We woke up on Saturday morning and the rain hadn’t stopped. We had a sneaky in-van breakfast of muesli bars and water, and waited for our rescuers to bring our new car along! It was still quite cold and incredibly wet, so we headed over to the communal room at the campsite to recharge devices and make some tea. And at exactly that moment, our new car arrived!
The mechanic from Snail (our motorhome company) had driven through the night, stopping to sleep when he needed to, and wasted no time getting the new motorhome off the trailer. He then dumped the trailer and went in search of breakfast while we transferred our bags, etc to the new car, and then came back so we could help him put the busted one on the trailer. He was incredibly helpful (and had a super-cool road van with tinted windows and a bed in the back)!
So we hit the road again, testing out our new car by driving south from Reydarfjordur around the coast, and meeting up with the Ring Road a bit further down. The weather was still pretty hazy, but we knew we’d be driving out from under the storm as we started to roll back eastwards. We found a couple of small towns along the way, and some more incredible scenery.
Once we’d gone through Hofn, we made our way west across the flat plains which surround Iceland’s largest national park, which covers a whopping 14% of Iceland’s landmass. It’s predominately a glacier, which covers the remains of a huge volcano, and it stretches for miles and miles across the horizon. There’s a massive range of things to do there – glacier walking, four wheel driving, you name it. There was one thing I really wanted to do while we were there, and before long, we found it.
The glacier lake at Jokulsarlon is absolutely stunning. It’s a huge glacier lake that lets chunks of the glacier float out to the open sea, and along the way, they pass through the lake and along the shore, which gives the perfect opportunity to get photos of icebergs close up!
The Iceberg Lagoon, Iceland #iceland #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
After stopping at Jokulsarlon, we headed south again past the rest of the glacier, along the volcanic plains until we made it to Vik, a town down on the south coast. In order to get started on our big final day, we turned in at an incredibly busy campsite and made our dinner on the gas stove.
Sunday was already designed to be the day we saw puffins if it killed us, and so we started by driving to a local headland which is a protected bird sanctuary. It was beautiful, and although we didn’t see any puffins there, it was still a spectacular spot – black sand and majestic headlands!
We then drove to the Vestinmayarr ferry, to catch boat to Heimaey, the largest island in the group. Heimaey was the site of a massive 6 month volcanic eruption that devastated the town in 1973, which has since been rebuilt. As we caught the ferry across, we passed some of the smaller islands, which had some very secluded living options! The lava flow from the previous eruption stopped about 150 metres from the existing bay, and the ferry ride to the island passes the very new headland that resulted. It’s also the site of Earth’s newest landmass, an island named Surtsey which appeared from the ocean after an eruption in 1963.
In Heimaey we decided to do a RIB boat ride with Ribsafari (http://ribsafari.is/) (which is a rigid inflatable boat, for those who don’t know) around the smaller islands. The boat tour took us around the ocean caves and landmarks, accompanied by a very funny tour guide named Hilli (also nicknamed Jotunn, the giant). The ocean caves were amazing – colourful and with incredible acoustics inside! Hilli’s colourful depictions of Icelandic island life were also pretty good – showing us the ropes that have been up the sides of the old islands for years so locals could climb up for food. He was a pretty jolly character, and made it a very amusing ride.
The crew also told us there was a pod of orcas nearby, and then promptly put on some AC/DC and full-throttled us out to where the whales had been seen. Before long, we started seeing fins and breaches, and then suddenly we were in amongst the pack of killer whales! It was incredible – surrounded by sea-spray, listening to our fellow passengers call out and point out the new sightings, all the while grinning like idiots in our thermal floaty-suits.
Out whale watching in southern Iceland #iceland #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
We then hightailed it back to the main island, but not before finding a tiny little cove full of puffins! Mission accomplished!
We got off the boat, grinning and aching from the ride back (which involves a lot of standing and riding the waves in the boat) so we got back on the ferry and sat quietly while we sailed back to the mainland. We then got in the car, and drove out along the south coast, getting closer to Reykjavik for the car drop tomorrow. We found an awesome campsite in Grindivik, and made camp, so we could finish the last of our booze and food, and get a last night’s sleep in our cosy little van.
We packed up the Snail for the final time, and drove back to Reykjavik. I wanted to get an Icelandic jumper, so we went to the main part of Reykjavik where the shops are. It was a bit touristy, but I got a cool rugged woollen jumper and we ate some hotdogs in the town square in the sun, which are a regular Icelandic delicacy. We also found the stunningly beautiful Harpa, Icelandic concert hall, and a cool installation showing the hundreds of shipwrecks on Iceland’s coast!
After shopping and eating (and dropping the hot dog contents down the front of my pants – winner!) we dropped the Snail back, got a lift to the bus station, got a bus to the airport, and got ready for our next adventure – Norway!