Days 8-9 Barnafossar, Silfra and way home


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Europe » Iceland » Northwest » Borgarnes
July 19th 2012
Published: November 14th 2012
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We were heading back to Reykjavik from Akureyri in a roundabout way as we still had two days left. The drive took us across northern Iceland travelling west and then down the western coast. Throughout this portion of the drive we noticed that decorating many of the deserted farmhouses was what appeared to be Banksy graffiti! Not too far after setting off we were distracted by signs for a seal museum, we weren’t sure what to expect from this i.e. whether it would have anything to do with seal hunting. We weren’t particularly bothered with the seal museum but we had read that seals could be seen off the coast nearby to the museum. This did result in a 2 hour detour across quite rough gravel roads but we had plenty of time. After what seemed like ages we reached the seals and instead of a colony there was 3 of the buggers, after taking a few pics we headed back to join the main road back to the capital. The weather had turned again and by the time we got back to tarmac the car was black with the spray from the gravel – I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning the car when it was returned!!

The next geological site was Grábrók crator, this arose from volcanic activity and the lava is thought to be 3000 years old. By this time it was pouring it down so I ended up walking to the top of it on my own and then sharing the experience on my return:-)

Our next stop on the Geothermal trail was the hotspring in Deildartunguhver near Reykholtsdalur. I read that it has a very high flow rate for a hot spring (180 liters/second) and water emerges at 97 °C. It is the highest-flow hot spring in Europe.

Some of the water is used for heating, being piped 34 kilometers to Borgarnes (which was our destination for the day) and 64 kilometers to Akranes. As with many other hot springs in Iceland the heat was also used to heat green houses and the locals were selling tomatoes by the springs.

Our next stop was historical Reykholt where there is a hot pool to be found we were thinking of jumping in but then a tour bus drew up and it ruined the moment:-)

The next stop on our journey to Borganes was Barnafossar which was by this time you’ve now guessed is another waterfall. This one was very unusual as the water appears to emanate from the middle of a rock face. This is explained by the fact that there is a layer of impermeable solid rock on which lies underneath a permeable lava field. The water seeps through the lava and then travels underground to the waterfalls – very unusual as you can see in the photos. After the falls we ended up in Borganes which was our destination for the night.

The next day we were travelling back to Thingvellir as there is something that I have long wanted to do but didn’t get chance the first time we were there. This was to swim between two continental plates, I’d watched a few documentaries that described how the North American and European plates meet at Silfra in Thingvellir and are separated by a couple of metres where it is filled with crystal clear water and makes for a remarkable snorkelling or diving experience. I’d done some investigating into it and it costs a whopping £80 to go on a snorkelling tour there, the tours use dry suits as the water temperature is just above freezing. Obviously there was no way I was going to pay that much when I could do it the DIY way, so I donned my Bermuda shorts, goggles and a borrowed wetsuit T-shirt and jumped in. We had a disposable waterproof camera and I took loads of pictures underwater but the camera was faulty so these weren’t developed:-( I’ve attached a pic from elsewhere that shows what it was like.

After around 5 minutes swimming while hyperventilating I started to lose feeling in my legs so I felt it was time to get out of the water while I could. Interestingly I was reading a book by an Icelandic author called hypothermia during the trip:-) I did get some strange looks from the divers in all their drysuit gear when I emerged from the water with my Bermudas:-) .

After a good rub-down we left Silfra and Thingvellir and headed back to Reykjavik, we had one last thing to do before our last day in Iceland came to a close and that was to pay a visit to the Blue Lagoon, just outside the capital. The blue lagoon is cited as one of the highlights of Iceland but as a result it is a bit of a tourist trap. It was over £30 to get in the place and then there were numerous additional options such as spa, massage etc, needless to say we didn’t go for them. The Blue Lagoon, did have something for everyone though, whether you was putting on a mineral face mask while lounging round in the outdoor pool which was heated to a balmy 38 degrees C again, to sitting under a miniature waterfall, to relaxing in the saunas and steam room. It was a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon after a hectic 10 days. Many people take their luggage with them as it isn’t far from the airport and there is a left luggage booth there for this purpose. We then headed back to to Reykjavik to dump the car and make our way to our B&B for our last night in Iceland before a very early flight back to rainy Manchester.

One things that was remarkable about Iceland was how it utilised its own resources, much of the electricity is generated from the GeoThermal powerstations and a large proportion of its hot water originates from underground. This can lead to problems though, after only a short time my silever necklace became black due to the sulphur in the water - top tip - leave all jewellery at home. Also the water itself when you showered smelt of rotten eggs, this did take some getting use to! Also wherever you went across the country you could see plumes of steam and the acsompanying smell of eggs was ever present. In the winter too, the street of Reykjavik are warmed by hot water pipes so that the snow melts and the roads are kept free from ice.

Iceland is a truly amazing country that has sights you would struggle to find anywhere else and definitely not in one relatively small island. This is certainly in my list of top 3 countries visited.

Boring Bits

Accommodation - Hotel Bru, Hafnarskógur, Borgarnes

Reykjavik – Igdlo Guesthouse, Gunnarsbraut 46


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Diving the sensible way in drysuits


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