Egilsstaðir to Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

In En-Route, Iceland, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by Janis1 Comment

Day Six, one to truly remember

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

The Northern Lights outside Reykjahlíð , Iceland

No sooner we were back on the peaceful Ring Road after fueling 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.




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.

Janis 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.

Take your time

Unable to resist this incredible view, we pull into the lookout point and step out and just soak it up.

Just off Route One in Eastern Iceland

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.




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 impressive Dettifoss, Iceland

We were in luck the 862 was open; however, I believe the 864 to the east side was closed.

A rainbow next to Dettifoss, Iceland

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.

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On a need to know basis

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.

Icelandic Met Office
The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration – Vegagerdin also has an app.




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.

Selfoss in full flow, Iceland

The spray at these waterfalls is impressive, keep an eye on the lens of your camera.

Janis at the side of Selfoss, Iceland
The water flowing from Selfoss, Iceland

Gratis

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




Keep Charged

If you've hired yourself your wheels for your Icelandic adventure, then why not pick up a cigarette USB charger.  A great way to keep your devices charged as you're on the move.

Another planet

Heading back down the 862 to pick up the 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.

The alien landscape of Námafjall Hverir, Iceland

Although, the sulfur smell I could do without, but I suppose that just adds to the unusual environment.

A fumarole at Námafjall Hverir, Iceland

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.

The mud pools of Námafjall Hverir, Iceland

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Careful underfoot

Back in the car and briefly along the 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?

Land torn apart in Eastern Iceland

But no, it was underground lava cave, which appeared to have been created by shifts in the earth.

I couldn’t bring myself to head down, as I had already nearly slipped into a crevice hidden by several inches of snow.

The Grjótagjá cave in Iceland

Tempted to?

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

You can do it all on a road trip, SIXT car hire covers all budgets and only a five-minute shuttle bus from Keflavik airport.




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.

The Hverfjall Crater, Iceland
Hverfjall Crater from Lake Myvatn, Iceland

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.

Frozen Lake Myvatn, Iceland
The Landscape around Lake Myvatn, Iceland

In search of

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.

They came out to play

Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better.

The Northern Lights at Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

We had been keeping track every day on our trip, 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.

Northern Lights trailing across the sky at Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

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.

Northern Lights dancing in the sky 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 over Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

It lasted about 10 minutes, we hung around for another couple of hours, and they faintly came out again but not too strong.




Our 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.

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

A Bright Idea?

It's those little things that can make the difference.  In Iceland you're in the midst of nature and we found just a simple USB rechargeable torch to be very useful.  You can't always rely on your phone. 

Where we stayed

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.

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Egilsstaðir to Reykjahlíð, Eastern Iceland

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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Comments

  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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