Iceland Road Trip 2016, Day 7 Highlands

posted in: Iceland 2016 | 0

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

We slept for more than 12 hours during the gale, but in the morning the pouring rain became a drizzle. I woke up at 6 AM and went to Reynisfjara beach to take some pictures while there were no tourists. Still, there were some already, including a photographer with a huge tripod.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

By the time Alex woke up and got ready, a whole lot more people arrived at the beach. I tried to take a picture of both of us sitting together on the basalt columns, but they turned out quite bad. On the positive note, the cafe on the beach opened and we ate some soup with bread and had coffee with cake, breakfast and lunch all in one. And by the time we were done with the food, the cafe was packed. Back in 2014, there was no cafe there and not a whole lot of people. Iceland is becoming a very crowded place, there is no doubt about it.

Dyrhólaey

That day we were heading to the Icelandic highlands, but before that we turned east from Reynisfjara beach to visit Dyrhólaey peninsula. It turned out to be even more crowded. A beautiful place but hard to explore with all those people around.

Dyrhólaey
Dyrhólaey

Ófærufoss and Eldgjá chasm

Our main destination that day was Landmannalaugar. We took a F208 route from the south. It is considered the most difficult route with multiple rivers to ford and even though we had a really good 4×4 car, we were afraid of taking that route. Finally, Alex decided to make a call to Vegagerdin, Iceland Road Administration office, to get an update on the F208 road condition. We were worried that yesterday’s gale made rivers too full to cross. However, they told him that the rain has little, if any, impact on river depth, it is the hotter weather that makes the glaciers melt and makes rivers too deep to cross. So here we went.

F208
F208 Sign

On our second river crossing, we were stopped by a ranger just before the river. While I went outside of the car to document that activity, the ranger gave Alex a lecture on how to ford rivers. This is when we found out what those Spanish tourists did wrong on their way to Lonsoraefi. (Instead of fording where a crossing was marked out by yellow stakes, they crossed just to the side, where the river was shallower and much narrower, but that turned to be due to silt deposits where they got stuck.) After that crossing, Alex felt much more confident, and by the end of the day, I think he was already an expert (or at least an experienced river crosser). He must have forded at least 20 rivers that day and about 5 more the next day.

F208 River crossing
F208 river crossing

Our main hike that day was a hike trough Eldgjá chasm to Ófærufoss waterfall.

Eldgjá chasm hikes map
Eldgjá chasm hikes map

We went on a hike #1 on the map above. A charming and an easy hike. On our way, on the trail, we saw a huge boulder (about a person’s height). On that boulder we saw a plaque: ROCK SLIDE 29 07 2011. That made us pause and look around to make sure no other huge stones were coming our way from anywhere. We went on, but I did not feel as relaxed anymore.

Eldgjá chasm - boulder on the trail
Eldgjá chasm – boulder on the trail
Eldgjá chasm – more boulders around
Eldgjá chasm – more boulders around

After some time the path become muddy but not too much so the hike still continued to be pleasant and then at the end we saw the waterfall, it look majestic. With the sheep pasturing around I could easily imagine myself in a fairy land. Little rain was annoying of course and somewhat spoiling overall impression, but now when I look at the pictures, I don’t remember the drizzling rain, I remember the magic of that place.

Eldgjá chasm
Eldgjá chasm
Eldgjá chasm with Ófærufoss in the background
Eldgjá chasm with Ófærufoss in the background

Finally, we came close enough to observe the full beauty of Ófærufoss. What can I say, it is just magnificent.

Ófærufoss
Ófærufoss
Ófærufoss
Ófærufoss

Icelandic Highlands along F208

During our journey that day, we stopped at various places along the F208 and snapped some pictures. Here they are.

Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
Along F208
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