Iceland - Day 7

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In the cave at Hljóðaklettur



Path to Dettifoss




It appeared that the Lykilhótel Mývatn catered more to bus tour groups than to individual travelers. We arrived at the dining room at 8AM to find that one tour bus had just departed and there was literally nothing left to eat, let alone a clean place to sit. The manager finally replenished the buffet, and allowed us to sit in the main dining room, so eventually we were able to check out and be on our way. We happily left the midges behind.

We drove back north to Húsavík, where we got gas and lunch supplies. Then we drove around the Tjörnes peninsula, where we saw lots of sheer cliffs and birds. We drove out to the edge of one, but we didn't climb down. By now the cloudy skies had turned to sprinkles, and it was chilly - although not uncomfortably so.

Continuing east we arrived at Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. The kids were amused by its name, which one of the guidebooks suggested could be shortened to Jökulsá and pronounced "yer-kool-sar". The park mostly borders the Jökulsá á Fjollum, Iceland's second longest river. We first drove down the west side of the river to Hljóðaklettur ("Echo Rocks"), where we walked among the stones. The kids found a cave.

We then drove back the way we came: the maps showed the only way out if we had continued south would have been on a 4-wheel drive track. Anyway, we wanted to see more of the sights in the Park.

Next stop was Asbyrgi, a huge canyon that is shaped like a horseshoe, which the Viking settlers believed was formed by the imprint of the god Odin's flying horse. We tried to find a trail to walk to the top of the canyon, but were unsuccessful - although such a path does exist. Still, we hiked as far up along the canyon wall as we could. In contrast to much of Iceland, there is a lush green forest here.

We then crossed the river and drove south again, this time on the east side. We saw the waterfall Hafragilsfoss, which was beautiful but very dangerous. We pulled into the parking area and, as usual, there were no signs warning of the sheer drop just beyond - and no barriers of any kind. We would have had to climb down to see the best view, which according to the guidebooks included using ropes near the bottom on a vertical wall. And going down would have been the easy part!

About 5 minutes drive from Hafragilsfoss is Dettifoss, Europe's largest waterfall. This is quite impressive. You can hear the roar of the water and see the spray from a distance. (My only disappointment was that since it was mostly cloudy, we didn't see the double rainbows that are supposed to form here.)

Our course was now mostly southeast, through deserts, greenery, and a multitude of mountains. Everywhere were cairns - piles of rocks, who knows who built them or why? Our destination this night was Egilsstaðir and the Hotel Hérað. What a contrast from the previous two nights! A beautiful hotel, facilities, staff, restaurant, and service - I can't recommend this place enough! Mike and Brian were able to get in an hour's run, and then we had a wonderful dinner in the hotel dining room. Mike enjoyed his salmon gravlax, and my lamb with mushroom sauce was out-of-this-world.

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