After checking out, we waited for our rental car at the doorstep of our hostel. Basil had made the booking online for the car rental through Route 1 and camping gear from Iceland Camping Equipment, prior to our arrival. We had to pick up the equipment from a drop box near the main tourist center. After a long wait, our car rental agency made an appearance. The instructor gave preliminary instructions, maps, and emergency contact numbers. However, she forgot to give us the GPS. Basil quickly went to get the camping gear as I waited for someone to drop of the GPS. After Basil came back and the GPS drop; we were set for our maiden international road trip.
As we made it through the arterial roads of Reykjavik into the wide freeways, the terrain changed drastically. Speed limits, traffic, and GPS kept us in check. En-route, we passed the familiar sight of the grotesque remains of a car crash put up on display – for reckless drivers. We slowly made it through the city roads to Iceland’s scenic ‘Ring Road’. The beauty of the Ring Road, is that is largely isolated, with dotted vehicular traffic. On either side, Iceland’s evolving scenery makes it hard to keep your eyes on the road. The lush countryside with grazing horses on green meadows, makes for wonderful photographic opportunities. However, you can’t stop on the ring road except for towns or designated photographic spots. Shortly after the town of Hveragerdi, we stopped for a break at Selfoss. You will find a gas station, deserted mall and a subway outlet just as you make an entry into the town. We proceeded further to the town of Hella. We made our next stop at Seljalandfoss. Clear white waters gush from the edge of a cliff to a pool, 200 m below. What’s fascinating, is that you can choose to walk around the waterfall, and literally witness what it looks from behind. We skipped the trail as we thought we’d do it on our journey back, big mistake – it never happens. From Seljalandfoss, the scenery varies from open meadows to towering cliffs with many small waterfalls. As we approached Skogar, the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier was in plain sight. Signboards with accompanying images of the havoc the volcanic eruption of 2010 caused were posted besides a small visitor centre. The route to Vik takes you through rolling hills, into the lavender coloured fields of Lupine. We tried racing rain clouds, at times, we were successful. Don’t miss the church, over the winding curvy road. You can choose to camp in the nondescript town of Vik or take a pit-stop and carry onwards. The black beach of Vic is equally famous and requires you to be alert of the turning to it or you’ll miss it. We missed it unfortunately, so we headed to a local diner and had a rather heavy meal of burger and fries. Buses filled with school kids and travellers were parked outside. At 3:00 p.m. we started for kirkjubæjarklaustur – our camp pit-stop for the day.
Iceland’s scenery’s as unpredictable as its weather. We had made it through glaciers, rolling hills and meadows and now the terrain changed into isolated fields of moulds. Under the rain clouds, visibility was reduced and it recreated a scene of a horror movie. I wanted it to get out of there. We reached the hilly town of kirkjubæjarklaustur at 4:00 p.m. There are two camping sites here. One near the visitor centre and the second near the waterfall. The former has bathrooms with a kitchen facility, while the latter has a more back-to-nature feel to it. We opted for the second one. The designated camp site is a small plot of land, enclosed in a picket fence. There was a provision for two loos and wash basins. We had two other campers with us and the isolation was rewarding. We fumbled to pitch our tent before it rained and then head for a walk to the waterfall. We sat by the waterfall for a few moments and then walked aimlessly around the area. Birding sites were close and as we passed by we caused a flurry of activity. It was late evening and daylight was still ambient. We munched our cheese sandwiches and tried to sleep. By early morning we were shivering with cold. Not getting a sleeping bag is a rookie mistake.