Iceland Day 5 : Crowds in the Void

We had planned to drive from Vagnstaddir to Seydisfjordur today. The day dawned as bleak as the previous evening. Perfect weather for staying in the warm confines of our car! Stopping by the roadside to take images is part of the package of travelling in Iceland. It’s just as well that so few cars drive by that sometimes allows you to pull over half off the edge of an embankment to appreciate the view. There were so many times that we felt like stopping on the stretch of road between Hofn and the east fjords but in the interests of time, we didn’t do it nearly as much as we thought to. One such stop however was an unnamed waterfall at a town called Nupur (not to be confused with another location in Iceland by the same name). These falls appeared as though they ran through someone’s property but there was no one around to ask if we could take pictures. So instead, we got down, stuck around the perimeter of the property and snapped away at these multitiered falls with so much wildlife flocking around.

nupur pano

Panoramic view of the cascades and cliffs in the area with swarms of birds circling above

Shortly after our stop, we passed through a long tunnel which literally was constructed as though it had simply been carved out of the mountain. Marianne took a couple of photos of passing cars in the tunnels for light trails and overall it was a good opportunity to stretch the legs and stand somewhere dry for a change.

driving tunnel

A section of mountain carved through for roads

Driving on this day was difficult. There were areas of driving on the coast where due to the fog, it felt as though we were driving into the sky which is never a pleasant sensation for me. Then there were the stretches of dirt road along highway 1 heading to Egilstaddir that even though not too rough, meant a significant slowdown in pace. At one particular mountain pass, the visibility was down to about 5 metres as we crawled our way in the hope that no one else would be doing the same coming from the opposite direction. It was ironic that the conditions here were so bad because I had avoided the shorter Oxi pass route for this very reason.


Roads often seemed to lead nowhere but into dense mist ahead

driving white out

Driving conditions included slick gravel and no visiblity


Our only scheduled stop for the day was to climb up and view Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss – beautiful falls in a canyon at the south of Lagarfljot in the interior east. Both of those falls did not disappoint. Finding the location was not difficult with a little prereading on the internet but I could imagine that without research, most travellers would miss these spectacular falls due to its location off the ringroad. Litlanesfoss is unique for its multi-directioned basalt columns and lies about halfway up the canyon. At this time of year, water was torrenting down which unfortunately also meant that streams were preventing easy access to the path to Hengifoss. I ventured up alone as Marianne did not want to chance jumping across the river as I had done. Hengifoss and its surrounding canyons was yet another of those indescribable scenes – it was falling into a pot of unmelted ice before its stream meandered through the steep canyon. This would be the last location that we would get good use of our 5d mark II as it would start its malfunction very shortly afterward 😦 Marianne and I had become so accustomed to wandering around individually that it would take some adjustment to wait on the other to finsih taking pictures before taking our own. Those are the dispensible comforts of affordable luxuries that one becomes so used to that it’s hard to assume just how things were in the past.


Litlanesfoss and its surrounding columns

hengifoss (2 of 3)_3 of 3)_1 of 3)

Hengifoss and its striking red stripes of basalt rock


View from the middle of the canyon toward the still waters of Lagarfljot

We had planned 2 nights at Seydisfjordur due to its lovely surrounds and walks. On the drive in over snow capped mountains, we were looking forward to spending some time here exploring the numerous falls along the road. Entering the town encouraged us further ; its brightly coloured rooves and harbour setting were welcoming after a long day on the road. However, we had not accounted for the fact that this was Labour day long weekend and all accommodation in Akureyri and Seydisfjordur were booked out!!!! That threw a wrench into our plans as those were the exact locations we had planned to stay during that weekend. It was however a blessing in disguise as we would stay in remote locations with a completely different kind of charm. Marianne was a little annoyed at this stage too as she was hungry and had planned to have dinner on arrival. The hostel was painted pink anyway ; that was the only invented consolation we made for ourselves as we heade back out of town.

sedisfjordur church (1 of 1)

Seydisfjordur Church typifies the Bohemian beauty of this town

 We were then forced to retrace our way back across the mountain pass and head to Husey. After taking a couple more images of seydisfjordur in light rain, it gave up completely – random noises, random error messages and then the inability to take any images whatsoever. For the rest of the trip the  5d would not recover save to take 1 or 2 images at the start of every day before malfunctioning again. Fortunately, the backup camera was still in good working order. In retrospect, we probably could have taken a little better care of the camera as we had covered it up only in heavy rain and moisture. Perhaps it needed a beany for the whole trip just as we did!

Husey is a remote marvel. 30km at a dirt road’s end , it’s a small farm with no other buildings save for the hostel that accomodates 20 people at maximum. Set on plains between two fjords, it was full of birdlife and the horses ran free in the fields. If we had more time in Iceland it would have been a perfect location to lie back, relax and contemplate whatever it is people like to contemplate when doing nothing. When we arrived, we were greeted by Sylvia – she had just come out from tending the animals and was covered in excrement while offering us a handshake! Very friendly owners, quaint rooms and a warm couch lulled us out of the previous several hour’s frustration and we settled to unpack and perform our usual end of day routine. This would be our first encounter with a Dutch woman who continue to talk to us incessantly while we were clearly trying to concentrate on other things.  I didn’t mind her so much but Marianne I think was more affected by the long hours and she largley ignored our fellow tourist. I found conversation with her remarkable for all the wrong reasons. One of the most striking themes was the number of sights she had missed while travelling. It seems all she had done was drive from one place to another. The next morning we would awake to a real treat of a dawn.

husey pano reflection

The quaint surrounds of Husey

 More from Iceland Later


Posted on June 6, 2009, in Iceland, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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