Traveling Iceland - Day 4 - Long Drive to Akureyri and Godafoss
We had originally planned to stay in the Westfjords longer, but due to weather and the general stress of driving in the area, we decided to move out and head back to the Ring Road and make our way towards the northern area of Iceland - to the “large” city known as Akureyri. This is quite an intense drive, clocking it at around 6.5 hours (it took us a little more with having to drive slowly on the treacherous Westfjord roads again). It went fairly quickly, and we made room for occasional stop offs to take in the region and grab gas/food at the N1 gas stations we encountered along the way.
We arrived in the area of Akureyri in mid-day, and decided to push on to visit a few of the natural locations within an hours drive East.
We were quite excited to visit Godafoss waterfall (‘the waterfall of the gods’), having heard so much good about it. And how can’t you be excited by a waterfall with such a cool name? There was also some intrigue inspired by the Icelandic history of the place - it being the location of the modern myth that lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland by throwing statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall.
It turns out, Godafoss was one of the few let downs of the trip. You learn quickly as you travel Iceland that waterfalls start to feel incredibly common, as you see them all the time while you drive, and this one appeared much smaller than we had expected. It led Chris’ to say, “Photography is evidently all about deception,” and at least when it comes to photography of this waterfall - this appears to be the truth. In relooking at some of the photos of this place, it is evident some really wide lenses (16mm or wider) are being utilized, which creates some warping that can make it look larger than it really is.
It’s worth noting, that even in the slow season of September, Godafoss was still a hopping tourist attraction fresh with busloads of people, a restaurant, and gift shop - all of which did not really contribute to a better perspective. It also doesn’t help that the day before we had just seen a huge waterfall - Dynjandi - in the Westfjord regions, so Godafoss came across as quite tame in comparison.
Even so, we got some great photos here, and it is worth visiting even for a short while - especially if you are not into long hiking excursions to see some of the more remote waterfalls in Iceland like Svartifoss.
From a photography perspective, as the widest lens we had on hand was a 24mm - which is not sufficient for capturing this waterfall - we instead opted to use our 50mm and take closer up and more abstract shots of the waterfall Godafoss. Images captured with other tourists in the frame provide some humanity and help show the scale of the falls.
THE LOVELY CITY OF AKUREYRI AND THE BEST ICELAND CAMPING - HAMRAR CAMPSITE
We drove back to Akureyri as we were planning to stay at the Hamrar Campsite right outside of town. We spent a little time wandering around the town, and needless to say it is very beautiful. We grabbed some coffee at a local coffee shop/book store (seemed like an Icelandic version of Barnes and Noble/Starbucks). We also grabbed our first Icelandic hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur - worth it!
By this point in our campground stays, we were not sure what to expect. After a bad night in the Westfjords, Jes said…”are you sure this campground is legit?” It turns out, Hamrar Campground is one of the best in Iceland that we saw. We liked it so much we decided to add another stay here the following day. You pay about the same as you would at all other campsites, but it is far more spacious and has better amenities (like warm water and showers). For a more detailed review, read HERE.
OH YES - AURORA BOREALIS
Many people go to Iceland to visit the natural wonders of the world. To the North of the island is the Arctic Sea, and as Iceland is a part of the Arctic Circle, the opportunity to see the auroras from here is high if you have clear and dark skies. We only got a taste, but it was one of the most magical experiences of our lives. It is difficult to describe seeing the “dance” of the auroras above us, but it certainly made for an excellent end to our night.
Be sure to check out the rest of our Traveling Iceland article series.