. The meal was definitely on the pricey side, but for the quality of the food in a family run restaurant at the end of an isolated peninsula in Iceland, it was well worth it.
By the time we were done eating it was after 11pm and we were eager to find our camping spot for the night. We asked for a recommendation for where to camp, and the owners of Geitafell were so kind as to let us park our van at the end of their driveway for the night.
Visited May 2016
Photos by Renee Lusano and Jason MacDonald