An itinerary of our first days in Iceland
Comments on our experiences and what we enjoyed.
FAROE & ICELAND
Facts & Information
Arrival and first day
We picked up Highway 1 at Breiddalsvík and continued to Höfn, still quiet and with amazing coastal scenery. Just before Höfn you have the option of taking the new tunnel at Almannaskard or the old road over the top. We took the old road which though rough would have given marvellous views, but the weather was packing up. With hindsight we would have liked to spend more time on the stretch from Seydisfjördur to Höfn, but do not know what we would have dropped to fit it in.
Höfn to Skaftafell
Pressing on we made a detour to the little church at Hóf which is well worth a visit. Having plenty of time we drove up the track to the parking area near the foot of Kotárjökull and walked up towards the glacier. Quite interesting if only to see how barren some places in Iceland are and probably generally free of visitors, but the damp turned to rain. We retreated and went on to Skaftafell to the shop (very restricted) and the National Park information centre. Then it was up the hill to Bölti Farm Guesthouse where we spent four nights - simple but superb.
Skaftafell National Park
For the more adventurous there is a network of paths, those nearer the centre being clear, waymarked and well maintained. Most of these involve a climb from the Centre (Bölti being on the hill meant we could avoid this). Many people go up to the columnar waterfall at Svartifoss and the view point on Sjónarsker, both worthwhile. A little further is Sjónarnípa which is a magnificent viewpoint over the glacier and well worthwhile (also virtually flat to get there, once your up!). Boots or strong shoes are advisable for these.
For us the best day we had there, in superb weather, was to walk beyond Sjónarnípa up the side of the valley towards the mountain of Kristínartindar. This gives superb views across and down into the valley. The path splits and goes over Kristínartindar (hairy) or across the plateau of Flár and round the foot of the mountain. It is worth continuing along the valley side past the junction for a way for the view into the valley of Skaftafellsjökull. After being rejoined by the path over the top the route continues to Fremrihnaukur with magnificent views into Morsádalur before dropping back past Sjónarsker. This is an excellent walk, we think best done in the direction described here. The path is indistinct in places (so best avoided in mist), but the way to go is always obvious. Parts were wet so walking boots are advised. Apart from the hairy option gradients are easy. In early June we did encounter some snow in gullies on the south west slopes of Kristínartindar.
On the hill just above Bölti is the old traditional farm of Sel. This is a museum, open to the public at any time, and worth a visit.
If you head back to the Ring Road from the Centre and head east there is a left turn just over the Skaftafellsá bridge which gives access to the foot of Svínafellsjökull. From the parking area you can walk up to and alongside the glacier for a little way. If you take the path over the moraine to the east and parallel to the snout you get good views up the glacier to the icecap. In some ways this is better than the foot of Skaftafellsjökull, it is certainly less busy and less far to walk, although the road in is quite slow.
Across the Sandur to Kirkjbæjarklaustur