by Janis / 1 comments

Day Six, one to truly remember

If we knew in advance what this day of our Icelandic adventure had in store for us, the excitement and anticipation would have been too much to bear.

No sooner we were back on Iceland's peaceful Ring Road after fuelling up at Egilsstaðir, and we were pulling over for our first two viewpoints of the day, a snow-filled gorge and Rjukandi Waterfall.

In this eastern part of Iceland, the snow is a lot thicker than what we’ve experienced so far on this trip. However, today the sun has broken through, and I wish I’d brought my sunnies.

For our overnight accommodation in Reykjahlíð; we stayed at the Fosshotel Myvatn, which had ample parking and included breakfast.

The pin image of our post - 'Day 6 - Egilsstaðir to Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland'
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(You can pick-up any part of our Iceland Road Trip at the bottom of this post, along with a map of our route and the 'Highlight of the Day' for each of us.)

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Behind the wheel in Iceland

Gary only let me drive…
On most our road trips Gary does all the driving, but on a rare occasion, he’ll let me get behind the wheel. I think it’s because he wanted to take over the controls of the DJI Osmo. But a least I can say I have driven in Iceland.
A side profile of Janis behind the wheel of our hire care as we pass through a snowy landscape
Driving Etta in Iceland

Our Advice

Go for a 4×4 for the reasonable ground clearance it affords you. You can, of course, hire a 2-wheel drive vehicle, but you are not permitted to drive on ‘F’ roads and other tracks.

Our experience was that even access to certain Points of Interest along roads a regular 2-wheel drive wouldn’t get you there. Trust us.

Driving in Iceland

Take your time
Unable to resist the incredible view across Iceland's magnificent landscape, we pull into the lookout point and step out and just soak it up.
The wilderness of eastern Iceland with snow-capped peaks dotted between a patchwork of snow-covered dark volcanic soil
Just off Route One in Eastern Iceland

Where to stay in Reykjahlíð

In Reykjahlíð we chose to stay at the Fosshotel Myvatn, my favourite accommodation of the trip

We had a few essential requirements from each of our overnight stays in Iceland, which were:

Breakfast included or available nearby.
Scooby snacks along the way can be expensive.
Parking is a requirement, as this is a road trip after all.
Nearby cafés/eateries, or onsite restaurant for the evening.
Preferably a close-by fuel station; they can be few and far between en route.
Booking.com

The first waterfall of the day

Dettifoss
We weren’t too sure when we headed to Iceland whether Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls were going to be accessible, as the roads in this area are sometimes impassable throughout the winter months.
The v-shaped crevice in a snow-covered landscape as the Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland drops to the river below.
The impressive Dettifoss
We were in luck the 862 was open; however, I believe the 864 to the east side was closed.
A rainbow over the gorge and river running through it that flows between the Dettifoss & Selfoss waterfalls in Iceland.
A rainbow next to Dettifoss
It’s a little bit of a hike to the waterfalls, mainly as the snow & ice was quite thick in places. However, it was certainly worth it, the view is incredible. Dettifoss is reputed to be the fastest flowing waterfall in Europe.

Useful tips for driving in Iceland

If you are planning a road trip around Iceland particularly over the winter months you need to be very aware of the ever-changing road and weather conditions.  During winter, parts of the Ring Road may be impassable, and you may not get to areas of the country you intended to.

Regularly check the conditions by using these useful websites and apps, believe me, they will come in handy.

We have also written a post packed with tips for driving in Iceland based on our research and experience than may be worth checking out.

Closely followed by the second waterfall of the day

Selfoss
While visiting Dettifoss, you must also take the short hike to Selfoss which is further along the gorge. Not quite getting the same kudos as Dettifoss, but equally impressive.
The blur of white water as the Selfoss waterfall drops into the river below in Iceland.
Selfoss in full flow
The spray at these waterfalls is impressive, keep an eye on the lens of your camera.
Janis standing in front of the Selfoss waterfall in Iceland.
At the side of Selfoss, Iceland
A white water river flows along a basalt gorge on the journey between the Selfoss and Dettifoss waterfalls in Iceland.
The water flowing from Selfoss to Dettifoss

Free in Iceland

All the places we visited today were amazingly free of charge, Dettifoss, Selfoss, Námafjall Hverir & Grjótagjá cave.

Planning your trip to Iceland

So you're planning a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice? There is so much to see and do in Iceland that you'll wish you were staying longer. To ensure you make the most out of your visit, head over to the official website of Visit Iceland for a little help and guidance.

Have fun!

Geothermal Iceland

Another planet
Heading back down the 862 to pick up Iceland's Ring Road, we’ve still got more to see. Our next stop is Námafjall Hverir a geothermal area. I love these places; as they are so different, you really feel like you could be on Mars.
Plumes of mist and steam rise from the volcanic earth at the geothermal park of Námafjall Hverir in Iceland
The alien landscape of Námafjall Hverir
Although, the sulfur smell I could do without, but I suppose that just adds to the unusual environment.
Steam erupting from a pile of rock at the geothermal park of Námafjall Hverir in Iceland
A fumarole at Námafjall Hverir
We’re surrounded by bubbling mud pots & baths, gases surging from the earth’s crust and a striking landscape, which is decidedly lacking in vegetation – no surprise there.
Dark grey mud pools bubble between sulfur stained rock at the geothermal park of Námafjall Hverir in Iceland
The mud pools of Námafjall Hverir

If you're tempted to tour the Land of Fire and Ice and would love to discover the whole country, then take a look at this  DK Eyewitness book. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

You can now grab the revised copy.

Exploring Iceland

Careful underfoot
Back in the car and briefly along Iceland's route 1, we then head along the 860 to Grjótagjá cave. I didn’t really know what to expect here, (not being a Game of Thrones fan) perhaps a walk-in cave?
A fissure in the rocky landscape of Iceland with a snow-capped mountain the the background
Land torn apart in Eastern Iceland
But no, it was underground lava cave, which appeared to have been created by shifts in the earth.
A hole in the ground leading to the Grjótagjá cave in Iceland
The Grjótagjá cave in Iceland
I couldn’t bring myself to head down, as I had already nearly slipped into a crevice hidden by several inches of snow.

Finding the right car for your Icelandic Road Trip

Discover Iceland’s enchanting Ring Road with its rugged landscape or the waterfalls and geysers around the Golden Circle for yourself.

If you want to explore Iceland's F-Roads, you must have a 4x4, but we'd recommend one anyway for the improved driving position, and if the weather turns, you have a touch of added protection.

We recommend Rental Cars as they search multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Discover Iceland

Tour of Lake Myvatn
Before heading to our hotel, which is at the north end of Lake Myvatn, we decide to circumnavigate the lake. What we didn’t expect to see was Hverfjall, an incredible crater which erupted around 2,500 years ago.
A muddy track through the volcanic soil leading to the Hverfjall Crater in Iceland
The Hverfjall Crater
A view across thawed sections of Lake Myvatn to the Hverfjall Crater in the background
Hverfjall Crater from Lake Myvatn
Continuing around the lake, we pass by areas which are still frozen from the winter months, and others where rivers are gushing from it. It is so peaceful and there is hardly anybody about.
A frozen section of Lake Myvatn in Iceland with a lone mountain in the background
Frozen Lake Myvatn
A view across the thawed grass that surrounds Lake Myvatn to the mountains in the background
The Landscape around Lake Myvatn

A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip

Here are a few things we picked up ahead of our trip to make things a little smoother for us.  Simple stuff that may be helpful on your travels.  All from Amazon.
A good old paper map
A USB car charger
A USB rechargable tourch
A USB power bank
A water bottle

    The Nothern Lights in Iceland

    They came out to play
    Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better.
    Streaks of pale green light of the Northern lights over the baron landscape of Reykjahlíð in Eastern Iceland
    The Northern Lights at Reykjahlíð

    We had been keeping track every day during our road trip around Iceland, of the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights.

    Arriving at our hotel I asked where the ideal place would be to go that evening to catch them, and the receptionist told us just to wander out the back of the hotel.

    Two streaks of pale green and purple light of the Northern lights over the landscape of Reykjahlíð in Eastern Iceland
    Northern Lights trailing across the sky at Reykjahlíð, Eastern
    I initially didn’t believe her, so at around 9pm we stepped outside, and the Aurora Borealis was just starting to dance. We couldn’t believe it, we ran back to our room, got togged up and headed out into the moonlight.
    The swirling green colours of the Northern Lights over the mountains just outside Reykjahlíð in Eastern Iceland
    Swirling Northern Lights at Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

    We were greeted with a fantastic display of, green, pink, purple & white waves dancing across the sky, fading in and out.

    I didn’t know where to look; they were all around us, I was actually getting a bit choked up, I didn’t expect us to be so lucky.

    The Northern lights in full display on a star-filled night over the landscape of Reykjahlíð in Eastern Iceland, sights to see in iceland, places to visit in iceland, visit eastern iceland, visit iceland
    The Northern Lights over Reykjahlíð
    It lasted about 10 minutes, we hung around for another couple of hours, and they faintly came out again but not too strong.

    In search of the Northern Lights

    If you are Northern Light hunting, you need to be aware of the sunset & darkness times and the KP Index for the evening. It also requires dark and partly clear skies.

    KP Index scale ranges from 0 to 9;
    0-2: Low
    2-3: Moderate
    4-6: A big solar storm is coming
    7-9: Highly unusual

    You can monitor this via the Icelandic Met Office which is updated around 6 pm.

    Our Iceland Road Trip

    The route
    The route that we took today was mainly touring the Ring Road, but with a few detours and stops along the way. So, in total, our journey was about 270km (167 miles) and with all the stops took us about 7 1/2 hours.

    Where we stayed in Egilsstaðir

    Our stopover
    For the one night, we were based in Reykjahlíð; we stayed at the Fosshotel Myvatn. The hotel was fantastic, we had a lake view from our room, and the meal we had that evening was lovely, made with local produce.

    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 6.
    Janis; Mmmmm, now let me think carefully, it has to be the once in a lifetime experience of seeing the Northern Lights
    Gary; It has to be the Northern Lights for me too - we'd hoped, and we'd got lucky.

    The Complete Icelandic Journey

    Why not take a look through our entire 12-day Iceland tour? Staring as we left Kevflavik and continued anti-clockwise around Iceland

    * This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

    Share this post

    1. The Northern Lights for sure! EPIC! It looks so insanely beautiful. All of it, but what a capper to a seriously stunning day. Have loved your Iceland road trip series of posts. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    2. Thanks very much Erin, that day was certainly special. You never know what’s around the corner, the display of the Northern Lights was short lived but it was incredible, I’ll always remember it.

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