Fire and Ice-land - Snaefellsnes peninsula

Fire and Ice: two forces of Nature that have always fascinated us, from GRRMartin's Song of Ice and Fire to a French Roleplaying campaign called Fire and Ice. From Viking legends to Game of Thrones locations, via Journey at the Center of the Earth, Iceland has it all.

Iceland is only a 3h flight away from London, so this year, I simply decided to go there three times:
- once during my birthday weekend, with one of the few bank holidays in the UK at the end of May/beg of June, concentrating on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, called the Little Iceland for reasons we will see below
- the second time in August, with the final bank holiday of the year, based in Reykjavik, with an amazing dive and some great day tours
- the third (and last, for now) in December, not for the "Real Winter Experience" seeked out by a lot of Asians at this period, but "simply for the Northern Lights, and the Jokulsarlon.

As it was my first time in Iceland, and my roommate had already done the Golden Circle, we decided to tour the Snaefellsnes, which has so much to offer. So we arrived on a Friday, rented a car at Keflavik, and drove to Borgarnes, our first hostel stop before the real start of the road trip.

We started off on Saturday in the direction of Husafell, for great views of the Glacier in the area, and some of the famous icelandic horses along the way.

Then, on the road back to the peninsula, we stopped at the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls

All the roads around are very scenic, with horses grazing in the fields, and hill protected houses, volcanic fields and waterfalls. I would highly recommend to stop at any viewpoint, because each and every one of them has the postcard effect.
There is also a Geothermal power plant on the way that explains quite well how Iceland is using the volcanic activity under their feet to heat their houses and water - which also explains why Borgarnes hot water smells like sulfur.
We then decided to start the Snaefellsnes peninsula trip from the Northern side, starting with Stykkisholmur, which is very nice harbour town with a cute lighthouse and balsamic columns

Right outside the city, there is a beautiful viewpoint that you have to climb to see the whole islands around the harbour.

As the Lonely Planet points out, the road from Stykkisholmur to Grundarfjordur is very scenic, with legends and myths all around, especially the Berserkers' lava field.

And then we finally arrived at Grundarfjordur, with the legendary Kirkjufell. From the hostel, it is a 45 min walk to the viewpoint, at the top of the waterfall

And that was it for Saturday, which was more than enough for a full day.
The next day, we continued on road 574, with black sand beaches and spectacular waterfalls, especially from the area around Rif and Hellissandur, before officially entering the Snaefellsjokull National Park.
Before route 574 turns south, take the direction of Ondverdarnes, where a track (manageable for a 2WD) takes you to the middle of lava fields right next to the deep blue sea
Until it finishes at one of the western lighthouses, which strikes a bright orange beam in the middle of the deserted black land

The wind is as strong as advertised, so hold your car door when you open it, and if you're brave enough, there is a viewpoint of the lava cliffs with white waves crashing at their feet. Unmissable.
Continuing on to the Southern part of the peninsula, there is a volcano you can climb, and beautiful sights of the Snaefellsjokull
Lunch break
Route 572 then leads you to Djupalonssandur, a black sand beach with lifting stones used to measure men's strength, and linked to Dritvik, covered in rusted wreck pieces, which adds to the already dramatic volcanic features

Continuing on the road, you will see the rock pillars of Londrangar, that will make you think of the Troll legends. Then the highlight of the day will definitely be the scenic trail between Hellnar and Arnarstapi. It follows the shore with dramatic volcanic sceneries

It really is a must-see, and if you only have one thing to do in Snaefellsnes, make it this. It will take one half day of your schedule, and will enchant your eyes.
After the trail, we decided to stop with the hostels and plurge in one of Lysuholl's little lodges.

view from our chalet
Lysuholl is a horse farm which offers half day hacks in the middle of lava fields, so of course for my birthday, I had to get on a horse, and try the famous icelandic horse tolt. Best present to myself!

And that was it for the Snaefellsnes peninsula. After a shower, we drove straight to Reykjavik, with a first stop at the outlandish church

Then a stop at the Reykjavik 871 +/-2 and its settlement exhibition, before a hot drink at the Laundromat Cafe, before heading to one of the amazing restaurants in Downtown Reykjavik, for some traditional Icelandic meals.

And that concludes the first trip to Iceland!

The next one will follow shortly, with another long weekend break based in Reykjavik, with day tours to the Golden Circle. Stay tuned!

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