22 Mar 2014

Iceland 2014 - Day 1: Egilsstaðir & Surrounds

My trip to Iceland didn't exactly start as planned. The journey was gruelling, to say the least. To cut a long story short, the plane was delayed due to technical problems, I got totally pissed with a bunch of Icelandic strangers in the Star Alliance lounge, shouted a lot at the incompetency of Heathrow Airport/Icelandair at their inability to get us to a hotel once the flight was eventually cancelled, slept briefly in the nearby Premier Inn, had some sour fruit for breakfast, rebooked my onward internal flight, pushed back my car hire, finally flew to Iceland, throwing up along the way as a result of the most horrendously badly-timed and severe hangover, got a bus into a bitterly cold Reykjavik, and finally took a bumpy little plane on to Egilsstaðir (upon which I was sick again). [postscript from 2017 - just got £350 compensation from Icelandair for the delay, which kind of made it all worthwhile!!] An early night and late morning later and I was finally able to start my Iceland 2014 adventure!

I've never been to Egilsstaðir before; the furthest I've travelled on previous trips is Jökulsárlón, but this time I thought I'd venture a little further afield, to a region that is almost off the tourist track. The appalling journey aside, so far it has been worth it. When I arrived last night it was snowing fairly heavily, as it was this morning. The weather forecast was pretty lousy until about 5pm when a patch of sun was expected. I headed out in the snow at about 10.30 to the local Bonus supermarket to stock up on supplies for the week (breakfast and lunch self-catered), returned to my lovely b&b (Gistihus Olgu), before wrapping up warm and heading out again along the snow-covered roads along the lake, Lagarfljot, and hopefully a trip up to Litlanesfoss. 

The area is rather famous in Iceland in that it has forest - lots and lots of trees, which most of the rest of the country lacks. I drove to the end of the lake, with patches of blue sky visible on the far side of the lake. Towards the end, there's a bridge that took me to the parking area for visits to the magnificent Hengifoss and smaller Litlanesfoss waterfalls, which I planned to hike up to. Given the snow I didn't expect to get further than Litlanesfoss, but it would be a good recce for going up tomorrow, when the weather-forecast is for clear skies.

After a rather strenuous half-hour hike uphill I reached the viewpoint of Litlanesfoss, greeted by a small snow-shower, accompanied by strong cold winds. I grabbed a few shots before heading back down again, my feet freezing as usual. The basalt columns surrounding the falls were spectacular, but the falls themselves were covered in snow, and would probably look better in summer!

On the way down I passed rocks and grasses covered in snow and ice and a patch of blue sky graced my presence briefly.

I drove back on the far side of the lake, as the weather seemed slightly clearer. It was a good choice, as the sun came out and there were some beautiful horses at the side of the road who came to say hello when I pulled up with my camera.

I drove on and found a well-timed parking spot with a fantastic sweeping view over the surrounding hills, with the sun now shining over me. The wind blew snow across the road behind me.

Eventually the cold pulled me away - my toes frozen and my fingers numb from the biting wind through my thin gloves (I'd left the thick ones at the b&b). I drove back home and recharged my batteries, skyped my husband and rehydrated before heading out for sunset. I'd left it a bit late and the sun was already low in the sky and was about to dip behind the hill on the opposite side of the lake. I found a small road with some horses nearby and turned in to enjoy the last of the sun. The horses were getting a bit playful and frisky in the distance. I wish I'd had a 300mm lens, as they were a little too far away.

I finally got the rented Zeiss out although the 21mm was a little wide for the view. I found a pretty stream that reflected the setting sun and the colourful clouds. As promised, the Zeiss produced great sunbursts as it set behind the clouds.

I drove back to town and caught the last of the light at the edge of the lake on the other side for a couple of long exposure shots at the village of Fellbaer, before heading to Salt Bistro for a delicious pizza!

And now I'm back at the b&b, waiting for the skies to clear and the promised northern lights to appear! I've found a website that tells me the aurora prediction over the next hour; it's currently at Kp 2, which may be enough to see in the north if the skies were clear, but they're not due to clear for another hour or two. Hopefully the aurora prediction will be up to Kp 3 by then and then I'll be out of here! For more info on how to capture the northern lights, please have a look at this other blog.

Here's the blog for Day 2a.


  1. Mind telling me what website is that? I'm planning a trip in March this year in the hope of catching the northern lights as well. Thanks!

    1. Have a look at this other blog I wrote on capturing the Northern Lights - the websites I use are all listed at the bottom!


      The hourly forecasts are on the f5data and auroraservice ones. Hope this helps! Good luck!

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