The drive north – Waterfalls, Canyons and Lunar Landscapes

Today I made the long drive to the north coast of Iceland.  I left early and drove back over the pretty mountain pass to Egilstadir, and then my route lead straight across Iceland’s interior.  At first the road went through green rolling hills, like the countryside I had seen before – with the inevitable waterfalls.  

Yet another waterfall just off Route 1

Then the landscape turned grey and barren, and it looked like I had arrived on the moon or another planet.

The Lunar Landscape of Iceland’s interior

I drove for about two more hours along these straight, empty roads, before reaching my first destination for today – the waterfalls Selfoss and Dettifoss.  These are not the highest waterfalls in Iceland but still impress through the power of the huge volume of water hurtling through the steep river canyon. I made the short walk to the smaller Selfoss first………

Selfoss waterfall (the “smaller” one)

…..before standing in awe in front of mighty Dettifoss.  It was a great stop for my lunch sandwiches, and when the sun periodically appeared, the waterfall’s spray made a pretty rainbow.

Views of Mighty Dettifoss

Dettifoss was just one of things to see in the “Jokulsargljufur” area, a long canyon formed long ago by a volcanic eruption under the Vatnajokull glacier in the centre of Iceland (which I visited earlier on my trip in the South).  The melted glacier water surged down the valley in a cataclysmic flood, and carved out the canyon in a matter of days.   I followed the canyon by a new road leading along its west side, and stopped for another walk to explore further. I saw weird volcanic lava shapes that looked like sleeping monsters (Icelanders would call them trolls),  a lave cave (formed when the outside of a lava river solidifies but the inside keeps flowing) and pretty mountain flowers, with purple heather.

A sleeping troll
A Lave Tube (nicknamed the “chapel”)
Rolling countryside with arctic flowers
I found the river again!

Further down the road, I explored the last part of the canyon, a huge horseshoe-shaped ridge surrounding a lush forest covering the floor of the old, now dry, river bed.

It was now later in the day, and my remaining route took me through the town of Husavik (my destination for tomorrow) where I stocked up on food and took photos of the mountains lining the other side of fjord.

Views over the bay from Husavik

I finally found my rental cottage in the evening evening, and cooked myself Icelandic lamb for dinner.  It had been a very long but very fulfilling day.

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