Iceland – Mývatn, Borgarfjörður eystri, Seyðisfjörður, Vestrahorn, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull National Park, Vík, Skógar & Þórsmörk

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in North Iceland was an unexpected highlight. We actually had to backtrack to visit it on a 4wd accessible road and were very glad we did as it was spectacular! Then it was off to explore the rest of Mývatn – Skútustaðir pseudocraters, Höfði Peninsula on Lake Mývatn, Hverfjall Crater, and the Krafla geothermal area. From Mývatn we drove to the waterfalls of Selfoss and Dettifoss before making our way to the highest farm in Iceland at Möðrudalur where we spent the coldest night of the trip. The next morning we thawed out on our hike to Stuðlagil Canyon, a recently discovered Instagram star. From the canyon, we made our way to Borgarfjörður eystri where we got to spend hours with Atlantic puffins! The drive out to the East Fjords was insanely beautiful and we had many roadside distractions along the way (waterfalls, reindeer, turf roofed houses). Seyðisfjörður has the reputation of being the prettiest village in the East Fjords so despite the inclement weather, we revisited the scenic town, with a visit to Gufufoss and Fardagafoss along the way. Our original plan was to hike out to the majestic waterfalls of Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss but the bad weather just couldn’t justify the effort to get out there so instead we drove onward to the stunningly gorgeous Vestrahorn mountain on the Stokknes Peninsula. Since we camped here, we received two free tickets to visit the beach (it is private property and the land owner has been charging visitors 800 ISK per visit). Next up on our itinerary was a visit to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Diamond Beach and Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon. After our fill of icebergs, we hiked Múlagljúfur Canyon which is home to Hangandifoss Waterfall, one of our favorite waterfalls of the trip. Our next big activity was a 6 hour hike on Falljökull glacier with Artic Adventures. This glacier is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and we were equipped with crampons and an ice ax along with a block on instruction from our experienced guide. This was another highlight of the trip and we were very glad we had signed up for this optional activity as it was mesmerizing spending time on the glacier. After the glacier, we hiked out to Svartifoss waterfall and paid a visit to Núpsstaður turf farm and church before a midnight visit to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. In retrospect, we should have waited to visit the canyon as our photos didn’t come out as well as we would have liked in the limited light. But it was cool visiting without a horde of other tourists milling about! The next day, we visited Vík, the southernmost village of Iceland. Here, we enjoyed the views from the church, lamb soup at the Soup Company, and the Reynisfjara black sand beach and basalt columns. From Vík we made our way to Skógar where we visited the museum and discovered the less visited waterfall of Kvernufoss which is another waterfall that visitors can hike behind. No one else was here, and this waterfall was far better than its more popular neighbor of Skógafoss. The next day was a brilliant sunny day and we took full advantage of the beautiful weather to do the waterfall section of the Fimmvörðuháls Trail. This 4.2 mile hike (one way) took us past 26 different waterfalls and we took our time admiring each one. The last time we hiked Fimmvörðuháls, we were carrying heavy rucks and were in a rush to make it to Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk) before nightfall, so it was a much nicer experience to do this hike at a relaxed pace. After our long hike, we explored several man-made cave houses on the south coast as well as the waterfalls of Gljúfrabúi and Seljalandsfoss. The good weather we had didn’t hold up and we experienced a full day of torrential downpour which we took advantage of to do absolutely nothing other than catch up on some sleep, recharge our batteries and spend the afternoon at a thermal pool in Hella. From Hella, we signed up for a ride out to  Þórsmörk with Volcano Huts who outsourced it to a local operator called Southcoast Adventure. Amazingly, the two of us had our own private ride out to Þórsmörk in a super jeep (we had expected a bus but few tourists were venturing out to the interior this early in the season). We had been advised not to attempt driving our own rental vehicle through the raging Krossá river and this was solid advice considering the day we arrived and the day we left, two different tourists’ vehicles had to be rescued from the river! As we had been warned, damage incurred while crossing a river nulls one’s insurance in Iceland so the drivers were left with a very hefty bill…so not worth the risk of driving ourselves! The day we arrived to Þórsmörk, the weather turned bad (rain and fog) as we hiked the first 6 km of the Fimmvörðuháls Trail from the Básar campsite to Heljarkambur but the views were still mesmerizing. Phew, we accomplished a lot during this section of Iceland and we still have a third of our trip left to explore this amazing country. Stay tuned!

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