After picking up our rental car we started our counter clockwise journey around the Iceland. We headed south-southwest from Reykjavik out to the Reykjanes Peninsula. Here within 1-2 hours of Reykjavik are a wide range of geothermal and coastal attractions. A couple of beautifully staged lighthouses (near Gardur and Sandgeroi) stand near rugged basalt flows and shoreline but can be contrasted with fields of lupin and steaming geothemal vents. Also on this peninsula at a location called Brimkettle (near Grindavik), is an interesting string of large tidal pools. Lava flows met the ocean and formed deep tranquil pools along the coastline. It isn’t uncommon to see seals checking out those who venture here. Lastly out here is the Famous Blue Lagoon and its reported healing waters, steaming hillsides and valleys, and not to mention the beautiful lake Kleifarvatn.
The next day we shot up to Gulfoss and the geyser basin near Geysir. Then we head back to the Ring Road by way of Reykholt and followed the river valley. Countless waterfalls and rivers from the summer melt off of glaciers backdrop Icelandic horse and sheep farms. We ended the day photographing at least 6 named waterfalls and ended at Seljalandsfoss, where we camped at the neighboring farm.
A ferry ride to the archipelago of the Westman islands was our treat the next morning. From Landeyjarhonf it is a half hour ferry ride verses at least 4 hours from the Reykjanes penisula, however check the schedule because it might only be open during the tourist season. After taking a boat tour around some of the islands, seeing the destruction of a 1970s eruption, and walking the town we caught the evening ferry back to the mainland for sunset. There we continued on the Ring Road to Vik (where we stayed the night). Vik has a couple of interesting seastacks, a great columnar basalt formation and a good vantage of a sea arch that is in the distance. Also this is a good location for puffin spotting. The birds like the flat tops of the columnar basalt to build nests ontop of.
Day 4: began with a hike to a unique waterfall, Savartifoss (southeast Iceland), which is a hanging columnar basalt formation. Then we continued up the east coast to Jokulsarlon lake. Jokulsarlon is a large glacial lake full of icebergs. It is an intensely interesting place to photograph. The icebergs are form from a recieding glacier on the west end of the lake and large multi-ton cunks calving into the lake. As the ice melts it marches to the mouth of the river that flows a couple hundred yards to the ocean. Interestingly, at the union of water the waves push some of the ice back up onto the beaches, the melting ice looks like simmering diamonds accenting the rocky beach. From there we moved into the fjord section which is where we spent the night.
Day 5: After seeing a few fjords we moved up into mountains. However we didn’t make it too far. This was the only day we had truely bad weather. The winds were gusting in the 40s and 50s and snowing to the point of whiteout, so we holed up in a farm houses guest house.
Day 6: Now we in the Northeastern part of Iceland, this might have been one of the best days. We saw amazing water falls in Detifoss and Godafoss, Myvatn lake and the toured the nearby geothermal plant, and saw humbacks out of Husavik. While I would tell everyone that visits Iceland to take a week and drive the Ring Road, if that wasn’t and option and you had the funds, take an in country charter to this area. The waterfalls range from the largest (Detifoss), in volum of water in Europe, to maybe the most beautiful (Godafoss). While we only saw Humpbacks off of Husavik, the Fjord is know to be in the migratory path of over 7 species and its peak is in June and July.
Day 7: Our last day was packed and a long drive since we lost the day to bad weather. We went up the penisula near Hvammstangi to see Hvitserkur (a sea stack) and around the tip to see seals at Illugastadir. After that we headed back to highway 1 (The Ring Road). After that we headed to Barnafoss and Haufranfossar, here is a beautiful chain of waterfalls, which are really numerous springs. Countless underground water sources whois origins are unknown burst from the cliffside and join a vibrant turquoise glacial river. After that we visited Pingvillar National Park to the Northeast of Reykjvik before heading into town to find a campsite near the airport.