Day 3 – Our Ring Road trip around Iceland in a camper van
Day 3: Seljavallalaug – Dyrhólaey peninsula – Vík – Fjaðrárgljúfur – Svartifoss – Jökulsárlón – Höfn
Our third day started just outside Skógafoss, it was raining and the whole day was meant to be pretty miserable. But nothing that a lot of coffee and heated seats in a van can’t fix.
The first stop for the day was ‘a hidden pool’ – Seljavallalaug, you know the one, that every instagrammer have visited by now. Yeah, the one surrounded by mountains and fog. To get there is not actually that hard, it is a very quick drive from the main road and then it is a 20 minute walk each way. However you have to walk through a stream at some point, so either be fully waterproof or wear swimming shoes. So after walking through the horizontal rain and getting fully soaked, we reached the pool. Somehow we were the only people there when we arrived…again. Do get up as early as you can in Iceland. Initially I wasn’t going to go for a swim, as it was under 10 degrees Celsius and rain was genuinely horizontal. But sooo glad I’ve changed my mind. It was great and photos are definitely something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I must say, that facilities there are terrible, and it makes me so sad that silly tourists turned something magical and free (!!!) into a waste bin. Can completely understand local people getting upset about it. Nevertheless, the swim was amazing and is totally worth it. We probably spent there around 30 min in total and on our way back to the car, we met so many people heading to the pool.
By the time we got back to the car, we were soaked. And I truly mean it. Calum didn’t invest in a waterproof trousers (and I’m pretty sure that was his biggest regret from the trip) so we sat in a car drinking coffee and trying to dry out for a bit before heading to the next destination, which was meant to be the famous plane crash. And yes, we did plan our trip by reading guidebooks and starring things we found on Instagram.
Once we drove to the car park, the rain got even worse. And because it is 40 minute trek each way, we decided to pass on this one. I still regret not visiting it but the timing wasn’t great. But here is a great post about how to find it, if you ever make your way there. Also gives us another reason to go back.
Next stop was Dyrhólaey peninsula – black beaches and a stunning natural arch, plus a lighthouse. When driving there, you can go two ways as it is divided in two parts – lower and higher part, we visited both and I strongly recommend you do the same. Apparently there are some puffins, but the weather was still awful so we didn’t see any. To be honest the wind was so strong that it was a struggle to stand upright. Regardless of the weather, the place is amazing! That was the very first time I saw volcanic black beaches and they truly left me speechless. We spent probably an hour wandering around and taking photos.
Our next stop was famous Vík, which is a remote seafront village but it is famous for its black beaches and volcanic formations. Because it is not too far away from Reykjavik, it gets incredibly busy. When we were there, it was full with tourists and tour buses. Still a worthwhile stop! Everyone is just walking around and taking photos, there were tourists wearing simple trainers and light jackets, looking incredibly unhappy which made us giggle – dress warm in Iceland!! We managed to walk around the corner and got a stretch of black beach and ocean to ourselves (we were very careful, as there are signs about people getting swept away into the ocean). Nothing will ever compare to standing alone, listening to the North Atlantic Ocean on a completely black sand. It is mesmerising, unreal and magical all the same time.
There is a cafe next to the car park, and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a hot chocolate more in my life…also we shared a skyr cake and it was divine. That was actually the first time in 3 days we eaten somewhere that is not our camper van, so it is totally possible to travel without spending too much money.
From Vik we drove to Fjaðrárgljúfur, I must admit that I have slept for the majority of the drive. So when Calum stopped the car at one of the scenic car parks, just off the main road, I was majorly confused about what was happening. The landscape was from Bjork’s videos…it felt that we were on a different planet.
When we got to Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, Calum was still damp from our previous exploits that day and I was petrified because I thought we won’t survive my little driving experience before this. All that aside, the canyon is another mesmerising place. Again, I felt that I was on a movie set. I was born and raised in Latvia (I personally think, it is the flattest country in the world…) so I will never be over crazy landscapes. The Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is definitely one of my must sees in Iceland. And make sure you walk to the very top – views from there are insane!
By the time we drove to Skaftafell National Park, the weather has changed and it was almost sunny. Another reason why we must come back to Iceland is we didn’t do any glacier tours this time, but there are tons of options in Skaftafell – next time. Our next stop was Svartifoss waterfall, which is a bit of a hike from the car park, I think it took us around 40 min each way. Not going to lie, Svartifoss waterfall didn’t impress us that much, probably because it was really busy with tourists and after seeing a few waterfalls already, I think we both preferred the ones with more water (yes, I realise how silly this sounds). But the hike there and back was nice and we enjoyed being in a sun for a bit.
We stopped at this glacier lagoon for only about 10 min, just to take a few photos and have some snacks, as both were pretty tired by that point and keen to carry on driving. (And I must add, that I got much more confident in driving by this point and did my share after that).
We had to get some petrol and I wanted to see a little fishing town Höfn, so we briefly stopped there. As we didn’t want to spend too much money, we only got coffees and snacks from petrol station and carried on.
We spent the night at Stafafell Campsite, as the weather wasn’t great again and we couldn’t see any appropriate places for us to spend a night. I think there is a guest house too but we were happy to stay at campsite. It was very quiet during the night and when we woke up the next day, the weather was glorious!