The Last two days were really exhausting, we covered ALOT of miles and have had some real highs and some real lows. As day 13 of a really exhausting trip dawned a real sense of finality began to be felt. We were fast approaching the end of the trip and all the possible issues that could have arisen due to traveling in uncertain times, both in terms of Covid and the approaching winter weather in Iceland had now all been largely avoided.
We felt we were getting back to civilization and our trip was drawing to a close. However, there was still a big hurdle to overcome. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Sure this was no big deal in terms of risk and the forecast was looking ok, certainly not more storms or snow to worry about. But it was another BIG driving day 315km and a lot of final sightseeing.
We got up fairly early and headed down to breakfast at the quaint little cafe under the B&B. It was over breakfast that we realized we really hadn’t planned this part of the trip that well. There is a lot to see and do on the Peninsular, but our visit so late in the trip had been a bit of an oversight, so we pulled up the maps and started thinking about where to head next.
Naturally, the first stop was going to be Kirkjufell. This majestic mountain, one of the most photographed sites in Iceland is really a microcosm of the country. Raw Rugged and majestic, a Tall volcanic feature, framed by the ocean and with a wonderful waterfall in the foreground. It’s everything great about Iceland scenery in one shot.
I did a lot of grumbling about the weather, it was pretty grey and cloudy and the low clouds threatened to engulf the mountain at any moment. But we got to the lookout and got some great shots of the rugged mountain and pretty waterfall.
It reminded me of just how much I had wanted my Aurora shot over the mountain, but that was not to be. It was also funny to see the energetic and enthralled tourists snapping away at every waterfall and dramatic mountain top. We have been in the depths of Iceland for a long time now and away from the day-trippers, you forget the overwhelming feeling of first seeing Iceland Scenery. You become a bit fatigued by it after a while but it took us back to when we first arrived (only two weeks ago) where everything is so new and incredible!
On our way and the north side of the peninsula was pretty shrouded in low cloud and we powered through most of it. The scenery was very dramatic and we wondered how much we missed last night arriving in the dark!
Iceland has at every turn felt much larger than we envisioned on a map, so we were presently surprised how quickly we reached the second most westerly point of the island, something to be excited about if we hadn’t been to the most westerly point yesterday!
We began circling around Snæfellsjökull, which we can’t even begin to pronounce, towards our first stop of the day.
This Black Sand Beach is quite unique with big breakers, striking Lava Colloums, and the remaining wreckage of an old fishing trawler that was wrecked on the beach in 1948 costing the lives of 14 British fishermen.
We headed down to the beach to watch the waves and just take in the scenery. I had a go at the lifting Stones, which was rather embarrassing, and got some great views of the Icecap behind as the clouds started lifting. We then head back to the main road and continued to the next stop…
This was just a short stop to take a look at the stunning Basalt Lava Columns reported to be Trolls Frozen in time. There is not much to see here just the stunning and rugged coastal scenery.
The next stop was the Arnarstapi Harbour. This is a pretty little harbor village, with wonderful green waters and geometric Basalt Features, and a selection of amazing natural stone bridges. Again it’s a really quick stop as there is very little to do here, just wander around take in the scenery and grab those shots on top of the bridges.
There are a lot of things to see on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and our experience was a little short on free time so we were skipping and few things such as Sönghellir Cave and Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge as we moved along the coastline.
This side of the peninsular is really epic, and if we had been fresh out of Reykjavik it would have completely blown us away, but we were nearing the end and were definitely suffering scenery fatigue, but even still it was an incredible location. The towering snow-capped glacier and the spiky coastal mountains moving off endlessly into the distance.
The next stop was to be Búðakirkja for some obligatory shots of the church, and a stop for some lunch that we had picked up this morning. Then over to Ytri Tunga for the seal colony that was, unfortunately, absent we did find a whale carcass, however!
Gerðuberg Cliffs were to be our final stop on the Peninsular. While the cliffs are spectacular enough after everything Iceland had rewarded us with the Geometric formations here were a little underwhelming. The cliffs are not too tall and the surroundings fairly bland. So before long we jumped in the Duster and began the big push back to Reykjavik.
It had been a long day already and despite the still early hour the light was fading and the City still felt a long way off. But we put our heads down and ate up the miles. It’s a really spectacular drive like they all are in Iceland and the clear weather of the day started to disappear into a blanket of dark and ominous storm clouds.
After a long push on the road and finally rejoining the Ring Road, we started to approach the City. It really started to feel odd getting back into civilization, we have been to some remote spots on our travels but the far reaches of Iceland are something else, and to actually see constant cars and signs of life was suddenly a bit jarring, we could drive 200km and only see 5 cars and 10 houses on some parts of our journey!
Our hotel was not actually in Reyevik as we had opted to stay out near the Airport. We felt we had done the City at the beginning of the trip so just wanted somewhere to real and recover before the flight home, and there was one big reason for booking a hotel all the way out here by the lighthouse, which we will come to.
We negotiated our way through the city, quite stunned by things like traffic lights and queues of cars, it all felt a bit odd after the seclusion of the last two weeks. As we headed out to the Airport the mother of all rainstorms hit and we slowly made our way through the deluge.
As we arrived at the hotel, the rain stopped and the skies behind were wonderfully clear. We checked into the Lighthouse Inn which was far nicer than our expectations and the price we had paid. We got a North-facing room and settled in for an evening of relaxing. Unfortunately, we realized our Einstock and wine supplies were running low, so made a mad rush to Reykjanesbær just in time to catch the Vinbudin.
We ate at Röstin Restaurant overlooking the lighthouse and ocean and had a very pleasant meal. The food was so-so and overpriced, as per usual in Iceland and the service was a little stressed, but the view out over the ocean as the sunset and the sky remained a wonderful golden color for the duration.
We then headed back to the Hotel, for a nice evening of relaxing with a few drinks regaling our epic journey…
But not quite, The incredible Country had one final treat for us. As was our evening ritual, I set up the camera to monitor the Aurora Activity. Using the DSLR with a long exposure even when the lighting is poor can pick out the lights when the eyes cannot detect them.
Our North-facing room was great but the hotel sits parallel to a street that is lit well with streetlights. This makes for poor Aurora Viewing, but the camera will pick anything up. This allows us time to then get to a darker spot for better viewing. The Forecasts were positive for tonight but as I kept checking the camera nothing was doing.
Around 11 pm and as we were getting ready to doze off, I check the setup one last time. Only, I didn’t need to touch the camera this time. Despite the bright street lighting, the Aurora were clearly visible in the sky. We quickly dressed for the cold night conditions and string wind and headed straight out.
The quiet and dark seafront was only a 5-minute walk from the hotel and once there the true wonder of the Northern lights erupted above us. A lifetime dream realized. We had already seen the lights on this trip several times but every sighting was faint, lacked any real color, and was distant on the horizon.
This is what we had come for and the bright lights were clearly green and danced away for nearly two hours over the ocean and above the lighthouse.
We slept very contently that evening.
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