Following on from the epic volcanic landscapes around Mývatn, we continued Eastwards and Southwardsish to our next campsite. On the way we had one bucket list item to tick off the list (well bucket list for me anyway), Dettifoss! We all know it from that epic opening sequence in Prometheus before everything went to shit and an apparently intelligent character ran in a straight line to escape a giant spaceship falling in a straight line…..I digress.
Now if you want to make a great milkshake or a delightful cocktail, I highly recommend the road to Dettifoss, I believe the Icelandic military may have used it as a bomb range at some stage as it is one hell of a bumpy road! It also is a rather long drive so if like your internal organs unscrambled then perhaps give this one a miss.
You’d miss out on the most powerful waterfall in Europe if you did however and boy does it have volume, in every sense of the word. The endless roar of water pouring down into the ravine below is incredible to see up close and it kicks up a constant mist that blankets the whole area downwind of the falls.
I’d definitely recommend taking a walk downstream of the falls as the landscape that’s been carved out by Dettifoss is stunning and wild in its barren rocky magnificence.
We returned to the main Route 1 road, our bodies still shaking and rattling for several minutes afterwards and ventured forth to the next campsite. On the way we passed some stunning scenery with a veritable carpet of colour splashed across the volcanic plains. It wasn’t like your superblooms or meadows of wildflowers, it was far more muted and earthy but stunningly beautiful all the same.
We were making our way to Möðrudalur, a farming settlement which used to be on the Route 1 highway before they changed it up and Möðrudalur got cut off. The campsite itself was wonderful and probably my favourite of all the ones we visited. There’s a whole bunch of the fascinating turf lined buildings that make modern insulation look like a wet paper bag and within the main building there’s a really nice restaurant/bar/cafe which stays open pretty late and had the most delicious Icelandic IPA.
In fact, this was my favourite part of the whole trip around Iceland as I got to do a little bit of walking off the beaten tourist track and get out into the landscape a bit. As soon as we arrived at the campsite I was intrigued by some distant volcanic peaks that just begged to be walked out to. More on that in a bit.
As we arrived into the township I did a double take as I could have sworn I had seen an Arctic Fox! We quickly set up camp and returned back to the entrance to investigate. Sure enough, there was not one but TWO little Arctic Foxes just hanging out on the grass next to some old farm equipment. They were obviously used to people as we were able to get incredibly close to them and they even seemed just as intrigued by us as we were of them. We had earlier in the trip ditched plans to visit the Westfjords and what we thought would be our only opportunity to see Arctic Foxes while we were in Iceland, talk about lucking out!! And yes they are absolutely adorable.
The following day it was time to give in to the urge that had been burning in the back of my mind since we arrived, I had to try and get to those amazing looking distant volcanic peaks! There was a trail heading in their general direction on the far side of the boundary fence. After crossing the sketchiest bridge I’ve ever seen, I found a trail (probably sheep) leading out across the beautiful wetlands and towards the siren call of the peaks beyond.
Along the way I passed some really interesting features in the landscape including bubbling streams filled with a slimy mould and a myriad of beautifully coloured native flora. I was excitedly walking the trail, hopeful that I’d actually manage to get to those peaks in the distance but alas the wetlands lived up to their name and the trail abruptly became soggy and underwater. Not having wellies with me, there was no choice but to turn back. I wasn’t disappointed though and I certainly wasn’t going to go off trail and look for another way round. You have to respect the landscape, if it doesn’t want you to go any further, accept it and just be glad you were able to experience the lovely ground under your feet.
So there you have it, that’s the Northern part of Iceland done and yeah it was suitably epic. Onwards and Eastwards we shall venture for the next installment from our Iceland trip. Stay tuned.