22.02.2014 - 22.02.2014 -2 °C
Day four was the day we made our way down towards the small village of Vík about halfway between Reykjavik and Höfn on the eastern/south eastern coast of Iceland. It was a fair drive (just under 200 kilometres) so we were up early to get going as there would no doubt be a few stops along the way to take some photos. We had found some amazing accommodation in Eyvindarhólar which is about 30kms from Vík in an amazing gigantic log cabin set at the foothills of the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. It really was an ideal place to base ourselves for the two nights as it was not in a village or near anything really which meant should there be any chance of the northern lights we would not have to drive far at all as it was already super dark in the immediate area with an amazing backdrop of the towering mountains behind the log cabin. As we could only afford the super economy room, we would be sleeping in the attic with huge log rafters sitting just above our noses but this didn't bother us as after all we weren't aiming to spend much time there - we were there to hunt for the northern lights!
This drive is where the Hyundai redeemed itself slightly in my eyes. Trying to get the USB connection to work for our phones I started playing around with all the buttons and dials and then about 10 minutes later both Em and I felt like our bottoms were on fire. What was this, the crap little Hyundai had seat warmers! What a win for us to counteract the brutal Iceland cold - I wouldn’t be surprised if we broke the heaters considering we had them on every time we were driving from this point forward. Well played Hyundai, well played indeed!
As we were driving along Route 1 towards our accommodation (toasty warm I might add), we saw a waterfall in the distance as the road was bending around so we pulled the car over so we could take some shots. As the skies were stormy it made a great backdrop to the photos along with the giant waterfall in the background. After our photo session we jumped back into the car and about 1km further down the highway we saw a huge amount of tourist buses parked in front of the waterfall and a rare sign that told us we had reached Seljalandsfoss another one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls so of course we pulled in to join the hoards of tourists. The great thing about this waterfall was that you got to walk right in behind it and it really just blew us away with how big it was and also how elegant it was falling off the cliff shelf above. The only way of showing you how beautiful this waterfall was is through photos - I may have taken quite a few over the course of maybe two hours.... my bad! Time flies when you’re having fun hey? But look, it's so much better and easier to take it all in once all the hoards of tourist buses had left and that way you don't get them in all your photos and you can really enjoy the sight you are seeing before your eyes.
Upon arrival at our accommodation we quickly dropped off our luggage and got back into the car to explore a few sights close by. En route to the local sights of Reynisfjara beach, Dyrhólaey Archway and the lighthouse above the Reynisfjall Cliffs we passed by Skógarfoss ANOTHER famous Iceland waterfall and although we were impressed with our view of it from the car we decided to visit it another day as after two hours at the previous waterfall we were “waterfalled” out. Just as we made it to the lower car park below the lighthouse on the Reynisfjara cliffs and got ready to face the wild winds of Iceland again we were immediately confronted by an odd Bulgarian couple who had just happened to lock the keys of their hire car on the front seat. To this day we still don't know how that happened as whilst we were getting ourselves ready with our cameras and jackets we had been watching them get in and out of their car numerous times enjoying cigarettes before eventually locking themselves out of it. This lead up was quite funny to watch but actually turned out to be really annoying for us as they were so useless I had to coordinate their whole rescue mission while they stood 10 metres away continuing to smoke cigarettes. What was even more annoying was that they had both left their phones in the car so they didn't have a means of calling the hire company or an emergency service so they asked us to call for help on our phone hence dissolving all our credit. After sorting out their situation I told them to wait as help would be there soon to resolve their locked car fiasco. He was a bit nervous but after I had spent almost an hour sorting out his problem my patience was wearing thin and as we were running out of day light and needed to get on with seeing the area we had originally driven down to see we left the two chain smoking Bulgarians and got on with our touristing. With that ordeal behind us we proceeded to climb up the nearby cliffs to get to the amazing view of the Dyrholaey Archway from a distance. Even from this distance the archway was an impressive sight especially with the wild ocean smashing up into the shear cliffs. We also clambered down the cliffs to a lower, more sheltered section to get some other shots of the coast and enjoy the view in a bit more peaceful weather.
About 30 minutes later we returned to our car to move up to the upper car park right near the light house that sits adjacent the Dyrholaey Archway but before we did that we made sure the police had turned up to assist the Bulgarians in retrieving their keys. Once we saw they were in safe hands we left with the hope we would get some good karma in return down the track. Fingers crossed! Our second view of the archway down from the lighthouse was even more impressive and really gave scale to how big it was. The archway was just massive and how it survives the continuous barrage of waves smashing into it is beyond me. We spent a good chunk of time up here as it was a high point along the southern coast and therefore gave some perspective on the nearby lands, beaches and also mountains behind it.
After driving down from the lighthouse we came across an amazing field that was glowing in the late afternoon sun – a true Golden Hour moment for all those Photographers out there. I again put Emma through a long long wait in the Hyundai whilst I was running, climbing, rolling, lying around in this incredible field off the main highway. Lucky we found the seat warmers as she had them on full speed to keep her warm from the blasting winds outside.
Once another epic photography session was finished we passed the turn off to the famous Reynisfjall Cliffs. We had planned on visiting the cliffs after the lighthouse but thanks to our Bulgarian friends we would have to leave that to another day. No big loss as we were both pretty hungry by then so after a little wait for me to finish up with my photos we jumped back into our car and headed to Vík (the only town within hundreds of kilometres that had a restaurant) to grab ourselves a feed.
DAY FOUR, NIGHT FIVE
The restaurant we went to in Vík was small and very busy as it was the cheaper of the two restaurants in the village. The menu was pretty simple so I settled for a hamburger and Emma had an Icelandic lamb sandwich, both were great Iceland hearty sized portions. As the skies were relatively clear we hurried through dinner and headed back to our log cabin to scope out our trusty radar. As we logged on we were quite surprised and excited to see a rating of 4 which meant ACTIVE northern lights so we quickly raced into the backyard of our cabin. We saw another couple standing up on the ridgeline out in the paddock with a tripod set up so we thought something had to be going on. We ran up to the ridgeline and we saw two VERY faint green lines in the sky looking out towards the ocean. As we had no idea what we were looking at we asked the other couple but as it turned out they were very much in the same boat as us and had no idea either but we all agreed they were very faint northern lights in the sky. After only a couple minutes the lights disappeared but that didn't stop us looking into the sky for over an hour with our new northern light friends just in case they came back. As like previous nights your mind starts to play tricks on you thinking you have seen something when you haven't which was quite amusing for all four of us. As it was getting very late and we had to be up early again we headed back inside and up to our attic to sleep with our log rafters sitting atop our heads. Thankfully the beds were super comfy which was a huge bonus as sleep in Iceland was becoming a rare thing for us as we were spending so much time exploring during the day and then staying out late at night in an attempt to see the lights. We really had won in our accommodation for these two nights; gorgeous room, great beds and already a super faint viewing of the northern lights... we think.