13 October 2017

My Scandinavian Adventure: Iceland—The Ring Road

Day 3: Reykholar to Latrabjarg to Dynjandi (pt. 2) — 375km

As I mentioned in my last post, 15 August 2017 was one of the most memorable days in my life. For the record, hiking the dramatic 1500 ft. seacliffs at Latrabjarg, Iceland to view the puffins alone would have qualified it. But that was not the end. This was the day everything about the vacation changed.

Road map of Westfjords, Iceland.
You see, we are a very organized group when we travel. Our itineraries are mapped out to the minute—>"Gotta' be at such and such place at such and such time or else..." We—and when I say "we" I mean Wisdoc—had some trepidation about our—and when I say "our" I mean my—planning (or lack thereof) for the trip around the Ring Road and Ring Road 2. We had our camper van and knew the country had a terrific infrastructure for camping. So we took our maps, guidebooks, and websites (the van had its own WiFi hotspot, btw!) to plan out where we would spend each night. I figured we could improvise our way around. That way, if we found someplace we loved, we could stay longer. No deadlines. Still, Wisdoc was anxious and skeptical.

This day, after hiking to see the puffins, we wound up in a lovely little fjord town called Bildudalur around dinner time. It was ~90 km of rough road from the cliffs. The boys saw hamburgers on the menu and pounced. I said, "Guys, look where you are. You're sitting in a fishing village on a fjord in Iceland. You want to order the fish." There was some collective grumbling until we heard a booming Icelandic voice say, "Order the hamburger! It's the best in the country." The only other patron in the small cafe was a tall, gray haired man sitting in the corner. "The chef is a personal friend of mine. He knows what he's doing." Needless to say, a spirited conversation developed. Turns out the guy was a cod fisherman who was enjoying his last meal before heading out to sea at midnight. Before long, we were all gathered around his table with maps and books as he pointed out the best campsites and attractions in the country—the places the locals liked to camp when they were on holiday. Especially tonight, he said, forget your plans and stay at Dynjandi. It's not technically a campsite, but there are no rangers so you'll be fine.

The boys—who are technically men now—are, I would have to say, pretty much experts when it comes to burgers, and they swore theirs that evening were the best they'd ever had. I ate Creole style Arctic Charr, and the gals had halibut. All agreed: Vegamot Cafe in Bildudalur was the best meal of the trip, and the old cod fisherman's advice put our anxious minds to rest about our lack of pre-planning.

Dynjandi. Lordy. See the pictures and watch the short video below. The old cod fisherman said it wasn't the largest, tallest, or most powerful waterfall in the country, but it was the most beautiful. He gets no argument from me. It pours out of the highlands at the head of an isolated fjord of sublime beauty. We arrived ~9:00 pm and still had time to hike around before dark. There were maybe a half dozen others there that night, hitchhikers or bicyclists who were technically allowed to pitch tents and make use of the super clean flush toilet facilities. No hot showers there, but a historic Viking bathing pool at the foot of the falls! And yes, the air was warm enough to bathe, and the water was cold.

I mean, come on! (Click pics below to embiggen!)

The fjord town of Bildudalur in the Westfjords from the deck at Vegamot Cafe.
The view of Dynjandi Falls from the campsite parking lot. Rainbow and all. I literally leaped from the van and practically ran up the trail to the falls. The others followed.
The whole fam milling around the base of Dynjandi Falls.
Dynjandi Falls
Multiple falls. Dynjandi (There were 5 separate falls by my count)
Looking down toward the campsite by the fjord from the base of Dynjandi. See the van down there?
Hiking down to the campsite from the base of Dynjandi Falls.
The sublime colors of the fjord at twilight. Dynjandi.
Silly Icelandic troll photobombing my picture of the falls at Dynjandi. 
Approaching midnight. Campsite. Our filthy van. Fjord. Dynjandi. The end of a glorious, memorable day in Iceland's Westfjords.
Gratuitous Seacliff Puffin. Because Puffins, dammit!

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