We drove straight to the great waterfall of Skógafoss. At 62m high and 25m wide, it is one of the biggest in Iceland. The sun was shining and we climbed to the top, through the steps on the right side, not very easy but the views are definitely worth it.
Next stop was Reynisfjara, after a 30 min drive. It is a 340m high rock with a view to long black sand beach. Thirty minutes is a long time for a weather change in Iceland and it was raining already. The strong wind added drama to the spectacular view from the top of the rock. We drove down to the other end of Reynisfjara beach, walked by an impressive basaltic rock formation that resembles a pipe organ to meet with the cutest of all bird life: a colony of puffins. A pleasant surprise as most of the puffins had already left the island to their winter residence. I missed my Canon and the 100-400mm but I was able to catch some shots with the Pany 100-300mm mounted on the OM-D.
We stopped in nearby Vik (pop. 290) is the largest town in the area and home to a cozy restaurant where we ate soup and hamburgers. The next 140km to Skaftafell National Park entrance is one of the most scenic in Iceland. Route 1 drives along the cost and on every turn you see a different landscape. Lava and grass fields, herds of sheep, cows and Icelandic horses, small rivers and waterfalls, the sea. Just before Skaftafell NP, you go through a 15km of truly unique landscape of flat land with black rock and sand, the result of the glacial meltdown caused by a volcanic eruption. The ruins of a bridge indicate the forces of nature that shaped the landscape.
We arrived at the entrance of the park at 3:30, five minutes after the last bus left for a tour on the glacier. Next time. We headed to Höfn and after one hour we saw some cars turning left on a small rough road. We decided to follow and after 200 meters we arrived to Fjallsárlón, an amazing glacial lake, full of blue icebergs. It is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever experienced. It helped that we had the lake for ourselves and spend a good thirty minutes walking around and playing on the icebergs.
Ten minutes drive to the unique Jökulsárlón. It is the largest of the three glacial lakes, with floating icebergs of all shapes and sizes, about 18 km² and keeps growing because of the accelerated melting rate of the glacier. Jökulsárlón is connected to the sea and the icebergs find their way to the nearby beach offering a stunning scenery. We managed to catch the last amphibian boat to catch a close look of the blue icebergs. The lake became famous after the Aston Martin vs Jaguar XKR frozen-lake chase in the James Bond movie “Die Another Day” (2002), although it appears in many other films, like A View to a Kill, Die another Day, Tomb Raider and Batman Begins. To freeze the lake, they cut the connection to the sea with sand blocks and as the heavier salted water went to the bottom, the glacier water formed a 30cm thick ice layer in three weeks! Equally impressive is the neighboring beach, full icebergs flowing out from the lake.
The 60 minutes drive to Höfn, under the later afternoon light, along the glacier and shallow lakes that reflected the sunset was simply magic. We reached Höfn just after sunset and went straight to dinner to Pakkhus Restaurant, right at the port. The dining room is on the top floor, all wood but the most interesting thing is lower level where you find an big dining room with tables and chairs, all different. Not a single item was the same. The dinner was excellent, we had lobster soup and cod, cooked and served beautifully.
We checked in late and exhausted in Hotel Höfn, after a truly amazing day, beyond any expectation. Next: The East