April 2014 — I arrived home this morning and must share some of what I have been doing in Iceland over the last few days. Taking a domestic flight on a 19-seater plane from Reykjavík to Höfn reminded me of how beautiful a journey it is to drive westwards back to the capital along the south coast. All too often this is the return leg of the journey after a long day’s drive to see the fabulous glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón, and therefore probably one that many people sleep through.
After an overnight stay in the Laki area, we took a detour to see the incredibly striking gorge at Fjaðrárgljúfur and then a further backroad detour on our approach to Vík where the horizon is dominated by the glistening summit of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. This is a slow travel route — there are farmers with guesthouses, some with farm animals to get to know, others with their own delicious specialities such as vanilla ice cream laced with liquorice, or with wild dandelion syrup.
Further on we dined on home-produced, locally slaughtered and home butchered beef with delicious vegetables, and were shown around at the farm hotel where in the summer, horse riding is a great way to experience this beautiful area of south Iceland that lies between the Þórsmörk valley and Hvolsvöllur.
For the best view of the south coast it’s best to ascend, and a super jeep tour or snowmobile ride is a perfect solution. Climbing up the rugged path in the comfort of a monster truck is an experience in itself and the choice of a jeep tour or self-drive snowmobile when reaching the ice cap makes this a really can-do trip. From a height of some 1400 metres the views on a clear day are breathtaking. Vast open sea, punctuated by the various Westmann Islands and amongst the summits close by, the top of mighty Eyjafjallajökull.
Not content with seeing them from the glacier, we drove down to the coast and took the ferry across to Heimaey, the largest of the cluster of the Westmann Islands and home to some 4000 people. Eldfell last erupted in 1973, and it’s a great good fortune that the lava was stopped from flowing into this pretty and very important fishing harbour.
Back on the mainland and continuing along the main road in a westerly direction, the views just keep on coming. The back bone of Mount Hekla, currently covered in snow, the waters of the milky white Þjórsá and Hvítá rivers thundering down to the sea, herds of thickly coated horses munching away on their piles of hay and the strangely illuminated town of Hveragerði, the greenhouse town of the south. Climbing up over Hellisheiði heath, the steam from the many geothermal boreholes billows out across the sky, and lying ahead beyond the rugged lava field of Svinahraun are the lights and skyline of the welcoming capital city, Reykjavík.
Julia was travelling a south coast circle from Reykjavik City Airport by air to Höfn and back by road. This tour could take 3-4 days or longer with stays in any of a range of hotels, farms, cottages or guesthouses. Please contact Julia if you would like to know more about this holiday idea or any others in Iceland.