We made it around the ring road of Iceland! In 8 wonderful days! 1,636 miles covered, with anything and everything! Waterfalls, lakes, fjords, ocean, snow, glaciers, icebergs, lava rocks, lava sand and ash, volcano craters, pseudocraters (steam eruptions only), geothermal areas, hot springs, geysers, bubbling mud pits (think Land Before Time on that one!), mountains, seals, caribou, Icelandic horses, and more waterfowl than I’ve ever seen in one place! Its crazy just looking at that list!! I still haven’t even made it through all of my pictures! So many to sort through, pick the best, edit, share with the family back home, let alone get things ready to post for you all!
I did start something new, though, I took a lot of little video clips of the various places we were at. My DSLR does HD video, why not use it for something? I found it easy to upload short snippets of video to facebook to keep our families posted of our travels, as opposed to messing with the pictures every evening in our hotels! I’ve compiled these, started up a Youtube page, and will be adding them to the blog posts, so you can get a true feel for how the site truly is (pictures can be deceiving at times!).
Anyways… on to the trip! We arrived at Keflavik Airport at almost midnight. It was a pleasant surprise to exit the customs area to find someone with a sign with my name on it. I assumed like most airports, I would have to find the car rental agency’s location in the airport. I’m not sure if this was because it was so late or if it is their typical procedure, but I did appreciate it. Filled out the necessary paperwork, paid, and went out to our vehicle. We initially rented a 2-wheel drive car through one agency, however later, I discovered Reykjavik Cars. It turned out to be cheaper to rent a 4-wheel drive SUV through them, than the car at the other agency! At this point we had done more planning for our trip and were desiring the SUV, so I called and canceled the car, and booked the Dacia Duster with Reykjavik Cars. What a car! It is a new model, only a year old, and drives amazingly, perfect suspension, you only feel the biggest of holes… Loved it! We were so thankful throughout our trip that we made the swap! I highly, highly, highly recommend the company and the particular vehicle we had! A wonderful vehicle for Iceland! We stayed the night at the Bed & Breakfast Keflivik Airport Hotel, a short drive from the airport. Nothing special, but they were helpful to us in printing our new itinerary when we stayed our last night there again. There was a decent pizza place around the block from them, just ask them for directions, they’ll know what you’re talking about, its a sparse area.
In the morning we headed towards Reykjavik for our horse riding tour at Ishetar. I’ve read so much about the Icelandic horse and I loved horse rides I did in Crete, so I was anxious for this experience. It was a huge disappointment, I can’t even lie to help the company out. They were very friendly with us, although rather appalled that we didn’t book the easiest tour (which sounded quite boring on their site) and instead booked the next hardest (a whole hour longer! What on earth were we thinking?!). The lady who “checked us in” made a big deal that we were going to hold up this oh so experienced rider on our tour, and they eventually gave us two guides so we could split up when we went too slow… I really wasn’t thrilled with this part at all. So I mentioned earlier they were friendly? Let me correct that to SHE was friendly, one of our two guides, although I forget her name. The tour leads you along a nice dirt path that has been made for the horses and all the tour companies and private riders use it. It winds past other ranches, summer houses, and past an industrial area. Hardly the tour I booked…
We then took a pit stop, we were told to go cross the road and check out some cave… not sure what it was exactly, the sign was only in Icelandic for it and it wasn’t all that big or impressive. When we returned to the horses and guides, they told us we were splitting, and one guide left with the experienced rider and we waited a bit to give them a head start so we were split up… Yea, we caught up to them, and passed them… They still weren’t back when we left the place. I’m slightly furious at our treatment there, especially since this experienced rider even confided in us that she hadn’t ridden horses for years. Our guide once we split was the only kind person to us. The tour eventually took us through some slightly wooded areas (pines) with some mountains in the distance, pretty, but still nothing like the tour description. I was sorely disappointed in the whole experience. The horses were sweet, however, and I did greatly enjoy riding them. If riding an Icelandic horse is on your to do list, I highly recommend looking for a place somewhere else on the island. I saw the tours and horse paths in quite a few places all over Iceland, places much more beautiful then outside Reykjavik…. Hard lesson learned there! Oh, and the lack of pictures, well, firstly, it wasn’t exactly photogenic, and secondly, they wouldn’t let me take my DSLR with me….
Once finished we drove past Reykjavik and into the Golden Circle area. Our first stop was at Öxarárfoss, a lovely small waterfall (small in comparison to others in Iceland) in Þingvellir National Park. A short walk from the parking lot brings you to the falls. Not far from the falls is Silfra, the continental divide between North America and Eurasia, but more to come on that later. We didn’t stop there this day, since we were planning on coming back in the morning to snorkel in it. After enjoying the falls, we continued on to the next site on our map, Brúarfoss, an absolutely breathtaking little waterfall.