Day Nine, The Ring Road tour continues.
Even after nine days touring Iceland’s route 1, the excitement doesn’t wane.
Today we’re heading west and immediately pick up the Ring Road. Straight away we are at the feet of snow-capped mountains. It’s a crisp day today, and one of the few we’ve experienced with ice on the roads.
A fantastic job is done to keep the roads as clear as possible, particularly the main roads. However, with a snow plough the size of this, I’m not too surprised.
Enjoy the fresh air
We continue to stop and jump out for a stroll, this is just too good to pass by. The landscape changes so quickly when you turn another corner.
Not a bad idea
We went distinctly low tech with a traditional foldout paper map for our Icelandic adventure.
Sure we'd mapped our route out beforehand, and we're using 'Etta's' inbuilt GPS. But somehow there's nothing better than checking your plans out the old fashioned way the night before your next adventure.
Services are still performed
We came across this incredible little church in Víðimýri with a tiny graveyard. The church roof and walls are covered in turf & have been lovingly restored by Iceland’s National Museum.
It dates from 1834 and is only one of three like this, that still serves as a parish church today.
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As time was on our side, we decided to take a slight detour and headed north up the 716 & 717. Our tarmac road had now turned into a very rutted gravel track. However, the scenery across the frozen lake was worth the juddering teeth.
And also, the short climb of Borgarvirki, the site of an ancient fortification that was previously an erupted volcano.
Then it was face-off time between Gary and an Icelandic horse, just roaming along the side of the road.
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Take a right onto 711
We were so pleased we took the 711 for more reasons than one.
Firstly, to see the intriguing 15-metre-high basalt rock formation, which viewed from a certain angle looks like a dragon drinking, honestly if you squint you can see it.
Surely not seals as well
This trip was going from one high to another, not just the natural wonders of the landscape, now we were watching seals frolicking about in the sea at Illugastadhir.
We weren’t sure that this road was going be accessible, but I’m so glad we made an effort. From where we parked (and there was only one other car there) it was just a 10-minute walk before we could see the seal’s heads bobbing up and down in the water.
There were Grey seals and Harbour seals, playing with each other and if that was too much of a struggle they just relaxed on the rocks, all the while keeping an eye on us.
There was easy 30 to 40 of them. It was an amazing sight to see them in their natural environment.
Reluctantly we headed on and journeyed south to our hotel for the night at Laugarbakki.
The route that we took today included a mixture of roads, smooth tarmac, gravel & extremely rutted gravel roads. We travelled along route 1, 716, 717, 711 & 72.
In total, our journey was about 261km (162 miles) and with all the stops took us about 7 1/2 hours.
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Where we stayed
For the one night, we were based in Laugarbakki; we stayed at Hótel Laugarbakki, it was quite remote, so we were hoping to see the Northern Lights. However, they didn’t come out to play that evening.
The hotel was comfortable and plenty of parking; however, the onsite restaurant didn’t quite live up to their website. They were only serving light meals that night, rather than their full menu.
Highlight of the Day
Every trip Gary and I go on, whether it’s a mini-break near or far or a road trip we chose a ‘Highlight of the Day’, here they are for day 9.
Janis; For me, it has to be the seals, they were so close to the shore and so many of them. Although I did enjoy visiting the church covered in turf.
Gary; Seals all day, just loved this inquisitive little creatures playing about while the elders watched on - magical.
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