Map of Day 2
Over the next two days we crossed the northern section of Iceland, checking out a few of the well-known stops and making occasional forays into less-traveled areas. The area is a starkly beautiful landscape of geothermal features, bizarre lava formations, steaming fumaroles and volcanic craters. We also experienced a full range of Iceland’s notoriously fickle weather patterns: sunshine, overcast skies, rain, sleet, snow, high winds, no wind and even sub-freezing temperatures. It made for some interesting photographic challenges.
The north is less frequented by tourists due to the distance from Reykjavik, but has much to offer, ranging from historical and cultural sites, unique landscapes, and unexpected roadside photo ops.
Day 2 started with a turn off the main Ring Highway (Route 1) onto Route 715, a dirt road that leads to Kolugljufur Canyon and a pair of waterfalls on either side of a short bridge.
Kolugljufur Canyon, Photographed from the Bridge
Kolugljufur Canyon, about 100 Meters Downstream from the Bridge
We had several opportunities to stop whenever we saw an interesting roadside scene. One example is an abandoned house alongside a cascading stream shown in the image below.
Abandoned House, Skagi Peninsula, Somewhere along Route 744.
Icelandic Turf House with Connecting Rooms
The turf farmhouse in Glaumbaer is a great place to learn about Icelandic history. A farm has been on this site since the 9th Century. Turf houses date from those earliest days but the buildings here are more recent, constructed in the 18th Century. There is also a small museum and a Tea House which serves light fare featuring Icelandic dishes.
Back on the road our guide, Haukur Snorrason, demonstrated once again his ability to sense when an unplanned opportunity might arise. As we approached a large pasture containiing about 20 Icelandic horses, he chose to pull over saying that it looked like something was about to happen. Little did we know.
No animals were harmed during the filming of these pictures
It seemed that as soon as one pair became bored with their game, another pair would start up. We didn’t want to leave them, but our primary goal for the day was Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods.
Godafoss, in a Light Rain
The waterfall derives its name from the year 1000, when Iceland converted to Christianity. The head of the island’s legislature, known as the law-speaker, dispensed his pagan gods by throwing them into this waterfall as a symbolic act of the conversion.
For us, the chief problem was the deteriorating weather. As the rain became heavier and temperatures began to fall, we cut our visit short. As we headed east, the rain turned to sleet and then to snow and shortly afterwards, we spotted a pair of fly fishermen standing in the middle of a river, oblivious to the weather.
Fly Fishermen in Snowstorm
Next…the Myvatn Region