Iceland-Land of Fire, Ice and Lupines. Part 2 The North

We started off our journey from Grundarfjörður in sunshine but by the time we reached our overnight stop in Akureyri it was cloudy and it would stay cloudy for the next few days. We also had our first major experience of “gravel roads” with about a quarter of today’s drive spent on them. Knowing when a road is going to be a gravel road is not straight forward. Many maps do not differentiate. Parts of the same road can be gravel and parts tarmac. Roadside information boards with maps do not tell you and indeed may describe a gravel road as a main route! Having said that the gravel roads are mostly of good quality and more like flat, hard earth roads with not much gravel.

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Gravel Road
Gravel Road
Picnic stop on the road to Akureyri
Picnic stop on the road to Akureyri
The route to Akureyri
The route to Akureyri

We were only staying for one night in Akureyri but with an early start we could knock off the 90k journey to Lake Myvatn by 9.30am. The plan was to spend most of the day there then go and check in at our cottage the other side of Husavik, returning to Lake Myvatn the following day.

Akureyri is where Einstök Beer is brewed. Unfortunately we could not find anywhere selling it! Better go to Booths in Windermere then.

Spot the troll?
Spot the troll?
Akureyri
Akureyri

20150628_183949Our accommodation in Akureyri was not as good as advertised. The lesson to be learnt is don’t book an apartment that could be any one of a number of different properties in the same town. It’s too easy for the owners to upload many photos from the best apartments and just a couple of carefully selected shots from the not so good.At least the fast food outlet below had shut down.

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We made one stop on the way to Lake Myvatn at Godafoss waterfall. http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/iceland-godafoss.html
Lake Myvatn
Lake Myvatn
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Sian exploring the strange lava field round Lake Myvatn
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Krafla last erupted in 1720, this crater is called Viti
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The Krafla Power Station is a 60-megawatt (MW) geothermal power station. It is Iceland’s largest geothermal power station, drawing heat from 33 boreholes

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Sian getting a steam bath
Sian getting a steam bath
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Hot Rocks
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Hot mud bath anyone?

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Sian on Hverfell, a classic tephra cone, made of consolidated ash and pumice. Its 400m high and we walked around the rim. It was very cold!
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Told you it was cold!

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Another power plant with Hverfell behind
Another power plant with Hverfell behind

On the way up to Husavik we passed a large greenhouse complex heated by geothermal energy.

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Geothermal powered greenhouses
Our Route
Our Route

Our accomodation was about 40km past Husavik in a remote area. This was our furthest north at just over 66 degrees and less than 40 miles from the arctic circle. At this time of year, late June, it never gets dark in Iceland. The sun does go down for a few hours but its still quite light.

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http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/akureyri/472519?m=24691
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Remote Washing Line
View from the cottage
View from the cottage
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Me doing the important shopping at the state liquor store in Husavik

Alcohol is only available to buy in bars, restaurants and from a retail point of view the state owned Vinbudin chain of liquor stores. Prices in the stores are about twice the UK rate for wine and beer is about the same as specialist beers in an off-licence here. In a restaurant wine is very expensive and beer £5-£6 for 500ml. More about beer when we get to Reykjavik.

Husavik is the main centre for whale watching trips. They have a 98% success rate. Guess what? Yes, we were one of the 2%. Three hours and we saw no whales but we did see some dolphins. If you don’t see any whales you get to go again for free. Unfortunately the day we had left the weather was very poor so we did not go.

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Whale watching anyone?
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Sian well wrapped up for the wale watching trip, ans she needed every layer

Instead of going whale watching on our last day near Husavik we went to Asbrygi in the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

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Asbyrgi
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Asbyrgi
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Convenience store and cafe at Asbyrgi. Not as bad as it looks!
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Petrol station at Asbyrgi
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The road sign gives weather information

So our time in the north had come to an end. But we had one more attraction to visit in the north on our way to the east coast which would turn out to be our favourite part of the island.

So we set off down 862, the worst of the gravel roads we were to encounter, to Dettifoss and Selfoss  waterfalls.

Dettifoss is 100m wide and has a drop of 45m and is claimed to have the largest volume of water flowing over it of any waterfall in Europe.

About a kilometer upstream from Dettifoss is Selfoss another spectacular waterfall.

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Dettifos. The people by the falls give you an idea of scale.
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Dettifos. The people by the falls give you an idea of scale.
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Selfoss
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Selfoss

Video of Dettifoss

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