Iceland Road Trip | Days 7-8
Day 7 | Wednesday 8th June
Tonight was one of the best nights of my life. It's 1.30am, the sun finished its slow descent 45 minutes ago, it's still light outside, and the start of sun rise is only 15 minutes away. I'm too wired to sleep.
The day started slow, rising for a breakfast buffet in the main building of the hotel before retreating back to bed for a long lazy lie-in. We woke again at 11am, and enjoyed a relaxing soak in the hot tub followed by a picnic lunch on the floor in our cabin. I spent the next hour editing photographs whilst Dave played the guitar that he borrowed from the hotel.
We set off at 3.30 in the afternoon, originally in search of seals that we never did find. Instead, we drove along the coast around a peninsula, stopping to admire the views from the top of the cliffs. Arctic terns nested in the rocks below us, the green and white waves crashing into the black cliffs below their resting place.
We drove on to Asbyrgi canyon, which I had read about in The Bone Clocks, In the book, one of the characters loses himself in the trees, but I'm not quite sure how that could be possible. When you look up, you can use the towering walls of the horseshoe-shaped cliff to guide you. We didn't have time to hike to the top of the cliffs or to walk up to the peak of the gigantic rock in the middle of the canyon, so we spent our time wandering through the trees and marveling at the scale of the place.
Back in Husavik, we opted for a relatively cheap meal in a diner before finally embarking on the highlight of the entire trip: our whale watching tour. Too giddy to sit still, we paced up and down the harbour whilst waiting for our boat, overhearing the stories of others who were disembarking from their own trips.
When you have hyped something up so much over so long a time period, chances are that you are going to be disappointed. Despite having whale watching on my bucket list for years, and having booked the boat trip months ago, everything lived up to my high expectations. It was by far the best thing that I have ever experienced. Three hours at sea on a wooden ship, only a handful of other passengers, sailing into the horizon beneath a never-ending sunset. The light was perfect; I was so pleased that I had opted for the 8-11pm trip. Golden hour lasts for hours upon hours here.
The anticipation of scouring the water trying to spot the whales was only rivaled by the sheer glee when a blowhole spout was seen. We were told that it was a particularly good day for whales and were treated to the sight of numerous minkes, humpbacks and porpoisesduring our voyage. The only slight disappointment was that we didn't spot any blue whales, despite them having arrived in the bay just the previous day. Our guide told us that he had seen six that morning, but that they were too far away for us to reach them that evening. One humpback came incredibly close to the boat, allowing us to fully appreciate his size. He was 20 metres long - the same size as our vessel! We were also treated to the rare sight of a humpback breaching three times, leaping out of the water and crashing back below the surface.
Leaving Husavik in high spirits, we spotted steam on the horizon and parked up to investigate. Running down a small hill we came across a geothermal lake! We rolled up our jeans and waded out into the warm water for a paddle, delighting at the sight of the dramatic sunset reflecting in the tranquil water.
Too excited to return to our cabin, we drove straight past it and continued to Godafoss just after midnight, with no other tourists around. During the day we had seen coach tours pulling up beside the gigantic waterfall that sits just beside the ring road, but at night, we were the only people there as we clambered upon the rocks and perched on the precipice to soak in the incredible views. I don't know if it was just the tranquility and the fact that we had this immensely impressive waterfall to ourselves, but Godafoss was my favourite cascade of them all.
Back at the cabin, too deliriously happy to sleep, I venture out to the hot tub with a gin & tonic in my hand. The perpetual daylight takes some getting used to, but I'm now dreading returning home to gloomy dark nights. Already planning my next trip to this magical country, I decide that I'd love to see more of it during the summer nights, when I can have Iceland to myself.
Day 8 | Thursday 8th June
Only two days left in Iceland. Time has gone so quickly and I'm not yet ready to leave. We're already planning our next trip: exploring the West Fjords and Snaefellsjokull peninsula in a camper van.
It was hard to follow Wednesday's nocturnal adventures, but we definitely tried our best. Late afternoon, we drove from Myvatn up a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and found ourselves back at our lake from the previous night. We spent the next hour frolicking in the warm waters, enjoying our first rural geothermal soak of the trip. My own regret was that we hadn't spent the previous seven days seeking out warm geothermal water to swim in.
We'd enjoyed another late start to the day, worn out by last night's late night escapades and taking advantage of spending a few nights in one place. When we were ready to face the day, we drove back to Lake Myvatn to have a look around the area - only to be put off by the sheer number off flies swarming around us. They don't call it 'midge lake' for nothing!
We enjoyed most of the sights from inside the comfort of our car, briefly running out to peer over the edge of cliffs and to admire the volcanic structures that have formed in the waters. We then made a beeline for the infamous cave from Game of Thrones. I pushed back my hatred of being underground and tried not to think about how precariously the rocks above us were stacked as we climbed into the cave to briefly dip our feet in the scalding hot water. Apparently the water cools just enough to enjoy a brisk soak in the winter, but my feet turned pink after just a few seconds and jumping all the way in never crossed my mind.
Our next stop of the day was Krafla. If you're planning on swimming in the Viti crater like me, you've got the wrong Viti! There are two craters named Viti ('Hell') in Iceland, and the one that it is possible to swim in is located in the centre of the Highlands, miles from civilisation. The water in the crater at Krafla is a beautiful turquoise hue but unsafe to swim in and surrounded by ice.
The power station harnessing the local geothermal energyy is impressive. Dave likened it to something out of an early David Croenenberg film. The huge structures, giant pipes that the road curves beneath and futuristic red domes could definitely be the setting for a sci-fi adventure. On your way up to the power station, keep your eyes peeled on the right of the road for the bizarre placement of a warm shower and a sink!
After our swim and a brief windy visit to Husavik's yellow lighthouse, we enjoyed a seafood dinner before returning back to our cabin for one last night in the hot tub.