An itinerary of our trip in Iceland between Skaftafell and Egilsstadir
Comments on our experiences and what we enjoyed.
FAROE & ICELAND
Facts & Information
Skaftafell to Egilsstadir
We spent three nights at Eyjólfsstadir in Hérad just south of Eigilsstadir on the Ring Road.
Highway 94 runs north from Eigilsstadir through isolated moorland country to the sandur behind Héradsflói (flói = wide bay). It then climbs steeply up a series of hairpins with magnificent views to cross the shoulder of Ósfjöll. The descent is just as steep. Whilst this stretch is challenging much of it appeared to have been rebuilt recently and is quite easy with care. On the east side much of it appeared to be new with the old road still passable (we didn't try). The road runs over a splendid scree section at Hádegisfjall before entering the village of Bakkagerdi (Borgafjödur Eystri on some maps). The village is well set in strikingly coloured volcanic hills, apparently there is good walking and we would like to spend some time there if we go again. The road continues to the harbour at Höfn where there is a puffin colony with walkways which get you very close to the birds.
We returned over Ösfjöll and then took Highways 944/926 across Hróarstunga, the valley shared by two large glacial rivers from Vatnajökull, to the Ring Road before turning back on ourselves down Highway 917. This runs through gentler country along the Jökulsá á Brú then climbs very steeply up a series of hairpins towards Hellisheidi, where it is the highest road in Iceland. The climb is quite reasonable with impressive views before a flatter run over the plateau. The descent into Bödsvarsdalur is steep and does need considerable care. The road then runs on to Vopnafjördur which looked very pleasant but by then it was raining steadily so we headed for Eigilsstadir and the kitchen there. Eleanor refused to be driven back over Hellisheidi (it wasn't that bad) so we took the valley road of Highway 85 back to the Ring Road. We think that the higher parts of Highway 85 must be due for rebuild as it was a very bad road with a lot of potholes.
Not far below here Highway 910 leaves the shore and climbs steeply up onto the interior plateau. Shown as an F road on old maps it is now sealed and open to 2WDs. This improvement has been to allow lorry access to the highly controversial (and we think disgraceful) Kárahnjúkar generation project. Work here is creating fine dust which causes poor visibility over great distances and clouds the water of Lagarfljót. However the new road means that you can now drive well into the interior in any car. The views up there are impressive and worth seeing, but to be honest there is not much variety as you drive on. We had hoped to walk a bit up there but the wind was too strong.
The road along the west side of the lake runs through a mixture of hard and soft scenery and is a pleasant drive down to Fellabær, where the bakery is worth a shop. At Hengifoss there is a splendid waterfall, which is Iceland's third highest. There is a longish walk up it which we had intended to do but again the wind was too strong.
Further north the Ring Road heads up Jökuldalur which has many falls on its northern side. We explored the loop off onto Highway 924 which is fairly slow but gave some interesting views over this farm land and down to Héradsflói.
Returning to Egilsstadir we took Highways 92 then 953 into Eyvindardalur and Slenjudalur. This is very empty country in steep valleys. Having descended the steep hairpins and got nearly halfway to the settlement at the end, Michael chickened out. This was due mainly to a growing realisation that perhaps we should have filled up at Egilsstadir, but the unsealed road - although easy driving - was unusually narrow and imagined problems of passing in the highly unlikely event of meeting oncoming traffic began to loom. The moral is simple - keep your tank full!