We met a Canadian couple at our guest house in Akureyri who gave us tips on best sightings of Puffins on the eastern edge of Iceland, so having got the route and location, we headed out early for many sights to cover today.
About 45 km from Akureyri on route 1 is another most visited waterfall in Iceland – Goðafoss. But on our way to Goðafoss, we stopped at a bench on the shore of Ljósavatn lake for some breakfast.
And a short drive later, we were at Goðafoss. Situated in the 175 km long glacial river Skjálfandafljót just south of road no. 1, both the river and the lava field it runs through have their sources far in the south. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters.
Continuing on Route 1 and driving north on route 845 took us to Húsavík – famous for its whale-watching activity. The most famous landmark of the town is the wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, built in 1907.
[Húsavík with Húsavíkurkirkja]
[Húsavík from boat]
[Whale watching boat at Húsavík]
For ISK 9280 per person, you’re takne on this boat full of tourists into the Arctic sea for a two hour ride to see some whales.
From Húsavík, it was time to drive south to the Mývatn lake area to visit all the sights circulating this huge lake.
First up was the Hverfjall Crater which is a 2500 year old, nearly symmetrical tephra crater that rises 463 meters high and is 1040 meters across. It is accessible via a trail that starts in Reykjahlíð. Access to the bottom of the crater is not permitted in order to prevent erosion – please obey signs and remain on the marked paths.
Just down the road on Route 848 from Hverfjall Crater was the lava rock formations of Dimmuborgir. Composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel (hence the name), Dimmuborgir is characterized by large hollow cell- or chamber-like structures formed around bubbles of vapor, and some dramatically standing lava pillars.
Several of the chambers and pillar bases are large enough to house humans, giving rise to the term “castles” (borgir).
The site of a major volcanic eruption is known as the Krafla Fires of 1975-1984. The various overlying lava fields give an interesting striped appearance to the area on a larger scale. Some areas of lava fields that are still steaming, and there are solfataras and various lava formations. Just before the Krafla lava fields, we cam across this sulfur pond where energy was being harnessed from the gushing waters of the geothermal landscape.
Coming back on Route 1, just after Mt. Namafjell, take a left on a small street going up to the Krafla lava fields to see one of the most spectacular sights of Iceland – Víti Crater.
The access road runs north off the Ring road, passing right under piping from Leirbotn power station on the way. The station harnesses steam vents to generate power; these are what you can hear roaring away like jet engines up on Krafla’s flanks.
The road ends at a car park in front of Viti, now a deep, aquamarine crater lake on Krafla’s steep brown gravel slopes; a slippery track runs around the rim.
About 300 meters in diameter, this huge explosion crater was formed during a massive volcanic eruption at the start of the famous Mývatn Fires in 1724. The eruption continued more or less non-stop for 5 years and Víti’s bubbling cauldron of mud boiled for more than a century after that.
One of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland and claimed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, is Dettifoss residing on the glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Although it is just 45 meters high, it dispatches 500 cubic meters of water per second.
The walk from the parking area takes at least 20 minutes; and please be careful not to step out of the marked trails. The falls can be seen from either side of the canyon, with a slightly broader sweep of the water visible from the western bank.
The Super Dettifoss Tour from Mývatn and the SBA bus from Ásbyrgi visit the western bank, while other tours and most independent travelers stop at the more accessible eastern bank.
From here you can continue on another 1.5 km over the boulders to Selfoss. It’s only 11m high but it’s much broader and quite a striking waterfall. Access to the western bank of the falls from the south is by 4WD vehicle only; from the Ring Road its 31 km to the falls on the eastern bank on a rough and badly pot-holed gravel road.
It was almost 6pm by the time we left Dettifoss and we had a 3 hour drive to Seyðisfjörður. So we returned back on Route 1 and driving east towards the first big town on the way – Egilsstaðir – where we decided to stop for dinner and continue through the mountains range, over to the fjord village of Seyðisfjörður.
On our way to Egilsstaðir, we stopped by this waterfall on Route 1, hiked to the point where it wasn’t possible to go further, and dipped our feet in the ice-cold water.
Post dinner was 10:30pm and it was time to hit the mountains before reaching our destination. And it was one heck of a spectacular scenic drive! This is where we were in the snow-covered mountains for the first time in Iceland. And the landscape was stunningly beautiful!
After descending from the mounting range, just before reaching Seyðisfjörður on Route 93 was yet another gorgeous waterfall.
It was almost 11:30pm when we reached our destination – Post Hostel – in this sleepy, tiny village by the fjord with the same name.
A road over Fjarðarheiði mountain pass connects Seyðisfjörður to the rest of Iceland; 27km to the ring road and Egilsstaðir. Seyðisfjörður is surrounded by mountains on all sides with most prominent Mt. Bjólfur (Eng. Beowolfe) to the West. The fjord itself is accessible on each side by following the main road that leads through the town. Further out the fjord is fairly remote but rich with natural interests including puffin colonies and ruins of former activity such as nearby Vestdalseyri, from where the local church was transported.
Seyðisfjörður is regarded by many as one of Iceland’s most picturesque towns, not only due to its impressive environment, but also because nowhere in Iceland has a community of old wooden buildings been preserved so well as here. The community, like so many others in Iceland, owes its origins to foreign merchants, mainly Danes, who started trading in the fjord in the mid 19th century. But the crucial factor in the evolution of the village was the establishment of Icelandic herring fishery by Norwegians in 1870-1900.
The Norwegians built up a number of herring fishing facilities, and in a matter of years the little community grew into a booming town of about 700 people.
Variable activities are available in Seyðisfjörður all year round from swimming, kayaking, or hiking. It is also possible to dive in the wreck of the oil tanker El Grillo or go paragliding from Mt. Bjolfur, which is one of the best spots for paragliding in Iceland.
Tvisöngur is a site-specific sound sculpture by German artist Lukas Kuehne. Located on a mountain above the town, the concrete structure consists of fiev interconnected domes. Ranging in height between two to four meters, each dome has a resonance that corresponds to a tone in the Icelandic musical tradition of five-tone harmony, to which it works as a natural amplifier. Walking to Tvisöngur takes about 15-20 minutes on a gravel road across from Brimberg Fish Factory, in a quiet area with a breathtaking view of the fjord. It offers an acoustic sensation that can be explored and experimented with by the visitor. The site’s solitude and tranquility offers a perfect setting for singing or music playing, alone, in harmony, for ones own pleasure or for an audience.
The town of Seyðisfjörður is well-known for its old wooden buildings and has remnants of urban street configurations within its urban fabric. There is a camping ground, facilities for campers, hotels, a swimming pool, a library, hospital, post office, liquor store, and other retail activity. Seyðisfjörður also has a vibrant cultural scene with an arts centre, a telecommunications museum and the only two cinemas in the east of Iceland. The Lunga music summerfest takes place in Seyðisfjörður in July and world renowned artist Dieter Roth had a residence and art studio in Seyðisfjörður.
There are several waterfalls in the town. A popular hiking path starts at the town center, following the East bank of the Fjarðará, the river that flows through the center of town. Further up the river there are 25 waterfalls, subjects of classical painters. During the winter, a skiing area is used in Fjarðarheiði mountain pass.
Every week the car ferry MV Norröna of Smyril Line comes to Seyðisfjörður from Hanstholm in Denmark and Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands.
[Day 4 route – Akureyri to Seyðisfjörður]
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = ISK 114.
|Post Hostel||$55||€42 Per person, one night|
|Fuel||$131.58||ISK 15,000 for the day|
|Dinner||$10.30||ISK 1175 per person|
|Groceries||$13.15||ISK 1500 for Coffee, biscuits, water, milk, sandwiches, etc.|
|Total Costs||$210.03||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$4,038.29||Per person|
« PREVIOUS – Day 3
Borgarvirki, Þingeyrar, Blönduós, Víðimýrikirkja, Glaumbær.
Akureyri to Seyðisfjörður
Goðafoss, Húsavík, Whale watching, Hverfjall, Dimmuborgir, Víti Crater, Dettifoss, Sellfoss.
Day 5 – NEXT »
Puffin Colony, Stöðvarfjörður, Eggin í Gleðvik.