HOW TO CRUSH ICELAND IN NINE DAYS (part 2)
[PART 2 of 3]
This post is going to cover a few days, and the amount of things we saw in those few days is UNBELIEVABLE. From a famous plane wreck, to climbing a glacier, to exploring miles and miles of mossy goodness, a lighthouse on the top of a cliff, black sand beaches, icebergs and reindeer the days just kept getting better and better.
Iceland was seriously non-stop action! Here's a super-brief overview of the practical part of the trip. We generally took our time in the morning waking up, showering, eating breakfast and packing up but we were usually on the road by 10-11 am. Breakfast was usually oatmeal, boiled eggs, coffee, granola bars, and the awesome Icelandic yogurt, Skyr. Basically, stuff you can make without doing dishes (disposable dishes and silverware is the way to go!). We would drive to a few destinations. Some would take less than an hour, but some had hikes that would take several hours! Lunch was usually sandwiches made at the back of the car pulled of somewhere beautiful. NO TIME TO BE FANCY! MUST EXPLORE! We would start looking for a campsite around 8pm, but usually looked for an epic one an hour or two farther down the road. The entire country is so beautiful, and it never gets fully dark during the summer months, so a two-hour drive NEVER felt long at all. When we would pull in to camp, Bryan and Dave would have the tents and air mattresses and tables and chairs set up in 10 minutes while Grace and I made drinks, then Bryan and Dave would cook while Grace and I set up the inside of the tents and cleaned up. It felt like a well-oiled machine! Dinners were simple but always tasted awesome after a long day exploring. Then we'd have a few adult beverages, go on a walk and explore the area, enjoy a shower or hot spring, and PASS OUT.
PRO TIP OF THE DAY: Bring a pair of moccasins or slippers to wear in the car, so your feet don't spend all day in your hiking boots. The five minutes it takes to change is totally worth keeping your feet fresh and comfy! (Bryan didn't share this pro tip BEFORE we left)
STOP 1 - DC-3 PLANE WRECKAGE
I knew we had to check out the famous Icelandic plane wreck that everyone has in their pictures, I mean you gotta do it. Apparently a few years ago you were able to drive right up to it. But now you have to park on the side of the road and walk FOR FREAKING EVER (seriously it felt like forever) across terrain that looked like the moon. It was a very cool and eerie experience.
STOP 2 - SOLHEIMAJOKULL GLACIER
Pretty much right across the street from the plane wreck parking lot is the foot of the Solheimajokull glacier, which is the base for a lot of the glacier adventures available. OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO COOL. We did not pay to go on an actual glacier tour where they make you wear spikes on your shoes because we knew there was a lot we wanted to see that day. So instead we just wandered around the first few hundred yards in awe of the fact that we were in front of and walking on a small bit of this gigantic glacier.
STOP 3 - DYRHOLAEY
Dyrholaey is a GIANT FIST OF ROCK with a lighthouse shooting out 400 feet (120m) above black sand beaches on Iceland's south coast. Dyrholaey has some awesome views from the top, and features a giant natural arch that Bryan and Dave couldn't resist exploring. The drive to the top was pretty breathtaking..... and heart-stopping (talk about driving on the edge of a cliff).
Can you spot Bryan and Dave? Those lunatics.
STOP 4 - BLACK SAND BEACHES, VIK
This beach had the coolest rock formations. Extremely popular spot with a lot of busloads of tourists, though. >:o
STOP 5 - SIDE OF THE ROAD MOSSY GOODNESS
Driving to our next destination we came upon miles and miles of this insane looking moss terrain. We had to pull over and check it out. It was literally 4-8 inches deep, as soft as a mattress, and one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Seriously, Iceland is it's own planet.
STOP! THAT LOOKS LIKE A STAR TREK SET!
Dave teaching Bry some new techniques.
STOP 6 - FJAORARGLJUFUR
Oh you know, just another INSANELY beautiful and ridiculous and very hard to pronounce Game of Thrones type looking canyon.
We could have spent all day here exploring in and above this canyon, it would be awesome if you had water shoes.
Dave's faces says it all. At this point we were so blown away by everything that it was getting humorous.
On the third night, we camped at Tjaldsvæðið í Svínafelli. It had a cool view, but didn't have unlimited hot water. It had been a long day and I toughed it out and took an icy cold shower. We checked the showers before we decided on a campsite from then on. The campsite had some awesome birds called Common Snipes, which doesn't sound that fancy, but they make the craziest sounds as they dive through the air trying to impress the lady snipes. It sounds like aliens!
STOP 1 - SVARTIFOSS
Our first sunny day and it was HOT. We were all sweating our faces off and complaining about the heat when we got to the top of this hike. Haha, and then we drove somewhere else and it was cold.
From this one spot along the hike we could see 1) endless windswept sand; 2) mountains with glaciers; 3) a jagged green canyon; 4) a 200-foot waterfall gushing out of shattered lava rock; and 5) a volcano. Pretty awesome!
STOP 2 - SIDE OF THE ROAD GLACIER
We saw a random dirt "road" and this massive glacier in the distance so said "eff it", blasted some Led Zepplin, and followed the road to this sweet little spot. It wasn't little at all actually.
Had to skip some rocks.
STOP 3 - JOKUSOLAR GLACIER LAGOON
A lagoon in front of a glacier filled with icebergs. Need I say more?
Let's talk about layering. The weather conditions vary so much from location to location, and can change so quickly, that having a bunch of layers that you can add or lose is the only way to go. Bryan's outfit is not only rakishly sexy, but also highly functional. The base tank allows Bryan to blast bare chest when the sun is hitting him and it gets warm. The green puffy vest is also sleeveless because Bryan doesn't want anything with sleeves getting THAT close to his skin. After that, a heavy furry orange sweatshirt provides serious warmth, and a red Marmot raincoat that totally doesn't clash with the orange sweatshirt provides protection from wind and rain. Finally, the infinity scarf keeps the wind out and lets the world know that he is not French. Speaking of layers, it was very warm at this point so Bryan's hat is in his pocket. Also shades are required when the sun is out because it sits low in the sky.
It's unbelievable how much of a blast we had with these two! They made everything more fun.
STOP 4 - ICEBERG BEACH
Located right across the street from Jokusolar is ICEBERG BEACH. Talk about one of the coolest beaches I've ever seen. Black sand, light blue water and run-off icebergs from Jokusolar Lagoon just floating right past you. In the middle of summer, the glacier melts really fast and water GUSHES out of the bay carrying icebergs out to sea like a freakin freight train.
Bryan working those layers!
STOP 5 - EAST ICELAND
After spending over two days in the South, we knew we wanted to make up some miles. We drove through East Iceland for a few hours going up and down the fjords, pulling off the road to enjoy the coastline views, explore a random waterfall, visit some sheep and reindeer and ending the day setting up camp next to our own mini waterfall. It was awesome.
Driving along the East Fjords was beautiful! we took a shortcut through a relatively recently completed tunnel that was really long!
Completely random waterfall that was semi-visible from the road. We hadn't stopped for a few hours, so we checked it out and had our minds blown!
Dave really wanted to see those Reindeer.
All the sheep apparently live in the highlands during the summer while the farmers use their fields to make hay to keep them alive the 8 months a year it's SNOWING. We saw some sheep in some truly epic, often funny places.
FINAL STOP - CAMP
This campsite was so cool, it was in Reydarfjordur. We set up next to this mini waterfall, there was a private bathroom and hot shower literally right across from us and huge mountains with fog hovering over them. We drank a liter of Captain Morgan with cokes and ate hot dogs with baked beans. It was a fantastic way to end the day.
Team work makes the dream work.
She's a natural!