P R I N T V E R S I O N 
 

Iceland
Camping tour - traversing the highlands

A Wikinger Tour
14th August - 29th August 2003

A trip report by Kurt.Merkert@web.de


 
Every year the same question: Where am I going to go on holiday this year? One thinks about it, talks to friends about it and considers the particular effects this year of the forthcoming Iraq war and then Andrea makes the suggestion - we'll go north. There are no political upheavals there. How about Iceland? I always wanted to go there, but I was deterred by the somewhat variable weather. But Andrea is a travel optimist and reasons that it must turn out for the good since a continuously blue sky would not be right for the island of fire and ice.
So catalogues were studied and finally a decision was made for a "Wikinger" trip with the daunting sounding title "Expedition through the highlands" a walking tour.
 
1st day: Thursday:
Tour
And so it happens that I am now standing with Andrea at Frankfurt airport. Actually we should be meeting three other colleagues here, who we will recognise by the "Wikinger" label on their rucksacks, but there are far too many of them. There is a small problem at baggage control as Andrea is relieved of dental equipment. Whether this is through fear of a 'plane hijacking or provision in case of a patient is not certain. The flight is trouble-free; the aircraft is booked out. Whoever hasn't noticed by the narrowness of the seating that we are flying charter rather than regular airline is made aware eventually at the distribution of the food. Instead of the usual question 'pasta or chicken?' asked on airline flights, there is no question: it's chicken.
At 10.30pm local time we land in Keflavik. There is no passport or baggage check. We exchange some currency and start looking for our group leader. There are three of them because several "Wikinger" tours are starting today. After we have identified Stefan as our group leader we still don't get any further. We have to wait for flights from Munich, Düsseldorf and Berlin, which means an hour's wait in an increasingly colder minibus. However, the coolness is a welcome change from the unbearable heat of the summer of the century in Germany.
When we eventually get started we have 45 minutes to travel to our first night's quarters in Reykjavik. The 'sleeping bag accommodation' consists of a room for about 50 people. However, everyone is too tired to worry too much about that.
 
2nd day: Friday
Reykjavik
All men's gorge
in Thingvellir
We are awakened by the sun, or maybe by those who want to shower first. After breakfast we have a short discussion on the plan of action under a glass roof like a greenhouse. A really heavy shower arrives punctually while we are loading our baggage; a sort of greeting now that we are in Iceland. However, it only lasts till all the baggage is stowed. Our group of 18 people (13 female, 5 male, including the leader) is loaded into two 4-wheel drive minibuses and we set off for Reykjavik. We have 2 hours time to look around the town. In what we call 'typical April weather' in Germany, Anke, Ulla, Andrea and I visit the Hallgrimskirkja and ascend the church tower in a lift in order to take the first photos in the 5 minutes of sunlight. Then we visit an open-air 'GEO' photo exhibition. Why is the photo exhibition in the open air? So that we can experience another August shower.
Then comes the thermal water treatment plant for Reykjavik, with a very fine view over the town the sea and the mountains. The journey continues without rain, but with considerable hunger on the part of the participants, to Thingvellir, where the rain commences punctually on disembarking. We take a relatively dry lunch under the canopy of the information centre. Following this we make a small excursion accompanied by a cloudburst through the Almannagja (all men's gorge) to the Thing square. Here it stops raining and we go on to the Öxara waterfall. This lies in a pleasant location and puts us in the mood for what will happen in the following days.
Campground
beneath the Geyser
Geyser
Strokkur
Continuing on, we stop at a café. According to Stefan it will be the last for several days, which is why we must stop here. On leaving the café there is the obligatory rain shower. Finally, we reach our first camping site near the 'Strokkur' geyser. Since we have booked a 'comfort tour', according to the description in the catalogue, the tents are already erected and the cooking has been done for us. It is delicious cream of asparagus soup from the packet and potato purée as main course - energetically extolled by Monika until it has all been consumed - with an enormous number of fried sausages.
Then we go to the geyser to photograph the fountain outbreaks. It is very patient and explodes every 5 minutes until the last of us has wrapped up his photo. In the meantime it has become quite cold - some even say right brassy - so everyone is happy when we go to the indoor pool in the hotel opposite. The pool turns out to be an outdoor pool with non-swimmer depth, but with pleasantly warm, only slightly sulphurous water. We creep into our sleeping bags with the feeling of having a pleasant and eventful day behind us and before us the unanswered question of how our things are going to be dry by the morning.
 
3rd day: Saturday
It rained the whole night, so that it wasn't so bad that we hadn't got our things dry: they would have got wet straight away anyway. Wake up at 6:30 for breakfast at 8:00. Stefan opened that we needed the time since there were only two washbasins. However, after showering in the hotel the previous evening and with the damp, cool weather in the morning everyone is ready very quickly. For breakfast there is tea, coffee, milk, jam, cheese, sausage, muesli, chocolate cream and from today till the end of the trip soft rubber toast bread without the toaster.
Gullfoss
After a short drive we reach the Gullfoss (foss = waterfall). It is one of the largest and highest waterfalls of all. Unfortunately we see it in the rain. It is so wet that it is not possible to determine, what water from the sky is and what water from the thundering spray is. So taking photographs is a struggle against wet lenses. After this we begin our drive into the highlands. In pouring rain we travel northwards for several hours on the natural trail over thousands of water-filled pot-holes.
Fire and ice
in Kerlingarfjöll
Before the first ford it finally stops raining. Since one of the tourists, Frank, is driving our second mini-bus, Stefan is a bit sceptical about his ability to master the ford. However, after the crossing our leader is known from then on as 'Ford-parker' and Frank is respectfully named 'Ford-driver'.
We drive into the geothermal area, Kerlingarfjöll on the Hofsjökull (Jökull = glacier). It is very interesting, crossing through this steaming, hissing, snarling, area that smells of sulphur and is surprisingly close to a glacier. Here it is clear where the epithet 'Iceland, isle of fire and ice' comes from. Unfortunately, as a result of the rain we have been experiencing, our little ramble gets stuck in the mud. Despite this, we do succeed in collecting some pretty obsidian stones. On the way back to the parked trailers Stefan finds another café in the wilderness - heaven knows where that came from - which we certainly must visit since it really will be the last one for the next days. We have heard that before.
Hot spring
in Hveravellir
Hissing vent
in Hveravellir
After that we go for another hour, still without rain, over the high plateau Kjölur to Hveravellir, a colourful hot spring area, and its camping site. The meal is ready waiting for us. There is rice with fish balls and salad with pineapple and chocolate sauce for desert - chocolate again: has that something to do with our leader? After dinner we make a short walk into Icelandic legend, to the cave dwellings of Halla and Evindur. In an old grass hut, Stefan treats us to a lecture about Evindur. And as if that were not enough for one day, some of the group get into the natural 'Hot Pot' there. Andrea will regret that she preferred the warm sleeping bag to the warm Hot Pot, but the way between them wasn't warm enough for her.
 
4th day: Sunday
In the morning
a hot bath in
Hveravellir
In the highlands
heading for
the north coast
It is foggy when we get up, but clear that the sun will come through and there is no cloud in the sky. But today we will only be driving: no walks are planned in this superb weather. Before we start there is a surprise. We must move all the tents to protect the vegetation. What was that? Comfort package: you will not be required to erect your tents (it said nothing about moving tents for the next group). But we manage it.
Then we drive over a highland desert to the coast in the north. The journey is only interrupted for a couple of photo stops. We visit the peat church Vidimyri with its cemetery. Here we find that almost all the dead were over 80, in some cases considerably over 90 years old. Obviously there was no stress or anything like that here.
Peat church Vidimyri
Glaumbaer museum
At the Glaumbaer museum site we get enough time for a visit. Accommodation is erected here, which shows life and living in earlier times. In the sunshine the houses make a pleasant impression. One can't imagine what it must have been like with the rain and wind and the winter cold and damp. Stefan says we shouldn't spend too long in the rooms. Next door is a café with good chocolate and it is the last café for . . . (the rest should be obvious now).
Then it's straight off to Akureyri, the capital of the north. The camping site is in the middle of the town in a meadow. Some of the group go into the swimming pool opposite, I try the showers in the school which is also opposite. After that I wander round the town. Wander round the town - that is a 300m long street with a couple of houses and shops for tourists and that's it.
Tonight everyone wants to wrap up warm because the previous night was so cold. We try out our schnapps bar. Whether it is that or whether it really wasn't so cold, we never did know, but no-one froze this night.
 
5th day: Monday
Breakfast
with sunshine
Akureyri
It's unbelievable, pure sunshine, not a cloud in the sky. This morning we have two hours time as the cars have to be checked after traversing the highlands as stipulated. Above all, they must be washed, which isn't stipulated, so that the windows be made transparent again. We use the time for a further wander round the town - 300m street. See above.
Then we drive first to the Godafoss (waterfall of the gods). In the sunlight it really looks divine. Then we continue to Husavik. From here all except six of us start out on a whale watching tour. I decided not to take part as I had already done so in Canada and found it not particularly exciting. Besides, Stefan tells us that the puffins on the bird cliffs migrated south two weeks ago.
Godafoss
Godafoss
Monika, Andrea and I want to make a little tour. We stroll along the pitch-black sandy beach. The sea here is not clean. The local fish factory dumps its waste untreated into the sea. Then we find a possibility of climbing the cliffs. Up here it is fantastic: flower covered slopes, grazing Icelandic ponies and no humans and it's cross country on the way back. The rest of the group from the whale tour meets up. After a lot of searching they spotted a whale briefly. No one was really impressed.
Harbour of Husavik
Bird cliffs of Tjörnes
We continue along the bird cliffs of Tjörnes. Then there is a cry from Stefan. He has discovered a colony of puffins swimming in the sea. To the question how he can recognise them he replies that anyone who has ever seen them will recognise them in future. So there is nothing else to do but stop and go over. Since these are Andrea's favourite birds she flies off and makes a crash landing in the mud at the first electric fence. As we approach the group of over a hundred birds we see that the puffins have disguised themselves as ducks. That was Stefan's canard of the day.
We drive on further to the camping site in the rock ravine at Asbyrgi. Everything is superb here: showers, drying room, washing machines and a cook who conjures up a meal with the restricted facilities of a camping stove: fantastic. We stay here for two nights.
 
6th day: Tuesday
Gorge of Asbyrgi
Jökulsa á Fjöllum
As a surprise today it's scrambled egg for breakfast. But when the cook has flowers in his kitchen tent, is that really surprising? For that there is not sliced cheese but instead mushroom chewing-gum cheese spread.
The sun is shining and there are a few clouds, but it is perfect hiking weather and today we go for an all-day hike. Right at the beginning there is the first difficulty. We are supposed to scale a wall using a fixed hemp rope. It works quite well till Andrea, the penultimate, takes her turn. It's not clear if she was trying bungee jumping or something like that. In any case the rope starts swinging and crashes her with her back into the wall. While the impact was reduced by her rucksack, from the next day onwards Stefan is able to explain the daily route plan on the map on her coloured extended back. We hike roughly twenty kilometres through the Asbyrgi national park with wonderful views of the horseshoe shaped incision of the gorge. Passing sandstone formations, we cross to Jökulsa à Fjöllum, Iceland's mightiest river, which starts from Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. We stop here for lunch.
On the summit
of Roudholar
Basaltlavacave
Kirkjan
As we continue, the weather gradually starts to close in, and after we have climbed Roudholar with its black and red slopes it starts to rain. Stefan and Frank parked a car ready for the return earlier this morning. Since only half the group can travel in it, the rest have to wait for an hour in the basalt lava cave Kirkjan in the wind and rain until they are collected.
After dinner we have a great schnapps and rum tasting. It has started to rain, and as we creep into our sleeping bags the sound of the rain on the tents has a soporific effect - or is it the alcohol?
 
7th day: Wednesday
Dettifoss
Sellfoss
It has stopped raining. After a short drive we reach today's first waterfall, the Hafragilsfoss. It is just right for setting the mood for the Dettifoss, Europe's mightiest waterfall, which we reach 15 minutes later. We have an hour here, which we use to take in its immense power. We know now, that it is not possible to record the impression in photographs. The thunder of the mass of water is overwhelming. The Sellfoss, a quarter of an hour away, is no less impressive. Three such waterfalls so close to each other: where else do you find that?
We have another casualty today. As we get to the bus, Ulla twists her ankle. We diagnose a pulled ligament and bandage it professionally.
Junction of the
circuit to Herdubreid
Ödaöahraun
 
Ford crossing
 
Our group, stop
in the
lava desert
We continue along an adventurous track through Europe's larges lava desert, Ödaöahraun. After a few photo stops in which we try to capture the great variety of lava formations on celluloid, we reach the camping site at shield-vulcano Herdubreid. Here it is nature in the raw, as Monika discovers that it is 250 paces to the toilets. We take a walk round a lake. Towards the end it starts to rain and continues for the rest of the day.
This evening it is washing up without detergent in cold water: the butter stays on the knife. Tomorrow spreading the bread will be easier. At bedtime Stefan gives another lecture with the endless tales of Halla and Evindur.
 
8th day: Thursday
Craterlake Viti
It has rained all night long. In ghastly weather we drive towards volcano Askja. The scenery is a lava desert with a great variety of rock types in unbelievable shapes and multitude of colours.
Because of the weather, Stefan wants to cancel the planned hike. But the group has a different opinion and so we set off well wrapped up in the storm and cold. As we reach the edge of the Askja crater we are swept by a sleet storm, so that everyone except Angela, Michelle, Andrea Wolfram and I descend in the direction of Öskjavatn. We, the remainder, slide down the slippery slope to the milky Vitilake (i.e. Gate to Hell). With an air temperature of 5°C, Angela and Wolfram cannot be stopped from stepping into the 35° warm sulphurous water of the crater. But they don't stay long in the water. Having climbed back up to the ridge, we find that the storm has become so strong that it rips away the rain protection from my rucksack.
In
Dragon Gorge
Temperature
contrasts
By the time we reach the cars, the storm and rain have abated a little. On the way back we stop at the Dragon Gorge and walk to a waterfall with yellow water. After yesterday's waterfalls it is a bit disappointing. On the way Monika and Ina pull Stefan's waterproof over-trousers off over his shoes. The storm has ripped them to shreds. We find ourselves in a moonscape. It was not for nothing that the American astronauts did some training for the moon landing here. Ulla had to spend the day in the bus. Her foot is still not better.
For dinner there is a giant salad dish with fish, cucumber, feta cheese, tomatoes, onions etc. and as main course for the first time spaghetti with tomato sauce. Actually we had expected that more often. It starts to drizzle again. Tonight will be the coldest so far. Dagmar can be heard coughing. She has had a severe cold for two days.
 
9th day: Friday
The group gets
stuck in deep mud
A new day: since it's a comfort package, two tents have to be repositioned to protect the vegetation. We drive back along the same track across the highland desert that we drove on two days earlier. As we reach the ring road and asphalt we turn off in the direction of Myvatn in order to make a one-hour walk - correction, mud walk - in the Krafla geothermic district to the Solfatar fields.
Krafla
Ulla stays behind because of her foot. One can see from far off how colourful the earth is and how the steam rises. It smells of sulphur. However, before it can get really interesting the whole group gets stuck in extremely sticky, ankle deep mud. Anke, Andrea, Wolfram and I manage to by-pass the mud by going over lava formations while the others return to the cars. We pass through a region such as I have never seen before. We start to sweat. The warmth comes from beneath us, from the earth, which steams and hisses, makes all kinds of noises and above all stinks unbelievably. Altogether the rising smoke, the sun, the sulphurous smell and the bizarre lava formations present us with a unique view of nature. We hurry up, since in the meantime the others have been waiting an hour for us. Then Stefan didn't give a time limit, but still we are met with an icy silence.
After a short drive we look over the geothermal power station of Krafla, the only one of its kind, and then go to another solfatar field. There are several mud holes here which bubble away, and also more hot water fountains than in the previous field. Here we are in one of the most active volcanic regions of the earth.
The earth
yawns...
a f t e r cleaning
 
too hot for
a mud-bath
Minigeyser
in Krafla
After that it is only a short drive to the Myvatn (gnat lake), where we occupy the camping site with a beautiful view over the lake and the mountains. The tents are infested with spiders. Eva and Andrea become hysterical so Yvonne and I set to work as pest controllers. After the two days with less than pleasant weather we all enjoy the sun and for the first time take a siesta in the grass. Then most of the group drives off to the swimming pool. After two days without a shower I try them out here. Then I walk with Dagmar for a bit around the lake, which lives up to its name. After dinner it is still pleasantly warm and since the sky is lit up colourfully, some of us go for a night trek. The moon lights up the hills and it doesn't get really dark. There is a pleasant atmosphere.
 
10th day: Saturday
Before we
have fun, we
have to work
Lavagregion
of Dimmuborgier
Pure sunshine! We travel in the cars a short way along the Myvatn to the Dimmuborgier lava region. We wander through the bizarre lava towers, caves, gateways and formations reminiscent of other shapes. While Stefan and Frank transfer the cars to the end of the walk, the rest of us climb the tortuous rim of the Hverfjall crater. The view into the crater and over the surrounding mountains is magnificent.
After we climb down there is a mid-day rest while Angela, who has hired a bicycle, sets off round the lake. The rest of us drive to Stukustadir on the other side of the lake and walk to the pseudo craters. These are formations, which look just like small craters.
´
Crater of Hverfjall
View of Myvatn
We return to camp at 4o'clock and want to eat early, as soon as Michelle and Wolfram are back from their foray on Icelandic ponies, so that we can do another night trek. Andrea and I want to try to climb the Hlidarfjall, at 771m, the highest look-out hill in the district. Afterwards diner some of the group go off to a Hot Spot and four - Stefan not among them - go off to a café, while another four go for a hike. Our attempt to climb the Hlidarfjall is prevented by an army of gnats. Besides, today it is quite dark for the first time, so that it is an effort to find our way back to the camp.
 
11th day: Sunday
Aldeyarfoss
Ford near Nýidalur
When we wake up it is raining. After yesterday's sunshine it is unbelievable how quickly the weather has changed. After breakfast we set off in a gentle drizzle. We drive around the Myvatn and very quickly find ourselves on a track. But what a bone-shaker it is. We stop at another waterfall, the Aldeyarfoss. It is the same river that later provides the Godafoss, and has very pretty basalt columns.
We continue over the Spregisandur highland desert. It lies between the two large glaciers Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull. Shortly before reaching the camp we cross two wide water courses. We attach ropes to the cars, which we pull through to the roof racks. Without this measure we would not be able to get at the towing hooks in case we got stuck. But everything turns out well.
It has even flowers
At the Nýidalur camp there are two mountain cabins in which to sleep instead of in tents, which five of our group do. In the meantime the weather has very much improved and the sun is shining. Stefan says it is the seventh time he has been here and the first time without storm and rain. We are alone with nature here; on this spot there are no signs of civilisation for umpteen kilometres around. Despite this, Monika discovers that we are not so cut off as at the Herdubreid since the distance to the toilet facilities is only 125 paces.
Camp near Nýidalur
We make a short ramble into the Jökuldalur valley beneath the Tungnafellsjökull - that's a tongue-twister - enjoy the sunshine and have plenty of time to devote ourselves to the nature around us. Monika and Ina find a large piece of wood in their tent. The wood drifted over from Siberia, as did all large pieces of wood in Iceland. How it got here onto the highland plateau and then into their tent, no-one knows. Perhaps it was Evindur again.
Today for dinner it is Tortellini out of the packet, with or without pieces of ham in the sauce. After dinner Andrea, Dagmar, Ulla and I go for a walk in the night. Ulla tries learning to walk again, but there is hardly any improvement in her foot.
 
12th day: Monday
On plateau
Spregisandur
Icelandic ponies
in Landmannalaugar
We manage to leave Nýidalur without it having rained. Then we continue over the highland plateaus between the glaciers, make a few photo-stops but are afraid that it is hardly possible to capture the breadth of the scenery on photographs. We make our lunch stop at Porisvatn. It is not very warm here, but the sun is shining and there is a wonderful silence: what more could we want. After a fuel stop - anyone wishing to go into the shop or the toilets has to put on blue polythene shoe-covers, as in an operating theatre - we reach the Fridland ad Fjallabaki National Park, in my opinion the prettiest landscape we have seen so far in Iceland. Mountains can be beautiful even without trees. The multitudinous rock colours of the mountains, valleys broken up by meandering waters and everything relieved by a variety of crater lakes - thus, after many stops, we reach Landmannalaugar relatively late in the afternoon.
We move into the tents, which are particularly small here, but are made up for by showers and a natural Hot Pot. Eleven members of the group immediately go off on a 3 hour hike. We climb the 943 metre high Blahnúkur, the lower slopes of which consist of black obsidian. The sun shines in the early evening and the surrounding countryside with its light liparit slopes and black lava streams is bathed in a wonderful light. The long distance view from the summit is magnificent. We take the summit photo with the delayed action shutter, which results in the next casualty. I trip on a stone and drag Wolfram and Andrea to the ground, after which the bloody tip of my finger has to be treated with the scissors. On the way down we cross the Gränagil thermal region again. This also supplies the Hot Pot at the camping site.
Landscape while
hiking the
Blahnúkur
On the peak
of Blahnúkur
Having got back, there is freshly caught trout from the nearby lake, enough till bursting point. What a difference to the trout from the fish farm at home. At 21:30 half the team go into the Hot Pot: the rest go to the showers. As we get in, the fuse blows so from now on it is toilet and shower in the dark. As if the showers didn't present enough difficulty: they are coin-operated showers which run for three minutes and with a temperature control that only offers boiling or ice cold. By the time one has reached some sort of reasonable adjustment and just managed to soap oneself, the 3 minutes are up. As a result of the power failure the hair dryers do not work.
 
13th day: Tuesday
Andrea wants to be woken at 6:30. She enjoyed the Hot Pot so much that she and Anke want to use it again before breakfast. It's trout again for breakfast, which are still so good, that some pack themselves some for lunch.
Landscape in
Landmannalaugar
Ofaerufoss
Then we drive in brilliant sunshine through the countryside from Landmannalaugar in a southerly direction. We make very little progress. Every couple of minutes someone wants to take a photograph. As far as the landscape is concerned it's the best day of the expedition. We drive on to Eldgja. This is the largest fissure volcano in the world. Every year America and Europe drift 2cm further apart at this point. When we reach Europe we stop and walk to the Ofaerufoss, a smaller waterfall, which falls beautifully in two stages. Wolfram, who has been wondering for two days how he is going to make the batteries for his digital camera last, unexpectedly finds a camera bag here, which only contains batteries, which happen to fit his camera. Evindur must have been at work again or shall we unromantically put it down to chance.
After almost four days driving on tracks, we eventually reach the ring road and asphalt. Without making any more stops we drive to Vik, the small town in the south on the coast with 500 inhabitants, a small wool factory, a petrol station, a church and otherwise nothing else. But it does have a wonderful kilometre-long black sandy beach. With a good hour stop here, Dagmar, Anke, Andrea and I have to see how cold the Atlantic is so far north, at least up to our knees.
Ofaerufoss
Beach in Vik
On the beach
in Vik
Cape Dyrhólaey
Cape Dyrhólaey
From here we go to the lighthouse at Cape Dyrhólaey, at 120m atop the sheer cliffs. Where else can you capture simultaneously sea, a black beach, a lighthouse and a glacier in one photograph? Today we managed it up to our knees in water, our water-baby Angela had to show us here that it is also possible to swim in the cold Atlantic.
We go off to the Mýdalsjökull glacier. This is a black glacier and so dirty that we are of the opinion, that after the other highlights of the day, we could have left it out. And then, when we reach the Skogafoss we discover that it is in the shade and no longer photogenic. Despite this we all try to reproduce the well-known calendar photo 'Small person directly in front of the impact of a giant wall of water'. Since I want to take the perfect photo it takes a little longer and my model, Andrea, gets a shower from the rear. But that is nothing compared with Angela. As she gets back into the car there is no part of her that is dry.
Black glacier
Mýrdalsjökull
Dancing in
front of
Skogafoss
Now it is only a quarter of an hour to the camping site with a swimming pool, showers and, as Stefan explains, a natural Hot Pot 15 minutes away over a mountain path. Today it's lamb for dinner, which isn't to everyone's liking. Some want to go to the hot Pot, others to the swimming pool or just shower. In the meantime it has got dark and as I come out of the shower a thick fog has come down so that a torch is necessary to find the tents. Monika and Ina find each other only by continually calling out, Angela wants to come into my tent, which I manfully resist and Dagmar confirms with a laugh from a neighbouring tent. Then Stefan goes to the Hot Pot since it appears that only Andrea and Anke went there. As we learn later, they were afraid of losing their way back in the fog and would have spent the entire night in the warm water if Stefan had not appeared and saved them from a watery death. Just how foggy it was we see next morning when we see footprints in the grass where they clamber over a fence, not 3 metres from a gate. The day ends at 0:30 in the morning, when we all wanted to go to bed early since the previous day had been so long.
 
14th day: Wednesday
Eyjafjallajökull
Ford crossing
for the last time
It is still misty. We drive to the Eyjafjallajökull and then, naturally crossing many streams, to the entrance to a gorge. We make our mid-day break here and then go on foot into the gorge. Here there are various wet feet, wet trousers, an injured shinbone, and a few tears are shed. As the gorge gets narrower another small expedition appears. It, too, is a 'Wikinger' group and as the leader at the tail end rounds a rock I don't believe my eyes. It is Andreas, who was my expedition leader in Peru. Evindur did not arrange this meeting - it was pure chance. What a small place the world is!
We go back to the cars the same way. We drive towards the coast and stop at the Seljalandsfoss.
How small
the cars are,
aren't they?
It falls like a great veil over the edge, and one can walk behind the falling water, getting rather wet in the process. Despite this, some of us must go in and it must be photographed. As we turn round to go back, we don't believe our eyes. Angela is standing alone, fully dressed under the spray.
 
 
Here you can
get wet feet
Seljalandsfoss
After that we drive to Selfoss, stop at a bakery before going directly to the camping site at Reykjavik. This is in the middle of the town but nicely in the green next to the public park and the football stadium. However, the tents are located on fairly damp ground. Monika thinks that we must actually be miles away from civilisation since, despite a short cut, the toilets are 320 paces away.
After dinner - noodles with salmon - Andrea and I want to walk to the beautifully lit Hallgrimskirkja. It can be seen on the slope on the other side of the valley. Monika and Ina advise us to take a short cut through the park. If only we hadn't listened to them. First we land in a modern office town then in a large housing district. As we have got so lost that we are glad to see the towers of the football stadium again, the others have long since disappeared into their tents.
 
15th day: Thursday
Today we pack our bags and load them into the trailers for the last time. After that we are free until 15:00, at which time we have to meet up at the harbour. Stefan and Frank will get the cars checked over and drive us into the town with them. Here the group dissolves away very quickly. For Andrea and me, that means looking round the town, which we do quite quickly - Reykjavik is not all that large. We are looking for a few souvenirs but don't find what we want. It's nearly all typical tourist nick-nacks or we just don't like it as we discover that Icelanders have very distinctive tastes. There are many things that one just does not find in other countries.
Hallgrimskirkja
in Reykjavik
About noon we revisit the GEO open-air photographic exhibition, which was interrupted on our second day by the rain. It promptly begins to rain again. After we have visited a café we go to the harbour where we wait for the bus.
Now we drive in the direction of the airport. On the way we stop at the 'Blue Lagoon' for a good hour. It is the last opportunity to swim in a geothermal swimming pool. It looks very good, despite the rainy weather, swimming under clouds of hot steam in turquoise blue water.
'
A final bath in
the 'Blue Lagoon
We drive on to a fish restaurant, where we are the only guests. Stefan has ordered a farewell meal for us, which qualitatively doesn't match its price.
We continue to the airport at Keflavik where we arrive at 20:30. The group divides up quickly for their respective flights and early in the morning the next day we are back in Frankfurt, a total of 26 hours without sleep.
Coast in the evening
Conclusion: We had a very pleasant trip, for which the organisation had functioned perfectly. One must see Iceland once, although in my opinion once is enough. The three-week "Wikinger" trip would have been better so that we could have done more walks and studied the country more intensively.
It was the scenery in Landmannalaugar which impressed me most and naturally, above all, the number and the beauty of the waterfalls, the likes of which are found nowhere else on earth. The expanse of the landscape, for someone who has never seen anything like it, is grandiose.
The trip will remain in our memories.
 
Post script: Next day, Ulla went straight to the doctor in Munich, who diagnosed a broken ankle. She had bravely suffered the agony since the seventh day, and we all thought it was a pulled ligament.