I was on my way to the Westfjords, a section wild beauty in the north west of Iceland, I had so many spots on my list I wanted to go to but the weather was not going to be my friend. I drove through whiteouts and ice to get to the one road that was open, where it would lead, was the Arctic Fox centre. I was determined. My determination however, means nothing to nature who had a different plan for me. When I arrived at the road I found a barrier closed across it and red flashing lights telling me my dream was dashed.
I had two choices, set up camp in an N1 petrol station outside Hólmavík. A place that could only be described as barren, a place where the truckers of Iceland were stopping before heading on. One of whom waved at me…that was my cue to leave. The second option was to drive 111 kms to anywhere that wasn’t void of humans. I eventually found a place to rest for the night, the shining beacon of wonder, with running water and food, the N1 – Staðarskáli. Again, I don’t think it’s ok to camp at petrol stations but I think it was pretty evident that lots of people needed a place to stop for the night. As I have said many times before, be more organised than me.
The next morning was the first day of Summer and it was snowing. Perfect. It was time to head east and the first stop was Akureyri. Now I think I spent maybe twenty minutes in this city but I watched a plane take off and ate a hotdog so it was pretty ok. There is a viewpoint on the other side of the fjord. Which gives you a great view of the city with the mountains in the background.
Continuing on my journey I arrived at the next waterfall, this area doesn’t look like much but just off the road is Goðafoss, a beautiful, powerful 30 meter wide pool. It was freezing, the spray was chilling and it was raining but the colour of the water still made me want to jump in.
I was cooking potatoes in the back of the car to avoid strong winds and hailstones when I saw a massive snow cloud moving fast past the window. I decided to follow it and what I found was amazing. I came upon a frozen lake, Lake Mývatn. When you are diving around in April you will see snow and beauty but for some reason this area feels like you are on a different planet.It was freezing but the wind was manageable and the snow had stopped so it was drone time. This area is disorientating from the ground, it’s a sea of lava rock covered in snow but it is awe inspiring from above. Seeing the snowy surrounds with the frozen lake was breathtaking. If my battery allowed it I would have flew all evening. There are a number of things you can see, if you are staying at a local guesthouse they will have maps will all the information you could want but two that I recommend are Grjótagjá cave, I think it should be something you experience for yourself but bring your bathing suit. The other spot that is amazing is Hverfjall, a kilometer wide volcano, in the colder months when there is still snow on the face of the volcano it is absolutely incredible! I had so much fun driving around the lake when the fluffy snow arrived it was time for me to move on.
Jarðböðin við Mývatn
When you drive a little further it’s as if you’ve left the other world and arrived back in Iceland, back to it’s geothermal land and patchy snow. Just past Lake Mývatn there is a blue lagoon of the north, the Mývatn nature baths, I didn’t go but it might be a bit easier to get into than the Blue Lagoon. You will find the turn for the Mývatn nature baths just before a similar turquoise pool, if you go past it, you’ve gone too far.
Has your ma ever made egg sandwiches? Well that is what this area smells like, the sulphuric land is bubbling and emitting a strong odour but it is well worth stopping the car to check it out. The site would be amazing for a photoshoot, with it’s barren yellow landscape and billowing steam from the earth. It’s pretty incredible!
There are certain points during a road trip where you have to take a chance and see if it goes well. There are two roads you can take to get to Dettifoss, one of them was closed and the other I feared would close soon, so I drove, kept going, through icy patches and wind I got to the car park. However that’s just the beginning. They clear the roads but they don’t clear the tourist spots. The wind was the strongest it had been in a while, rain was freeing in the air and pelting you in the face. Walking through with snow coming up to your knees, with hills and slippery stones, it might not be the best place to bring your granny but it is always worth it when you get to the final destination. Dettifoss is incredible, it’s supposed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe and it feels like it. The sound of it’s falls still echos in my ears, coming upon this amazing sight was something that wont be forgotten any time soon. Driving in the North was beautiful, awe inspiring and so much fun but I know I didn’t spend long enough frolicking in the snow. There are so many stunning spots along the road to stop and take amazing pictures. This part of Iceland is perfect for self driving and if you can get up to the North it is so worth taking the time to enjoy it. You wont regret it.