Travels in the North

Musings on arctic holidays

Reliving an old trip – 23rd June 2005 – Seyðisfjörður, Egilsstaðir & Mývatn

As the snow capped grey mountains of East Iceland come into view on the horizon I reflect on my good fortune at having another incredibly smooth ferry crossing across the North Atlantic. The sky is also completely clear and a magnificent, rich shade of blue, which I haven’t seen for a few days having had a rain end to my week in the Faroes.

The mountains of East Iceland

The mountains of East Iceland

Eventually we entered Seyðisfjörður itself, after travelling down a magnificent fjord. Seyðisfjörður is quite a small town, in some ways not dissimilar from a lot of the Faroese villages I’ve seen over the last week. I was given quite a hard time at customs, which I hadn’t expected, was questioned about my itinerary and what I was doing in Iceland and had my luggage searched. Still, as a single young male with a backpack who hadn’t shaved for three days perhaps they thought I was smuggling drugs or something.

Approaching Seyðisfjörður

Approaching Seyðisfjörður

From Seyðisfjörður I caught the connecting bus to Egilsstaðir. I had several hours here before my next bus to Reykjahlíð – although quickly realised this was going to be more than enough. Despite being billed as the “transport and commercial hub” of East Iceland in my guidebook, there’s really very little to the place. A few facilities (a supermarket and a bank), and a church which I took a quick peek in.



It was a glorious day in East Iceland so I headed back to the campsite which is where my bus was leaving from, and sat enjoying the sun for a couple of hours.

Church in Egilsstaðir

Church in Egilsstaðir

The bus ride to Reykjahlíð on the shores of Lake Mývatn was incredible, we drove through a real desert looking landscape with patches of thin grass surrounded by vast expenses of barren rock and gravel, with snow capped mountains in the background. The road had yellow posts at the side of the road at 20m intervals, presumably so you can find your way in the winter when they must get a lot of snow here. Despite being “Route 1” which is the main ring road around the edge of Iceland, it was untarmacked in places, and at one point the driver had trouble getting sheep on the road to move out of the way for us. Approaching Mývatn we passed a couple of geysers, quite an amazing sight,and a strong stench of amonia filled the air.

After the bus dropped me off I walked to the campsite and was immediately set upon by mosquitoes, Lake Mývatn literally means “Midge Lake” and I can see why. They didn’t seem to be biting, although perhaps tomorrow will tell.

I bought a few supplies at the local shop and was horrified by the cost, two tins of tomatoes, a tin of sardines and six breakfast bars cost 900ISK (2012 edit: this was about £8 at the time, before the financial crisis that bankrupted Iceland, the same amount now would be less than £5). Still at least by camping I was keeping the cost down as much as I could.


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