Day 3 on the Ring Road Iceland…Our third day started out from the town of Höfn. It was overcast for much of the day though there were a few breaks in the clouds but also some showers. The few times the sun did break through, there were some great shots of rainbows across the plains.
When we arrived into small town of Höfn the night before, there had been a very large international charity event taking place and all the accommodation was taken up including the place we intended to stay. With no other options, we returned to the gas station we had just come from for a fill up (plus dinner) and asked the lady working if she knew of any place for us to stay. She knew little English but called a friend of hers who met us at her guesthouse just outside of town.
The guesthouse was actually quite nice inside and overlooked the ocean on the opposite side. The only others occupying this place were some Icelandic construction workers that had come from Reykjavik for a few months to do some contract work on a local school. They kept us up that night insisting we drink with them even though they were already drunk when we got there at 8pm. Needless to say, it made for some interesting conversation.
We headed out head that morning with our final destination for Mývatn. There weren’t meant to be any major sights to be seen so today was more driving than anything but we did come across several places to stop. Our original plan was to only drive about 4 hours through the Fjords along the Ring Road that make up the south east portion of Iceland but since we wanted to see so much in northern Iceland the next day, we decided to drive through our original planned town and spend an extra 3 hours driving so that we would have more time tomorrow to see everything we had planned on seeing.
The photo below was our first stop of the day. We were driving along the coast and with both the black sand beach and the rocky coastline, we decided to hop out for a while and hike around.
These photos hardly give the area justice but the changing landscape from just the road to shore was dramatic with a grassy field changing to an area of small rocks and seashells to a rocky and jagged coast.
Off to the left were the black sand beaches and to the right of us, the waves were crashing into rock cliffs as high as twenty five feet. The colors on the rocks were amazing as well with everything from green and orange to blue and yellow.
It was treacherous to actually make it to the shore along the rocks because the rocks were slick and the waves kept coming over the top of the cliff edge and you never knew exactly how far the waves would crash along the rocks you were walking on. There were at least a few times I had slipped while trying to navigate to the water’s edge.
As we headed out from there, we continued our drive along the Fjords that snaked along the coastline for the next hour or more. Most of this drive was typical from what you can see in this photo below as the road cut into the mountain sides. It was a bit intense at times too because in Iceland, very few stretches of roads (actually almost none) had any guard rails to block you from going over the side.
There were many areas we passed where you could detour off the Ring Road and drive to the shoreline on a gravel or dirt path. We tried one of these stretches until it got to a point where we wouldn’t be getting back out without a four wheel drive.
As we continued driving along the coast that day, we did come across a few small areas where houses were clustered together. There were never quite enough of them to think of them as a small town but always enough that you knew there were at least five or more families living amongst each other. As we passed them, each always seemed to have at least one large waterfall right in the backyard. This photo below is just one example.
Coming up next was the one big hike we made that day. It was an area where there were actually trees that appeared to be native to Iceland.
Up to that point, the only trees I had seen in the country were some very small trees that were planted around houses and along fence lines with their purpose to act as a wind break.
This area we decided to stop at was more of small forest in the valley where you could hike up right next to the river that was coming down the mountain. We spent about two hours in this area just hiking around before we eventually continued on up the road.
We hadn’t got very far before we came across these guys below.
I think I mentioned before that sheep seem to number people in Iceland by about 10 to 1. They were literally everywhere, even at the tops of glacier capped mountains and along some very steep slopes.
We finally reached Mývatn that night with a few hours to spare. One of the things Mývatn is known for, besides its lake in the center of town, is its geothermal pools that sit on the edge of town. Each pool was separated by a different temperature and the bottom consisted of black volcanic sand. Quite different from your neighborhood pool. There were no tourists here either as we were now in northern Iceland, far from Reykjavik. It was a good way to end the day…