My final tour yesterday, was to somewhere very different. My first day tour took me around the Golden Circle – a set of standout sites and cultural places near Reykjavik. The second was to see scenery, but this tour was to a volcanic desert and a geothermal site named Landmannaluger. I understand that this loosely translates into something like “land of hot springs open for the people”.
We passed over a huge area of volcanic plateau near Mt Hekla which is famous in myth and legend. In the medieval days, Hekla was thought to be the gateway to hell. When this mountain erupts, it must be something to behold. We drove for kilometre after kilometre over flat plains volcanic plains. There was noting growing on them – just volcanic ash, sand and pebbles. In some places there were hills that had been formed around remnants of craters and across some areas were giant lava flows. The lava flows looked to vary from a few metres to perhaps 20 metres in thickness. I could see where the lava had flowed across the land like a river of molten rock. It has solidified into a craggy outcrop, a bit similar to the appearance of a giant coral reef. There is nothing that you can do with the lava – just work around it.
The hills were made of rock of various colours – black, red, orange – all determined by the chemical composition of the rock and magma. In some places there were dozens of metres of olive green volcanic ash. It was just like a fine powder.
This place had quite a beautiful quality to it. Very much a harsh beauty. It was what one would imagine the surface of the moon, or Mars looking like. I could have imagined Luke Skywalker from Star Wars flying across the landscape at any time. The best way that I can describe the scenery is through my photos.
At our most distant point, was a series of hot springs. Unlike the rocky and stony valley floor of the remainder of the area, this little pocket was green and lush. Lots of people were bathing in the hot water. This is also the site of a four day walking track and I just wished that I had some time (and the equipment) to have set out on a trip.
I was back in Reykjavik by 7.30 pm and found a cafe for dinner. I decided to try some Cod and I kept thinking back to that terrible rubbery fish that my mother used to buy for Easter when I was a boy. I decided that nothing could ever be that bad so it was worth the risk. It was really very nice indeed. The couple at the next table had a familiar accent, so we struck up a conversation and it turned out that they were from Gisborne and grew cherries. What a small world!
This morning is probably the last time that I’ll have internet access for some days (apart from a one night stop over tonight in Oslo). I leave Iceland today and move on to Spitzbergen tomorrow to join the expedition ship at a little town named Longyearbyen. Internet access will then be limited to whatever connection that I can get through my satellite phone. I’ll be keeping a daily journal, but I may have to upload a few days at a time, or if worst comes to worst, a complete dump when I get back to Oslo at the conclusion of the journey.
I have enjoyed Iceland and would love to come back another time. I would really like to rent a car and drive around for a few weeks and see the entire country.