HOFN, ICELAND | DAY #5 As soon as we wake up we do not resist the desire to visit again the port of Hofn. The sun shines bright, the few boats are still moored, and the timid local life seems awakening slowly. We do some grocery shopping at Nètto, one of the national supermarkets where everything costs too much. Sliced cheese can also cost 18 euros and a bottle of water costs about 3; you never miss the insane Icelandic prices. Loaded the car, we start our long journey through the coast of Austurland, which will allow us to see the small towns facing the fjords. We will stretch a few kilometres to our path but we will be more in touch with the local places.
So, on the road that runs through the beautiful West Fjords, we pass by the unspoiled landscapes of Djupivogur, Fjardabyggd, Stodarfjordur harbours. In the first one there is an old inn overlooking the harbour serving typical food and creamy pies with a slightly extravagant and uninviting look. Along our way, we saw a lot of free sheeps eating, climbing, and crossing the streets neatly. Nobody seems taking care of them. They are free as is the whole Island – but just until the winter, when they are grouped and driven into a safe place to protect them from the glacial cold.
The clouds make room in the sky and the grey gets dense, until we arrive at Eggilstadir and it start drizzles. Eggilstadir is much cheerful than the cities visited so far. The main attraction is a large forest of trees from all over the world, in addition to the dwarf firs that are born naturally in Iceland. Forests stretch for many kilometres and provide with some paths of different difficulty, we undertake one of the simplest which leads us along the pebble beach overlooking the notorious Lagarfljòt lake, where it is said that for centuries a dragon has been hidden into the water. The lake is surrounded by high mountains and small agglomerations of houses. The fog, the fir trees and the lake make the atmosphere so mystical that suddenly it seems to be plunged into a cold winter day.
Not far from here rise the unmistakable Fljotdalshreppur, a very high mountain that hides such a large waterfall that breaks in three paths. Though I am frightened at the idea of climbing up for 650 feet, we begin our walk. The waterfall is so far away that we cross three gates that point and delimit the path. The drizzle is knocking but the view is amazing. At some point, even turning back, we can no longer see the backward path or the parking lot where we left the car. We walk for an hour between the rocks and the soil, and we are careful not to fall victim to the ravines as we walk them through. We surpass the first and the second waterfall until we reach the largest and highest of the three: the Fardagafoss.
This athletic test on late afternoon seems to be enough to finally relax. We will spend the night in a delightful shabby-chic lodge: the Kalda Lyngholt Home. A raw dream-lodge made of wood hidden in a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by a lush garden and mountains. Until now we have noted that Icelanders are algae like their glaciers. They are limited to a detached cordiality and keep distances with determination; but our Eggilstadir hosts are ready to make us chewed up.
As soon as we arrive they offer us to enjoy sauna and jacuzzi. In unison we say “yes”! Once left the luggage in the lodge we are ready to relax. Our host warms up the sauna and jacuzzi and explains to us how to use them. He tell us that he has built everything with his hands. He entertain us with funny stories of Asian tourists that make love hiding in the garden bushes during the Northern Sunrise and then greets us. Although 8 degrees, we are happy and ready to enjoy this mountainous atmosphere.We go out in swimsuit and very fine honeycomb robes, ready to sweat with essential pine oils and immerse ourselves in geothermal water with strong sulfuric smell at 40 degrees.
The lodge is so comfortable that we would like to be able to stay longer. We eat around the table and in the late evening we drink a tea on the patio covered with heavy woolen cloth. The night here the sky is darker than usual, the candle illuminates the patio in silence and we feel ready for a sleepy night.
MYVATN, ICELAND | DAY #6 In the morning we head to Myvatn, one of the great lakes on the island. On the road we load a hitchhiker, as we have done other times during our journey. He is headed to Dettifoss, the largest waterfall in Europe. We decide that we can not really lose it and bring our passenger directly to the goal. Dettifoss, with its 44mt height and 100m wide, is located in the Jokulsargljufur canyon and is truly a spectacular sight. All its mighty power flows into the rocky and wild gorge. We are reluctant to observe it while a dense rain drops in the sun. Not far from the latter, there is also the Selfoss waterfall– smaller but perhaps more beautiful and peculiar than the ones seen up to now. It is only 14mt high but it flows into several points by a u-shaped rock, the same from which it can be seen from different angles in all its splendour. The strength of water and turquoise color distract from the bushy and unspoiled landscape around.
Later we arrive at Namafjall, the geothermal park in the area. Around us, red yellow and white dunes, green patches and small mountains with steam and strong smells of sulfur. The surface of the park resembles absolutely how I imagine the planet Mars. We believe we are not on the set of a Hollywood movie. We walk through the park long and wide and take the opportunity to take numerous photos to the amazing details that surround us.
We are heading to the famous Hverfjall volcano, black as the stem and high 420mt high. We climb along the volcano’s rib and from the highest point we stop to admire the crater lying quietly. Circular in shape and with a diameter of about 1km, it is dotted with small and large rocks. The gray sky is in perfect pendant with all the rest, volcanic sand and the landscape extending infinitely to the horizon.Down the valley we eat our sandwiches and, although it is just unpleasant for us to eat yet another ham and cheese panini, after we hiked so much we desperately need to eat something.
Before today’s well deserved relaxation, we get lost in the circular path of Dimmuerborgir, the infamous garden of Elves and Trolls. The park is a labyrinth of lava formation on several routes, vegetation ranges from dwarf birches to fatty plants and inside it is the Kirkjan church. According to the Icelandic legends, it is the place where the world of men and hell converges; is also one of the locations of some of Game of Thrones’ episodes and Giovanni does not want to miss it.
Sunset has come and it’s time for us to have our first bath in the Icelandic thermal water. Though the most famous are the warm baths of the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn‘s are just as beautiful and perhaps more peculiar. After a brief mandatory shower, we dive into boiling water. The frosty wind and hot water are the perfect elements to regenerate the body and with the sun sets over the horizon right in front of us, we could not really ask for better. We dive between the water at 32 ° to the 40 °, the passage is a real thermal shock but if it is true that the skin rejuvenates with the cold I would say that it is worth it. We hold for one hour and a half, as long as the fingers of our hands do not look like raisins.
When the sun starts to turn off behind the black mountains in the distance, we reach the Vallakot guest house, a typical open country house surrounded by green valleys. On the walls are preserved family photos, the decor is minimal but typically Icelandic. The lady who hosts us is very kind and shows us our large room with a window overlooking the garden. We really feel Icelanders immersed in unspoiled nature.
The journey continues…
- NEXT STOP > Akureyri + Godafoss
- PREVIOUS STOP < Vik + Laguna di Ghiaccio + Hofn
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