2nd Day was devoted to covering Iceland’s Southern peninsula. Key spots visited were the 2 lakes on Route 42, Grindavik including its beautiful lighthouse, Gunnuhver Hot Springs, The Bridge Between Continents, and 3 lighthouses around Reykjanesbær – covering close to 125 miles. Was quite a busy day.
After having an early breakfast, we started driving to Kleifarvatn on Route 42, a gravel road. For the next 2 hours or so, we were blasted by winds with speeds of over 40 mph and the temperature was a tad under freezing. Out came all the winter outfits especially Indu’s now the world famous red jacket!!! We will not talk about Susheela’s tough look outfit 🙂 Setting the tripod and mounting the camera became challenging.
It was so windy & cold at Kleifasrvatn, I decided not to talk out my Nikon outfit and shot this image using an iPhone6.
Krýsuvík consists of several geothermal fields, such as Seltún. Here solfataras, fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs have formed, the soil is colored bright yellow, red, and green hues – a miniature version what we see in Yellowstone NP. Cold water streams and boiling hot water streams flow side by side here.
Next to Krýsuvík Geothermal Area is another nearly frozen lake called Graenvatn (aka Green Water). Icelandic naming convention is very rational. When you see the lake you know how it got its name. Here is a picture of me shot by Indu.
After enjoying scenery around Graenvatn with winds howling at over 40 mph, we headed towards the fishing town of Grindavik in the Southern coast of Iceland. Along Route 427 (back on a paved road) are massive lava fields covered with moss. We stopped to take some pictures.
When we got back into the car, it wouldn’t start. We had heard that rental cars in Iceland are not super reliable compared to the US and the Jeep we had rented was US made and had about 125K miles on it. We suspected that the battery might have lost all its charge. Bala called the rental car company (we had cell phone coverage pretty much every where we went and we procured multiple SIM cards each for about $15 that included 1GB of data) and the guy asked Bala to put the car in neutral and try to restart. It worked!!! This happened once more during the trip.
Near Grindavik, we came across this cute looking red colored shack on a massive black lava rock. The contrast was striking.
We reached Grindavik at around 1230 pm – time for pizza, the only vegetarian option in Grindavik, a town where u can smell fish everywhere. We had excellent salad and pizza at Pappa’s Pizza. The owner was super friendly and met our unique demands around types of vegetables.
At the pizza place, we saw a travel brochure that had a picture of a terrific looking lighthouse. The Jeep was destined to stop at every lighthouse and waterfall. The Pizza place owner gave us the directions and the lighthouse chase began. The 26′ tall Hópsnesviti Lighthouse built in 1928 currently painted in bright orange was about 2 miles from Grindavik on an unmarked gravel road.On the way, we passed by a number of shipwrecks cast ashore by the ocean, never pulled or left there by any other means.
After a short stop at the Gunnuhver Geothermal area, we reached the Bridge Between Continents, a thin steel span in the middle of nowhere, crossing the rift separating the North American and Eurasian continental plates. We walked across the bridge.
We then drove north to the tip of the Reykjanes peninsula to the small town of Gardur to checkout 2 lighthouses that are side by side. The old Garðskagi Lighthouse was built in 1897 and was used until recently as a center for studying the thousands of migrating birds which arrive there from Greenland and North America every year to breed on the surrounding shore.
We checked out one more lighthouse near the Keflavik International Airport that was not marked in Google Maps or in any travel guide. It was located next to a quarry. It snowed during the night before we left Iceland & I went back before returning the rental car to shoot an image of the lighthouse surrounded by rocks with snow.
We reached our hotel back in Reykjavik at around 730 pm. We then walked to Meze, a Greek/Turkish/Middle eastern restaurant and consumed a few appetizers. After dinner, we drove to the famous Hallgrímskirkja (a Lutheran Church). The 240+’ structure is visible from mostly anywhere in Reykjavik and surrounding areas. We returned to the hotel at around 10 pm. As the Kp index that night was just 2 and it was very cloudy, there was no chance to see Aurora Borealis and so it was time to go to sleep thinking about Day 3.