11 Days Alone in Iceland - Part 2
Our second day led us up into the Highlands of Iceland, to Landmannalaugar. As someone who really enjoys solitude, the rough, Icelandic highlands have an irresistible drawing power. Away from the actually non-existing crowds I guess. It’s about 3 hours from Strandakirkja up to the hot spring of Landmannalaugar, and a long part of it is a gravel road in varying conditions. Even though it might be doable without 4WD during high summer, I’d definitely not recommend it. The roads can be tricky, and are not very well maintained. A few hundred meters before we reached the hot spring we so much longed for – the road suddenly disappeared into a river. Our car 4×4 van would have made it probably, but it was not covered by our insurance. So we rather kept it safe, so far into the Highlands, parked the car and walked over a broken footbridge and a path leading towards the base camp that is a gateway to several epic hiking trails. It’s only a few hundred meters to walk from the river, so you don’t necessarily need to cross the river by car anyway. But it would have been fun of course, and I can’t really let go of it. I’ll be back, for sure! For the hot spring in Landmannalaugar – it costs 1500ISK to use the facilities of the camp to change clothes and use toilets and showers. For 5 minutes of hot water it’s another 1.500ISK, if you’re a real viking you take the shower cold of course. We weren’t, we’re toe-dippers (well, I am), and took a long, hot shower. Our problem with the hot spring, beside the pouring rain, was that the hot and cold water not really mixed. So we were sitting in icecold and boiling hot water, part freezing, part cooked. With summer and sun the conditions might be different, but regarding the hot spring Landmannalaugar is overrated. Due to the bad weather we weren’t able to hike the colorful mountains, but still enjoyed the experience in this remote part of the Icelandic Highlands.
Warm again and with the rain finally taking a break, we were heading back down to the ring road and started crossing sights off of our bucket list. First was Seljalandsfoss, which was the first waterfall during our travels where we actually could go behind! Wonderful for exiting photo perspectives and compositions! From there we went on to Skogafoss, which is a similar photogenic waterfall, and quite impressiv with its 60m drop! Our second day ended here, as there is conveniently a camping ground right at the waterfall.
From there we went on to the famous wreck of the in 1973 crash-landet Super DC-3 of the US Navy. Little bit of a funny history, I guess the pilot was mobbed for the rest of his days. He thought the plane was out of fuel, but he just forgot to switch over to the second tank. We are thankful anyway, as this site offered the perfect backdrop for some apocalyptic photos. There really isn’t much more to it though. If you actually continue some few hundreds meter past the plane wreck, you’ll find a beautiful, long and deep black beach, that offers much more of an experience. Seriously! Go those few extra meters! Even though you might be tired already after following a straight gravel road for 3km (one way) to actually get to the airplane. Make it worth it – go to the beach. After this tour we dreamed about relaxing hot springs, but the next stop was actually quite the opposite. The glacier Svínafellsjökull stretches all the way down into the low lands. The parking place is reached after a short, but particularly bumpy… kind of gravel-stone-road. You really should take some care along the glacier lake, it’s rather steep. But it’s absolutely worth the little bumpy detour, it might be the closest you get to a glacier on your trip (unless you book a glacier hike – which you definitely should!).
Follow us next week to the famous Black Diamond Beach, Reynisfjara, a village full of artists and much more! Leave a comment and check my social channels as well to find even more interesting information and stunning views of Iceland.