A Photographic Tour, Day 9

This is my final day of this tour, which took me back towards Keflavik airport. The Hotel Berg is my base for tonight. It is situated on a picturesque marina about three miles from the airport and has been completely refurbished since I was here last September. They provide a transfer service to get me to the airport on time tomorrow.

We set off from Hrifunes guesthouse and headed up into the Highlands, taking a route to the east of the big Katla glacier. The road took us along the side and back of the volcano, heading west to the coast and then north, bypassing Reykjavík.

When we reached the Highlands, the area was covered in fast moving fog and I waited a little while for it to clear before taking this picture of the valley with its vibrant yellow moss.

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We drove on across an area that is usually a river bed, caused by glacial water from the Katla glacier. The patterns in the mud appealed and I took this picture and also the next one, which is a close up of the mud.

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mud pattern

The Katla glacier dominates this area and I took the next shot with it in the distance. The purple flower Artic River Beauty,  in the foreground, is the first I have seen since day 5 when I travelled down from Lake Myvatn. 

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The road was practically non-existent in places, with numerous river crossings. I took the next shot of our vehicle to illustrate what it was like.

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We walked down to the edge of Markafljotsgljufur,a very deep canyon to take this shot of the colours running down one side of it.

Markafljotsgljufur

Our route then took us along a  road  past Einhyrningur mountain,  otherwise called Horn mountain.

Einhyrningur

We stopped in Troll Valley for lunch and disturbed some sheep who were grazing up in this lonely, but beautiful area.

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I couldn’t finish a day without a shot of a waterfall. Gluggafoss is just before we hit the coast and was busy with tourists so I had to wait a while to get a tourist free shot.

Gliggafoss

The tour is now over and has been amazing, due to Haukur’s extensive knowledge of beautiful  out of the way places. I loved every exhausting minute of it.

Iceland, A Photographic Tour, Day 8

Today we visited Langisjór lake  and its national park in the Highlands. The lake is around 20 km in length and up to 2 km wide. This area is directly opposite where we detoured to on day 5 but travel across the area is no longer possible because there is now a large river in between, caused by an eruption .

We set off very early in order to get to the lake when the sun was high and the water fairly still, with reflections. The clouds and wind usually pick up later in the morning.

I took a number of shots of the lake from various angles, including a hike up to get a panoramic view of the river and national park. The light was perfect and produced vibrant colours and shadows on the landscape, making the early rise very worthwhile.

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Just before midday we left the national park and headed off
off route, along a dirt track, to an area known as Kvislalon. The landscape here was completely different from the vibrant colours around the lake. This area is rarely visited, except for fishermen who use  the few small cabins that we came across.
I have chosen pictures to illustrate the effect of volcanic activity in the area.
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Haukur had seen Faxatun lake from the air but had never been there so we persevered along the track and even had to drive along a river bed to reach it. We were surprised to meet a lone hiker in this remote and inaccessible area. The only people who visit this area are fishermen.
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After a long bumpy ride we got back on the dirt road that leads down from the national park and I took this last picture on the way.
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This is a great area for photographers to visit

Iceland, A Photographic Tour, Day 7

Today we went to see the glacier lagoon and after the poor weather of yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise to have a sunny and warm day. Our route took us about 150 Kilometres along Highway 1 and early into the journey we walked up to  an impressive gorge, Fjadrarglijifur, made popular by Justin Beeber, who used it in a video.

_DSC7843Further along I took this shot of these rapids with the Mountain named Sida in the background._DSC7855

The Oraefajokull glacier was on our route and I took two pictures there, one in front of the glacier and then spotted a reflection in a pond.

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_DSC7887From there we proceeded on to the Glacier Lake where I spent some time photographing the blue icebergs that float there._DSC7907

By the sea, on the shore of the lagoon, I spotted this lone iceberg._DSC7952I am having an early night because we plan to leave soon after dawn tomorrow.

Iceland, A Photographic Tour, Day 6

On Day 6 we left Hrauneyjar and headed south, our destination being the guesthouse at Hrifrunes. Our route took us over the mountain region onto the Hekla volcanic plain and further along to Fjallabak, which means the back of Katla. The southern region, where I will be staying until day 9, is in the shadows of the big Katla volcano, whichwe heard  when in the North had been sending out small earth quakes. Volcanologists say that the volcano is long overdue an eruption and as it is covered by a huge glacier, this would cause major problems in the South. Hopefully, it will wait until I leave.

Our road throughout the journey was no more than a rocky dirt track and we had to cross a large number of rivers, three were fast flowing and difficult to cross even for our large 4-wheel drive. The wind was howling and rain in the air, this made photography with a tripod impossible for most of the day. The conditions also made it necessary to adjust the camera settings, causing a lot of noise on some pictures.

Soon after we entered the Hekla area I took the following shot of the lava plain created by the volcano. This area was used in the Star Wars film Prometheus.

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The second shot shows Hekla, the white topped mountain in the distance, from a different angle and the lava in the foreground is known as a’a lava because it is so rough to walk on.

 

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We drove along the Krakatindur route as we traveled up into the mountains. It was a very slow ride over a rough track. The next photo shows the area we drove along with the glowing moss and a small clump of Campion flower in the foreground.

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The dark mountain of Krakatindur stood out against the smooth moss covered hills. The wind was so strong when I took this picture that the camera was shaking in my hand.

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In the distance we saw an unusual occurrence: an ash storm, caused by ash from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. The high winds we were experiencing had obviously caused it. We were not to know that we would have to cross through the blowing ash before we got to the guesthouse.

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Quite a few hours into driving, we spotted a single little hut for hikers at Dakalofinn. More important was the unexpected toilet in this wilderness. The warden and his wife offered a very welcome coffee. Hikers use the hut and we came across two who were striding out with heads bent in the wind. The warden, who owned the hut, told us that it was in this region, in a more barren area, that Niall Armstrong practiced for walking on the moon.

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Near the hut I took this shot of the moss and water. The landscape here is very colourful.

colourful mountains

Not far on from near Dakalofinn there was a waterfall, well hidden and without a name. I took two shots here, one of the fall and the other of the canyon that the water fell into.

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We took a detour and drove to the top of a hill. The area is only accessible for a few months because being so high the snow is slow to melt. The mountain is Laufafell and the moss by the stream was glowing in the sunlight .

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As we drove the last stretch of the journey, the ash was blowing strongly so that I had to wind down the window to take this shot.

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I was relieved to finally reach the Hrifunes guesthouse where a delicious dinner was waiting me.

Iceland, A Photographic Tour, Day 5

We hade a long journey ahead of us today, so we left the hotel on Lake Myvatn early. The weather in the North has been glorious but today there is driving rain and the temperature has dropped considerably.  About two hours into our journey, we made a detour to the waterfall of Aldeyjarfoss, with its beautiful basalt formations._DSC7739

 

Nearby, is the smaller waterfall of Hrafnabjargafoss. It was difficult to photograph these falls as the wind was howling and the rain kept getting on the lens. My umbrella proved useless at keeping the rain off.

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When we left the falls, we had a long drive over very barren landscape on a rough gravel road. I have included this picture to illustrate what the environment looked like._DSC7760

As we drove the next 150 kilometres, we found little gems of beauty, particularly near rivers. The yellow moss appears fluorescent against the grey rocks.

The appearance of beds of Artic River Beauty is a real surprise._DSC7764

Considering that this area is covered with snow for most of the year, there are quite a number of wild flowers growing. I have included a few here that I spotted growing in small clumps near river beds.

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After many hours of rough driving, the road passed through an area between two glacier mountains. Although we did not see much ice on this section of Vatnajokull, it is the largest glacier in Europe and covers 8% of Iceland.

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When we were getting close to our destination, Hrauneyjar Higland Centre, we turned off to visit one of my favourite places in Iceland – The Fishing Lakes. The area is off the beaten track and the dark landscape is lit up by an abundance of moss and small clumps of grass .  I have included three pictures from this region to illustrate the beauty of the place. The sun was breaking through the clouds and lighting up the moss and grass._DSC7773

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_DSC7794I am signing off now. The sixth day is a long one as we drive to the South over difficult tracks but amazing landscape.

Iceland, A Photograph Tour, Day 4

As we are staying on Lake Myvatn, it was a short journey to our first shoot. We took a stroll under a canopy of trees, unusual for Iceland, and arrived at our designated spot on the lake. As it was very early, the lakeside was free from tourists, which is helpful if a long exposure is needed. Right in front of us were these incredible stones, known as Hofdi, standing in the lake.

hofdi klaser

After a leisurely breakfast, we set off for the Viti Crater and on the  way we spotted this mountain lit up by the sun, breaking through on a dull morning.

on the road to Viti

The Viti Crater, english translation is ‘Hell’, was a steep climb up but well worth the effort for an amazing view from the top. I included some people in the shot to give an idea of scale.

Viti crater

On the way down from Viti, I spotted this bed of cotton grass. In the past, it was used by Icelanders to make wicks for candles.

Cotton grass by Viti

Our next stop was at a thermal grotto known as Grjotagja. This underground pool was used by locals for swimming until the 1975 to 84 volcanic eruptions, which caused the water to heat up and it is only now beginning to cool down, but still too hot for swimming.

grjotagja blue grotto cave

We headed onto  the hot spring area of Leirhnjukur Mountain. We hiked to the lava area caused by the Krafla  fires of 75/84 that heated up the thermal grotto; a very inhospitable landscape.

Lava plain

Looking down, the black lava flow stood out like a river in the landscape.

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And so to the end of another great day spent in a most  unusual and  interesting landscape.

 

Iceland, A Photographic Tour Day 3

On this the third day of my landscape photography tour, we set out from our hotel on Lake Myvatn at 6.00am to visit the Hverir geothermal  area  at the foothill of Namafjall. Its features include colourful sulphurous mud springs, steam vents, cracked mud and fumaroles. We went there at such an early hour in order to catch the light on the dried sulphurous mud and also to be able to photograph the area without the crowds that visit there later in the day.

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namafjall hverir geothermals1

Later in the morning we drove north to Husavik on the shores of Skjálfandi bay. This was a very busy little town with lots of tourists taking tours to spot whales. From there we crossed the peninsula and had a long drive to Jokulsargljufur National Park to see the Dettifoss waterfall and the Jokulsargljufur Canyon. On our walk through the Park, I spotted these patterns in the basalt rock.

basalt formations

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We hiked to Detifoss in the Jokulsargljufur Canyon, an area very popular with tourists, campers and hikers. The water in the fall was brown with mud so that it did not stand out from the canyon sides and, therefore, not very interesting for photography.

Dettifoss

Walking along the canyon away from the waterfall, I found the following scene to be much more interesting.

jokulsargljufur canyon

This was the last shot of the day, which had been  exceptionally hot  and sunny and most unusual for Iceland.