Iceland 2017, Part 3:  The Northern Tier


Iceland 2017 Day 2 Map JPEG (Final)

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.

D-17-06-06-3239_40-Pano (Kolugljufur)

Kolugljufur Canyon, Photographed from the Bridge

D-17-06-06-3187 USM (Kolugljufur)

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.

D-17-06-06-3278_80-Pano (Abandoned House)

Abandoned House, Skagi Peninsula, Somewhere along Route 744.


D-17-06-06-3313_14-Pano (Turf Farmhouse)

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.

D-17-06-06-3509 Crop (Horseplay)

Icelandic Horseplay

D-17-06-06-3404 Crop (horses)

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.

D-17-06-06-3588 (Godafoss) copy

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.

D-17-06-06-3661 (Fishermen)

Fly Fishermen in Snowstorm

Next…the Myvatn Region


25 thoughts on “Iceland 2017, Part 3:  The Northern Tier

    • Thanks so much for the kind words. Australia and Iceland are very different, of course, and both have their pros and cons. Assuming a departure from the US, the airfare to Iceland is definitely more affordable. It’s also much smaller so easier to get from place to place. But Australia has its strong points as well and there is also New Zealand. So many places, so little time….Regardless of which you choose, it would be hard to go wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It looks amazing in northern Iceland. I loved the area around Reykjavik but it was hard to escape the crowds! It looks so quiet and isolated where you’ve been. Beautiful. I would love to see more of the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much for your comments. It’s great to hear that you are enjoying the posts. Yes, the northern half is less crowded for sure. While the area around Reykjavik has many great places to see, you are right about the crowds. One technique is to figure out a way to arrive at the more popular places early (sunrise) before the organized tours arrive or late (sunset) after they leave. Renting your own car is one way to do that; another is to hire a guide for a custom tour. The latter can be costly unless there are 3-4 of you to share the cost. At any rate, thanks for visiting the blog.


  2. Gorgeous landscapes (and horseplay)! And the unpredictable weather – I was there last September and came back with a long-lasting respiratory illness. I was simply not prepared for the temperature difference. Sunny days were fine but when it rained and the wind blew hard, it was brutal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the comments. Sorry to hear about your experience with the weather on your trip. It can be brutal someties, especially the wind. I learned on my first trip that one has to pack for a wide range of contingencies.


  3. Wow, beautiful! Iceland is definitely on my bucket list. I love the photos of the horses, and also of the Waterfall of the Gods.

    Kathrin —

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Kathrin, thanks for visiting and commenting. It is always great to hear what people think. Godafoss was impressive, only wish the weather could have been a little more favorable. However, that is how it goes in Iceland. The weather is capricious and one can count on at least 1-2 days of unfavorable conditions. But other days more than make up for it as long as one is flexible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what I’ve heard. But it seems to be a very natural and beautiful country, well worth a visit. A friend and I are hoping to go, maybe next year. It’s always good to hear of people who enjoyed their time there!!

        If you have any time I would love your opinion on my new blog. I just started it and any feedback is welcome!


        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Kolugljufur waterfall, this is such a pretty waterfall and very unique. I also find the turf houses so cute! I’m always amazed to see how green it is.

    And your pictures of the horses are wonderful, what a good timing!!! I can’t wait to go back

    Liked by 1 person

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