Iceland Day 6: Lake Mývatn – Seyðisfjörður

We were greeted by a dusting of snow as we climbed out of Mývatn the next morning, which had become increasingly scattered across the road and over the barren hills beyond.

Excited by the enchanting landscape, we pulled up into a lookout area to take in our surroundings. Jim proceeded to fall arse over tit with a colossal thud, as soon as he set foot outside of the car.

The tarmac was like an ice rink, and as I glanced over my shoulder to the only other people in the car park, I realised that they had wisely adopted a penguin shuffle, to avoid such happenings. I stayed put.

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We carefully continued our journey up through the snowy hills, feeling fairly anxious on the icy road. Being early, few vehicles had yet passed through, making the path feel somewhat untrodden, as it were. As we crested the last hill, Hverir came into view and with it, the snow and ice diminished.

The valley before us was vast, flat and steaming. We wound down the hillside and made our way into the car park, where just a handful of other visitors had pulled up. The unmistakable smell of sulphur assaulted our nasal passages simultaneously, and we both recoiled in unison.

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Hverir is a fascinating geothermal area. I felt like I had landed on another planet as I followed the muddy path between bubbling mud holes and hot, steaming fumaroles. The ground was stained with beautiful yellow, orange and blue tones, as if painted by Mother Nature herself.

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Large, wet snowflakes began to fall through the bitter air; but the cold was obscured by hot clouds of steam, some so thick we would lose sight of each other. The sun fought to be seen, but was soon defeated by the impending weather.

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It felt apocalyptic; and to add to this, our phones had gone completely haywire from the extreme shifts in temperature; both losing their full charges in a matter of seconds and shutting down. God forbid there’s ever a real apocalypse, Apple.

To my amazement, you could walk right up to some of the fumaroles. I imagine many overly curious tourists have suffered some pretty nasty burns over time. The fumarole pictured below whistled like a kettle, and being an overly curious tourist myself, I stood in its eggy steam. It was beautifully warm, but I emerged soaking wet, so made a disgruntled dash for the car.

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Hverir left us both feeling thoroughly invigorated. Neither of us had ever experienced geothermal activity before and Jim, being a geology buff, was particularly thrilled. Not even the weather could dampen our spirits, as we unknowingly made our way into a complete whiteout.

. . .

We were heading for Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, situated north of Route 1. By this point, the snow was hastily thickening, until before we knew it, we found ourselves amidst some kind of petrifying winter wonderland. Everything was white, including the road, and the Jimny started to lose traction in the slush.

There was no turning back now, we were stubbornly committed and between partial moments of terror, felt like proper adventurers. Along with a convoy of terrified followers, we crawled to Dettifoss. To our amazement, the car park was full of tour buses and other cars; but where on earth had they all come from? We pulled up, breathed a sigh of relief and hopped out into the snow.

There was a fair walk to the waterfall and to make matters worse, the path was completely obscured. We soon became caught up amongst an enormous group of fumbling Chinese tourists and together, we slipped and slid our way along what we could only assume was the trail. A sweet old lady sporting the most impractical footwear possible (she may as well have been barefoot), took a liking to Jim and latched onto him for support, much to the amusement of all her friends, who were giggling and whispering amongst themselves.

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Tourists aside, I noticed a calmness and quietness to this land. The air felt incredibly still and there was something about the light, which was beautifully hypnotic as it danced off the ice.

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Dettifoss was absolutely breathtaking. It made Goðafoss look like a mere trickle. My photo really does no justice to its size; it was the biggest waterfall I’ve ever seen and the roar was deafening!

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We explored the area and viewed the falls from a number of angles, until our fingers and toes were numb. Experiencing it in the snow was truly magical.

. . .

We made our way out of the snowy lands, once again taking our time and praying that the Jimny would live to see another day. We continued east along the Ring Road until the protesting grumbles of my stomach became too much to bear.

The blustery lands were seemingly exposed for miles upon end, making cooking a much-needed hot meal on our stoves virtually impossible. Exasperated, Jim pulled us into a rest point and whipped us up some noodles in the footwell of the car.

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Kids, do not try this at home.

Post noodle break, the drive on to Seyðisfjörður was filled with spectacular scenery and we made a number of stops along the way.

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We refuelled and resupplied in the town of Egilsstaðir, and then climbed high up over the snow capped mountain pass and down into Seyðisfjörður. The area is famous for its abundance of waterfalls, which were littered along the roadside in all shapes and sizes. It took all Jim’s might to concentrate on the road ahead and not veer us off course; I definitely wasn’t helping with my incessant gasps of appreciation.

Seyðisfjörður is a charming little town, perched at the innermost point of a fjord, as its name suggests. The town is well known for its distinct, Norwegian style houses, which are classically wooden and colourful. It also had a wonderfully bohemian feel about it; and paired with the mountainous backdrop, it quickly became one of my favourite places so far.

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The Blue Church is one of Iceland’s most recognisable landmarks.

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Tonight we would camp, and after two nights spent in the warmth, I refused point blank to endure another night of relentless shivering; so with that being said, we shared Jim’s tent. We topped and tailed like two sardines; it was so cramped that neither of us could move, but it was beautifully toasty.

Overnight:
Seyðisfjörður Camping Ground

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