Author: Braedyn Brosda
We visited Fardagafoss on our way back to Route 1 from Seydisfjordur. Fardagafoss was the greatest disappointment for me on our trip. I heard this was a great waterfall that everyone skips by on the way to other sights. When we arrived the fog that had been hanging around all morning was mostly cleared so I was in high spirits. On the short hike up it became clear that the fog was looming. I power hiked up, leaving Sarah behind, to hopefully get one photo in. When I got up to the falls, I quickly found a half baked composition and was screwing on a ND filter to make a long exposure when the fog rolled in. I tried one shot and deleted it almost immediately. The waterfall was gone even though it was 20 feet in front of me. The only photo left is the one below which Sarah took while I waited to see if the fog would clear again. I was grumpy for the walk down and at least half of the day (Sarah comment: Really, really grumpy).
The drive to Hofn is scenic but with few stops available along the highway. We stopped at Djupivogur but there really wasn't a lot going on. In Djupivogur, we ate and had coffee in a small restaurant, and drove over to Eggin í Gleðivík (a series a egg sculptures). Hofn was the most touristy place we came across since starting in Reykjavik. I even thought it was more crowded than Akureyri. The campground was quite busy and had a steeper rate than we were accustomed to. The town had a nice pool and a liquor store.
Let me go off on a tangent for a second and explain why the liquor store was a big deal. There are not many liquor stores on the island and they have weird hours. I located all the stores along our route from Akureyri back around to Hofn because I wanted to try the local beer produced in Iceland. The hours seemed to be random from store to store even though they are all the same government run chain. I remember one being only open from 4-6pm on the day we were there. So, when we got to Hofn and the store was open, we made a stop.
After spending the night in Hofn, we drove to the glacial lagoon the next morning. I was very excited for the glacial lagoon, but left feeling a bit disappointed. In the lagoon, there is a glacier at one end and ice chunks separate from it and become icebergs. These in turn flow out through the lagoon, into the ocean. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I thought it would be grander. The weather was a bit gloomy that day and the newly entered upon touristy zone may have tainted my opinion.
The Diamond Beach was just across the road from the glacial lagoon, but I had a completely different opinion on it. The Diamond Beach was my favourite place in Iceland. I don't know where else in the world you could experience such a place. And, if you went multiple times it would be completely different each time. At the beach, icebergs float out of the lagoon into the ocean, but with the tides the icebergs get swept ashore onto theblack sand beach. The amazing thing to me is the contrast. You have this black sand constantly getting smoothed over by the ocean’s waves, and sitting there are these crystal icebergs shining as the light hits them. This truly is a special place on Earth.
Svartifoss is also known as the Black Falls. It is located in the Skaftafell National Park. There is a large paid parking lot, which was annoying. First, head to the visitor centre to pay for parking and get a map, then begin the hike! You walk along the 3km hiking path past two waterfalls before reaching Svartifoss. Svartifoss was my second favourite waterfall after Kirkjufellsfoss. The basalt columns framing the waterfall really make the falls unique. The only downfall is that we are now in the touristy zone, and the tourists are awful. Sarah would often point out that we were tourists but I believe there are two types of sightseers: tourists and travellers. This is still a hot button issue over here.
Let me explain the difference between tourists and travellers. Tourists travel without thought or conscience whereas travellers are aware of themselves being guests. For example, a tourist may think that their cultural norms apply everywhere in the world whereas travellers try to adopt the language and culture of the local people. Another example, which applies to Svartifoss and other parts of Iceland, is the fact that fences and signs do not apply to tourists but travellers will abide by local rules and customs.
At Svartifoss there is a fence to protect the natural wonder as well as the people. The basalt columns fall, and could injure someone. However, the whole time we were there at least one person would go around the barrier to either take a photo or in some cases just hang out and be “cooler”.
This green canyon is truly a natural wonder. I have a hard time describing it in a way to do it justice. There is a river cutting through this amazingly green canyon. You can walk along the top of the canyon which gives you many different views. There was one guy who had a drone, and while I usually would think that drones are annoying, the views he got as he flew through the canyon must have been pretty epic. Fewer people go here because the road is pretty rough. There is very limited parking so as the site gets more popular it may become less accessible.
Also, on a slightly disturbing side note, when we were going to leave and use the restrooms before continuing the drive I stumbled across something. The unit I chose had been absolutely destroyed by a previous visitor. I don't know if they had some of that putrified shark before or what, but the amount of human waste I saw had me observing a moment of silence for one of our likely lost comrades.
Vik was the third most metropolitan city in Iceland that we saw. There is a mall that has a large Icewear store, Bonus, and a cafe. I don't remember if I have gone on about my new favourite caffeinated beverage yet on this blog, but I was able to get one here. Swiss mochas may be the most heavenly beverage I have had. I don't know why they have been kept secret from Canadian cafes, but we are really missing out here. A Swiss mocha is made by melting chocolate into the steamed milk which makes is delicious times ten (Sarah edit: Braedyn speaks wistfully of Swiss mochas while drinking eggnog lattes in Edmonton cafes these days).
In Vik we also hiked from the main campground up to the prominent church on the hill (highly visible from most anywhere in Vik). From the top of the hill we could see the famous sea stacks and the entire town. This is also where we interacted with the famous Icelandic horses that we saw across the country. They took a special liking to Sarah, and even tried to nibble on here Icelandic sweater.