Published: October 13th 2011October 4th 2011
From Swaziland to Iceland in eight days...yes it did happen. Little transfer in South Africa, few days in Bangkok, party week-end in Saigon with Mari, little transfer in Oslo and I made my way to Reykjavik. I'm still alive!
For the next three days I'm going to enjoy the first few days of the Icelandic winter, or should I say the last few days of the Icelandic summer. Temperatures...well, between -1 and up to 9 degrees celsius. I'm not going to say it was cold! The good news, is that days were still pretty long with sunrise at 7am and sunset at 7pm, not bad!
My first stop was Reykjavik international airport to rent a car for 48 hours. The airport is a seriously busy affair...beside our SAS plane, I spotted one more single aircraft behind us...on the way to leave Iceland, place was even more empty with only our SAS flight for nearly 20 gates!
I was going to drive for two days, 1200km...the aim, reaching first Akureyri and few waterfalls. My original plan was to dive in Strytan. This is an amazing dive in the middle of the ocean...you dive an incredible chimney which reachs depths
of 15 to 55 meters. This chimney is releasing warm water, enough to cook eggs...all this in obviously pretty cold water. But...there is always a but...it's autumn, winds were not right, and waves were way to high...so no diving for me to Strytan. Instead, I made my way to the East, searching for the waterfall of Dettifoss.
My base for the first night was Akureyri. The city of 17,000 is also called the capital of the North. For info, only 320,000 live in Iceland, a good third in the capital Reykjavik. Going around the country is an easy 2,200km, so this means you simply never see that many people in a single place.
Before Akureyri, I stopped in the little town of Borgarnes. I have to admit, I'm not really impressed by the architecture of Iceland. It seems pretty efficient, but not that many colors, not that much character too, sad.
The good news is the Iceland people are another affair. At first, they seem to never smile...closed on themselves. But every single time I engage with anybody, it's only smiles and nice help. In which country do you arrive to the local supermarket with only 2-3
things to buy, and once you reach the cashier, you are order by the locals to jump the queue because you don't have much. Life is obviously not easy here. Weather is tuff, and they spent most of their winter in the dark. This actually show pretty well on faces...but hey, these people are so nice once you engage with them, I was impressed!
So beside engaging with the few people, why do you come to Iceland? Easy and obvious answer, for the landscape, that volcanic amazing diversity...wow...oh yes, and those waterfalls.
I stopped counting the waterfalls. The most beautiful I saw was Godafoss between Akureyri and Myvtan. If it was not for the gas station sitting by its side, I may have actually miss it on my way, it is actually few hundred meters away from the road.
My aim for the second day was to reach Dettifoss, as I was not going to dive Strytan. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Ok, let's simply call it the biggest of Europe, but not the highest. Slight problem for me, 10km before reaching it, snow came into the equation. The snow did start to fall,
big time! In few minutes, I found the road covered by snow, around 3cm of it. It didn't seems to be below freezing temparature, but still.
You have to be aware, I did not rent one of these big SUV. I had a nice "upgrade" to a Golf VW...but I was on my own, no phone, and in the middle of nowhere...really nowhere. 3km before reaching Dettifoss I seriously considered turning my back on the waterfalls....would I be stuck here for the full winter?!? I decided to go ahead. Once at the car park, no one was around. I made my way to the falls under heavy snow....took my picutre, and left. So yes, picture is of poor condition, didn't see much of the falls. I have to admit, I did not want to stay here all winter! On my way back, my tracks had already disappeared under more snow, but I made it. Slowly but nearly safely, 10km later, I was back on a snow free road. Had I not been alone, had I have a phone and a SUV, it would have been another affair. But here, I rushed, just to stay safe.
Later on I
stopped by some geothermal field, enjoying few little geysers. I also stopped by lake Myvtan than made my way all the way back to Reykjavik. Next adventure will involve more "out of this world" pictures...to come pretty soon....
There are more photos below