Today we drove through the East Fjords visiting some of the most scenic areas. The weather wasn't great, but the natural beauty shined through.
Heavy rains came overnight, and it got cold and windy. The camp warden hadn't come around last night to collect, so I tracked her down this morning. Unfortunately, the young lady was the least friendly Icelander we had met thus far - and "least friendly" is a nice way of putting it.
We had planned on doing a hike to Stórurð and staying another night in Borgarfjörður Eystri.
It was not going to be a short hike, and we had no desire to do it in miserable conditions. The next day's forecast didn't look any better, so we bagged that idea and decided to just drive today.
First, we drove a little east of Borgarfjörður Eystri to the "new" harbor. Just beyond this small-boat harbor is Hafnarhólmi islet.
We watched a seal playing in the harbor while we were contemplating whether or not to get out and brave the howling winds.
Hafnarhólmi is one of the best places in Iceland to see Atlantic Puffins up close. We knew, however, that we had missed them by a couple of weeks. They disappear overnight around August 15 each year.
Still, I walked out to the islet and went up the steps to see if there might be any stragglers and to take pictures of where the puffins would be in the proper season. There is a bird blind and a boardwalk close to the nesting sights.
We drove back along the coast toward the small village.
In the village is this often-photographed house.
Though such turf houses were once common in Iceland, this house, known as Lindarbakki, is one of the few remaining inhabited turf houses in the country.
With the weather not improving, we left Borgarfjörður Eystri and drove back toward Egilsstaðir where we would begin our tour of the East Fjords.
We drove on a paved road up over the mountains and prepared to drop down into seaside village of Seyðisfjörður, one of Iceland's most scenic towns and one which most of the guidebooks rave about.
Seyðisfjörður is also the port for a ferry from the European mainland (Denmark). It arrives on Tuesday and leaves on Wednesday, and it happened to be in port when we were there.
We drove around the edge of town and continued on out the southern side of the fjord on a gravel road. When we felt we had gone far enough, we turned around and enjoyed the views on the return.
We drove around the town a little bit, but we're not shoppers or "town people", so we didn't stay long before moving on back up the mountain. Going that direction, we got a better look at Gugufoss, the most impressive waterfall along what is known as "waterfall lane".
That waterfall is near the road, and there is a parking area, but we chose not to stop and walk in the rain.
We made our way back toward Egilsstaðir and took this photo from above with Lagarfljót lake beyond.
Back in town, we picked up Hwy 1, the Ring Road, and continued south turning east on the gravel road 953 to go to Mjóifjörður.
In Iceland, often towns on a fjord are given the same name as the fjord itself. The last town fjord town, Seyðisfjörður, is just one of many examples where the name, when used by a local, is most likely to refer to a town rather than the body of water on which the town sits.
Mjóifjörður is sort of the opposite. Though there is a small 40-person village that shares the name, visiting is more about the body of water and the drive to get there.
The road was a little rough at the time of our visit, but 4WD was not required. However, it was a road that most tourists avoid. There are no accommodations, no stores, and no compelling reason to go other than the natural beauty which, by the way, is more stunning than many of the other places where tourists gather in Iceland.
It continued to rain as we drove, but I snapped pictures through the wet windshield as waterfalls cascaded down on both sides of the road. We followed a small river, and there were beautiful ponds.
"Wow" was the only word we said as we reached the pass that started the descent to the fjord.
The road curved down switchbacks giving us views of the fjord and then the tiered terrain below the mountains with snow patches, ....
and then the waterfalls all around us.
This particular series of waterfalls is known as Klifbrekkufossar.
I'm posting a few photos of the most prominent waterfalls on this drive, but there were so many more - too many to count.
We could only imagine how all this beauty would be enhanced on a bright, sunny day as we reached the fjord.
We drove along the north side of the fjord through the little village before turning around and heading back.
The road hugged the water as we followed a small tour van back toward the end of the fjord.
As we climbed back out, we did get a little sunshine. We stopped in front of a waterfall and had some lunch, before continuing on and making another stop for one last look down at Mjóifjörður.
That side trip was easily our favorite among the East Fjords.
Back on Hwy 1, our drive continued south with more scenic views on our approach to Reyðarfjörður.
We went into Reyðarfjörður town only to fuel up the campervan, and then we returned to the Ring Road (Hwy 1) just long enough to get to Hwy 955 which runs along the south side of Reyðarfjörður fjord and around the Vattarnes peninsula.
This is a photo across the fjord looking at Reyðarfjörður, a fairly large town that now boasts an Alcoa aluminum smelting plant as its largest employer.
Views as we drove along Hwy 955, another Icelandic road that was paved part of the time and unpaved part of the time for no apparent reason.
Going around the point of the Vattarnes peninsula, we got a view of Skrúður island, known for bird colonies and a large cave often used as shelter by sailors in the past.
After a long day of bad weather farther north, we were pleased to see so much blue sky as we rounded the peninsula heading back west along Fáskrúðsfjörður.
Eventually, we passed through the town of Fáskrúðsfjörður ....
and found our campground for the night (also on our Camping Card). We were the first ones there and parked next to the lake with mountain views in all directions.
What a lovely end to a mostly wet but wonderful day.
As we had the campground to ourselves, we were able to get long, hot showers without having to wait or hold anyone else up. It would have been nice to sit outside for a while but it was extremely windy, and the forecast predicted one of our coldest nights yet.
The camp warden arrived right at dark to collect. She spoke no English, but she was friendly and it was a much better experience than this morning's encounter.
We really enjoyed the East Fjords today, particularly our drive to Mjóifjörður, and the Iceland scenery continues to impress.
Day 14 Driving - 300k (186 miles)