Journal of a 23-day Icelandic road trip

Tuesday August 18

KERLINGARFJOLL, ICELANDIC HIGHLANDS

6.30 am. 3 °C (37 °F). The sky was blue, and I told myself that luck was on our side, after two weeks of climatic penitence!

A quick shower, and a tortured washing-up with water so cold I thought my fingers would shatter like glass.

It wasn’t even 9 am by the time we left for the mountains.

One hour later, it was like Tintin in Tibet. The sky was getting overcast, but a brave sun still pierced the clouds.

These brown, ochre, green, and white colors are characteristic of Kerlingarfjöll, and I really wanted to see them in decent light.

+ Note for readers of the eROADBOOK: have a look at the ULTRAPANORAMIC PHOTOGRAPH No. 19 / 20 +

Hofsjökull glacier was behind us.

Careful where you step! Falling into one of these acid mud pools could be fatal, particularly since they’re heated to 100 °C (212 °F).

You see this gaping hole? It’s extremely dangerous, since it’s a little hidden, and is big enough to swallow up a person. Fortunately, an alarm sounded every five seconds to warn us of its presence: a deep and powerful bass BOOM! This was caused by air bubbles forcing their difficult escape from underground.

And here’s a little blue to add to our palette of colors.

It was 11.30 am, and the sky was becoming ever cloudier. We saw that some people had driven onto the mountain opposite in their 4x4s. So we decided to return to base camp to collect the car, eat our sandwiches out of the weather, and then drive to this mountain. That way, it would be easier to fall back if the weather got really bad.

No, you’re not dreaming: he’s wearing jeans and she’s in shorts! It's 3 °C (37 °F) and overcast.

We reached base camp.

We saw the track taken by the 4x4s and the seemingly unstoppable Icelandic buses.

The road was really bad, quite stony, but we reached our goal. It was already 2 pm. An icy wind was blowing very strongly and the sky had turned white.

But it was still as beautiful as ever.

We decided to descend to the foot of these mountains, where there were all kinds of flowing sulfurous streams, and smoking, bubbling solfataras.

Some details reminded me of etchings.

 

 

Having arrived in the valley, we set about exploring the site like cosmonauts who’d landed on a new planet. We had to take care not to burn ourselves.

The sky made good on its threats, with a snowstorm that put an end to our exploration.

I left the site with mixed feelings. I’d have liked to have had more light, and to have seen much more. At the same time, I counted myself fortunate to have had a lovely morning, a good stroke of luck in this country. I’d attached so much importance to this place.

A terrible fog descended a few minutes later. It was icy cold, with a snowstorm and strong winds. We’d been right to take the car.

Here are a few more images, so you don’t forget those wonderful colors and textures!

But the day wasn’t over. We left Kerlingarfjöll to get back on Route 35.

The mountains behind us looked very hostile. Yes, we’d really been lucky to arrive yesterday evening.

ROUTE 35 (SOUTHERN PART), ICELANDIC HIGHLANDS

Southward ho! Our aim was to sleep at Geysir campground that evening, in the Golden Circle. That would mean a return to civilization, since the Golden Circle is very touristy and very busy, which scared us a little, I must admit.

We drove down Route 35 under pouring rain.

The weather was awful and the road was bad, so I had unbounded admiration for the few cyclists we met. But hang on, haven’t we seen these two somewhere before?! Yes, it’s the guy from Brittany with his recumbent tricycle! This was our third encounter with them.

We got to the campground, and were pleased to discover that it belonged to a luxury hotel, and that campers could use the comfortable showers free of charge, as well as the hot-pot next to the swimming pool! Needless to say, we took full advantage of these facilities! Then we got settled on the campground.

Our neighbors were a couple of cyclists with a newborn baby. Cycling and camping in Iceland is difficult enough, but with a baby?!

Further off, I recognized the Breton flag of our two cyclist friends we’d met on the road.

Valère is on the left. He came all the way from France, via Denmark, on his recumbent tricycle!! Fabien was on a regular bicycle. He’d come to Reykjavik by plane, then taken an internal flight to Egilsstaðir, in the extreme east of the country, to meet Valère who’d come by ferry.

They’d set off together from there, and had planned a three-week trip to see the whole of Iceland. They covered an average of 110 km (68 miles) a day when cycling on roads, and 80 km (50 miles) on tracks.

I took their email addresses, so they’ll see these photographs when you do.

At 10 pm, we closed the book on another well-filled day, and let the daily slideshow run through our heads as we closed our eyes.

The next day’s program promised the fabulous Gullfoss waterfall, followed by Geysir, Þingvellir, and then our departure toward Western Iceland. Alarm set for 7 am.

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