Head west young man
After finishing the 7 hour hike we decided to head west. The part of Iceland I had been most excited about since I started researching Iceland was the WestFjords. It is the part of Iceland that is closest to Greenland and the least visited by tourists(only 14%). We wanted to hit a few places on the way there and the first of those was Asbyrgi canyon. This was located at the far north of Iceland’s “fingers.” On the way we encountered a waterfall that wasn’t on our radar. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe because of the sheer volume of water. (See video 1)
After checking out a side falls named Selfoss, we headed north on the isolated barren dirt road towards Asbyrgi Canyon. This was the most isolated part of Iceland we had been in thus far. It was the end of a long day and I was so looking forward to a nice relaxing sleep when the van started vibrating heavily on the washboarded road. I knew immediately we had a flat. The people at Kuku campers neglected to go over where the spare was, where the jack was etc, in this Toyota eurovan. The spare was located underneath the van in a metal tire holder. It was held together by a piece of leather tied around it. Apparently the bolt that should lower it was broken. I had no idea how to get the tire off other than untying the leather strap. I did this and nothing happened. Right about then, a guy pulled up who was familiar with these types of undercarriage tire holders and we managed to free the tire. I changed the tire with the sunset fading at 10:30 at night. We went a little further and pulled off on a side road and camped for the night.
Falling Flat (part 2)
In the morning we headed for Asbyrgi canyon. In the picture I had seen a beautiful canyon with a sweet waterfall at the apex of the canyon. We stopped at the visitor center and decided to drive to the end of the canyon and do a short hike in. There was no waterfall. The canyon was very average by Icelandic standards. This was the one disappointment in the entire trip. It was, however, very remote and had a sweet campground where we could refill water and shower. The best part is that it was completely empty. A very different experience than the Vik campground.
A whale of a time
Now that we had water and had a nice shower, it was time to head for Husavik where we could repair the tire since the spare was not the same size as the original tire. We drove along the coast with beautiful scenery and finally arrived at Husavik. We pulled into a tire repair place and the guy took one look at the hole in the side of the tire and said it was unrepairable. A new tire set us back $200. We hit the store in town and stocked up on supplies and decided to check out the whale watching booths we had seen when we drove into town. The had a whale and sail tour for about $150 that was 4 hours long. We hopped on board and proceeded to sail out into icelandic waters. We saw about a dozen humpback whales, One was about 20 feet from the boat. We got served hot chocolate and stale cinnamon rolls. Overall, it was a super cool experience that was a nice change of pace from the previous days. We drove outside of town and parked near the ocean for the night.
We woke to gentle fog resting on the bay and realized our campsite wasn’t as private as we thought. When it’s dark it’s hard to tell but you quickly find out in the morning. We set our sites for Lake Myvatn. This would be our last stop before heading to the WestFjords. This was an area that had many volcanic craters and also a natural nature bath similar to the infamous Blue Lagoon. After a stop at the info center, we headed for the Dimmuborgir area to start our hike. Our destination was Hverfjall crater. This was a massive crater that you could hike up and walk around the entire rim. (see video 2). The hike up was steep and consisted of loose volcanic rock. When we finally got to the top we were greeted with stunning panoramic scenery of the entire area.
After the hike we headed to the natural hot baths called Nature baths. This was supposed to be just like the Blue Lagoon but half the price and half the people. They ask that you shower before getting into the pools and they ask you shower naked. Remove jewelry etc.. We spent a nice relaxing few hours there.
After getting out of the Nature baths we headed straight west for the WestFjords. Our destination was a town called Isafjordur. It was the largest town in the WestFjords which wasn’t saying much. The WestFjords were extremely remote and had very little going on except for breathtaking scenery. There was a nature preserve called Horntrandir that was only accessible by ferry.
We started heading towards Isafjordur from Myvatn under sunny skies. We came over a ridge and a fog back like I’ve never seen rolled in and just like that the visibility dropped to 50 feet or less. It stayed that way until we pulled into the town Varmahlid and decided to camp ina N1 parking lot for the night.
The next morning we started driving along all the fjords that lead to Isafjordur. The following pictures are from that drive.
When we arrived in Isafjordur, we immediately started looking around for lodging. We had wanted to do one more hotel night on the road somewhere and this seemed to be a good place to do it. We first checked with Hotel Isafjordur. They were booked. We went to the tourist center and they gave us some recommendations. On a whim we decided to call the hotel Isafjordur back and they had a cancellation. We got a room for the bargain price of $300. We asked about getting a ferry over to the Hornstrandir nature reserve. They were all booked but the hotel concierge could get us on a ferry to spend a few hours there. The weather forecast looked cloudy and rainy so we passed. This was the one thing on the trip I didn’t get to do that I wanted to. We walked around town that evening and ate at Husid restaurant. I had lamb chops and berry cake and it turned out to be the best meal of the trip. The next morning, we ate a delicious hotel breakfast and headed out back towards the mainland. More amazing scenery as the pictures below show. We hit several small towns along the way including Suoyeri(had lunch at the Fisherman cafe) and Pingeyri. We stopped for some food and refreshments at local cafes at each place. We hit the road and wanted to check out another amazing waterfall area called Dynjandi.