Vik to Höfn: Face to face with a glacier

In En-Route, Europe, Iceland, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Day Four, Iceland’s Ring Road

I’m running out of superlatives!

Vik i Myrdal Church, Vik, Iceland

Our ‘to do’ list is long for today, so, in the chariot and saddled up by 8:30. We head back into Vik to catch the view across the bay and the Vik i Myrdal Church. There was a blanket of mist covering it yesterday, although drizzle was still hanging in the air this morning.

Today’s planned route should be a distance of around 172miles/278km. Which is predominately along the Ring Road, with regular spurs branching off to see the magnificent scenery.

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.




Cave to ourselves

No sooner we had departed Vik, and we were at our first planned stop at Hjörleifshöfði Cave (I can’t even attempt to pronounce that), just 9miles/15km along the road.

Almost an alien landscape in Iceland

We headed about 2.5km along a gravel track, parked up and continued the last km on foot, across what appeared to be a lava track. It was certainly worth the walk, and we were the only ones there.

The outside of Hjörleifshöfði Cave, Iceland
Looking out of Hjörleifshöfði Cave, Iceland

It felt quite eerie being on our own there, in silence as water dripped from the cave roof on to what only can be described as lunar landscape below.

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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.




Fjaðrárgljúfur Gorge

Next stop along we detour off to visit the Fjaðrárgljúfur Gorge. Slightly boggier and damper than I’d hoped, but there is nothing you can do about the weather.

Looking along Fjaðrárgljúfur Gorge, Iceland

To appreciate the gorge’s full potential, you need to head up the hill (boots are needed here), peer over the crevice and you’ll be rewarded a with a stunning view of the gorge below and the river running along the bottom of the valley.

At the top of the Fjaðrárgljúfur Gorge, Iceland




Foss a Sidu

With the rain beginning to worsen we jump back in the car and continue our journey. Weaving our way along the Ring Road, we are keeping our eyes peeled for ‘Foss a Sidu’ a roadside waterfall. We are treated to another couple of waterfalls en-route, but we held out. Even though you couldn’t get too close, it was still beautiful.

Foss a Sidu waterfall, Iceland

Then just around the bend, we are greeted with a raging river and waterfall, we couldn’t resist jumping out again.

A roadside waterfall, Iceland

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.




Pièce de résistance

The next spectacle which was to emerge into our view was a glacier. I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing, as we drove closer the ice blue vision was becoming large and almost appeared to swallow up the landscape in front of it.

Only a handful of occasions have I ever seen such a natural sight, so incredibly jaw-dropping.
As we continued further it crept closer, there was a viewpoint we headed along, and you were able to drive along a gravel track to the end.

Our first view of the glacier, Iceland

However, it wasn’t until we got out that Gary noticed we could drive over the top of an incline and head closer to the glacier. Needless to say, that is what we did & it was stunning.

Janis getting closer to the glacier, Iceland

Gratis

All the sights we visited today were free of charge.




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.

Mountain caps

Continuing our drive along the side of the mountains we see ice caps encroaching from between the mountain tops.

Skaftafellsjökull flowing towards you, Iceland

How far will this tongue of the glacier shift within the next 1,000 years, I wonder?

Why not?

Start creating your own Icelandic adventure and discover the Northern Lights yourself, easyJet & British Airways are just a couple of options.




Just when you thought it couldn’t get better.

Back on the Ring Road and we headed closer and closer towards one of the ice cap’s tongues. Turning off onto a very bumpy gravel track (not even deterring a motorhome), we arrived at the edge of the Svínafellsjökull glacier.

The layers of ice and ash trapped within the Svínafellsjökull glacier, Iceland

It was almost touching distance. I’ll say it again, but, it was breath-taking.

Up close to the Svínafellsjökull glacier, Iceland

Gary and I very reluctantly left as “time waits for no man”, and diamonds were gathering for me on a black beach, or so I was told!!!

At the Svínafellsjökull glacier edge, Iceland

Something to make your travels easier?

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.




Diamonds are Forever

Even though the weather had turned to heavy rain it had not stopped us; we were on a high after the glacier, next stop Diamond Beach.

A huge diamond on the shore of the Jökulsárlón ice beach, Iceland

Well that put another smile on my face, although I had seen images of Jökulsárlón ice beach, I somehow really didn’t expect to see the crystal-clear jewels for myself, I didn’t think we would be that lucky.

Scattered on Diamond Beach, Iceland

How wrong was I, incredible once again, however a little bit too big for my gin & tonic?

Janis with a big diamond on the beach, Iceland

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. 




Die Another Day

Has anyone spotted the Bond theme?

Across the road from Jökulsárlón ice beach is Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, here is where part of James Bond’s film Die Another Day was shot.

Ice broken off the glacier in the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, Iceland

As huge parts of the glacier break away into the blue waters of the lagoon, icebergs are then seen floating in the peaceful waters. The Glacier Lagoon flows through into the Atlantic Ocean and washes up the huge chunks of ice that appear on the black sandy beach.

Iceberg ahead in the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, Iceland

A short journey then onto Höfn where we refuelled and our base for the night.




Our route

The route that we took today was once again pretty straightforward along the Ring Road, with a few detours and stops along the way. So, in total, our journey was about 289km (180 miles) and with all the stops took us about 8 hours.

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

Where we stayed

For the one night, we were based in Höfn; we stayed at the Milk Factory (yes it was an old milk factory).

The hotel was comfortable, it was just on the edge of town and did not have on-site restaurant facilities, so you needed to pop into Höfn to eat or pick up supplies.

The view from the Milk Factory, Höfn, Iceland

It is in an incredibly peaceful location, and from our room, we could see the edge of a glacier.

We headed into the harbour town and ate at Pakkhús Restaurant, which served wonderful local produce, especially the langoustines & liquorice crème brûlée.




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 4.

Janis; The glaciers without a doubt, there’s not much that can leave me standing in absolute awe.


Gary; Yep, it's the glacier for me too. To see the edge of a wall of ice that is flowing so slowly you can't see it, and is shaping the landscape - amazing.

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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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