Beep, beep, beep…. damn… It is getting difficult to get up and go on in this pace. Luckily we are able to keep each other going and day 3 of our trip in Iceland started again at 5.00hrs. The mission of today is Landmannalaugar. First stop was the rocks at Dyrholaéy. It was grey and rainy, but that actually was a good thing. It made the rocks and sand even more black and it gave a nice dramatic atmosphere. We climbed onto the rocks and heard and felt the big waves crashing onto the rocks. I saw a certain spot that would provide us with a good composition, but I hesitated a bit, because it was wet. One minute later when a big wave hit the rocks it was clear that it was a good idea not to stand there J. In the end this was a very nice spot and we managed to get some nice moody and dramatic pictures of this area. Although I played a lot with long exposures and the magic cloth technique, I like the ones with a normal exposure a little bit more. As we wanted to witness the sunset at this place as well, we also scouted the area around the lighthouse. Although the lighthouse was not special I did see one nice composition by getting the lighthouse as well as the famous and characteristic rocks at the beach near Vik in one frame.
Then we got into the car for the long and exciting drive to Landmannalaugar. After a while on normal and F-roads we suddenly approached a river?! We knew that we had to cross some streams, but this one was bigger than expected. As it was lunch time we decided to eat some yum yum noodles first and in the meantime observe how others passed this river. It was funny to see how different the approach was between all the different cars, but we also got nervous. Although we had a 4×4 Suzuki Vitara, it was a relatively low car, and the cars that passed the river were bigger but still went quite deep into the river. So what to do… go back?? No.. Ok let’s scout. So I put my diving shoes on and walked into the river exploring a promising route to cross it. Hmmm, it is quite deep (the doors will be under water for a bit), but the big rocks were not a good sign.
Then finally, after a German couple arrived with a similar car to ours and a second scouting by Julien with his diving shoes, I started the car. With a heartbeat of 180 I drove into the river…. wow… its deep, am I going to make it?? Yes.. yes… woow that was cool! And we waited 1.5 hours for this?? The German couple soon followed us and we decided to stick together and that was a good thing, because it was not the only one. All these river crossings took a lot time, but more importantly the landscape changed drastically and we actually stopped more than once because the scenery was too good to just pass by without enjoying it. A down side of this kind of landscape is to get the magnitude, so I decided to also go more into the (abstract) details.
Then after being more than 5 hours on the road we realized that we were not going to make it if we wanted to witness the sunset at Dyrholaéy as well. After some hesitation we turned the car and went back again. Well, it’s not a punishment to see the same landscape twice. What we also noticed is that if you drive the F-roads you are quite careful for all the little rocks and holes in the beginning, but after a while you just pass them with 40-50 km/h. Also the river crossings became easy as we now know how to pass them (Crossing the river). We soon arrived at the rocks at Dyrholaéy, but with a completely different atmosphere. In the morning it was rainy and cold emphasizing the black rocks, cliffs and sand, but now I was grabbed by the way the golden light and spray of the sea gave these cliffs a more mystical atmosphere. I immediately knew that I had to go more into the details and while I was setting up for the best composition it was also clear that I needed some people to emphasize the magnitude of the cliffs. So I waited patiently and observed the interplay between the waves and the people who didn’t want to get wet, but then I saw this group of people coming who wanted to make a picture and then… oh well, I don’t need to tell what happened next… :-). Then we went to the lighthouse and again I knew where I wanted to go. After setting up the camera at the edge of the cliff it was finally time to relax, reflect on what we experienced this day, and enjoy how the landscape was drenched in the golden light of the sun.
But how wrong was I to think the day was over. After having the Icelandic lamb soup and lamb leg it was time to go for a star trail. The skies were clear and you never know… northern lights? We started at the bottom of Skógafoss, but the spray was too much, so we climbed to the top again. Hmmm.. also not fantastic… what to do, go back and have a decent night of sleep?? Yes let’s go, no wait… do you see what I see?? YES.. green lights at the horizon… will we be lucky again and see the northern lights?? Well after 1.5 hours of little activity and not being successful at finding a good spot we went back again, but at the cascades it started to get stronger again and just 5 minutes after being ready the magic happened. First a bit at the horizon behind the mountain, then suddenly it started dancing towards us!! Wow, what a sight, what a color, what a feeling; completely on our own, in the nature, witnessing one of the most beautiful things nature (landscape) has to offer.. MAGIC!! Although I made my best picture during the sunset at the cliffs, this was definitively the best moment of the trip!! We were cheering, shouting, and dancing like little kids… amazing! Completely happy we went back and once down, nature gave us another treat with the northern lights above Skógafoss, what a perfect ending of once again an amazing day.
Before going to sleep we decided not to go for the sunrise as the sky would be clear. Instead we wanted to catch the peak of the mountain enlightened by the sun at the cascades. Well, that was a bad choice as the first glimpse through the window showed us a completely red sky, probably the best sunrise we have seen so far. Also our idea was not successful, oh well, you can’t have it all. We soon continued our trip to Höfn, a long drive with some fantastic sceneries. First stop was Fjadrargljufur, a canyon at which you see the effect of the increased tourism in Iceland: the best paths were closed with fences to preserve nature. It also started to rain so it was a short visit. Then we stopped at Lomagnupur, a beautiful mountain that deserves more exploration than we did. The road to the glaciers of Vatnajokul was impressive and very long.
We decided not to go to Svartifoss due to insufficient time, but we did visit one of the glaciers where we went into the details again. Once in Höfn it was raining and we were not able to explore the area at the mountains of Vestrahorn for the sunrise tomorrow. Oh well, it is nice to finally relax a bit and go to bed earlier to catch up on some sleep again. The next two days we stayed in this area and went to Jökulsárlón, a lake with big icebergs, but this you will read in the next and final blog!