Day Seven; The not so blue lagoon and an angry geyser
We woke up to torrential rain and gusting winds at the harbour, meaning that we had to pack up a leave quickly to find somewhere more sheltered. Driving along in our pyjamas we passed a few fields of horses and came across a couple of airfield buildings that we parked up against to shelter us from the wind. A filling breakfast, courtesy of mother, of omelette with veg and cheese for breakfast and we were off again.
Although very quickly pulled over when we spotted a whole herd of Icelandic Horses, mares and foals, hanging out beside the fence line. I really couldn’t have come to Iceland without getting some photos of these brilliant little horses, they certainly didn’t disappoint either. Thick furry coats and soft fluffy noses jostled to get closer to us at the fence, even the foals were looking for attention. We decided to call it a day when we started loosing the feeling in our fingers, it was an especially cold day in Iceland and that was enchanted by the sprinkle of snow that had appeared on the hill tops overnight.
Heading back down route 1 towards our final destination of Keflavik we passed through every type of weather, rain, sunshine and snow in the mountain pass from Selfoss towards Reykjavík. We had in mind that we’d go and see whether we could get into the Blue Lagoon that afternoon for a spot of luxury after a week in our home on wheels. We’d read the signs saying that booking was essential, us being us we thought we could wing it and turn up if it fitted in with our plans. We originally weren’t keen on booking only to find out that our plans had changed and to then consequently miss out. Surprisingly, even in low season, the lagoon was fully booked with no space for that day or the day after. Thankfully we checked this online while having a tea stop in Reykjavik… so bang went that plan. A quick consultation with google and our lonely planet guide and we found Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, on the outskirts of Reykjavík, only about 8km away from where we were. It had good reviews, changing rooms and above all hot showers so packed up and headed there.
The beach was glorious, and to top it the sun even made an appearance. We went for a quick dip in the sea, with me opting for the slightly warmer circular lagoon, before hot tailing it back up to the hot pot to relax in the 38 degrees warm water. After this we made full use of the spacious hot showers, before heading off again on our way to a potential overnight location in the southwestern Reykjanes area. I had spotted this location originally on the Hot Pot Iceland website due to the geothermal area and hot spring Gunnhuver. However, on closer inspection it turned out I was slightly out with my geography on that one as the pool turned out to be further down the road.
Gunnhuver is also the location of Iceland’s oldest lighthouse, the original one fell from the cliff into the sea after an earthquake prior to 1878. We thought this would be a perfect location to pitch up for the night, perched with the birds on the cliff top overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic ocean. Sadly though, after a weather, check we realised that this would be a bit too close for comfort to the oncoming storm and we would risk being blown from the cliff. Regardless, we had a great time taking in the geography of the area; from the huge egg shaped boulders on the beach, to the angry bubbling spring of Gunnhuver, before moving on to find a location for the night.
Finally we found a place, the quaint little coastal village of Hafnír, only about 15 minutes from Keflavik, and we tucked ourselves behind a chemical warehouse before having a short wander around the little village. We’d been lucky with the weather so far that day, well if you didn’t include the wind in the morning or passing through the snow covered tops near Selfoss in the afternoon… Glimpsing at the weather report aurora activity was set to be 6 out of 9 on the scale, translating to a very high chance of seeing the northern lights. This being our last night in Iceland, I really had my fingers crossed that we at least saw a glimpse of them, even if it was through some minor cloud cover. Boy was I not disappointed, the lights danced from about 8pm that night until well after I went to bed. What I realised though, is that they’re no where near as green to the naked eye as they appear on camera, therefore to really spot them there was an element of pointing the camera at what could be a could and hoping that once it had taken the picture that cloud turned out to be green.
Making full use of the two tripods that I insisted on brining, I set up my GoPro and camera and got to work. For my camera I started with a 30 second exposure and ISO3200 I was pretty happy with the results so then only moved the shutter speeds from 25 to 30 dependent on whether I was pointing the camera to capture the lights overlooking Keflavik. The GoPro I set to a night lapse video/photo, 20 second exposure and ISO3200, and let it get to work while I snapped away on the canon. For my first attempt at this type of photography I was hugely pleased with the results, at least on the small screen of the camera the photos looked amazing. However, I am more than aware of the false sense of security viewing images that way can give you…
At about 12:30pm I called it a day and went to bed, dreaming of all of the adventures we’d had the past week. Feeling happy but sad at the same time, not wanting the experience to be over.