Road Trip East Iceland to the Edge of the Arctic
A Gay Couple Road Trip East Iceland to the Edge of the Arctic – Leaving the Southern part of Iceland behind, we started our way to the unknown East coast and Fjords, before heading North along the water of the Norwegian Sea. Highlights of this area of Iceland are without any doubt the East Fjords with high mountains and deep, narrow valleys, the powerful waterfall Dettifoss and the stories of the hidden people around Ásbyrgi.
Camping in the rough nature of the East, hidden natural hot tubs and stunning views over gravel roads made our road trip days an adventurous time. After visiting waterfalls, Hrossaborg (volcano set for the blockbuster movie Oblivion) and Dettifoss, the goal of our gay travels in Iceland was the active volcano area around Lake Mývatn. Enjoy our journey from East Iceland all the way north to the Edge of the Arctic as part of our Top 13 Highlights of Iceland Road Trip and see the beauty of this unknown part of Iceland through a couple of men‘s eyes.
From Skaftafell to the East Fjords of Iceland
The time on thousands of years of history captured in the glacier ice of Skaftafell National Park was unbelievable beautiful, something not to miss of Iceland. But our way further on the ring road guided us towards the foreign of the harsh and unknown nature of the East Fjords of Iceland. The closely spaced landscapes made us stop along the coast, again and again, too beautiful, too spectacular to turn one’s back on it. The quite popular city of Höfn was not on our list, although it should be worth a visit, as it was told to us.
Our first stop of the day: Djúpivogur, a small fisher village located in between the 2 Fjords Berufjörður and Hamarsfjörður with a campsite, souvenir shop, harbor and the small traditional trading house Langabúð. This house is deemed to be one of the most beautiful houses of its kind in Iceland. Equipped with a café and the Icelandic handicraft museum it was worth a short stop for a coffee break on our tour around the Fjords.
Lonely Wildness & a Stunning Natural World of Iceland
Back on track, we entered literally a different world. The face of Iceland changed rapidly and intense. Combined with the cloudy and windy weather, we got to know the other side of this huge island. And still: the landscape was simply unbelievable beautiful, just a slightly different way. When the street was almost on the level of the sea, the surrounding mountains made us feel so obscure tiny, like miniature cars played by the power of the weather and wind. The road conditions became worse with gravel roads, muddy and slippery parts. Additional to that, sheep were on loose everywhere and potentially behind every bend. When driving in Iceland, you always have to give the street your undivided attention, always. Even when you get amazed by the most beautiful landscape. Just stop next to the street to not place anyone in danger and avoid stopping out of a sudden, especially don’t do it on the road.
Gay Couple Road Trip East Iceland
Driving with the right melancholic and inspiring music sometimes made us even cry or we had to pinch each other, so unbelievable, magical and crystal clear was every moment in Iceland. It truly was really so beautiful in Iceland. A country without the need to use a filter on your travel photography.
Sleeping a Night in our Car at Seyðisfjörður
The time flew by and we were in need of a place to sleep. We decided to stay in one of the most beautiful Fjord villages of East Iceland: Seyðisfjörður. The first municipality of Iceland with electricity and the port of call for the only car ferry connecting the European mainland with Iceland. We arrived really late in the Seyðisfjörður and decided to sleep in the car next to the waterfront. It should have become a windy night. The next morning we were awakened by sunlight, deep, blue sky and a group of cackling wild goose and free-ranging horses. Accidentally we spend the night in close vicinity to a beautiful hidden waterfall with a rainbow on the north side of the Fjord, which was then our spot for a short nature breakfast and a bath in ice cold Icelandic water. Back in the municipality of Seyðisfjörður, we had a morning coffee in a small bakery at Hotel Aldan. Tip: Order a filter coffee, because refilling is for free!
From East Iceland to the Center of the Island
Back on the road in a central direction, we had to leave the wide and open valley with the town Egilsstaðir behind and took the gravel road along bold cliffs, untouched nature and meadow land towards the small fisher village Vopnafjörður. The view over the Fjord Vopnafjörður is breathtaking. But the best thing to do is a bath in one of the most beautiful thermal baths of Iceland, at the public pool of Selárdalslaug. Tip: check the opening hours during the week before taking the detour for nothing. The opening hours for a bath in Summer are daily from 10 am to 8 pm and during Winter times from Tuesday to Friday 10am-2pm and Saturday to Sunday from 12 am to 16 pm. To be sure, check the website!
Pure Silence in the Icelandic Middle of Nowhere
Back on the Ring Road 1, we entered a part of Iceland, no, a part of the world, where we experienced for the first time ever, total silence. Nothing, not even a bird, a bug or a plant in the wind. Just us, the sun and no sound surrounding us. An unforgettable experience.
Dettifoss Waterfall and the Power of Water
Before we reached popular lake Mývatn, we left the A1 Ring Road and took the route 864, the so-called Hólsfjallavegur, in the northern direction on the east side of the water, to visit the waterfall we will never ever forget again. The road is very bad: a gravel road full of potholes. Please pay attention and adapt the speed to the road conditions! But after all, we reached Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. We never thought about how powerful, how full of energy and beauty a waterfall can be, especially when we stood directly next to the water.
We were able to see both sides of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, that drops at this point more than 100 meters in depth. This natural spectacle became very famous due to being the first setting for the Alien movie “Prometheus”. The power of wind, water, and light made this part of Iceland to one of our highlights of the road trip. The next day on our way to Mývatn, we also visited the other side of Dettifoss and we were lucky! With the right position of the sun, we saw multiple rainbows while thousands of liters of glacier water flowed downstream. Definitely, an experience we would not have wanted to miss.
The saga of the Hidden People of Ásbyrgi
Before we drove in the south direction the next day, we camped right close to the northern coast for one night in Ásbyrgi campsite in Ásbyrgi, a horseshoe-shaped canyon created by the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. If you believe in myths, the horseshoe-shaped canyon was made by Odin’s eight-legged horse, when it touched the ground. It is also the capital of the elves, that is called in Iceland the “hidden people of Iceland“. Everywhere around the Botnstjörn lake visitors will find signs and traces of the Icelandic believe in these myths. Or are they true? As part of the Vatnajökull National Park, this unique, almost magical landscape is worth a visit.
Hrossaborg Crater – a Natural Amphitheater
After passing by the other, the west side of the Dettifoss canyon, it was actually just a short way first in South, later on in the Western direction to one of our most favorite spots in East/central Iceland: the Hrossaborg crater. After driving over a white bridge, we spot a huge volcano crater on the left-hand side. Leaving the main road in a Southern direction, we needed to take the gravel road through a dry riverbed (we would recommend a 4×4 for this part of Iceland) and ended up in a natural amphitheater. The name Hrossaburg (Icelandic for Horse castle) is related to the former use for gathering horses in this natural enclosure. A place with an incredible view, total silence, and incomparable beauty.
We hiked on top of the crater edge and simply enjoyed the view. And of course, tried to imagine, how this nature-film set was used filming Oblivion with Tom Cruise. Knowing that and being all alone here, made this spot to a very special place for us on our Iceland road trip.
The Sulfuric Smell of Icelandic Volcanos
The Goal of the day was the famous lake Mývatn. Right before entering the valley of the lake coming from the East, the road leads over the 410 m high mountain pass Námaskarð, separating the two mountains Dalfjall and Namafjall. These mountains are a very colorful and mineral rich nature spectacle with solfataras and boiling mud pots (sulfuric hot springs and continuously steaming hot springs) on the East side of the pass. We could see the steaming landscape already several hundred meters before we actually smelled them. Yes, you understood it correctly.
A horrible, pungent and nasty smell was out all of a sudden inside and outside our car. This area around Hverir is a geothermal part of Iceland with steaming fumaroles smelling like addled eggs. After our time on Hrossaborg, this piece of our Earth was again a landscape like the barren red terrain of planet Mars. A unique and memorable experience, undoubtedly.
Highlights of our Gay Couple Road Trip East Iceland
Lonely coastline, almost no surfaced roads, just us in nature.. that is how we can describe the landscape of East Iceland. The villages are small but very charming. Find your spot to sleep in the car or use one of the camping sites you can find in almost all, even tiny villages and simply feel the power of nature and fresh, the windy air around your head. Enjoy the East of the incredible island of Iceland.
Karl & Daan