Iceland – Thórsmörk, Kerlingarfjöll, Reykjadalur Valley, Landmannalaugar, Reykjanes Peninsula, South Iceland & Reykjavík

After horrible afternoon weather on our first day in Þórsmörk, we woke up to the birds chirping, the sun shining, and a glorious day to explore the “Valley of Thor”. Our first hike was up to the top of Valahnúkur mountain which gave us a wonderful 360 degree panorama of the valley. Just stunning and what a difference good weather can make! Our second hike was to the secret waterfall hidden away in Stakkholtsgjá Canyon. Amazingly, we had the entire canyon to ourselves! Since the good weather was holding up, we decided to make a beeline to the central highlands after Þórsmörk, driving directly towards Kerlingarfjöll. Back in 2014, Kerlingarfjöll was one of our favorite destinations in Iceland, and we were curious if we would enjoy a repeat visit to hike the geothermal wonderland of Hveradalir. Since we were early in the season, the parking lot up at Hveradalir was still covered with snow, but we were able to drive a portion and hike the remaining 3 km distance. It was as magical as we remembered, perhaps even moreso since there were no other tourists around when we visited first thing in the morning. Actually, there were 2 other tourists who were just finishing up their 4 am hike as we were arriving, so we were able to take one perspective photo showing other hikers in the distance. What an awesome day and we were glad we revisited. From Kerlingarfjöll, we visited Gullfoss Falls and the Geysir geothermal area before linking up with the Madventure overland group at Skjól Campground. They were also doing a circular tour of Iceland and we were thrilled that our itineraries overlapped. We are booked with Madventure for a future expedition and were so happy to meet Will and Karen and the rest of their happy group. After parting ways with Madventure, we made our way to the Reykjadalur Valley where we hiked up to the thermal river and spent the better part of a rainy day soaking in the water there. Thankfully the inclement weather only lasted a day, so our next adventure was another jaunt back into the central highlands to visit Landmannalaugar. On the way to the highlands, we stopped by to visit the waterfalls of Hjálparfoss, Gjáin, Háifoss, Sigöldufoss, Sigöldugljufur as well as Stútur crater. Even though it was 9:30 pm by the time we started our hikes in Landmannalaugar, we still had enough time to explore the Laugahraun lava field and hike up to the top of Mt. Brennisteinsalda before the sun set at midnight. Unfortunately, the route to Blahnúkúr was inaccessible due to snow but there will always be a next time! From Landmannalaugar, we backtracked to the south coast and the next day we visited Kerið Crater and Thingvellir National Park. Since we had ample time left in Iceland, we figured we’d try out luck to see puffins at Dyrhólaey. But first a visit to the Blue Lagoon and the volcano of Geldingadalir. Since our last visit to the volcano, the lava flow had overtaken the second lookout point that we hiked to only 3 week prior. The volcano also wasn’t as active as it had been before, but it was still a worthwhile hike to see how much it had changed. At Dyrhólaey, we spotted several elusive puffins but they were too far away for any decent photos. On our way back towards our campsite, we visited the Sólheimajökull Glacier as well as Iceland’s oldest pool at Seljavallalaug. With only two days left on our trip, we hopped into Reykjavik to take our COVID test before visiting the botanical garden and zoo and having lunch at a popular local joint. Our last day in Iceland saw us eating lamb shank in Reykavik, visiting a sculpture garden and checking out the geothermal beach of Nauthólsvík. Our trusty Dacia Duster needed a good cleaning so we stopped by an N1 where we were able to hand wash it for free and vacuum it for a nominal fee. Overall, our trip to Iceland was just as good as we hoped it would be. Our timing was perfect as tourist numbers weren’t at the pre-coronavirus levels yet and we had many phenomenal sights all to ourselves. Till next time Iceland!

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