Iceland trip Day 2: Selfoss to Kirkjubæjarklaustur: Eyjafjallajökull, Skógafoss & Vik
Leaving Selfoss with a hitchhiker squeezed into the back of the Micra for the first few miles, we headed east towards Vik.
Highway 1 features many marked picnic spots that normally have a point of interest and information signs associated with them. The first of these that we stopped at was Seljalandsfoss waterfall, with a path to walk behind it for some added interest.
The ferry to Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands and a good place to see puffins, leaves from
Landeyjarhöfn, about 10km south of the ring road on gravel roads. We had unfortunately failed to check the ferry times online, and with many other things to see, we opted to avoid a potentially wasted round-trip just to find we’d missed the ferry. For reference, the ferry company web site complete with schedule and booking facilty is here: http://eimskip.is/IS/Eimskip-Innanlands/herjolfur/.
North of the ring road, the now famous Eyjafjallajökull icecap, whose 2010 eruption caused massive disruption to western european air traffic, is visible in the form of glaciers descending down to the flood plains below. The owners of a farm on the plains below the icecap, who lived through the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, have opened a visitor centre with lots of interesting information about the area and a short film chronicling their experience as the skies went black with ash in 2010.
A few minutes drive on from Eyjafjallajökull, through huge expanses of wild lupins, is the Skogafoss waterfall. This is particularly dramatic when viewed from a rather exposed bit of hillside that protrudes in from the side. Rainbows were aplenty.
Slightly west of Vik, the rugged coastline of the Dyrholaey peninsula is home to a huge variety of birdlife and has dramatic views along the cliffs. The black sands here, and most famously in Vik, are made from dark basalt rock, hence their unusual colour.
Stopping briefly to admire the black beach in Vik and photograph the hillside church amongst the lupins, we continued on the hour's drive onwards to Kirkjubæjarklaustur. More huge expanses of lupins (a foreign invader introduced to reduce land erosion, now taking over in some areas) gave way to strange looking lava fields covered entirely by a thick layer of moss. The soft round shapes looked like thousands of seals hauled up on a beach in the evening light.
We stayed at the Dalshöfði farm guest house about 20km east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It's a few kilometers off the ring road and beautifully isolated looking out over the lava fields below.