Journal of a 23-day Icelandic road trip

Saturday August 22

We awoke at 7.30 am to clouds, wind and rain…for a change!

We set off at 9 am, after a nice hot shower, and breakfast in a comfortable shelter.

Our route took us toward the westernmost point of the peninsula, even further west than Hellissandur, where we were two days earlier.

There we’d find the most beautiful cliffs in the world, and the loveliest place to see seabirds: Látrabjarg cliffs.

We passed a landing stage, not far from the campground, for the ferry to and from Stykkishólmur. Now I understood the presence of the Flókalundur hotel a bit better.

Talking of which, do you remember the hotel’s emblem?

Well, here are the two crows!

We had to be careful as we drove, since we still encountered "sheepies" on the road from time to time. They waited until the last moment to skedaddle; these two idiots found themselves stuck on the bridge. But just when I took the photograph below, they commenced a right turn that would defy the laws of physics.

This was where we crossed a mountain pass, followed by a descent with an 8% gradient. It was really very cold.

10.10 am: we reached a wreck sitting on the sand. It was the Gardar BA 64, a boat built in 1912. It’s been beached here since 1981!

We started to see some impressive cliffs as we turned onto Track 612, 13 km (8 miles) of bumpiness that ran alongside a sheer drop for part of the way.

And then we stumbled on a museum! Yes, an aviation museum run by a plane-enthusiast farmer who decided to create his own little museum, here at the edge of the world.

There was a load of unbelievable bric-a-brac, mainly old shells of planes that were falling apart, and that I imagined had landed here in an emergency and never left.

There was a very dark hangar, with no light. I could hardly see anything, but could make out a biplane in the livery of the Russian airline Aeroflot!! It turned out to be an Antonov AN-2. I set my camera to 6400 ISO and tried to take as decent a picture as I could.

We reached the Látrabjarg cliffs, at the end of Track 612, at 11.30 am.

LÁTRABJARG CLIFFS, NORTHWEST ICELAND

We walked to the top of the cliffs along this paved path.

You can walk along these cliffs for 18 km (11 miles)! My dream would be to return in early July, slap bang in the middle of seabird nesting season.

It was raining cats and dogs, and we searched desperately for a particular bird we wanted to see, an Atlantic Puffin. But this was the end of August, and they’d been gone for a while. Yet our patience was finally rewarded. The photographs are certainly not very good, but we were so happy to see this little chap that I wanted to show you them anyway!

This building is the westernmost in Europe.

We got back on the track and drove past Rauðisandur, a magnificent reddish-yellow sandy beach.

We passed the wreck again, then headed north.

We made a gas/hamburger stop in the town of Patreksfjörður. The young girl running the gas station and snack bar all on her own looked about 14 years old.

The track became red, and the scenery left us speechless.

Some cairns resembled Japanese pictograms.

The red track took us to an extraordinary waterfall we didn’t even know existed: Dynjandifoss.

Dynjandifoss (also know as Fjallfoss), or Thunder Falls, is a queen of waterfalls, comprising no fewer than seven successive falls, with a total drop of 100 meters (330 feet) and a width of 30 meters (100 feet)! I nicknamed it “waterfull”.
It gave its name to the fjord opposite: Dynjandisvogur.

I chatted to a German couple who were curious about my gear, explaining that I was making long exposures, sometimes as long as a few minutes. The guy laughed and said: “You’ll have to stay here for weeks to take all of your photographs!”

I found Emilie further down the hill, busy picking blueberries.

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From further away, you can really appreciate the succession of waterfalls and the phenomenal height of the falls.

Even further away...

And a little more...

It was 7.30 pm, and the sun was already setting. We deiced to drive as far as Ísafjörður, the northernmost town in the country, to spend the night.

Here’s the completely reddish-brown "sheepie" for which we’d been searching!

As we were driving toward Ísafjörður, hoping to get there before nightfall, we saw this Sandafell sign at the start of an extremely steep track that seemed to climb straight up to the top of a mountain. We couldn’t resist the desire to go and have a look.

The track was really very very steep, and we even wondered if it was really passable. We finally reached what we thought was the top, but the way was blocked by an antenna, and we had to leave the car behind and continue on foot for another 15 minutes to reach the view over the fjord.

We could see the town of Þingeyri below.

At the end of the trail was the inevitable cairn.

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

We enjoyed this magical view over Dýrafjörður.

It was 9 pm, and high time we got back to the car. You see the antenna right in the background of the photograph? That’s where we’d left the Hummer!

We tore down the vicious track and were pleased to return to the level of the ocean, over which the sun had decided to serve us up its last rays of light.

We passed this shelter by the side of the road.

As we’d feared, the only way to get to Ísafjörður was through a tunnel, and not just any tunnel: this one was 6 km (4 miles) long and even contained a fork in the road!

We arrived in Ísafjörður very late (10 pm) and picked a campground on the edge of town. The night was dark and very cold, so we ate our sandwiches with our gloves on, in the light of the headlamps.

We were just 50 km (30 miles) from the Arctic Circle.

Exhausted, we fell asleep around midnight.

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