Monday 21 March 2016

ICELAND ROAD TRIP: Seyðisfjörður to Höfn

Our tenth day in Iceland had a fair amount of driving, mainly because we did a huge detour in the morning to see some puffins and also because the area we were in wasn't the most exciting. We started the day in Seyðisfjörður where we'd been staying in the wonderful mountain lodge and we reached Höfn just in time for dinner that evening.

After breakfast we were given a lift back to our car. Overnight the rivers had grown making us even more thankful for not attempting to cross them in out little 4 wheel drive. The staff at the lodge told us a horror story about a group of girls who had crossed the rivers in their 2 wheel drive, reaching the lodge without too much trouble until they realised the next day that the engine had flooded after not being able to start the car. I can't even begin to think what sort of trouble they had got into with the insurance people / car company.

Back in our car we headed north on a huge detour to visit the puffin cliffs of Borgarfjörður Eystri (Bakkagerði). We didn't have time to visit the famous bird watching cliffs in Látrabjarg (West Fjords) so this made a decent alternative stop. Yes, it was about a 4 hour round trip in terms of diversion but it was totally worth it. As you can see we saw loads of the cute fluffy birds plus the cliffs were almost deserted from other people which made for a nice peaceful morning. I wish I'd had a better zoom lens for my camera but alas I had to make do. Just before we reached the cliffs we drove past this crazy looking turf house which I couldn't resit taking a picture of.

After the puffin spotting it was time to head back on the road and drive south towards Höfn. As I said, it was a long day of driving as there weren't many places of interest to stop at on the way. I thought I couldn't remember what we did for lunch but then I recalled stopping for cake in Bókakaffi Hlöðum in Egilsstaðir where it cost about a fiver for an all you eat selection of desserts. Unfortunately Steve and I didn't realise it was all you could eat until we paid the bill, we'd only had one slice each.

The afternoon consisted of a coastal drive around the east fjords. We took a short detour to have a brief stop at Neskaupstaður, a lovely little town situated at the far east of Iceland. The town was holding their annual heavy metal festival (Eistnaflug) so it was a lot busier than normal with metal heads all over the place. The drive between Neskaupstaður and Eskifijörður, a mountain side town a little in the west, was wonderful. The road takes you through the highest mountain tunnel in the country and when you emerge you drop from the sky as you approach Neskaupstaður.

Our final stop along the coast before arriving in Höfn was Djúpivogur to see Eggin í Gleðivík, a public art installation consisting of 34 oversized eggs. It's a bit random but definitely makes for a nice photo stop.

We arrived in harbour side town Höfn just in time for dinner so before checking into our hotel for the evening we parked up in the town centre and headed to Humarhöfnin for a sea food feast. Whilst Höfn is the size of a village it's the biggest town in the south east of Iceland due the langoustine processing industry. Humarhöfnin is the number one restaurant in town for langoustine and we had an absolutely wonderful meal here. It was definitely one of the most expensive meals of the trip but the quality and quantity of shellfish was impressive. We spent ages poking the meat morsels of shellfish from claws. Having been surviving on mainly fast food it made a nice change to sit down to a 'fancy' meal. Originally we'd been worried we wouldn't make it to town on time but thanks to the empty roads in the east there was no chance of missing dinner.

My original choice of accommodation was booked when I was enquiring about a room 5 months in advance (Guesthouse Dyngja) but my search eventually lead me to Seljavellir Guesthouse, a motel type accommodation just outside Höfn. The rooms are simple but they're spacious and very comfortable plus the views of Vatnajökull in the distance are pretty impressive. I can imagine this would be a fantastic place to stay during winter as there is very little artificial light in the area so you would have an excellent chance of spotting the northern lights. Breakfast is included in the room rate and whilst prices vary considerably depending what time of year you visit the hotel is good value for Iceland.

I started to get a little sad at this stage as I knew the next day was our last full day in Iceland. It was also going to be one of our most exciting days of the trip but more on that soon.

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