Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Iceland Chronicles - Part VIII (Jökulsárgljúfur National Park)

We woke to the sound of light rain on our roof. The day was wet and cloudy. After breakfast we packed the car, refueled, and set to go through the National Park. Our campground was on the northen part of it. The road negotiates the high-land plateau parallel to the gorge with few side trips down into the actual river. This road is usually and "F" road (designated as 4x4 only), but was recently renovated. It was a dirt road that was cutting through the grassy ground. The ride through it was very very shaky and not fun.

Our first stop was a hike to an area where the river cut through volcanic rock formations. We sent down to see different caves and structures. The trail was rough at parts but it was a nice hike that lasted about an hour.

Returning to the road we drove for a bit more than half an hour and arrived at Dettifoss, a huge waterfall at the start of the gorge. This the largest water fall in Europe (in terms of amount of waters flowing through it) and had impressive roar.

From here we had a long drive to Egilsstaðir, the largest city of Eastern Iceland. The drive took us through an area called the "Cold Desert". It is freezing and barren, and does not have any grass or plants growing. This area is in the "shadow" of the icecap which traps any moisture coming from the south. It was also the first time we did not see sheep around the road nor fences around fields.

The road climbed to a mountain pass and started a descent into a green canyon with fierce glacial river. At its end we reached the town of Egilsstaðir - the capital of Eastern Iceland. Here we stopped after hours on the road. We got a map and recommendations at the information center. Afterwards we went to a cafe for a bit of rest and access to internet.

Outside it was raining and foggy and it was already late in the day. We decided to drive to area of Hallormsstaðarskógur -- the biggest forest in Iceland. This forest sits on the shores of a long narrow lake. We reached a campsite in the forrest, and since it was raining and cold decided not to go for a hike.

The campsite was on the lake and so we did go for a stroll on the water edge. It was foggy and rainy, and the lake had milky color (due to glacial dust), and so everything was white around us.

No comments: