I honestly thought several things about Part 2 of the big Iceland post. The first is that it would be posted a lot sooner, but, I’m not the most consistent person and sometimes life gets in the way. The second thing is that it would be a lot shorter, or at least contain more than one day’s worth of activities. I guess I lost track of how much stuff we did that day and how far we went. So buckle up, day two was just as wild as days one and zero
We quickly learned that getting up at a respectable time is our biggest challenge, especially since we don’t have jobs, and thus no one to fire us for being late. This has become a theme for the entire trip, though back in September in Iceland we chalked it up to jet lag and still being on Dallas time.
The Ring Road
We spent most of day two driving. For some people this might sound absolutely awful (Cody included). For me it’s probably one of the best uses of time I can think of and, looking back, we covered a pretty large chunk of the island that day. Most of the morning was spent taking in gorgeous coastal views and more black sand beaches.
We also got really lucky and some amazing weather for a while. Beautiful blue skies and perfect temperatures made for a wonderful morning driving the Ring Road.
From the Ring Road we took Route 939 to shave off a few kilometers and a little bit of time. Cody had read about it online somewhere and the pictures looked stunning and it did not disappoint.
Route 939 taught us a few things about Iceland. The first is that nothing is predictable. The weather that had been so sunny and bright just a few minutes prior, quickly turned dark and gray and much colder as we made our way inland.
The second was to be aware of road conditions. Route 939 is definitely traversable by car with no special modifications – the beat up station wagon we were in can attest to that – but it was slow going and at times a bit scary.
You also have to be on the look out for cars coming in the opposite direction around curves, and for narrow lanes where only one car can pass at a time.
It was a beautiful shortcut though and a great introduction to Iceland’s highlands. Also waterfalls everywhere.
After Route 939 it was back to the Ring Road. Route 1 as it’s also known cuts inland by quite a ways taking you through the highlands of Iceland.
The landscape here is dramatically different. I assume in springtime it’s probably a lot greener, but in fall it was beautiful shades of reds, oranges and yellows, all against a crisp blue sky with puffy white clouds. It was the epitome of a perfect fall day.
And there were too many waterfalls to really count.
In some places it literally looks like another planet. I’m spacing on the name of this place now, but if you’re ever on the Ring Road going counter-clockwise it’s a bit before you hit Dettifoss. And trust me, you won’t miss it. There will be several photographers and drone operators there.
Dettifoss and Selfoss
One of our big goals for day 2 was hitting Dettifoss Waterfall. If you’ve seen the movie Prometheus, this is that waterfall. I’ve only seen that movie once and I don’t really remember the waterfall, but in real life the thing is impressive. It’s considered Europe’s most voluminous waterfall.
Getting pictures of it was a pretty big challenge. If you wanted the camera to stay dry, you couldn’t really get close to the waterfall at all – there is just that much mist coming off of it. I had my camera wrapped up in a bag, but keeping the lens clean was impossible.
Dettifoss’s sister waterfall Selfoss was equally stunning. We didn’t get nearly as close, but it was just as awesome and powerful. There’s another waterfall in this system, but we didn’t have enough time to check it out. This is definitely one of those places where you can spend all day wandering around. There are tons of trails to check out and the landscape surrounding the river and waterfalls is stunning and literally out of this world. There are a few roads that go on either side of the river and from what we’ve read there are some pretty intensive and impressive hikes on the other side that get you some stunning views.
Normal people probably read about this one and make it a point to stop here. We did not. I saw it pop up with the little picture icon on Google maps and demanded we stop. And it was definitely worth it.
It’s literally just pits of boiling mud in the middle of an Icelandic desert, but oh my gosh it’s actually really beautiful. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think I’d get any decent pictures here, but alas, I was completely surprised at how well they came out.
One of the things you will notice about this place though is the smell. The sulfur hits you hard when you step out of the car and doesn’t leave for several hours after.
The Northern Lights
After some time spent soaking in the hot springs near Myvatn we grabbed some pizza and headed to our campsite for the night.
I’ve already posted about the Northern Lights here so I’ll keep this short. We actually got to see them night before from our bed and breakfast in Hofn, but I was wildly unprepared and so utterly shocked that I failed to take any pictures.
I managed to take some this night from our campsite near Myvatn Lake. It was a stunning sight and a truly amazing experience as other visitors to the campground realized what was going on and turned all their lights out.
The Northern Lights are probably one of the most spectacular things we’ve seen since leaving Texas.