Iceland Part 3/3 – Whales and Waterfalls

Originally posted: 12 August, 2017

Day 7 – Husavik to Reydarfjordur

Out the door by 8am as we had a 9am booking for whale watching! When we went to pick up our tickets the man at the counter said that the water was rough and we would get a refund if we didn’t want to go. I shrugged my shoulders and was like nah it will be fine, he paused for quite a long time, eventually shrugged and then gave us our ticket. Which seemed weird at the time… little did we know what was coming.

We walked to the dock and got on the ship, which was an old wooden ship that had been renovated.  When we got on the boat they gave us these huge thick body suits and a rain jacket, could barely move! We were standing at the front of the boat as we started to take off. Just as I was thinking we should move near the back we got a massive spray of water all over us. We raced to the back of the boat as we took off, the waves were MASSIVE! We were told to hang on, I saw people almost get thrown overboard so many times, our group of 25-30 I saw 7 people throw up but I reckon at least half would have thrown up. I was okay… I didn’t feel 100% but I wasn’t quite at that throw up stage. Sian felt a bit dusty but she was okay when she sat up and looked out the back. There was a woman who for the whole trip sat there groaning non-stop, sometimes she would scream and sometimes cry loudly. It was intense, and now I understand the long pause by the ticket officer!

As we got closer to land the waves calmed down a bit, and when we saw the first humpback whale I completely forgot about feeling sick! We watched the whale for 10 minutes before heading off to find more. Sea got a bit rough and a woman up wind from us started vomiting, aaaand Sian was lucky enough to get the spray. Well that did Sian in. Sian was hanging over the side throwing up, I was trying to hide behind a panel to avoid vomit being sprayed on me and I ended up next to the wailing woman. What a trip hah! We arrived at more whales, in total we saw 4 up close and 2 in the distance.  On the way back we got cinnamon buns and hot chocolate – not everyone was keen on eating (I wonder why)!

Got chatting to our guide, she was Spanish and had been working for this company for a couple of months. She had previously worked in the Amazon studying mammals, really interesting lady. I asked her if they ever cancelled tours because of weather and she said that the next trip of the day was cancelled because of the weather and she was surprised ours went ahead but everyone had been keen to go despite the weather! The trip had been fantastic despite the bulk vomit session!

Once back on land we had a cup of tea before heading off to Reydarfjordur.  We backtracked for a bit before getting on to route 1. We didn’t have any stops along the way except to get some groceries. Arrived in Reydarfjordor at 5:30pm, really beautiful town surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Snow capped mountains along the road

Skyped mum for her birthday and then an early night (midnight).

Day 8 – Reydarfjordur to Hofn

Headed off just after 8, drove through another 6km long tunnel through a mountain.

View from our guesthouse! You can see near the bottom the tunnel we went through.

The sun had come out again finally! Drove steadily, couple photo stops, the scenery is non-stop amazing, never bored by the scenery on this trip, don’t know where to look half the time (I guess I should watch the road if I’m driving).

Our lunch stop was a secret side road I had read about, drove up the top and had a fantastic view over the Vatnajokull Glacier and we could see the highest point in Iceland Hvannadalshnjukur (2110m).

View from our lunch spot, down the bottom you can see the town Hofn where we spent that night.

Continued on our way, driving towards the glacier, after an hour or so we came around a bend and suddenly had a fantastic view of Jokulsarlon lagoon, incredible! We got there just before 2pm and went to the meeting point for the Zodiac boat tour we had booked. Got suited up again in the same outfits from the whale watching tour (minus the raincoat), so glad the sun came out as it was quite warm which was great considering we were about to get on a boat and explore around icebergs!

Jokusarlon Lagoon

The lagoon is only 80 years old and is expanding rapidly, however the icebergs are about 1000 years old. Each year 100m of ice breaks off the glacier and into the lagoon. The area is also the scene of quite a few movies including a James Bond movie which our guide reckons “was the worst movie made”.

We had 8 people in our boat, right at the start we heard a massive crack. Turned around and we saw part of the iceberg break off! Pretty lucky as its quite rare to see that, we zoomed over to have a look but it was all over very quickly. We zipped all around the icebergs, bright blue ice is an iceberg that has been submerged under water and is not yet exposed to the sun.  Icebergs flip as different parts melt or break off so they stay balanced, when they flip they only stay blue for a few hours before the sun bleaches them.  The black icebergs were coloured from the ash from the volcanos and the white were “clean” and had been exposed to the sun. We headed towards the glacier and after a solid 5 minutes we finally got there.  Despite the hot sun my face was frozen by the time we got there.  We couldn’t tell by just looking at it but it was 80m high!

That wall is 80m high! …got Game of Thrones vibes

We headed back to the shore, we hit a few bits of ice on the way. First one we hit I was like oh no titanic! But apparently our boat wasn’t affected and we kept on going and not sinking and I didn’t have to float on a broken door and let the love of my life float to the bottom of the sea.

Ice on the black sand

We got back and went for a wander along the shore, there was a baby seal that had a guard standing near it because of course tourists need to go touch it – idiots.

Baby seal!

We hopped in the car and drove to the beach a bit further down which was amazing, black sand with ice washed up on the shore. The photos we took looked monochrome!

We drove to Hofn, our guesthouse didn’t have good kitchen facilities, so decided to eat out. Poked our head in a couple of restaurants but were too expensive (shock), settled on a bistro and I had delicious lamb chops and potatoes, not cheap but worth the food.

Strolled back to the hotel and went to bed just after midnight!

Day 9 – Hofn to Vik

Woke up to shocking weather outside (should be used to the bad weather by now), left at 8am and headed towards Skaftafell in Vatnajokill National Park.  We stopped at Jokusarlon Lagoon on the way for a couple of pictures.

Jokusarlon Lagoon

The rain fortunately stopped when we arrived at the National Park and we did the hour round trip walk to the waterfall Svartifoss. Worth the walk, beautiful waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns, loved it!


Few creeks along the way Path to Svartifoss

Got back from our walk and drove 15 minutes to the next stop, Nupsstadur. Crazy strong winds when we got there, we didn’t stay long as it was just part of a bridge that had washed away in a storm. We were in the middle of huge sand plains and we could see the sand hitting the cars – a common car insurance claim is damage from sand blasting.


Drove on to Kirkjugolf, we ate lunch in the car before we got out as it was raining. When Kirkjugolf was first discovered they thought it was a church floor because of the hexagon pattern. Turns out it was the same hexagon basalt column formation, we weren’t there long because of the rain.

On the way to the next stop we missed the turn and ended up at the lava fields. Amazing! Huge national park which is also moss covered lava formations, it went on forever! We had a quick look but decided to go back to our planned stop and then come back and explore.

Drove to Fjadrarfljufur – 100m deep canyon that goes for 2km which has a river flowing through it. It was amazing, so beautiful. We were able to walk down to the river in the canyon and also walk along the top of it. It was lightly raining the whole time but wasn’t too bad. Spent about half an hour there then hopped back in the car.

The rain was pouring down when we turned back into the lava fields, we explored around on a dirt track, got stuck trying to get back on the main road and had to backtrack.

Once we were back on the main road we headed to our hostel, the rain was intense so we were keen to get inside! Cooked up dinner, made snacks for the next day and went to bed at 11!

Day 10 – Vik to Reykjavik

Today was going to be the biggest day of sightseeing so we were out the door by 8am! Drove 10 minutes down the road to Reynisfjara, black beach at Vik. It hadn’t started raining yet but there was a heavy fog so we couldn’t see the rock formations out in the sea, but we did see a huge cave filled with the same basalt columns and we saw lots of puffins high up on the cliffs.

Drove a further 20 minutes down the road to the carpark for the abandoned DC plane on Solheimasandar. We spent about 10 minutes sitting in the car deciding if we really wanted to walk for 40 minutes there in the rain, finally decided to suck it up and we headed off. The rain fortunately stopped briefly for the walk and we made it in just over 30 minutes, very boring walk completely flat land, black gravel and grey fog all around!

It was worth it when we walked over a crest and saw the plane!  In 1973 the plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach, everyone survived. For some reason they left the plane there.

Fortunately the rain held off for the walk but we decided to head back after 15 minutes because we knew it wouldn’t be long before the rain started.

On the way back we had a few people stopping us and asking us how long it took to walk there, honestly not surprising the road just looked never ending because of the fog. A few faces fell when we told them it was 30-40 minutes one way.

Got back to the car and drove 10 minutes to Skogafoss, 60m high waterfall. So many tourists, it is one of the day trips from Reykjavik so really not surprising! We were able to walk up the side of it – 428 stairs to the top, was a bit tough after sitting on our butts in the car for past week!

Next was Seljalandsfoss about 25 minutes away, waterfall was also 60m high and you could walk behind it. We got soaked. In between the rain and the spray from waterfall it was intense. Was worth the walk around though.

We drove an hour on from there to get to Kerid Crater, beautiful colours! This was the first time we had to pay an entrance to a natural attraction. The crater is 6500 years old, oval in shape, 270m long, 170m wide and 55m deep. We did a walk around the top which was good, the water in the crater was a beautiful blue colour, around the outside was red dirt and there was lots of greenery!  After the walk around the outside we were able to walk down to the water edge as well.

Next was the geyser field about 30 minutes away, huge area with lots of hot springs, again signs saying do not touch – duh. We watched the big geyser blow, it goes every few minutes and goes up to 20m high. We were short on time so we headed off shortly after.

Geyser Blowing

Drove 5 minutes up the road to Gulfoss, we had a quick look then jumped back in car.


Final stop was Thingvellier National Park, this is where you can see where the Europe and North American tectonic plates meet.  We stopped and were able to walk in between the two, it was amazing seeing them, like a massive crack in the earth!

Jumped back in the car as we had to get the car back to Reykjavik by 7pm. It was a 40 minute drive and we stopped just before we got there to clean the car and fill it up. All the servos have vacuums so we vacuumed the car, wiped it down with baby wipes (worked well for the inside, baby wipes on outside of car not best idea), filled up and dropped the car off!

We were worried we were going to get charged for another tyre seeing as ours was the wrong size but they didn’t say anything, hooray!

In total we had done 3019km!! amazing!

We got dropped at our hostel, we dropped our GPS off and we went to the bar, despite the ridiculous prices we enjoyed a meal and our beer, 10 days after an epic road trip!

Bonus pic of Bonus supermarket!

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Hey, I'm Shannon!
I've been travelling since I was 6 years old and have been lucky enough to visit 70 countries! From overlanding through Africa and road-tripping in Samoa to Salsa-ing in Cuba and visiting wineries in India. I love new adventures and can't wait to share them with you in this blog!