Today in East Iceland, we drove into the eastern edge of the Highlands with views of Mt. Snæfell. We visited the Kárahnjúkar Dam and Hafrahvammagljúfur canyon.
Then we returned toward Lagarfljót lake where we enjoyed a cake buffet before visiting Iceland's third highest waterfall, Hengifoss.
After that we drove to the remote Borgafjörður Eystri where we camped for the night.
We left Egilsstaðir in the morning and drove past the big lake Lagarfljót, which is known for Iceland's version of the Loch Ness Monster. There have been several sightings of the serpent or worm or wyrm, and there are pull-outs along the lake with signs indicating "monster viewing" spots.
We continued on around Iceland's fifth largest lake and crossed the bridge to the other side.
In the photo above, you can see the canyon that contains Hengifoss, Iceland's third highest waterfall, which you can see in the photo below.
We decided to skip the hike at Hengifoss and continue on to the morning's destination in the East Central Highlands. We would be coming back that way, and we might hike to the falls then.
In our campervan, we climbed a series of road switchbacks as we drove up Hwy 910. This was the view looking back down behind us.
On top of the plateau, the terrain changed and became more tundra-like. There was a light rain and low clouds, but we kept our eyes out for reindeer which were known to be seen in the area.
The clouds cleared briefly and we got a decent look at Mt. Snæfell, the tallest mountain in Iceland outside the glacier peaks at 1,833 meters (a little over 6,000 feet).
There were distant views of other snow-covered mountain ranges as we proceeded to the Hálslón reservoir and the Kárahnjúkastífla Dam which created the reservoir, now the third largest lake in Iceland.
We drove across the dam, and stopped for a photo of the deep Hafrahvammar canyon below with the dam overflow creating an impressive waterfall.
The road was paved until just a little ways past the dam. We continued on the unpaved 4WD road for a while looking for a better view of the canyon. I knew there was a parking area somewhere that would allow us to walk into the canyon, but I hadn't verified exactly where.
We eventually settled for this view of the canyon and turned around.
We made a brief stop and took in the view over the reservoir to the mountains.
Driving back over the dam, we enjoyed more mountain views.
We searched for reindeer on the long drive back, but didn't spot any.
Reindeer are not native to Iceland. They were brought over from Norway in the late 18th century with thoughts of farming them, but they were never domesticated. Now herds roam in East Iceland, and they are sought out by tourists.
Eventually, we made it back to the edge of the plateau above Lagarfljót and drove back down the switchbacks.
Once at the bottom, we made a little side trip to Skriðuklaustur, a farmstead/estate that was the site of a monastery from 1493 - 1552. In 1939, it was purchased by European author Gunnar Gunnarsson, who built a large house there. In 1948, he donated it to Iceland, and it now serves as a center of culture and history.
The center was closed when we arrived, but our reason for coming was the café, Klausturkaffi, in the lower level which was accessed from below.
You see, Klausturkaffi has a daily lunch buffet, but after lunch they have a cake buffet. Yes, you heard that right - a buffet of cakes. There are sweet and savory choices, and it looked wonderful.
Unfortunately, it looked better than it tasted. We were underwhelmed by the flavors, and many of the selections were dry and seemed to have been leftover rather than freshly baked. It was a little over $20 USD per person, and we were a bit disappointed.
From what we saw of the lunch buffet, we would have been better off spending the $35 USD per person for lunch, especially since we learned that the cake buffet was offered to the lunch buffet patrons.
Still, we found enough to fill us up, and I was up for walking it off at the Hengifoss waterfall.
The parking lot there was full, but we managed to find a spot. Linda decided to sit this one out. Her intent was to sleep off her desserts in the van.
I headed out on the uphill trail. It's only 2.5 km (1.5 miles) one way and the trail is good. BUT, it's steep. Don't be deceived into thinking it's an easy trail because it's short. For the first three quarters of the way, it's a somewhat strenuous climb and lots of people had to go very slowly.
But it's worth the effort. There are several waterfalls along the way.
In fact, about half way, Litlanesfoss, the lesser known, but beautiful waterfall below is worth the walk. The surrounding basalt columns add to the setting.
Eventually, the trail flattens as you approach Hengifoss along the river.
From that point, the trail was muddy and some were having issues with footing. At this point, there were signs warning not to go any farther, but a few folks ignored them to get closer.
In addition to the height of the drop, the red clay layers in the rocks are what make this waterfall distinctive.
I would have liked to have gotten closer, as it wasn't nearly as impressive as Glymur, Iceland's second highest waterfall, from that perspective. But, I wasn't up for rock scrambling and the time it would take, so I just admired it from a distance for a little while before heading back down the trail.
Below another waterfall, these sheep posed for us tourists.
Looking down the trail as it descended back into the valley toward the parking lot.
Back at the van, Linda had gotten some rest, and we were ready to move on to our next destination.
We drove back along the northern side of Lagarfljót to Egilsstaðir where we picked up Hwy 94 toward Borgafjörður Eystri.
It was a nice drive through the countryside, and then the twisty, gravel road went up into the Dyrfjöll mountains ....
where there were viewpoints to look back down to the beautiful bay behind us.
We continued as the road hugged the coast passing farms and coastal mountains.
Eventually we came to the village of Borgafjörður Eystri with its backdrop of ryholite mountains.
The mound in the middle of the photo above between the town and the mountains is where the campground is located and that mound is known as Álfaborg, "The Elves´Castle" where the queen of the Icelandic elves allegedly resides.
We pulled into the campground and parked our van away from the main facilities. After we got settled, I walked up Álfaborg for better views of the campground, our van, and the town.
And in the opposite direction were the rhyolite mountains with the setting sun lighting up the higher peaks.
It had been raining off and on most of the day, so we were glad to see a bit of sun right at the end. We hoped for good weather for the next day as I had a hike planned.
So that was a pretty long day, but it was another day of admiring the beautiful and varying landscapes of Iceland.
Day 13 Driving - 268k (167 miles)