The Ring Road: Stórutjarnir Farm to Mjóanes Farm (Day 3)

Days: 445 (13 September 2015)

Total distance travelled: 116,812.8 kilometres (72,554.51 miles)


At least that’s how we felt when we rose on day three of our road trip to discover grey skies and low cloud (or was it fog, we couldn’t tell), meaning our decision to soldier on yesterday and enjoy Goðafoss under bright sunshine had been the right one.

Still, it didn’t stop us taking a few moments out of our morning for a second look, as we were going right past in any event.

The skies unfortunately remained grey, as this proved itself to be no morning fog that simply lifted over time as the day wore on. We trundled, before too long hitting our first landmark of the day, Mývatn.

We weren’t actually here to see the lake itself, although at certain times of the year it is apparently awash with bird life, but rather, we were here to see some nearby sights.

First of those was perched right on its shores, and oddly enough they were called pseudo craters and the place itself, Skútustaðir.

Apparently the landscape earned this odd distinction not from the impact of objects from outer space, nor as the remnants of now dormant volcanoes (although volcanoes indirectly were the cause).

The information that we received, suggested that it was actually the result of pockets of gas exploding, as molten lava made violent contact with the waters of the lake.

The shallow lake Mývatn (seems more romantic in Icelandic, as it translates to the 'Lake of the Midges'!)

The shallow lake Mývatn with steaming vents in the distance… seems more romantic in Icelandic, as it translates to the ‘Lake of the Midges’!

The psuedo craters of Skútustaðir

The psuedo craters of Skútustaðir

We took the time for a brief wander about, startling a few sheep with the first tour group we’d seen to date as company, before the biting wind made the conditions just too cold for us to care about any further exploration.

Back around the lake we continued, the plumes of steam rising in the distance a constant reminder that this landscape must indeed be hellish at times.

We passed evidence of this power being tapped in the form of a small geothermal power operation, before turning off the main highway and into Námafjall, an active area of steaming vents and boiling mud pits.

Bubbling mud and steaming vents. Iceland's Námafjall

Bubbling mud and steaming vents. Iceland’s Námafjall

Despite the cold, things were indeed hotting up, but something not so pleasant was the fact that there was no avoiding the smell.

Putting it simply, this place smelled like shit!

Well, not like shit, but rather eggs, rotten or otherwise, that wonderful side effect of being surrounded by sulfur.

We wandered about, as the thick clay soil clung to our shoes adding extra weight with every step, but eventually, the smell and the cold meant that we’d had enough and decided to make our way back towards the car.

Pictures can never convey the smell...

Pictures can never convey the smell…

But through video, we can convey its power!

Still, to say we’d had enough would be lying, in truth all we needed was a change of scenery… and perhaps a shower?

Not so distant sat a large, geothermal power station which by all accounts could be viewed from a rather impressive lookout perched atop one of the surrounding hills.

We figured we may as well check it out.

Steaming waters up near the Geothermal power station at Krafla

Steaming waters up near the Geothermal power station at Krafla

Down in the valley, what we could see of the streams that drained away from the power station, were pretty impressive.

The problem we had however, was nothing higher than a couple of metres had any visibility.

Basically, we were trapped beneath a ceiling of fog, steam, cloud, whatever it may have been!

Not surprisingly, the views from the lookout were a total write-off.

Still, we did have a bit of fun playing with a thermal shower, pretty much standing in the middle of nowhere!

Nothing beats a hot shower!

Nothing beats a hot shower!

Ahead of us lay a lot of kilometres, as well as one of the most spectacular of Iceland’s many, many waterfalls.

It required roughly an hour or so detour from our normal route, an at times rocky road where we saw at least one vehicle receiving attention for a punctured tyre.

Such is the price sometimes paid to reach Dettifoss… only when we finally made it to our destination, we weren’t looking likely to see anything!

We’d driven what would ultimately be hours out of our way, and these, possibly the most spectacular falls in the country, were simply not fucking there!

Okay, so they were there, but could we see them?!

So we chose this time to have our usual feed of sandwiches for lunch, hoping that somehow the fog would lift.

It didn’t, but we’d made the effort, so we decided to descend down towards the waters which we could soon hear, just not see.

With some patience, we could eventually get a glimpse of Selfoss, the lower falls, but as it was neither a great view, nor what we came for, we decided to make the one kilometre trek towards Dettifoss itself.

Searching for one if Iceland's most impressive waterfalls...

Searching for one if Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls…

Not much of a view... the lower fall, Selfoss

Not much of a view… the lower fall, Selfoss

In the fog it was easy for the path to simply disappear, and given that much of the time was spent clambered over boulders, calling it a path is probably a little generous… still, we got there in the end, thanks to a system of wooden posts that dot the route, making sure we had some means of navigation.

By now we were surrounded by the pumping roar of the falls, but still, no Dettifoss.

We can hear it, but still no sight of Dettifoss

We can hear it, but of Dettifoss
still no sight!

Still, we were patient, and eventually this patience was somewhat rewarded as we at least got a teaser of what Dettifoss, when the skies are clear (or at least the visibility), could be in its pomp!

It looked immense, although there wasn’t really ever a point where we could see the complete sum of its parts to make the whole…

Ultimately, it was better than seeing nothing at all!

Emerging somewhat from the mists, this is Dettifoss

Emerging somewhat from the mists, this is Dettifoss

We still had around a hundred and eighty kilometres ahead of us, starting with that rugged road back to the highway, and much of the journey proved as scenic as the rest of the day had been!

Our destination for the night was a farm just past Egilsstaðir, an Airbnb booking where we would at last have a kitchen and the chance to self cater!

Enjoying scenic Iceland!

Enjoying scenic Iceland!

A hearty vegetable stew later, and we were all feeling pretty content after another long, slightly disappointing, but nevertheless still amazing day.



* Our hire car for our loop around Iceland cost us $144,590.97 ISK ($1,553.96 AU, which breaks down to $258.99 AU per day, or $86.33 per person, per day)

* We purchased $27,846.00 ISK ($299.49 AU) worth of fuel during our island loop, which was 141.81 litres of fuel.

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5 Responses to The Ring Road: Stórutjarnir Farm to Mjóanes Farm (Day 3)

  1. Mar Pages says:

    Glad you finally found Dettifoss! Even though the “fog” looks amazingly dense, that picture is epic. It must be even better in the flesh (minus the grey). I think you managed to capture a little of the smell at Námafjall, that yellow makes it look stinky!

  2. Neha Verma says:

    your pics are beautiful inspite of the fog. But if it was a clear day, I can imagine how the scenery would look. I like that shower though – in the middle of nowhere 🙂

  3. It’s too bad when the weather doesn’t cooperate. You still got some great photos that show the allure and mystery and beauty of the area. Dettifoss is so impressive. Is there any crazy tradition of riding over the side like at Niagra Falls?

  4. Ami Bhat says:

    oooh man! this is one experience I have not had and your description and pictures have got me so curious about it. A hot shower in the open…WOW! That would have been fun. Lovely pics.

  5. The landscape is something out of the world. The steaming vents remind me of the geysers of Yellow Stone National Park, Idaho. I am sure it was a different kind of experience. The landscape has a kind of wild beauty that grows on you.

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