Saturday, 29 November 2014

Day 5 - Kerið and Hveragerði

Our first stop today was the small and inactive volcano Kerið which now has water in the bottom.  We were the first people in the car park but soon after we arrived a few more cars and a couple of buses turned up to join us.  We started walking anti-clockwise around the rim of the volcano and most people took the same direction for some reason.

When we got further around the crater you can see some people on the rim on the other side if you look closely.

At this side there was a path down inside the crater where you can get up to the waters edge.

Here's a photo that Ginny took on here phone of me setting up my camera for a shot across the water in the volcano.

Here we are stood very close to the water before climbing back up the slope and moving on to the next destination.

At Hveragerði there is another extinct volcano which is very big and there is a lot of geothermal activity and earthquakes in the area.  We first went to the information centre where there was a small exhibition which was mainly about the last earthquake in 2008. They were showing some security camera footage from inside the supermarket where an assistant had been stocking up the shelves of wine when the earthquake hit and emptied all of the stock onto the floor as he ran out of the door to safety. There was also a jagged line of glass flooring under which was crack in the earth which had opened during the earthquake.

We found instructions to drive through the town and up a track past the sports centre to the car park at the Hot River Cafe where we could start our walk up the volcano to the main area of geothermal activity.  In this photo we had just started our journey following the black ash path up the mountain.  Here and there were the clouds of steam rising from the hot springs which were feeding the small warm stream at the side of the track.

A little further up was a small pool of barely warm water which was very clear.

The path went up and up quite steeply in places and the information we had was that it was about 3km to our destination so we were getting quite high up.  In the distance we could see the god rays lighting up the river which was flowing down from Selfoss and the sea beyond.

Even higher up and the god rays were still there in the distance.  To the right of the picture is route 1 (or just 1) which is the road which circumnavigates the island.

We went over a ridge where we could look down into the next valley and another small stream running down.  The fisheye lens is flattening out this scene a lot because the slopes down to this stream were very, very steep including the edge we were walking along, a bit scary.

Around another ridge and we came upon this amazing waterfall down another different valley.

This is a wide angle shot of the same waterfall where you might get a better idea of how steep the slopes were down from where we were walking.  In the background were some more clouds of steam which were from hot springs feeding the into the river going down the falls.

We went over another ridge and down into a shallow valley where we crossed a small stream and along a path towards some much bigger clouds of steam rising up from the landscape.  The sign is making sure that we know that there are lots of hot areas here.

This is one of the cooler hot pools, although I didn't attempt to determine the temperature because it may have been hotter than it looked.

This pool was very hot with plenty of steam and the water bubbling away quite merrily.

I had to take lots of photos of this pool to try to get one where it was possible to see the bubbling water below the steam.

Some of the pools were bubbling steam so much that it wasn't possible to see the water although you could hear it bubbling away very vigourously.  In this shot we are looking back down the steam covered valley.  It did smell very strongly of sulphur, not too pleasant really but some bits of Iceland do smell quite a lot as we drive around.  The path did continue up the hill behind us but we decided that we'd come far enough as it must have taken about two hours to get up here and we hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.

On the way back down I took a photo of the stream that we had crossed earlier and in the distance you can see the steam fields we had just visited.  It took us almost an hour to get back down as we didn't stop to take any more photos and then we drove to Selfoss to find some food.  I think Ginny must have been feeling home sick as we went to Subway.

It was starting to get dark after we had eaten and we were both a bit weary after the walk (or climb) so we headed back to the apartment for a rest.  The aurora forecast is predicted as Active in the early morning and the weather forecast is for partial cloud so we are aiming to get up and out by 5am to see if we can find anything.

Day 4 - Thingvellir and Reykjavik at Night

We had a later start this morning because we weren't going too far so here's a photo from the balcony of the apartment looking over the lake.

Thingvellir is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are drifting apart creating a rift valley in lava rocks.  Several small canyons have formed and this is the view down one which has a crazy paving path.

At the end of the canyon we climbed unto the top of the rocks where there is this pile of rocks and a grand view to the mountains in the distance.

From the top of the canyon we could look back towards the Oxarfoss waterfall and the black ash path that we had walked on earlier.

Here's the Oxarfoss waterfall from a bit closer.  The rocks were very black  and the water had a tinge of green but looked very clear.

Here the water from the falls is flowing away to the second set of falls further down the valley.

Next to the falls was a large expanse of decking which included this small rock poking up through the carefully cut hole in the boards.  Quite a lot of the paths and viewing platforms around the site were timbered in a similar way with cutouts for the rocks at the edges.

Quite disappointingly the second big falls on the site had a big ugly concrete bridge over the top of it which didn't make it a decent photo opportunity.  However looking back up the river was a pretty set of small falls with the mountains in the background.

Nearby was this strange looking rock formation.

In the valley bottom is the famous church and houses so I took this long shot showing the mountains in the distance.

We walked down to the church and here is Ginny looking towards the mountains, just taking in the view.

Here's a closer view of the church, it's very pretty and had probably being photographed millions of times.

After looking at the church we headed across the bridges back towards the canyons area.  Just one last shot of the church with a nice patch of water in the foreground.

We made our way back to Reykjavik where we looked around the Art Gallery and then walked through some of the shopping streets with all their Christmas decorations.  Then back to the church which was nicely lit up in the dusky evening.

We decided to go to the Pearl for a meal but it was fully booked for a function, so after having a coffee in the viewing area in the dome we got a taxi back to the car and headed back to the apartment for a meal there.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Day 3 - Vik and More Waterfalls

We set off quite early hoping to get to Vik for around dawn and then visit the waterfalls on the way back.  Some of the roads were quite slippy after the overnight freeze but Vinny (the car) was happier about it than we were.  Our first stop was Dyrhólaey which is just before Vik and we saw the waterfalls on the way because they were just off the main road.

The first car park at Dyrhólaey was at a small headland above the beach.  This first shot is West, towards the larger headland where the second car park is situated.

It was very windy and quick difficult to keep upright and although Vinny told us it was 5 degrees the wind chill factor made it feel about minus 10.

To the East was a long black sand beach with a big rock sticking up out of it.  In the distance is the headland with the three trolls of reynisdrangar, the beach of Vik.

The track to the second car park was very rough, very narrow and very steep in places.  It was even windier up here but looking inland we saw the  Mýrdalsjökull icecap and the Katla volcano.  In front of them is a big lump of rock which we drove past but I couldn't find the name.

At the end of the headland is a cute little lighthouse and this view of the sea arch.  Unfortunately the tide was in so we couldn't get down to the beach and get some closer shots of the arch.  There is a path where you can walk across the top of the arch but because it was so windy we didn't think it would be safe to go that way.

We then went to Vik and down to the beach where there was a German Memorial which is to remember 1,000 German fishermen who lost their lives in Icelandic waters between 1898 and 1952.

We walked along the black sand beach towards the jetty.  It looked really weird with the black sand and the very white surf from the incoming waves.  From here I took this long shot of the famous Vik church on the hill above the town with the mountains behind.

At the jetty I took this shot of the three trolls with the jetty wall and black sand in the foreground.

Then we went to the restaurant at the edge of town where we had a Magistrates Burgers (just because Ginny is a barrister) which contained, a burger, bacon and cheese with a fried egg on top served with chips and some Mediterranean vegetable stuff.  We were pretty stuffed after that but we needed the energy for later.  On the way back to the car we passed this sculpture on top of a big column which had been erected by Hull Council where there is a second sculpture which faces this one.  Fancy coming all the way to Iceland to find something from Yorkshire.

We left Vik and went to see the water fall at Skogarfoss which looks very impressive even from the road on the way passed earlier.  We decided to climb the 400 ish steps to the top of the waterfall where we had this view.

Back at the bottom of the fall Ginny wanted to make sure I got a picture of the little seagull towards the bottom right of the frame.  The falls are about 60m high and 25m across, so very big.

Here at the bottom of the waterfall we, and the camera, were getting very wet from the spray but Ginny insisted on getting an action shot.

We left Skogarfoss for our last stop at Seljalandsfoss and went for another action shot.  Unfortunately the battery on my radio remote was flat, so after several attempts using the timer we ended up asking a passing photographer to take the shot for us.

We climbed the stairs at the side of the waterfall and soon started to get wet again.

The path goes around the back of the waterfall and here we are looking out through the waterfall (still getting quite wet).

Out the other side of the waterfall we can see into where we had been.

There was a signpost  on a path to Gljúfrabúi which said 600m so we headed off to find it and as you approach it you can see the top of the waterfall but is disappears into the rock.  When you reach the noticeboard there is a stream coming out of a little cave where you have to go inside to get to the bottom of the waterfall.  Inside it was very dark, wet and very very loud.  For this picture we had to stand very still for almost 30 seconds getting completely soaked all the time.

Back down to the main waterfall and one last shot from the bridge over the stream.  It was starting to get a little dark by now so we headed off back to the apartment for a light tea and a rest.

The driving in the dark was very tiring with the road conditions very variable on both long journeys.  We have decided not to travel to the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon from the apartment because it twice as far as the journey to Vik.  Had we considered this earlier we should have done the waterfalls on the way to Vik then carried on to near Jokulsarlon for an overnight stop, got up early to look around the  lagoons and then headed back the following day. Next time maybe.

In the evening we went on an aurora hunt but it was too cloudy.  We thought we saw some greenish patches in the sky but nothing spectacular.  Tomorrow we're going to Thingvellir National park where there is the rift valley then on to Reykjavik.  We might stop on the way back to look for the aurora again but the weather forecast is too good for tonight so maybe not.