Day three of driving was probably the least exciting of the journey in terms of places to stop and sights to see. There just aren’t many spots of note between Jökulsárlón and Lake Mývatn. In hindsight, we probably could have pushed forward all the way to Lake Mývatn in one day.
However, despite the lack of notable places to get out and explore, the scenery remained utterly breathtaking.
On day four we drove from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri, making several amazing stops along the way. First up was the powerful Dettifoss.
This was the second time I had visited Dettifoss, but it was amazing how different it was the second time around. On my first visit in 2015 we approached the falls from the West bank and on this visit we approached from the East. Each side of the falls gives a remarkably different experience.
The West bank is accessible in all seasons, and from this side you are pretty much guaranteed to get absolutely drenched! You face the falls more directly on this side, and as soon as you get just a little bit too close you will be absolutely saturated by the incredible power of the falls.
The East bank allows you to get much closer to the edge of the falls without getting completely drenched, but it is worth noting that the road to get to this side is unsealed and only accessible in the summer months.
The weather gods looked down very fondly on us while at Dettifoss. We got sun, rainbows and the sweetest sprinkling of rain – it was magic!
Next up was a spot that remains frequently overlooked by travellers – Ásbyrgi Canyon.
This enormous glacial canyon has formed in the shape of a horseshoe, something that did not go unnoticed by early Norse settlers. The legend says that this canyon was formed when Sleipnir, the 8-legged horse of Odin, made contact with the Earth.
Legends aside, Ásbyrgi is a very beautiful stop to make in Northern Iceland, and is especially good for people looking to escape the crowds that congregate at more famous attractions such as Dettifoss.
If Ásbyrgi just isn’t remote enough for you, then Hljóðaklettar will be right up your alley.
Hljóðaklettar (also known as the ‘echo rocks’) is a collection of basalt columns running in many different directions to create unique caves and other structures.
My favourite structure is the one in this next two photos, often referred to as the ‘two trolls’. Old legends say that the larger peak was once a male troll and the smaller was a female. The two trolls fell madly in love and decided to get married. They were so excited by their impending nuptials that they lost track of time and didn’t notice the sun had started to rise. Before they could return to their dens, the light of the sun shone upon them and turned them to stone, and they were destined to always be close, but never fully together.
Our last stop of the day before continuing to Akureyri was the small coastal town of Húsavík. Aside from being quaint, colourful and downright photogenic, this town is one of the best places in Iceland to jump on a boat and go searching for whales.
I have seen a lotta whales in my life and yet I’ll never turn down an opportunity to see them again. I absolutely adore whalies, so I was so excited to try and see them again.
We booked a last minute tour with Gentle Giants, and when I say last minute, I mean it! We literally ended up running around town trying to find a park and get back to the dock in time. A three hour tour is listed on their website as being ISK 10400 ($122 AUD) but I remember that we paid no more than $85 AUD each, so I believe there is some benefit to booking last minute.
We only saw one humpback whale, but that one whalie gave us a lot of amazing tail shots!
That evening we pressed onwards to Akureyri, where we would spend the next two nights.
Stay tuned for our day five antics… it includes getting drunk in a beer bath!
Getting to Akureyri: The largest town in Northern Iceland, Akureyri is well connected via domestic flights and Route 1
Gentle Giants: This whale watching company were wonderful, click here to learn more
Car Hire: We rented a small car through Blue Car Rentals as they are competitively priced and trustworthy
Akureyri Backpackers: A bit of a party hostel, but the free welcome beer is a nice touch. Dorm beds start at around $55 AUD per night, click here for more info
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Dress warmly for the whale watching tour, it’s much colder out on the water!