ICELAND-LAND OF FIRE, ICE AND LUPINES. PART 4 THE SOUTH

After our four days at Bragdavellir Cottages it was time to move on to Vik on the south coast of the Island. We had an early start as we had a few stops planned on the way, the first being at Höfn, famous for its  scenic views of Vatnajökull (the largest ice cap in Europe by volume). Unfortunately as you will see below clouds somewhat interfered with the view.

View from Hofn. Not as peaceful as it looks as I was being dive bombed by Artic Turns
View from Hofn. Not as peaceful as it looks as I was being dive bombed by Arctic Turns
A bit further along the coast but still cloudy
A bit further along the coast but still cloudy

Our main stopping point on the way to Vik was Jökulsárlón or as it is more commonly called, and more easily pronounced, Glacier Lagoon. Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. As you can see below its pretty spectacular and you can have a boat tour to get a closer look.

Glacier Lake
Glacier Lagoon

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The black bands are ash from earlier volcanic eruptions, they are vertical as the iceblock has fallen over
The black bands are ash from earlier volcanic eruptions, they are vertical as the iceblock has fallen over
Here comes "The Boat"
Here comes “The Boat”

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You need to wrap up well!
You need to wrap up well!
Each boat is followed by a zodiac, presumably in case a rescue is needed.
Each boat is followed by a zodiac, presumably in case a rescue is needed.

Next stop was a wander to the foot of the Skaftafellsjökull glacier in the Skaftafell National Park.

IMG_9019IMG_9023IMG_9024And finally on to Vik to pick up some supplies before heading on another 10k to our cabin, making a journey of over 360k for the day. We stayed at Mid Hvoll Cottages

Our route
Our route
Mid Hvoll Cottages near Vik
Mid Hvoll Cottages near Vik
Inside the cottage
Inside the cottage
The view behind the cottage, taken as we were leaving when the sun finally shone!
The view behind the cottage, taken as we were leaving when the sun finally shone!

We stayed here for three nights and had some fine walks around the area.

Vik and lupines
Vik and lupines
Vik, and more lupines
Vik, and more lupines
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A closer look at the church at Vik among more lupines
View from the beach at Vik
View from the beach at Vik
"The Trolls" as seen from Reynisdrangar between our cottage and Vik
“The Trolls” as seen from Reynisdrangar between our cottage and Vik

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The volcanic ash beach at Reynisdrangar
Coastal view from Dryholaey, a bird sanctuary. Good views of puffins which will feature in a later blog on the wildlife we saw on Iceland
Coastal view from Dryholaey, a bird sanctuary. Good views of puffins which will feature in a later blog on the wildlife we saw on Iceland
Me on
Me on Hjorleifshofdi a 221m outcrop east of Vik
Sian on Hjorleifshofdi
Sian on Hjorleifshofdi
The view from Hjorleifshofdi
The view from Hjorleifshofdi
Sian on Reynir, a hill above Vik. They do like a big cairn on Iceland
Sian on Reynir, a hill above Vik. They do like a big cairn on Iceland
Looking down on Reynisdrangar from Reynir
Looking down on Reynisdrangar from Reynir
Vik from the path up Reynir
Vik from the path up Reynir

After our three days in Vik we were off to the bright lights of Iceland’s capital city Reykavik but not before two more stops on the south of the island. Firstly the spectacular Skógafoss waterfall.The Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland with a width of 25 metres (82 feet) and a drop of 60 m (200 ft).

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Skógafoss
Skógafoss
Skógafoss
Skógafoss

You can walk up to the top of the waterfall and carry on for many miles into the island. The scenery looked spectacular and we would have loved to have had the time to hike further than the couple of miles that we did.

More waterfalls above Skógafoss
More waterfalls above Skógafoss
Spectacular scenery above Skógafoss. The lower slopes of Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano can be seen
Spectacular scenery above Skógafoss. The lower slopes of Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano can be seen
A phone panorama of the view above Skógafoss
A phone panorama of the view above Skógafoss

We then moved on to a view of Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused havoc with planes across Europe being grounded for days. The farm in the picture below was covered in thick ash during the volcano and the people from the farm are featured in an excellent film about the eruption showing in the visitors centre.

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ICELAND-LAND OF FIRE, ICE AND LUPINES. PART 3 THE EAST

After our visit to Detifoss we set off on our journey to Djúpivogur on the east coast. Most of the way was on Route 1. The weather was dull but mostly dry but cloud levels were low so views were not great. We stopped off at Egilsstaðir, the largest settlement in eastern Iceland with a population of just over 2,000, for lunch, food shopping and of course a visit to Vinbudin the state liquor store.

Shortly after leaving  Egilsstaðir we left Route 1 for a shortcut on Route 939, a gravel road also called Oxi after the pass it goes over. If you think of Oxi as a gravel road in the mould of The Wrynose pass but about 18k long then you get some idea of what it’s like. Add in the complication of it being in the clouds with resurfacing work going on but with no contraflow and you will see that made it an interesting drive. However, glimpses between the clouds showed some fine potential views so we returned to drive over in good weather a few days later, see photos further down the blog.

Our Route
Our Route

Now you may have wondered why the title of the blog is ICELAND-LAND OF FIRE, ICE AND LUPINES, well the lupine part anyway. The reason is that Iceland is covered in them. Apparently they were introduced from Alaska to stabilise the soil.

The ubiquitous Lupines
The ubiquitous Lupines

Our accomodation was one of some fine cabins at Bragdavellir Farm about 10k past Djúpivogur. The best place we stayed. Well appointed cabin, excellent WiFi, pleasant, helpful owners and fine walks on the farm itself, what more could you want? Oh, and its own 30m high waterfall Snædalsfoss.We were staying for four nights, many people only stay a night and there were quite a few entries in the visitors book regretting not staying longer.

East to find
Easy to find
Spot the cottage, and the waterfall
Spot the cabin second on the right and the waterfall Snædalsfoss behind
Our cottage is the one in the middle
Our cabin is the one the right
The view from the cottage
The view from the cabin

We had some fine walks on the farm from the cabin.

A fine spot for a wild camp in a motorhome
A fine spot for a wild camp in a motorhome
Sian and the 30m high Snædalsfoss
Sian and the 30m high Snædalsfoss
A great view up the valley at the back of the farm
A great view up the valley at the back of the farm

And a short phone video from the same spot. A superb spot for a wild camp, now where’s my tent?

Sian watching some red throated divers.
Sian watching some red throated divers.
One of the two friendly horses on the farm
One of the two friendly horses on the farm
Some old
Some old “mechanical horses” on the farm
We thought these might be footpath signs but it turns out the mark the underground route of the telephone cables
We thought these might be footpath signs but it turns out the mark the underground route of the telephone cables
The next farm
The next farm
The bridge by the farm on Route 1
The bridge by the farm on Route 1

We decide that we wanted to back over The Oxi Pass in  good weather and fortunately a break in the weather allowed us to. The map below has the route. Our cabin is marked with a pin near the bottom of the map. We followed Route 1 north along the coast to Breiðdalsvík, a small fishing village. Then Route 1 goes inland, becomes a gravel road and gains height through some splendid scenery until it meets the Oxi pass road, Route 939. Enjoy the photos.

Oxi Route
The route over Oxi Pass
Superb picnic site inland from Breiðdalsvík on Route 1. Not a bad spot for a wild camp either
Superb picnic site inland from Breiðdalsvík on Route 1. Not a bad spot for a wild camp either
Still on Route 1. Note the gravel road and the gradient coming up. Hire cars looking a bit dirty!
Still on Route 1. Note the gravel road and the gradient coming up. Hire cars looking a bit dirty!
Looking back down the valley in the direction of Breiðdalsvíkl. Taken from the same spot as the previous photo
Looking back down the valley in the direction of Breiðdalsvíkl. Taken from the same spot as the previous photo
Sian admiring the view at a lay-bye just before we reach the Oxi Pass road.
Sian admiring the view at a lay-bye just before we reach the Oxi Pass road.
Mountain Hut, or Bothy, Icelandic style
Mountain Hut, or Bothy, Icelandic style
...and inside the bothy
…and inside the bothy
Oxi Pass
Oxi Pass
Views on the Oxi Pass road
Views on the Oxi Pass road
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Final stretch on the Oxi Pass Road, after the steep gradients and bends have been negotiated
Love this road sign!
Love this road sign!
Threatening sign at each end of the Oxi Pass Road, presumably the gate swings over to block the road in bad weather
Threatening sign at each end of the Oxi Pass Road, presumably the gate swings over to block the road in bad weather
...and back to Route 1
…and back to Route 1

The nearest village to the cabin is Djúpivogur about 10k away. Djúpivogur has a pleasant harbour, with an excellent cafe with a museum attached. I can thoroughly recommend the cakes at the cafe and the only hotel has a restaurant where we had the “unofficial” Icelandic national dish…pizza! It seems to be on every restaurant’s menu, probably because it is relatively cheap.

The cafe with the wonderful cakes
The cafe with the wonderful cakes
Djúpivogur Harbour
Djúpivogur Harbour
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Djúpivogur
Strange birds eggs sculptures at Djúpivogur
Strange birds eggs sculptures at Djúpivogur
Inside our cabin
Inside our cabin
View outside the cabin with my two favorite Icelandic beers
View outside the cabin with my two favorite Icelandic beers