October 17, 2018
Vik to Hoffell
The wind howled all night knocking on our window. It was hard to get used to the sound because it came in powerful gusts but eventually sleep won over.
Andy once again woke up at 3am. This time he researched trucks with pop up campers and the Icelandic Craigslist for used 4×4’s.
Around 7am it started to get light. According to the one website with decent weather reports today was supposed to be cloudy until noon, then partly sunny. We wanted an early start to make the most of the day.
We left our guest house – braving the wind and hoping our Renault Cleo could handle the strong gusts.
We drove through open pastures with grazing sheep and horses. The sun began to rise over the horizon occasionally obstructed by clouds. Volcanic rocks covered in moss scattered our surroundings as far as the eye could see.
There was so much to see it was hard to keep driving.
We arrived at Skaftafell National Park around 9 am, payed our 750ISK entrance fee and joined the majority of the other visitors on the 2 km walk up to Svartifoss falls.
The trails in Iceland are well constructed and made out of gravel to be accessible in all seasons.
We gained elevation quickly, passing a bunch of people with large cameras and tripods.
The falls were nice but not as impressive as some that we had seen. What makes these falls unique are the basalt hexagonal pillars, that are formed by cooling lava, the water flows over.
While most head back down to their cars, we choose to continue hiking east toward Skaftafellsnokull glacier. After a short climb we were up on a plateau walking by small shrubs.
The clouds began to clear and snow capped hills and glaciers began popping into view. It was beautiful to see the green hillsides transition into snowy hillsides.
Our first view of Skaftafellsnokull glacier came into view. We were both tempted to keep hiking up to get better views but we knew there would be more sights down the road.
We reluctantly headed down the trail, stepping down wooden plank steps and through puddles covered by autumn leaves.
We drove another 10 minutes down the road to a gravel road that took us to the tongue of Svinafellsjokull glacier. We hiked along a rocky cliff to get some nice views of the glacier until the trail became super sketchy. It was exposed, with very loose soil and it was very windy. Not a great combo when faced with a 100ft drop into the lake.
It was a bumpy ride back to the main road but Andy did a great job avoiding the major pot holes and keeping the underbody of our rental car happy.
As we drove, the views kept getting better and better. Glaciers to the north and ocean waves to the south. Never before had we seen glaciers running so low in elevation.
The wind picked up greatly as we attempted to “hike” along the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. The wind was so forceful it caused us to stagger and even walk backwards at times.
White caps hurried across the lake surface and icebergs bobbed up and down in the waves. Rainbows formed in the mist from water crashing over the icebergs.
Our “walk” didn’t last long as it was slow going and occasionally our faces were pelted with sand or other forms of earthy debris. Andy had even more fun when the straps of his backpack whipped him in the face.
We joined the crowds at Black Sand Beach where icebergs lay like seals on the dark sand.
After exploring the icebergs and getting black sand in our teeth and nostrils we drove the remaining hour to our hotel.
We chose to stay in a small village up the valley from the town of Hofn. We were hoping to see the northern lights and the less light pollution the better. We had a view of Hoffellstindur glacier from our room.
The Hoffell hot spring was 1 km down the road. When we pulled up there were 2 large RVs and a few other cars already there. The wind was still ripping and the walk from the changing room to the hot tub was painfully cold.
We were told that all the tubs were of similar temperature, however the 2 empty ones were exposed to the wind. We sunk into the warm water only to get cold 10 minutes later.
Our evening dip was short but we vowed to come back in the morning to watch the sunrise.
We fell asleep quickly in our cozy room after making a plan for the next day.
Tonight we are grateful for clear skies and hot showers.