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    • Day3

      Soaking wet

      September 6, 2021 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

      After a well night rest we wake up again rather early. Together with a few other people we're the first to enter the breakfast buffet at the hotel. It's a grey and rainy morning but that doesn't affect our anxiety to go out and explore more amazing things.

      Having filled up our tummies we check-out and head once more for the black sanded beaches. Not far from where we finished yesterday, near Dyrhólaey, there is a basalt formation on the beach. Not far of the shoreline three sharp rocks clearly stick out of the water. According to legend three trolls came out to sea to pull ashore a ship. They were surprised by dawn and were frozen into stone and they have remained immortalized since, as a warning to their kin. If you're a fan of these kind of tales, Iceland has plenty of stories about elfs and trolls.
      When entering the path to the beach we are warned several times by signs about sneaker waves. This beach is notorious for very unpredictable high waves and people are advised to stay at least 30 meters away from the water's edge. The Atlantic Ocean is unpredictable and gives waves a lot of time to build up in strength and size. People who were surprised by these waves have died here.
      We take pictures of the wild waves crashing ashore not far from the basalt columns that are rising up at the bottom of a mountain. Being warned about the danger of this beach we have one eye looking through the camera's viewfinder, and the other on the shoreline. And not in vain, because every now and then we have to run further inland to prevent our feet getting wet.

      We continue the ring road further to the east and make a quick stop at Hjörleifshöfði. I honestly have no clue how to pronounce this too. It's a lonely mountain on a little peninsula with a lot of beautiful flowers around it in spring or summer time. On our rainy day in September, however, none of these flowers still remain. Nevertheless, we decide to have a quick look at the trail that leads up to a viewpoint and explore a nearby cave. As we leave the ring road, we trade asphalt for black sand. It drives softly and following the tracks of previous cars it gives a taste of the off-road adventure.
      From the parking area we have to look for the start of the trail, but with the use of our smartphone we quickly get on the right track. From the viewpoint we get an incredible sight over nothing else than a black desert with at the horizon the ocean, which is often hard to see due to the clouds. Judging by our map we must be standing right above the cave. The steep cliffs in front of us give you a sense of how tiny and insignificant we are in this world.
      We walk back down and drive with the car a bit further around the mountain to see the cave. You can literally park the car in front or wherever you like. No roads in this area.
      The cave has a little arch through the front dividing it into two big holes. From the inside it provides a great opportunity to take silhouette photos.

      This was a calm and not touristic stop, which will probably soon chance when we visit Fjaðrárgljúfur. For us, better known as "the Bieber gorge" simply because we can't manage to pronounce this one either and we've read that Justin Bieber's videoclip of "I'll show you" was recorded here. Since then, many tourists have visited the gorge and sometimes it's even closed off.
      When we arrive at the parking lot there are a lot of cars but compared to July or August I guess this is still okay. The path is clearly marked and set out by ropes so people don't go too close to the edge. Probably a rather recent chance as you can still clearly see the marks and destruction of people who went to spots that stick out a bit further into the gorge. It is a shame that everything is so restricted now, but at the same time we're happy to see that Iceland is taking measures to protects it's beautiful nature. Things don't grow here as quickly as down south, especially mosses.
      At the end of the gorge, there is a waterfall and a viewing platform. It's weird to see how the earth just pulled apart these giant pieces of land and left this crevice in between.

      Many pictures later, we drive to Skaftafell national park. This is the biggest national park in Europe and offers many multi-day hiking trails but also one very famous shorter hike to Svartifoss. A waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns. Just before arriving to the park, we catch our first glimp of the immense glacier that lies in the park. Because of the low clouds and rain today, we couldn't really see into the far distance. We pay for parking and take our lunch at a picknick table that is covered from the rain. The whole day it has been drizzling and there isn't enough time in between stops for the clothes to dry again. Luckily our rain jacket and trousers don't let any water through, it's just all damp. After lunch we start a hike of about 3h to see both Svartifoss and Sjónarnýpa, a viewpoint overlooking the glacier.
      The trail starts with a graduate climb and very quickly gets us out off the beaten track. We enjoy the tranquillity and views we get along the way. Little berries, waterfalls, every now and then a view in the distance.
      After a good while we arrive at Sjónarnýpa, the view is so rewarding. Everywhere in front and below us there's ice. White ice, blue ice and ice with black sand or dirt on it. Once again we're blown away by the magnitude... you can see people down below who are merely black dots. I'm sure that some movies were filmed here! Later that day we googled it: turns out many of Iceland's glaciers were used in various movies.

      We need to go back a bit on the trail to find our way to Svartifoss. When we arrive, there are many tourists, but by the time we've taken our pictures most of them had already left again. So... we could take more pictures. We continue our downhill walk and pass two houses with grass roofs. After a long and rewarding walk we finally get back to the parking lot. We take of our drenched clothes and drive to our next hotel. In the evening we had an amazing meal in the hotel's restaurant. Really nicely decorated dishes and mix of flavours. In Belgium this would surely be a dedicated restaurant and never to be found in a hotel. Thinking about all the amazing things we've seen in only three days time, we go to bed.
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    • Day11

      11. Tag Höfn - Skaftafell

      May 7, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 3 °C

      Augen auf, Vorhang auf und Schneeflöckchen! So starteten wir in den winterlichen Tag.
      Unsere erste Sehenswürdigkeit war die Gletscherlagune Jökulsárlón, die an den Nationalpark Vatnajökull im Südosten Islands angrenzt. Ihr ruhiges Wasser ist mit Eisbergen aus der umliegenden Breiðamerkurjökull-Gletscherzunge durchzogen, die Teil des größten Gletschers Europas ist, dem Vatnajökull. Die Lagune fließt durch einen kurzen Wasserlauf in den Atlantischen Ozean und hinterlässt dabei Eisbrocken auf einem schwarzen Vulkansandstrand, wo die Eisberge aus der Lagune an Land treiben und einen magischen Ort erschaffen.
      Eine der außergewöhnlichsten Eigenschaften des sog. "Diamand-Strandes" ist, dass er niemals gleich aussieht. Selbst, wenn man ihn mehrfach an einem Tag besucht, sieht der Strand immer wieder anders aus und die natürlichen Eisskulpturen werden sich ebenfalls verändert haben, geschmolzen sein oder aber neu angespült worden sein. Viele der Eisberge sind über 1.000 Jahre alt und sind auf ihrem Weg durch die enorme Lagune bereits geschrumpft und genießen nun ihre letzten Momente, bis sie sich mit dem Atlantik vereinigen werden.

      Nach diesem Naturschauspiel ging es zu der kleineren Gletscherlagune Fjallsárlón, von der aus, wir einen klareren Blick auf Eisschollen und die Gletscherzunge hatten.

      Am Nachmittag hatten wir mit einem schönen hiking trail rund um den Wasserfall Svartifoss ein tolles Kontrastprogramm, da uns dort mit grünen Wiesen, kleineren Bäumen und Sträuchern eine vielfältige Landschaft erwartete. Der Blick von der Bergkuppel auf Weideland und Meer auf der einen Seite und Eisgletscher auf der anderen Seite, war ebenso schön, wie direkt auf den Wasserfall vor den Basaltsäulen zu schauen.

      Morgen wird es nochmal winterlich, denn dann geht's rauf auf den Gletscher. Die geführte Wandertour haben wir gerade gebucht.
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      Die riesen Eisblasen finde ich faszinierend.

    • Day5

      Another Day in South Iceland

      February 10, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      It was a slightly later start today, having been out so late. We had a pleasant breakfast, packed our gear and off we went even though our first stop was pretty much still in the hotel grounds. Tony had wanted to visit Iceland at this time of year as there's a good chance of photographing frozen waterfalls, so this was what we did. It wasn't a huge waterfall compared to those we saw last time and will see in the next part of our trip, but it was a frozen waterfall nevertheless and it was sitting there waiting to be photographed.

      The main photo of this footprint is of our hotel which, as you can see, is somewhat on the boxy side but don't be fooled ... it's warm, comfortable, has a lovely restaurant and the staff are very friendly. What more would we want. Cheaper wine perhaps!
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    • Day5

      Different Every Time

      February 10, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 3 °C

      So why no photos of the ice cave?

      We left the beach and turned up at the meeting point right on time, as did a young couple from Chicago who'd travelled from Vik (our next stop) that morning and had only just made it in time due to the weather conditions further west and having persuaded the authorities to let them through the road block ... a storm was coming and route 1 was being closed to traffic.

      We waited. We chatted and waited some more but no-one turned up from the company to take us to the cave. No other passengers turned up either and now it was 15 minutes past the time we were supposed to leave. Rob then read a text message saying the trip was cancelled due to bad weather. It wasn't bad at Jokulsarlon as you can see in the photos, but it was going to be. It was going to be so bad the bridge there and the road were to be closed at 3pm.

      There was another company at the cafe who do visits to an ice cave and we discussed with them about joining one of their trips tomorrow. So we spent a little time at the lagoon before leaving to cross the bridge just before it closed. We were a bit disappointed to be honest, though we had been told our money would be refunded for the trip.
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    • Day12

      12. Tag Vatnajökull-Nationalpark

      May 8, 2019 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

      Augen auf, Rollo rauf und... Sonnenschein!
      Heute ging es zum zweiten Mal in das Skaftafell Wildnisgebiet des Vatnajökull-Nationalparks. Zu seinen imposanten Gletschern gehört der Öræfajökull. Dessen Gipfel Hvannadalshnúkur ist mit 2.110 m die höchste Erhebung Islands.
      Öræfajökull ist seit der Besiedlung zweimal ausgebrochen und wird auch "Einöds-" oder "Wüstengletscher" genannt, da rund um den Gletscher für mehrere Jahrzente alles Leben ausgelöscht wurde.
      Umso beeindruckender ist, dass man hier sog. "Gletschermäuse" findet. Dies sind kleine Mose, die mit Kleinstlebewesen ein eigenes Ökosystem bilden und so zwischen Eis und Lavagestein überleben können. Es gibt nur wenige Gletscher auf der Erde wo dies überhaupt vorkommt.
      Nachdem wir in einen 15 Meter tiefen Eistrichter gucken konnten, durch eine Eishöhle gekrochen, durch Eisspalten und alle Zonen des Gletschers gelaufen sind, haben wir auf dem oberen Plateau das tolle Panomara genossen. Beim Abstieg haben wir Wasser aus dem Berg getrunken, dass einen 200 Jahre langen Weg hinter sich gebracht hat. Es war klar, kalt und schmeckte ein bischen nach Stein.😉

      Am Nachmittag, nachdem wir Helm, Sicherheitsgurt, Eispickel und Spikes abgelegt und uns mit den Essensresten vergangener Tage gestärkt hatten (das Restaurant am Visitor Center war geschlossen 😱), haben wir dann noch einen Trail gemacht, wo wir einen klasse Ausblick auf eine andere Gletscherzunge hatten.

      Der Nationalpark war sehr beeindruckend, aber ist auch ein Ort, wo der Klimawandel unmittelbar sichtbar wird. Denn man konnte deutlich erkennen, welche großen Spuren die Erderwärmung hinterlässt, hier mehrere hunderte Meter lang...
      Deutlich wird einmal mehr, dass auf der Erde alles mit allem zusammenhängt und zwar in mehrfacher Hinsicht: Denn so wie wir zur Erderwärmung beitragen, so hat der Öræfajökull mit seinem zweiten Vulkanausbruch die Französische Revolution begünstigt. Seine Aschewolke zog über Europa, lies die Ernte veröden und der Druck der hungernden Bevölkerung auf die Obrigkeit wurde letztendlich zu groß. Ein sicherlich mahnendes Beispiel in der Beziehung zwischen Mensch und Natur!
      Morgen kümmern wir uns wieder mehr um die Tiere und schauen mal bei den Island-Pferden in Vik vorbei.
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    • Day7

      Fantastic Weather Again

      February 12, 2018 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

      Woke up to another lovely day with brilliant sunshine. We didn't expect this and if we had then maybe we should have gone to Diamond Beach for the sunrise. Mind you, we do have 4 million photos of those diamonds so maybe 1 million more would be overkill. Anyway, here's a better photo of our hotel.

      Did we say we'd recommend this? We do.
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