Day 7: Deildartunguhver Hot Springs, Barnafoss, Hraunfossar, Into the Glacier Tour
We kicked off Day 7 at the Snorrastadir Farm! Since there were horses all around the laneway on our drive away from the camp site, we immediately stopped and took some pictures.
When we finally got rolling, we headed for Deildartunguhver Hot Springs since they were close to Húsafell, which was our destination. Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hot spring, and it turns out If you take a shower anywhere within a 65 km radius of the spring, you have bathed in the hot water from it! Unlike some of the other geothermal areas, this one didn’t smell nearly as bad so we took our time walking around and taking pictures.
Next we headed to Húsafell where we booked spots for the Into the Glacier Tour! We had a couple hours to kill before the tour actually started, so we headed to check out Barnafoss and Hraunfossar waterfalls. Like many of the waterfalls we came across while in Iceland, Barnafoss is associated with a tragic tale of two young boys drowning at the falls.
Just a short distance downstream of Barnafoss were the Hraunfossar waterfalls. This series of waterfalls that seeps through a lava field and spans a length of approximately 900 metres. It was extremely impressive to see and of course we didn’t have the place to ourselves.
By the time we finished poking around the falls, we decided to head to the Into the Glacier base camp since it was located on an F-road and we could never judge how long it would take to get anywhere on those back roads. We arrived with some time to spare so we relaxed until it was time to meet the group.
To get to the glacier tunnel, our group hopped in a giant 8 x 8 vehicle and started our drive on the glacier. On our way we stumbled upon another tour group in a van that managed to get themselves stuck solid in a crevice!!! We stopped to pull them out (which apparently NEVER happens) and then continued on our way. The drive to the tunnel took approximately 25 minutes and it was a pretty neat experience to see the giant cracks and crevices in the Langjökull Glacier. Once we arrived at the tunnel we all stepped outside and when they were ready for us, we indeed did go into the glacier.
The tunnel is approximately 500 m and includes several large rooms. I was worried at first I might be a little claustrophobic but the ceilings were so high that you really didn’t feel like you were in a confined space. Once inside we stopped to put on crampons so we could easily walk on the ice and our tour guide Goody (I couldn’t figure out how to say her actual name but she assured us that Goody would do the trick) led us through the tunnels and from room to room explaining the Into the Glacier project and telling us all about glaciers. She even stopped to sing us a traditional Icelandic lullaby!
The tour took approximately 1.5 hours and when we were done I couldn’t help but take a minute to build a little snowman by the entrance to the tunnel, because how often can you say you built a snowman on a glacier???
After our ride back down the glacier we backtracked down the F-road and stopped back in Húsafell at the Húsafell Bistro for a late lunch. We were basically just REALLY excited that it was a buffet that included a salad bar, and since at that point on the trip we hadn’t seen anything green in days, we went in and filled up on salad (and hot soup!!!).
Once we were filled to the brim with food we started the drive to Reykjavík. The drive was almost 2 hours and we stopped along the way to take pictures. We arrived at the Reykjavík camp site and we were blown away by how big it was!! Amazing facilities and very busy. However, since it was located right in the capital, the price was twice as much as all the other camp sites we had stayed at around the country. Not a big deal since we were only spending one night but just something to keep in mind if you ever find yourself camping in Iceland! Since we had a relatively early evening, we took the time to relax and listen to episodes of the Nerdist Podcast (favourite pass time that we ended up doing at the end of every day!).
Day 8: Reykjavík, Hveragerði, Grindavík
We started off our day in Reykjavík by just driving around. Since it was Sunday there wasn’t much traffic early in the morning. We figured since the city is small and it would be pretty hard to get lost that it would be fun to just drive around taking in the scenes. We tried following google maps to a few things but again, in the city google was giving us some grief so we scrapped that pretty quickly. We stumbled up on a bakery (if you’ve read the first two recaps I know this will not come as a shock to you) called Jói Fel. I daresay this was my favourite bakery that we visited while in Iceland and I wish I could have started every day there.
We decided to be touristy after that and started off at the Harpa building. Harpa is the concert hall and theatre in Reykjavík and it is BEAUTIFUL. There was a photo exhibit and short film on Iceland to check out and we wandered around just looking at the architecture.
After we had our fill of the Harpa building we headed to the touristy shopping streets (Laugavegur, Bankastræti, and Austurstræti). We popped in and out of shops as we walked around and I bought a wool sweater and hat (all the locals had beautiful wool sweaters and I knew I needed to get one). When we were shopped out we headed for Hallgrímskirkja church.
Inside the church there is an elevator that takes you up to the top where you have a birds eye view of the whole city. I took what felt like a million pictures then we went back down to visit the inside of the church.
We checked in with tripadvisor and it suggested a pub called Mikkellar & Friends for a drink. The bar staff was super friendly and we hung out there for a while while trying to plan the rest of our day. We decided to go and do the lower half of the Golden Circle since we had skipped that part of the drive on day 1 of the trip.
We made our way to Selfoss, which I had expected to be a waterfall since all the waterfalls are “fosses”, however, it turns out that it was just a town. We did a little drive around then backtracked a little to a town called Hveragerði, which was home to the trail head for a hiking trail called Reykjadalur. Since it’s known for it’s geothermal activity you can actually get in the river there since it’s warm enough! We got to the trail and we were FLOORED by how many people were around. It was absolute insanity. We decided to scrap the trail but we did get out of the vehicle to see what the hell was going on around there since you could tell there was some sort of local activity being held. So glad we decided to check it out, there was a local sheep herding gathering going on! I had commented so many times that I wondered how they sorted all the sheep since they just seem to run wild everywhere, and here we were able to see what they did when they herded the the sheep! Since I don’t speak or read Icelandic I likely didn’t understand everything that was going on but from what we could gather, they herd large groups of sheep together, then let groups of them into a round pen where there are individuals from a handful of familes who start looking at the sheeps tags. When you figure out who the sheep belongs to, you put them in a smaller pen that leads off of the main round pen. It was quite the event and total family affair. There were people of all ages, dogs, and even a group of horses around!
After the sheep herding we started for Grindavík. We searched for a hot spring but never did find it (we really did have terrible luck with those!) and stopped to take pictures as we went. When we arrived in Grindavík we found the camp site. This camp site was another new facility and it was also mostly empty, so we had the place almost all to ourselves. We decided since it was a great spot and since it was close to the airport, we would spend two nights in Grindavík. It also looked like staying in that area was going to be our best bet on seeing the northern lights on our final night in Iceland!
Day 9: Glymur Trail, Reykjavík, Grindavík
Since we had pretty much covered everything we had really wanted to at this point, we felt like we had a couple “bonus” days where we could relax and check out some things we had missed in and around Reykjavík. Again, tripadvisor helped us out and we decided to drive to the Glymur trail. We were SO glad we took the time to go out there and do the hike because it was one of the best experiences we had while in Iceland. The trail was much more difficult than anything else we had done so far and involved a cave, a log water crossing, and hanging onto ropes to get up steep slopes. It wasn’t a long trail, maybe 6 or 7 kilometres, however because the entire hike you were either walking up or down a hill, it took a while to do.
The difficulty was worth it because when you get to the waterfall and look back and see the landscape all around you understand why people are paying good money to take helicopters up there to see the falls!
Since we had passed Reykjavík on the way to the trail, we stopped back into the city after our hike. We found a small microbrewery called Kaldi Bar and stopped in for some drinks. The bar tender was super friendly and he ended up giving us some great restaurant suggestions to check out while we were in the city. After we finished our drinks we headed to a gastropub called Public House. That guy couldn’t have made a better suggestion if he tried. Public House was a foodie paradise so we ordered four different dishes to share. All the food was outstanding! I love places that offer small dishes since you can nibble on all sorts of different food but not leave feeling overly stuffed.
Since we weren’t overly stuffed when we left the restaurant, we decided to try our luck at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, the famous hot dog stand in Reykjavík. We had checked it out the day before but there was a line up down the block, and let’s face it, we didn’t want hot dogs that bad. We were in luck and since it was mid-afternoon and raining, there were only a few people around the hot dog stand. We jumped in line and each grabbed a hot dog. I have to say, the one I tried in Höfn was much better!!!!
We decided after that to head back to the camp site, we had to pack up our bags and be ready to drop off our rental in the morning. I also wanted to make sure everything was packed and ready to go because I was really hopeful that we were going to be able to see the northern lights on our final night and I figured we’d be tired in the morning. Turns out I was wrong and if the northern lights were active, they certainly weren’t visible through the cloud cover. I hopped up a least half at dozen times that night, but to my disappointment, there were only clouds….and rain, lots and lots of rain.
Day 10: Reykjavík and our flight home
On our final day in Iceland we were on the go early. We decided to head to the airport and store our luggage for the day so we could take the bus into Reykjavík for the day after dropping off our camper. There is a luggage storage facility located in the Geysir car rental building next to the airport. We found it incredibly confusing because the information we had didn’t actually mention Geysir car rentals, but eventually we figured it out and left our bags in safe hands. We made our way back to GoCampers and dropped off our camper. There was a bus stop close by so we hopped on and went into Reykjavík for the day since our flight wasn’t until early evening.
Once in Reykjavík we grabbed some breakfast at Cafe Paris and then headed to the National Museum of Iceland. We spent a couple hours wandering around and learning all about Iceland’s history. It was fascinating to learn more about their heritage and a great activity for what turned out to be a very rainy day! After leaving the museum we decided to check out another restaurant on our list from our bartender friend. I wish I was hungrier because his second suggestion, Snaps, was just as good as the first. Snaps was a very cool bistro and the place was filled with plants and newsprint on the walls. It was super busy over the lunch hour and we were really lucky to snag a table!
After lunch we headed to the BIS bus terminal where we had already booked seats on the airport shuttle. By the time we made our way to the airport, went and found our luggage, went back to the airport, etc. we didn’t have long to wait before our flight was ready to leave!
And there you have it, a recap of our 2016 vacation to Iceland! It’s one of my favourite travel destinations to date and I’m so glad I took the time to document our day to day activities so that the details don’t get lost over time (something that has unfortunately happened to me countless times on other vacations). I sincerely hope that everyone who reads this can make it to Iceland some day, it was an amazing experience and I hope I make it back again!