Seltun Geothermal Area: This was the first place that we stopped at on our two week trip around Iceland. It is located about an hour away from the airport on road 428 near Krysuvik and it was around 7AM when we arrived there. The sun had just risen so we got to see some beautiful colours while hiking the hills! The area contains many interesting and very smelly vents, and also bubbly mud to play in (with temperatures around 100C!). It was super cool to see and hear something 'happening' in the ground since we're used to it doing nothing!

Asolfsskali Church: After picking up some food supplies at the Bonus store in Selfoss (after waiting for 20min for it to open at 10AM...) we did a little detour on Rd 246 just south of Eyjafjallajokull. After passing a waterfall by the road we stopped at the nice little church to have something to eat. We made soup and I walked around the graveyard. There were many graves there that were not marked, just mounds of earth and grass, with the oldest visible markers dating to the mid 1800s. Also, many graves had a large tree growing out of them, which was interesting. The church was open so we had a look around and I even got into the bell tower.

Kvernufoss: This was the first large waterfall that we got close to. It was VERY windy in the canyon leading up to it, and at times I had to be careful not to be blown off the narrow trail! The canyon is very nice though, with interesting rock shapes. This waterfall is 30m high and is very loud. You can get right beside it and easily behind it. Another nice thing about it is that it is not very well known and I had it all to myself for a while, which is great considering that it is located walking distance from the super busy (and famous) Skagafoss.

Pakgil: We ended our first day by driving to Pakgil, a campground at the end of Rd 214. The campground is located at the end of a canyon (Pak means 'roof' and gil 'canyon', so the name means 'roof canyon') and is known to be a good shelter from wind and to have pleasant weather, but not when we got there! It started to rain along the road to it, which was crazy fun to drive by the way - very steep and twisty sections and totally out of this world scenery! We waited in the car for a bit, but the rain didn't ease off so we quickly set up our tents but unfortunately my sister's borrowed tent proved to be a death trap with numerous leaks so she ended up sleeping in the back to our Renault Clio. The winds were blowing at over 50km/h and I was pretty sure that her empty tent would end up on top of the nearby Myrdalsjokull glacier! In the morning, while she was sleeping, I went for a nice little hikes into on of the canyons that led to a little waterfall. Afterwards the sun started to come out. We packed up (draining about 2-3 L of water from the leaky tent...) and started to head back to the main road and then East.

Black Beach Near Vik: We backtracked a little on the morning of our second day from Pagil to visit the beach and cool hexagonal basalt columns just west of Vik. There were several shallow (but tall) caves in the rock, and the columns were aligned at various angles from the mountain side. These form when basaltic lava (molten rock that is enriched in iron and magnesium and low in silica) cools. We noticed them in many other places along our trip around Iceland.

Hjorleifshofdi and a 100km Beach: After quickly running away from all the tourists at the previous beach, we drove a few kilometers east of the road to Pagil and turned right on a little 'road' to Hjorleifshofdi (Hjorleifur's Headland). This is a large rock outcrop in the middle of a totally flat area (we could see it from about 10-15km away from the road to Pagil) which formed during the last ice age by a volcanic eruption under the glacier (and then the sides were carved by the glacier as it moved around it). There are some trails that lead to the top but we drove to the end of the rock, parked by a little creek, and decided to walk to the ocean. After at least 30min of walking over perfectly flat black expanse of nothingness we finally made it! First, we had to help some French couple get their SUV out of the sand as they went a bit too far and got stuck, but then we had this beach all to ourselves. Looking to the west we could see the mountains by Vik, but there was absolutely nothing to the east. Checking on Google satellite view, this location is near the west end of what appears to be about 100km of black beach heaven! Coming back, we explored a large cave at the south end of Hjorleifshofdi.

Skaftafell National Park: We drove west and got our first good view of the glacial tongues of Skaftafellsjokull and Svinafellsjokull. We got to the campground at the park and stayed there for the night. Waking up in the middle of the night we had some amazing northern lights to look at! The pictures are not the best as I had to do some long exposures while holding the camera...

Next day I went on a glacier tour on Svinafellsjokull, which was an amazing experience! We started at the bottom of the glacier where the ice is very dark because as it melts all the debris (black lava sand and small rocks) is left behind. Going higher up we went on nice clean ice and got to see some small and few very large crevasses. Our guide studied glaciology and was very informative. This glacier is also where part of the movie Interstellar was filmed (the icy planet) and also Batman Begins (the scene in Tibet).

Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon: After the glacier tour I packed my camping gear from the campground, my sister finished sun tanning, and we headed to a glacier lagoon at the south side of the glacier. We took a little side road before (just west of) the main road that goes to Fjallsarlon (where everyone goes) and parked on the side of it. Then we walked for about half an hour to the base of the beginning of the lagoon, where the ice bergs begin. It was a fun walk, very quiet, until we heard a loud crack as something broke off somewhere. We didn't see any ice fall into the water though. This was a great place and we walked along the shore and admired the shapes of the ice bergs. I fished a baby one out!

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon: Few kilometers east of the Fjallsarlon lagoon is the Jokulsarlon lagoon. This one is very popular with the tourists but worth stopping by as it has many large bergs, some flowing down the river under a bridge out to the ocean once in a while. On the other side of the bridge they hit the ocean and many end up on the black beach so you can go and play with them. We saw one that looked like a frozen dinosaur!

Viking Village, Stokksnes: We found this to be a great place to visit, and we have seen one reindeer driving in! There is an entrance fee (800 ISK) to view this village, which was built some time ago for a movie set (I think it was left to weather and will be used in the near future). There are many nicely constructed buildings mostly from driftwood that was found locally. Half of the buildings you cannot go into, but the ones that are open don't have anything inside. Some of the doors had interesting carvings and there was what looked to be a little subterranean prison. Unfortunately the weather was a bit too gloomy to visit the beautiful beach nearby and to see the amazing mountains that tower above this place (we had to settle for the postcard!), so we moved on after spending a fair bit of time exploring.

Black Beach near Krossanes: After driving through the tunnel by Stokksnes the road follows the coast on and off, but due to the heavy fog we had reduced visibility. Several times we noticed black beaches below, mostly at the bottom of cliffs with no access, but eventually we got to one that had a little road going near it and we found a way down. This was a great place to spend some time at - it actually seemed like time didn't exist and the world was very small since you couldn't see very far!

Forests, Sveinsstekksfoss, Rd 939 : We stopped at a little rest stop with a very nice pine forest next to it (and washrooms along the trail!). Then we paid a visit to a nice waterfall. After that we took the gravel Rd 939 and were hoping to camp on Odadavotn, however, the fog was so thick we could not even see a few meters away from the road (which was steep and fun!). At times the fog was better and we got to see a few very nice waterfalls and finally we came back down to the ring road. At the lower elevation there was no fog and we had no problem finding a camping spot at the north end of Skiduvatn.

Brunavik: We started the day by driving on Road 93 from Egilsstadir down to Seydisfjodur. This is the road that was used in the Walter Mitty movie for the long board scene. We stopped by Gufufuoss, which is also shown in the scene. Then we headed back to Egilsstadir and north on Road 94 to reach the trail to Brunavik Bay. The road was very scenic, and the trail even more so! Reaching the top of the trail we could see the beach in the bay, but being a bit late we didn't go there as we would have a long hike back late in the day, with a campsite still to find. Sitting around and enjoying the views we ate some food. This is a beach at which I was hoping to camp, but given that my sister's tent was leaking, I didn't want to take any chances in case rain would move in overnight. The bay must be very nice in the morning as it faces the sunrise! We drove back and camped by a little lake on Rd 927.

Dettifoss: Halfway through our trip, on Day 6, we started the day early by driving in the rain through what looked like the surface of the moon for about 100km, including 30km of rough gravel, to reach the mighty Dettifoss. At 45m high and 100m across this waterfall is considered to be the largest in Europe in terms of the volume of water, at 400 cubic meters per second (and much more during floods). It originates under the Dyngjojokull glacier on the northern edge of the great Vatnajokull glacier (largest one in Iceland). We were lucky to have a rainy day which added to the atmosphere of this amazing place. The water thunders down and the rocks tremble under your feet near the edge. Down below, the river moves at very high speed and is very turbulent, with numerous small waterfalls on the west side created from the mist. This waterfall was actually used in the opening scene of the movie Prometheus, where the alien drinks something a bit strong that makes him dissolve, so it was great to stand in the same place as the ancient alien did - something that the people who take the nice paved road to see the waterfall from the other side can't say they did!

Myvatn Geothermal Baths: After Dettifoss we decided to hit the baths near Myvatn as it was raining a fair bit and not ideal for hiking. This was a good idea as sitting in hot water while it rains on your head is always a good idea! After about two hours it was still raining so we did a little road trip a bit north to Husavik and then back another way around to lake where a I did a short hike through a cool lava field and then we went to find a campground. After setting up camp and having a bite to eat we went back to the baths near sundown because the admission pass (keep your receipt) is good for the entire day! Looking over the western edge of the pool you get a nice view of Myvatn lake with lots of cool little volcanic cones all around, and a view of the sunset (although ours was limited due to all the clouds). The baths were more quiet and relaxing at night, with the little lights around. Excellent time!

Hverfjall: We started the next day by walking up the volcano, and once on top we decided to circumnavigate it... It was a pretty fun 45min walk with tiny bit of drizzle and little wind. We had good views of the Myvatn area from above, of the lava flows, geothermal regions and the lake.

Namafjall Geothermal Area: We decided to take a quick look at the geothermal area close to the Myvatn baths. This is one smelly place! The vents are pretty cool though as they make neat fizzing sounds.

Driving to Grenavik: After leaving the Myvatn area we drove west, passing by the waterfall Godafoss and taking 835 north to look for a camping spot along the river somewhere south of F899. Finding a few suitable spots we decided to drive to Grenivik. Many nice views along Road 83 and I think we found where the Icelandic soccer team trained for the 2016 Olympics! The town was super nice, only about 300 people live here and it is very very quite except for the fairly strong and cold wind blowing from the Greenland Sea to the north. Taking refuge behind a wall by a church we made some tea and noticed that there was some noise coming from the school bit above the church (the school also has a nice small campground that looked very quiet behind it). Turns out we discovered a very nice pool enclosed by glass. I went in and was greeted by Helga. She informed me of the fee and that the pool was closing in 45min, but said I could go in for free for the few remaining minutes. I ran to the car to get my shorts and was in the pool in no time, at which time the two people who were there left so I had it all to myself. Sitting in the hot tub I noticed a whale blowing water out of its spout in the fjord - how cool is that, sitting in a tub overlooking the Greenland Sea and seeing a whale!

Laufas: After the fun ~30min in the pool we drove back on 83 back to the ring road and back on 835 to the nice camping spot that we found (by a road mark 30). Along the way we stopped at a little museum of an old farmhouse which was closed, but we walked around and looked into the windows. Some of the rooms had old furniture to show how people lived there in the 1800s. Howver, the history of this place dates back to 1047 or even 874 AD! There was a nice patch of rhubarb growing next to the houses in the back.

Driving around Trollaskagi: The next day we went through Akureyri and north on Rd 82 to Rd 76, across the Troll Peninsula. North of Dalvik, just before the tunnel by Olafsfjordur, we could see the island Grimsey on the horizon. This is a small island about 40km off the north coast of Iceland through which the Arctic Circle cuts! We could therefore say that we have seen the Arctic Circle :-) This was also the furthest north that we made it, just over 66 degrees. The road was very pretty, especially the gravel section after the tunnel.

Pordarhofdi: Parking by the side of the road we set out to do a hike to and around the island Pordarhofdi. The island is connected to the main land by a rocky beach of about 1.5km. We walked on the rocky side to the island, enjoying the sound of the waves, however walking on rocks is slow and it took us almost an hour to get to the island! Once getting there, we explored the small cliffs on the north side for a bit, had a bite to eat and headed back on the south side which was easier to walk on during low tide as we could walk on the sand and cut across the shallow waters. The island had nice colours due to the purple flowers and would be fun to explore more as there are some tall cliffs on its south side.

Grafarkirkja: Just south of our island hike we stopped in Grof by the tiny church in the middle of a field. This church has been reconstructed in the 1950s with parts of the current church dating back to the 17th century - the weather-vane for example has the numbers 16 clearly visible! A similar looking church is believed to have been constructed here by a bishop of Holar in the mid-1600s, and the oldest account of a church in this location dates to c.1240 AD. The church was open to explore and there is a small graveyard around it with some recent dates on the tombstones.

Holar Campground: We arrived at the campground in Holar few minutes before sunset, found a nice camping spot, and thanks to some branches that were left, made a fire! Didn't think we'd make one in Iceland, so it was quite a treat to warm up by one, even if for only 45min or so. The night was not perfectly clear but we could see a nice display of northern lights through some thin clouds. In the morning I did a little hike in the forest as my sister was still sleeping, then we went to check out a few old things in town and hit the geothermal pool at the university!

Kalfshamarsvik: After packing up at Holar we drove a bit north to this little bay with cool basalt columns. After exploring the rocky beach for a while I read the information board by the little parking which explained that there used to be a village here in the early 1900s. Sure enough, looking around I immediately noticed the remains of old turf houses so I spent a bit of time exploring them.

Driving on Rd 54, 55 and Lava Tubes: We started the next day by driving west on Rd 54 into Vesturland, then south on 55 to get to find a geothermal spring. The road was very scenic and my sister noticed a dark cave in the lava flow by the side of the road so we went to explore it. This was just a few kilometers before hitting 54 again (east of Hrauntun). The lava tube was cool and I ran up into the hills to explore a few other ones, which had collapsed roofs but the canyon that was left behind showed which way the lava flowed. You can also see the molten rock on the ceiling of one of them, so it must have been pretty hot in there! The rocks and hills here were incredibly beautiful; the pictures don't do them justice...

Landbrotalaug Geothermal Pool: Took us a while to find this special spot because we parked a bit too early on the road leading up to it and then headed south and west in search of it. Luckily, there were some blueberries around which kept us fed! Turns out if you drive a bit further on the gravel road there is now a big red sign pointing to the pool and small parking right beside it (which is actually unfortunate as it will make the spot more popular and easier to find and there is only room for 2, maybe 3!). Still, I managed to have the pool all to myself for a while as my sister didn't want to change in the cold weather behind a pile of rocks. The stinky mud is very good for the skin, or so I've heard...

Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Londrangar Rocks: We decided to drive around the Snaefellsnes peninsula next and leave the nearby Eldborg crater for the following day. The mountains here were spectacular and the lava flows on the Snaefellsjokull very strange, making the volcano look like a giant brain! Just south of the volcano was a trail to the Londrangar rock formations and to the lighthouse at Malarrif. We hiked to the rocks and went all the way around them to sit by the ocean for a while and enjoy the waves. After this fun trail we drove all the way around the and camped north of the volcano on a beautiful beach, which we arrived at just before sunset. During the night we witnessed another great display of northern lights and were greeted by another sunny morning for our hike to Eldborg.

Edborg Crater: Packing up at our great ocean campsite we drove east and then south on Rd 56, stopping by a nice lake to investigate a campsite spot that I had in mind. Soon after we found the road to the Snorrastadir farm which has a good parking area and washrooms near the head of the trail to Edborg. The first part of the 2.5km trail is very easy and flat but near the crater it starts to go up, and then really up as the trail goes almost straight up the rim! There are some stairs and chains to help to the top. The crater was super cool inside as it was much deeper than expected (far deeper than the rim appears from the outside). The crater is 200m in diameter and 50m deep and the volcano last erupted about 5000-6000 years ago. One can also see the many layers of lava, with different colours and texturres, from different eruptions probably. Really cool place. The farm where the trail begins offers horse rides to the nearby beach, something to do in the future! After taking a rest from our hike and having a bit to eat we drove south around the Akrafjall mountain, stopped by a free indoor geothermal pool near a school in Leira and found an empty campground on a small lake on Rd 520.

Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant: Next day we had beautiful weather and decided to explore a few more nearby places. We drove on Rd 47 around Hvalfjordur and then took Rd 48 to 36 (which was very busy with tourists going to Pingvellir), and then we turned on the super twisty and fun Rd 360 to get to the Nesjavellir geothermal area. Walking part of the trail, it took us down to the power plant, beautiful lava rocks, blueberries and some bubbly mud pools. The plant has an output of 120 MWe and one of the hot water pipes goes to Reykjavik, about 30km away. I shut off their hot water...

Driving by Hekla: For our final excursion we decided to go back through Selfoss and then take 30/32 looping back on 26, which took us very close to the volcano Hekla. On the way we also found a very nice campground on Rd 32 called Sandaratunga, somewhat similar to the one in Holar, with more private camping spots. We tried to find the road that goes to the nearby Haifoss, but somehow missed it. The unpaved section of 26 was super bumpy and we were driving at walking speeds at times but it eventually improved. The landscape around Hekla was interesting, with recent lava flows and what looked like an ash fall. This would be a great place to camp (when the volcano is not erupting without warning!). For our final night at the end of Day 12 we found a campground south of Selfoss. The birds were making a racket and I got very little sleep, however, that was a small price to pay for all the great things that we have seen on our trip around Iceland. We didn't touch the Westfjords, which I believe will be a trip on its own in the future!