Iceland Day 4: Drive from Vik till Hofn – Southeast Iceland

Photo of Iceland Day 4: Drive from Vik till Hofn – Southeast Iceland by nidhi patnaik

After spending an amazing evening in Dyraholey and Reynisfjara the previous day in southern Iceland, We were all set to explore the quaint little town of Vik and drive south-east of the ring road towards an Icelandic fishing town, Hofn. I was looking forward to visiting the most popular Diamond beach today, as the pictures I had seen on the internet had already given me a hint of the fascinating place we had on our itinerary.

We first drove to the village of Vik, which was quite close to our guest house accommodation. There is a church at the top of a hill, where we parked our car to enjoy the scenic view of the town.

The beautiful purple flowers, known as lupins were blooming all around the green landscape over the mountains with the ocean in front. The lovely weather with the right amount of cold and wind, made it perfect to soak in the blissful lively atmosphere.

The fairy-tale town couldn’t get anymore better for a perfect picture in the field of lupins. There was a lot to explore today, so we were off to our next stopover which was Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon.

Photo of Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Vik, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

The name of this canyon is hard to pronounce, like most of the Icelandic names of the places we were visiting. As we took a note of all the sites on our itinerary, we easily navigated to this place which was a little off the ring road but not too far.

But, the drive up to the canyon’s parking area is a gravel road filled with potholes. Not very difficult as I managed without a lot of driving experience and also a 4X4 car does help to drive on gravel roads.

From the parking area, we hiked up a walking trail to multiple viewpoints and reached the highest view point from where we watched the gorgeous canyon and the waterfall on the other side. It is a breathtaking view, especially of the canyon which looks like a well crafted design covered with a green carpet providing a narrow passage for the water to flow in between. I just couldn’t help thinking how much more beautiful can Iceland get.

We spent some time here before heading back to the parking lot and going to our next destination which was the Vatnajökull National Park.

Photo of Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Vatnajokull National Park is a superb location for exploring, trekking, glacier hikes and other activities due to it’s geographical location and also, because is built around Europe’s largest glacier Vatnajokull. Skaftafell is part of this National park from where numerous walking trails begun.

While driving towards Vatnajokull, the views of the majestic glacier started to appear. It looked immensly glorious with sun shining upon it. We stopped at one of the parking spots on the side of the road to have a look at the glacier and capture it’s beauty in our cameras. The off road parking spots are a bliss in Iceland, otherwise none of us would have been able to drive in Iceland due to the numerous distractions.

We reached the parking area of the national park which is quite huge and was filled with vehicles. This place is undoubtedly quite popular with tourists and locals owing to the large number of attractions this place offers. We planned to do a trek to Sjónarnípa and Svartifoss which is a popular waterfall around 3 kms uphill hike from the visitor centre.

But before everything, our stomachs were churning with hunger. Luckily, as soon as we entered we spotted a nice cafe and relished a lobster soup and fish fingers. After refilling ourselves, we set out to hike towards Sjónarnípa first.

The well-marked trail is common for both Svartifoss and Sjonarnipa till a crossroad where there is a signpost indicating that Sjonarnipa is towards the right. The uphill hike did get tiring and challenged our fitness levels. The trail is further 2-3 kms till the viewpoint. I was walking with the hope to see the trace of the glacial Ice at every turn of the trail. And then finally, there it was!

The view of the glacier looked marvelous with sheets of Ice layered in between the green magnificent mountains. We got down through the rocks to catch a closer glimpse of the entire view. There were chunks of ice floating in the lake behind which was finally flowing into the ocean. We were surely rewarded for the challenging hike we did by being offered a sumptuous treat to the eyes and heart.

We went back on the trail to visit Svartifoss, which is a unique waterfall with basalt columns. But, after experiencing so many extraordinary attractions, we were not too eager to explore it. We were also running late for a boat tour we had booked online with Zodiac tour in Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

We did have a look at it from a distance but didn’t spend much time here as we took the trail back to the visitor centre.

View from Sjonarnipa

Photo of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Chunks of Ice floating in the lake

Photo of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

The glacier tounge

Photo of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

Watching the stream of river making it's way into the ocean at the end

Photo of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

We reached the glacier lagoon for a boat tour we booked here at 6:00 PM. At the parking spot, we located the van of zodiac tours. It was very windy and cold outside. We quickly donned our jackets, caps and gloves and headed out for our next adventure. Not to forget are the sunglasses which are also a must here due to the direct sun rays falling and reflecting upon the Ice.

Into the van, we were provided with waterproof heavy suits which we wore on top. We were provided with helmets and harness which we wore which looked like getting ready for some expedition.

After getting into the boat, I realized the importance of wearing the heavy suit as it helped in beating the chilly wind. Soon, the sight of various floating Icebergs in various patterns started appearing like visiting nature’s very own art exhibition.

It was thrilling to watch the astounding glaciers and the view of beautiful crystalline Ice bergs with their sparkling blue color. Our guide took the boat close to the Ice bergs and stopped for a while so that we could admire and adore this out-worldly sight.

He also told us about the impact of global warming and the rate at which these ice bergs were melting.

It is then I realized how we take the environment for granted. Especially after spotting a seal wagging his tail on an Iceberg, I couldn’t stop feeling that one day all of this might just disappear if the environment of our beautiful planet keeps degrading at alarming rates.

After around an hour of cruising in the cold waters of the glacier lagoon, we were back to the parking area to get some pictures of the magnificent Ice bergs floating around which was one of the most luxurious things which I have experienced till now.

Photo of Jökulsárlón, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Jökulsárlón, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Jökulsárlón, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Jökulsárlón, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

They say ‘ Diamonds are a woman’s best friend’. Somehow I have never been fond of this precious stone and even if I was, my fondness for them would diminish after seeing the ‘real’ diamonds of Iceland.

Right across the road, this black sand beach is a marvel of nature. The diamonds here refer to the big chunks of Ice which lie on the black shore and also float in the sea which made me realize that nature’s real diamonds are one’s I saw here. There were seals across the beach, lying lazily and playing in water.

The entire experience of watching the seals playing in deep blue water, hearing their sound in such a bizarre and peaceful natural setting felt like a gift from the creator of the universe. I could just stay here and keep watching the waves hitting the beautiful shore decorated with chunks of Ice, no less than diamonds lying on the beach.

It is hard to describe how happy I was here because like it is rightly said, some affairs with nature can neither be put into words nor be captured.

As we had to check-in at our airbnb in Hofn, We had to bid this place good-bye.

Photo of Diamond Beach, Iceland by nidhi patnaik
Photo of Diamond Beach, Iceland by nidhi patnaik

The airbnb at Hofn ( a stopover)

We drove till our airbnb in Hofn which was further around 80 kms ahead from Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Hofn is a small fishing town in the south eastern part of Iceland and is a good stopover for people like us driving along the Iceland’s ring road.

In Hofn, We had booked a room in a lovely house hosted by an Icelandic woman. She greeted us with utmost warmth and kindness. She showed us around the house and what a beautiful house it was! There were handmade interiors she had done herself in the room she gave us.

There was a dog who came running towards us, eager to meet us and greet us. I had never seen anything so adorable before. I am not much of a dog lover, but this one was just too cute to not be loved at the first sight!

He was playing in the living room, running around the house while we were chatting with our hosts talking about family and sharing experiences about Iceland. To make this even better, the other guests sharing the house were also back by now. There was a brother sister duo from Canada doing a similar itinerary as our’s.

The guy we met was writing postcards to his near and dear one’s, and that is how we started our conversation. He told us that he writes postcards whenever he is visiting a new place. The forgotten postcards made me feel nostalgic about the old times when the digital media was an unknown stranger.

The differences of being from another parts of the world didn’t matter a bit as we bonded over interesting conversations about our experiences in Iceland. Even though I won’t see them again, the experience enriched my vacation with their hearty smiles, warm hearts, and beautiful memories.

But as we were very sleepy, we went back to our respective rooms to catch some sleep before the long drive to the northern part of Iceland tomorrow morning.

Important links for the day:

Airbnb accommodation at Hofn

Jokulsarlon Zodiac boat tour

Link to the main blog of Iceland: Hello Iceland