Monday, November 4, 2013

A Midsummer's dream, Part 3: The North

It's still the summer of 2002 and while Sif was working, I went off on my own to explore the north of Iceland. I will take you on a tour.

The tarmac soon gives way to loose gravel and the scenery is stunning.

First up is a boat trip to the small island of Grimsey, which is right in the Arctic Circle. My first time above 66°!

Back on the mainland again, I camped in the village center. Almost every small town in Iceland has a communal camping ground, which is free. People from surrounding towns and farms use it to get together in the weekend to drink and eat.

Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods)

Here's something you wouldn't expect this high up, but the Botanic garden in Akureyri was beaming with brightly colored flowers!

Continuing along the shored of lake Myvatn

And onward to the mighty Dettifoss 

South side

The terrain is barren and you might think you're on Mars instead of planet earth.

North side

Further downstream the glacial river is an area with a strange phenomenon.
It's called Hljóðaklettar and due to the distinctive clusters of columnar rock formations the sound of the river seems to come from all sides. Very entertaining to walk among those rock formations.

Close to lake Myvatn is the Krafla volcanic fissure.
The latest eruption was in 1984 and the lava fields are still steaming and hot.
A very bizar experience to see nature's power up close.
After the last eruption the Icelandic people have build a geothermal powerstation and surveys have indicted that magma is only 2 km below the surface here.

The next day I booked an excursion to the Askja Caldera, which is only accessible for a few months of the year. It is right in the middle of the highlands of Iceland and the whole trip by specially prepared bus took over 12 hours. 

The area was actually used during training for the Apollo program to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions!

At the heart of the caldera is lake Öskjuvatn, which is the second deepest lake of Iceland with 220 meter. Next to it is a smaller green volcanic lake, which is always warm. Some brave people take a swim in it.

Near the mountain Herðubreið is a small oasis is an otherwise barren landscape and this is the location where Icelandic outlaws like Fjalla Eyvinur used to hide.

Fjalla Eyvindur's hide-out

Here a wide glacial river funnels through a 10 meter gap with a thundering sound and awesome power.

To be continued!