When I first asked on the tripadvisor forum if I should drive the Ring Road in November, I received plenty of feedback saying I shouldn’t out of safety.
If it hadn’t been for Dettifoss, I might well have stuck to just exploring the area closer to Reykjavik.
I’ve always had a certain fascination with waterfalls, ever since I saw the grandeur of the Niagara Falls more than a decade ago. Somehow, it always feels special to see water tumbling down in a particular manner.
Dettifoss is regarded as Europe’s most powerful falls, and this was one of the must sees in Iceland, plus you could get pretty close to it, which stirred up the excitement in me even more.
We set off nice and early, just when the sun began to rise (not before another wonderful breakfast at Vogafjos of course-we were a bit sad to leave).
From there, it took us around an hour an a half to reach Dettifoss, via Route 862.
Some of the common questions that people ask is which route to take off Route 1-862 or 864. While the waterfall is essentially the same, the views actually make both experiences different. Personally we took Route 862, out of safety since it’s a paved road all the way till the falls, though you should check before going to see if it’s closed during winter. Apparently it’s quite common.
The other route, 864, is gravel all the way so it might make for a bumpy ride, and certainly more likely to close during winter. Across the bank we could see quite a number of people who took that route on the day I went. But we were satisfied with our choice because because we both felt the views of the waterfall were grander.
There’s actually another route to the falls I think, a off the beaten one and probably only open during summer, through Route 85, north of the falls and via Asbrygi. Always check road.is before you travel.
Whichever route you take, nothing will take away the experience of the might of Dettifoss. The sheer volume and force of the waters tumbling down will leave you in awe, and possibly even a little frightened for some.
We must have spent at least 2 hours just gazing into the falls.
You can actually get really close to the edge, but please be very careful because the paths could be very icy or slippery!
Once it was time to leave, we headed to nearby Selfoss to take a quick peek.
It took us close to 30 minutes just to catch a glimpse, a little more than what we had expected. We had to cut short the walk so we didn’t make it all the way till the end, as we had to move to Egilsstadir, the largest town in East Iceland, to rest for the night. The journey was around 3 hours and we didn’t fancy driving when the sun was down.
Right before you reach Egilsstadir (before the long bridge), there’s a casual cafe which was undoubtedly one of the finds of our trip. We couldn’t find the location on google maps so it took us a little while before we finally did.
♦ Bókakaffi Hlöðum – Helgafelli 2, Fellabæ (before the bridge to Egilsstadir)
The cafe was packed with locals and we pondered taking out the sumptuous cakes that were on display, until we realized that a cake buffet was going on for a reasonable 1500ISK per person. I believe they only have the buffet on Fridays and we could see how popular it was based on the fact that it was packed with locals.
The lady boss was really gracious, patiently explaining to us how the system works and even cleared an alternate place for us to sit as there were no seats available then.
There was a huge assortment of cakes, tarts, pies and not forgetting free flow of coffee as well, which was the perfect complement for the cakes.
You usually don’t associate buffets with quality but this is one that certainly goes against the norm. An absolute steal in my books and not one to forget.
Our accommodation for the night was the business like Icelandair Hotel Herad, which was clean and cosy though a little on the pricey side.Egilsstadir itself is a decent place to stay for the night, with two supermarkets (Bonus and Netto) to stock up on your necessities before the next leg of your journey. If you have time, I reckon you can travel further up towards Seydisfjorour, a cute little town 30 minutes drive east of Egilsstadir.
There weren’t many dining options in the winter though, so we settled for instant noodles that we brought along for our trip.
Day 8 was essentially traveling day, moving to the town of Hofn, known for its lobster. The drive was around 250km away, depending on the route you took.
As always we had our breakfast at the hotel, while not as fantastic as Vogafjos, was certainly not far off in terms of the variety.
What was interesting too was the cod liver oil they offered to their guests. Besides the usual, they also had additional items like smoked cod roe caviar. The waffle iron was also an excellent addition to a already large spread of food.
Once we had filled our bellies, we made our way Hofn, where our guesthouse would be located to stay for the night.
Before the trip I had earmarked this particular leg of the trip to be dangerous, due to the road conditions that I read could be dodgy. However, nothing serious happened and the weather really cooperated to help us reach our destination safely.
From Egilsstadir there are basically 3 routes towards Hofn:
- Route 1 to Breiodalsvik towards Djupivogur
- Route 1 to Route 939 (Oxi mountain pass) towards Djupivogur
- Coastal road from Route 92 to Route 96 before merging with Route 1 after Breiodalsvik
I believe in winter Route 3 is the safest option and the only one available usually. Route 2 is the fastest but also the most dangerous since it involves driving the mountain roads.
Regardless of which route you take, expect gravel roads on some parts of Route 1 and always go slower on such roads, especially the point where the paved road turns to gravel. Do keep a lookout for the sign like this below to tell you when this happens.
You should not go faster than 80km/h on gravel roads. Personally, I would’t do more than 70 on such roads.
As usual, the drive was always something i looked forward to and there was always great scenery no matter which part of Iceland you go to.
Just before we reached Hofn, we found a little waterfall off the side of the road and we decided to do a quick stop to explore further. As it turned out, it was a pleasant surprise since we could get really close to the waterfall.
I can’t recall clearly where we saw this particular falls, but I’m pretty sure it’s between Djupivogur and Hofn, and it’s marked by the usual sign indicating a tourist attraction nearby. There’s also a rest stop in front of it, and it’s on the right side of the road so you shouldn’t miss it.
We arrived in our accommodation for the night, Seljavellir Guesthouse amid gusty conditions, and both me and Pari struggled just walking in the strong wind. We had to hang on to the car doors while opening to make sure they weren’t blown off as well, apparently not uncommon in Iceland.
I swear that Iceland has the strongest winds in the world.
Our stay for the night, Seljavellir Guesthouse, is a rather new property, opened by the owners of the farm behind the guesthouse, and practically in the middle of nowhere, which was exactly how we liked it. The owner was really warm and friendly and made us felt very much at home. The rooms were spotlessly clean and modern as well.
The price was also reasonable, we paid around 100 euros including breakfast (the owner makes the best fried eggs I’ve ever had), and it’s only ten minutes drive away from Hofn, where there are several good restaurants to satisfy your lobster cravings.
Also, because of its location, seeing the Northern Lights in the comfort of your room is a possibility due to the lack of light pollution in the area.
Before we called it a day, we stocked up our groceries at Netto in Hofn, and found a little local cafe known as Kaffi Hornid, where we had some decent lamb as well as reindeer burger, a novelty I suppose since its not something you have often. Originally we wanted to try Pakhus, but it was closed for winter.
We were already more than halfway through our trip, and the next few days would undoubtedly be one of the best days we would spend in Iceland.