This part is the second most interesting part of my stories about Iceland. For you who doesn’t know what country Iceland is, I screenshot a picture of <!–more—>Iceland (the whole island is the whole country) from my Lonely Planet’s Iceland ebook – I bought it with 66.7% of discount! Look! Even LP supported my Iceland trip, haha. Iceland is located almost at the northest part of the world. If you try looking for it on your globe, place your fingertip on UK then draw a line to northwest. There you find Iceland below the world’s largest island, Greenland.
Read about the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik, on “Nabila, Please Stop Talking About Iceland! (Part I: 101 Reykjavik)“
There is a joke saying why Iceland was named Iceland and why Greenland was named Greenland while the reality is the opposite. Iceland has more green landscapes than Greenland and Greenland is covered by ice more than Iceland.
My road trip in Iceland was divided into three main routes:
- Selfoss until Southeast Iceland
- North Iceland
- The Highland – crossing Iceland from Akureyri to Reykjavik. Including the Golden Circle.
…and an additional evening visit to Thingvellir National Park with Birna’s mega cool mother in law, Didda.
Ps. I didn’t post pictures of all places I visited on this post for not making this post much more longer. But no worry, you can easily find the related pictures on my Instagram @nabilaasad 😉
Selfoss until Southeast Iceland
Official website here.
Our trip started from Selfoss where Birna resides. I went with Birna, Siggi, and Johanna for this route. It was my second day in Iceland when I hadn’t used to Icelandic moody weather. I drank my Indonesian herbal medicine (tolak angin) in the morning because I caught a cold after I-thought-it-was-a-warm-summer in Reykjavik the day before.
There is a main road encircling Iceland on its outer side called Road No. 1. We drove through the Road No. 1 mainly. Honestly, I didn’t really pay attention to the road sign because Siggi drove the car and he was a pro in this road trip for sure :p I recognised the similarity between the green-ish landscape in Iceland with the savannah in Bromo area, Indonesia. Was it because of the volcanoes? Both Iceland and Indonesia are volcanic countries (I will remind you of the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull — try saying that name! eyyy-ya-vet-la-yo-kult).
We were a bit lucky on that day even tho the weather changed drastically from sunny, windy, until hard rain; it was mostly cloudy when we went out of the car. During the trip, we met several extreme backpackers who took this road trip to the next level: cycling. I would not recommend this way tho.
I have seen beaches with pink and white sands, now I added seeing beach with black sand thanks to Iceland. We stopped by to Vík y Myrdal for this. Lucky me, puffins were there as well. Sadly I didn’t have any zoom lens to take pictures of puffin. But I guess it’s time for me to be a selfish travel blogger, no? Instead of sharing any picture of puffin, I persuade you to come to Iceland and see puffins by yourself.
Thanks to Iceland (again), I eliminate my bucket list one by one: seeing the glacier with my own eyes. Been dreaming on seeing the snow? Having seen the glacier, I would like to recommend adding “seeing glacier” on your bucket list 🙂
- Seljalandsfoss – foss is an Icelandic word for waterfall. We walked behind the waterfall. Beware of the splashy water and do’nt forget to bring your glass to drink fresh water directly from here.
- Skógafoss – walkin’ up the stairs to the top of this waterfall is a must!
- Vík y Myrdal – the black sand beach. You know you can’t swim here. Mega freezing sea water was detected. But lift your head up and there you can find puffins on top of the cliff. Prepare your zoom lens.
- Svartifoss and hiking at Vatnajökull National Park – my most fav view on the road: glacier, baby!!!
- Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon – mommy mommy, I saw a big glacier lagoon for the first time in my life!!!!
For this route and the highland, I traveled with (was) a complete stranger and now is a good friend of mine from South Korea, Hye Jin. I met her thru an Italian guy (also a stranger) who was supposed to travel with us. We carpooled on Davíð’s car whom we knew thru Samferda, a carpooling website in Iceland. Davíð rode us from Reykjavik to Akureyri, called as the capital of the North Iceland. Jin and I stayed a night before heading to Hrísey Island, an island in the middle of Eyjafjörður, the next morning.
We took an early morning public bus from Akureyri to a little village of Árskógssandur. The bus didn’t stop us exactly in the village but on the road TO the village. We hitchhiked to a car which we were surprised having two big (yes, literally muscular and big) guys welcoming us to their car. We were in doubt whether to take their offer but then it turned out that they were a captain and a crew on a whale-watching boat. Because our ferry hadn’t came yet, they invited us to have a warm milk on their boat. So sweet! 🙂 Remember what did grandma say: never judge a book by its cover 😉
Both Jin & I agreed on putting Hrísay Island as our most favourite place in the North Iceland. The island was indeed calm with breathtaking view. There were some cliffs where we sat down for only enjoying what were in front of our eyes while picking and eating wild berries (How to Act Like an Icelander #1: Picking Berries) without having our cameras on.
The next day we went to visit the main attractions of the North in Lake Myvatn district (I bought a baked-inside-the-earth bread. yumm yumm the earth’s temperature caramelised the sugar and made this bread tasted zupper good). Btw, you may heard the name of Lake Myvatn before as the location for an American TV series called Game of Thrones.
We spent a night in Husavík, a harbour city who is known for a whale-watching tour. FYI, we slept in a tent in a less than 5C night. Most of the tourists came to Husavík to join that tour. There was a whale museum near the harbour, it was a slaughter house for whale. Because of our limited money, we didn’t take the whale-watching tour, then I decided to visit the museum. It was a good decision because the museum was very interactive and suitable for children, not boring at all!
- Hrísey Island and Árskógssandur
- Godafoss – waterfall of the God
- Dettifoss – the strongest waterfall in Europe. Hiks, I got drenched here. I wud recommend you to bring a raincoat.
- Dimmuborgir – a lava labyrinth known for Icelandic myth stories of troll.
- Hverarond (Námaskarð) – it smelt like an unflushed toilet because of the sulphur. Here I saw boiled water with the temperature reached 1000C and a farting earth. It was written that the water was boiled by an underground magma intrusion. Ok, I need a geothermal explanation about this.
- Asbyrgi – was a waterfall formed from a glacier flood and now a horse shoe shaped cliff. A puuurfect calm place for doing yoga or meditation.
The Highland & the Golden Circle
The highland route is going through the interior of Iceland. We took a “special” bus to cross this deserted volcanic land. The bus was provided by SBA company and it passed a highland area called Kjölur. Written on their website, “Kjölur is a plateau between the glaciers Langjökull in the west and Hofsjökull towards east, at an altitude of 650 m above sea level.” The road was completely rocky and there was one time we had to cross a river. Therefore, a four-wheel car is needed if you want to do this route. Based on this document from Environment Agency of Iceland, visiting the highland is only possible during summer and there are several constraints to be concerned.
Be prepared of the rocky road but I think the rocky road’s sensation was way better than the sensation of Labuan Bajo to Ruteng route in Flores, Indonesia. Our first stop was Hveravellir National Park. Some people took off their thick clothes and jumped off to the hot spring pool. We chose to walk around and saw the water was boiling in front of the second largest glacier in Iceland.
I love the road view when we took off from Hveravellir. Glacier was all I could see. Glacier here, glacier there, and glacier glacier glacier again. Next we moved to the Golden Circle route. The Golden Circle is the most famous touristic route in Iceland. It starts from Reykjavik, goes around three main stops (Gulfoss, Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park), then finally back to Reykjavik. Since it is the most famous route, there are more tourists as expected.
Gulfoss is another waterfall. It had passed a week since I came to Iceland so I got used to see waterfall. Therefore I found nothing so special about Gulfoss. I think Detifoss was completely something (yeah, it is the most powerful one in Europe. That’s why!) and Skógafoss (I couldn’t forget the scenery). Meanwhile Geysir is like a water pushed from inside the earth. I didn’t get any picture when it erupted.
- Hveravellir National Park
Breathtaking view is all you can expect during your road trip in Iceland. Start your trip as early as possible, it’s best not to do it after the sun goes down. As long as I remembered, I barely saw any lamps on the streets outside a city. You may find some bridges or narrowing road that only one car could pass at one time. Thanks God we didn’t meet any intolerant driver.
Enjoy this music video taken in Iceland. I really love this video because I always felt like a deja vu.
I told you if this is the second most interesting story, right? Gotta tell you the most interesting story on the next part. Guess what will it be?
…ICELANDIC FOODS AND BEVERAGES!!! Yumm!