Europe, Hiking, Iceland, Waterfalls

Heidi and Kubo Do Iceland – Day 14: The Incredible Eastfjords

Iceland Day 14 – September 14, 2018

day14

1°C (about 34°F) weather and freshly fallen snow on the mountains greeted us in the morning in Seydisfjörður.  Our coldest night in Iceland, and a good reminder that winter is rapidly on its way when you’re at 65°N.

IMAG2027
A very chilly 1 degree morning in Seydisfjörður. Fresh snow topped the mountains surrounding the fjord.

After breakfast and piling on the clothes, we headed back up Road 93 towards Egilsstaðir, making a quick stop at Gufufoss.  We were enjoying the drive down Road 93 too much the previous day to make a stop here, plus the parking lot was full.  Perks of a cold morning and waiting a day, we had the fall to ourselves, but made it a quick stop due to rain and the cold.

DSC_7457
Gufufoss on the Fjarðará, right beside Road 93.
DSC_7462
Entering the clouds on Road 93 up Fjarðarheiði, where there would be fresh snow on the ground!

We continued on Road 95 once we arrived in Egilsstaðir, which would be taking us to hiking destination for the day, Hengifoss.  Road 95 goes along the shores of Lagarfljót, Iceland’s third largest lake, in the Fljótsdalur valley.  As an extra, Lagarfljót is also home to the famous serpent, Lagarfljótsormurinn.  It’s considered a bad omen if you see the serpent, so luckily the only monster we saw was my toy brachiosaurus on this day.  Road 95 also passes through Hallormsstaðaskógur, Iceland’s largest forest and first national forest, which was designated in 1905.

DSC_7469
Fresh snow on the mountain peaks as we drove south on Road 95 out of Egilsstaðir
DSC_7474
Road 95 on the shores of Lagarfljót and through Hallormsstaðarskógur, proving once again that Iceland does indeed have trees.

After a beautiful, if not slightly un-Iceland, drive through the forest along the lake, we arrived at the trailhead for Hengifoss, which is Iceland’s third highest waterfall (second highest easily-accessible).  Donning our rain gear, we began the trudge uphill (we were still waiting to find a downhill both ways hiking trail in Iceland… ha!).

DSC_7509
Start of the Hengifoss hiking trail. Hiking trails in the Egilsstaðir area are very well marked and plentiful.

The hike treats you to several other waterfalls, including Litlanesfoss, which is surrounding by basalt columns.  Basalt is one of my favorite things ever, so even though I hate to admit it, I might’ve enjoyed Litlanesfoss more than the main feature, Hengifoss!

DSC_7481
Jónsfoss on the river Hengifossá
DSC_7482
The beautiful basalt flanked Litlanesfoss

The trail turned pretty muddy once it flattened out to head towards Hengifoss.  We located the trail register, so we signed the book, and then went for a closer look.  Supposedly you can walk right up to Hengifoss, but it seemed very rocky, tricky, and muddy so we enjoyed the views from a distance.

IMAG2049
Signing the trail register at Hengifoss
DSC_7489
Hengifoss, Iceland’s third tallest waterfall, dropping 128 meters on Hengifossá.
DSC_7493
Oxidation of iron in clay sandwiched between layers of basalt create the colors of Hengifoss
DSC_7503
Hengifoss and other small waterfalls

Round trip the hike to Hengifoss was about 3.2 miles and we spent 1 hour 45 minutes total.

Hiking done, we turned our attention to finding a spot in the forest to enjoy some lunch.  There are many hiking trails and pull offs in the area, so we found one with some restrooms and trails.  In a moment of anger, Kubo threw the leftovers of the horse meat adventure from Day 7 out of the doors of the van, complaining that it was too salty.  (No worries, he picked it up and discarded it properly in the trash.)  I don’t know why, but I had a good chuckle about the whole incident.  We cooked up some soup and I wandered the trails for a few minutes. Hallormsstaðarskógur definitely made my list of “need to come back here and hike” – next time.  Seriously, Iceland just has way much cool stuff that is impossible to see all in one trip!

DSC_7512
Hallormsstaðaskógur National Forest along Road 95
IMG_7103
Hallormsstaðaskógur National Forest hiking paths near our lunch picnic spot

We continued back to Egilsstaðir and turned onto the Ring Road for the final time on our trip… this would be the road that would lead us all the way back to Reykjavík in just a few more days!

The east fjords, or Austurland, of Iceland are just crazy, insane, beautiful craziness!  Jaw dropping scenes surrounded us on all sides for the rest of our drive today, and definitely was a highlight of our whole adventure.  I lost count of how many times I exclaimed, “Shut up, Iceland!  Just stop!” at the next beautiful scene around each corner.  Kubo and I also struggled to announce every waterfall, as there were so many… but no, we still weren’t sick of them (seriously, how do people get sick of waterfalls?!)!

DSC_7536
Austurland snow-capped mountain views as we headed south on the Ring Road through Fagridalur
DSC_7540
Just another road side waterfall in Iceland… dat 14, and our Waterfall Game was still going strong!
DSC_7541
Seeing snow on the mountain peaks was actually pretty cool!
DSC_7544
Áreyjatindur seen from the Ring Road west of Reyð­ar­fjörð­ur
DSC_7560
Roadside views in Reyð­ar­fjörð­ur, and more backyard waterfalls
DSC_7565
Heading towards Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng, tunnel between Fáskrúðsfjörður and Reyðarfjörður, which opened in 2005.
DSC_7569
Unlike the much older Westfjords’ flat top mountains, the eastern fjords’ mountains are jagged and rugged.
DSC_7580
Ring Road’s curvey path in Fáskrúðsfjörður, aka Iceland Road Porn
IMAG2090
I think I could live here…
DSC_7600
Mountain views across Stöðvarfjörður

In and around the fjords we went, passing near Reyðarfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður, before arriving in Stöðvarfjörður.  I patted myself on the back for selecting to take the coastal route versus staying inland and going over Road 939, or Oxi Pass.  Many people skip Oxi due to the “scariness” of it, but as much as Kubo and I love Icelandic mountain passes, we were happy we skipped it in order to witness the amazing things Austurland had to offer.

In Stöðvarfjörður we stopped briefly to glance at Petra’s Stone Collection, but decided for the sake of time that we would skip the tour of the inside.  However, it was nice to get out and stretch our legs for a few minutes before continuing on.

DSC_7605
Petra Sveinsdóttir started to collect stones in 1946, and her impressive collection is on display at her house in Stöðvarfjörður
DSC_7609
Petra in stone form outside of her impressive collection in Stöðvarfjörður
DSC_7610
Seal in Stöðvarfjörður
DSC_7612
Súlur near Stöðvarfjörður on the Kambanes peninsula
DSC_7614
Headed towards Breiðdalsvík on the Ring Road

DSC_7624

DSC_7626
Just another roadside sheep in Iceland
DSC_7632
Berufjörður

DSC_7638

DSC_7640
Búlandstindur, 1,069 meters.
DSC_7658
Stunning scenery continued with Skriðufjall

In between demanding that Iceland stop with the beauty because I couldn’t handle it and snapping off photos from the passenger seat, Kubo and I took to some impressive van karaoke, especially to Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.”  Maybe the scenery was making us go a bit… KuKu?  Ha!

At the head of Berufjörður we stopped for a quick restroom break at some port-a-potties that were set up in a rest area, and then Kubo spotted a gravel road marked for Eyjólfsstaðir, and decided to drive up (apparently by skipping Oxi he didn’t get his fill of steep gravel for the day!).  And what did we find?!  A waterfall – Sveinsstekksfoss!!

DSC_7665
Pretty sad there even has to be a sign telling people not to do this… I literally cannot think of a spot in Iceland where I did not see discarded toilet paper. Even the most remote or less traveled sights there would be a glob of toilet paper left behind by someone somewhere. So freaking sad… take that with you!
DSC_7666
Sveinsstekksfoss near Berufjörður
IMAG2117
Selfie time in the wind at Sveinsstekksfoss

Sveinsstekksfoss is not a huge waterfall by any means, but always nice to find a hidden gem to explore.  What the falls lacks in size is made up by the views all around of the mountains and fjord.

DSC_7670
Carl’s glamour shot with Skriðufjall

Done chasing waterfalls, we continued on, and things just kept getting more and more amazing.

DSC_7679
Another view of Búlandstindur, which some claim is the most “perfect” mountain in Iceland due to its pyramid shape
DSC_7683
Views across Berufjörður
DSC_7689
These electronic signs are common on the south coast of the Ring Road, and given temperature and wind speed data.

Djúpivogur was our next destination, Eggin í Gleðivík specifically.

DSC_7693
Djúpavogskirkja, built in 1894.  There is a newer church in town, but it looks like this one might be under restoration
DSC_7695
Æðarstein lighthouse in Djúpivogur
DSC_7696
Eggin í Gleðivík, or Eggs of Merry Bay, in Djúpivogur. Icelandic artist, Sigurður Guðmundsson, placed 34 eggs all representing bird species found near Djúpivogur in 2009. They are all similar in size except the first one, which represents the egg of the red-throated diver, which is the official bird of Djúpivogur.
DSC_7702
A rainbow and Eggin í Gleðivík

Kubo and I thoroughly enjoyed Eggin í Gleðivík, and walked the entire length, taking photos, and picking our our favorite eggs.  I think we also both had an awareness to enjoy our last day of solitude in Iceland before we would hit the heavily trafficked southern coast where we’d be sharing the sights with thousands of our not-so-close traveling friends.

DSC_7709
A very American looking house in Djúpivogur.  Pretty strange sight to see!

DSC_7710DSC_7729

I had nothing else on the itinerary  after Djúpivogur, but we kept finding spots to pull off and take photos and explore. Lækjavik was our next one, which has parking overlooking the ocean and a nice sea stack.  Oh, and there were beach sheep!  Those damn Icelandic sheep will eat anything and live anywhere apparently!

DSC_7737
Sea stack at Lækjavik
DSC_7740
Just some sheep on the beach at Lækjavik

I about pooped my pants when Eystrahorn came into view, which is the eastern (and underrated) twin to the famous Vestrahorn.  Luckily there was easy parking for photos!

DSC_7756
Eystrahorn near Hvalnes on the shores of Lónsfjörður
IMAG2151
Finally got one of those cliche “Middle of the Ring Road” photos of myself! Good for showing how narrow Iceland’s main highway is 🙂  And an excuse to post another photo of  the outrageous Eystrahorn mountain.

But wait, there’s more!!!  We soon found ourselves stopping to see some horses and take more photos.  It’s never ending in eastern Iceland!!

DSC_7780

Finally we pulled into Stafafell campground, our spot for the night.  We were the first to arrive and reception was not open so we had first pick of the perfect camp spot among the amazing views and roaming sheep.

DSC_7793
Vestrahorn seen from Stafafell campground
IMAG2160
Stafafell campground… easily one of the most beautiful campgrounds we stayed at scenery wise. Amenities were basic, but there were sheep, which was a plus!

Stafafell is a basic campground, but they did have free showers… neither Kubo and I had showered since Mývatn on Night 11, and I was going crazy with how my hair felt (mmm camper van life!).  Though the facilities were dirty/in disrepair, I enjoyed the shower and feeling fresh once again, knowing that it would be a few more days without a shower as south coast campgrounds tend to charge for showers.  We cooked up some dinner, and then Kubo went to shower.  I was putzing around in the camper van, and had a strange feeling come over me that I should look outside…

EEK AURORA OMG OMG OMG!

I grabbed my camera, threw on my “better” lens and couldn’t find the tripod, so I took to taking some handheld shots, at least remembering to focus properly unlike the first aurora night way back on Day 4.  I couldn’t contain my excitement, so I busted into the co-ed bathroom facilities, rushing past some other girls, and screamed “Kubo, get out there, there’s Northern Lights!” and then ran back through the sheep poop to take more photos.

Once Kubo finally wandered out, he located the tripod for me, and we took to enjoying nature’s light show.

We went to sleep knowing that we had another #BestDayEver while #LivingOurBestLife. 😀

DSC_7799DSC_7803DSC_7805DSC_7817

Follow along on our entire 19 day Iceland road trip adventure!  Click here for a comprehensive itinerary, with links to each day’s adventure.

Advertisements

1 thought on “Heidi and Kubo Do Iceland – Day 14: The Incredible Eastfjords”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s