When we left off at the end of Day 10, we had just made it out of the east side of Dettifoss waterfall, and finally found a place to sleep for a few hours. Bright and early the next day we were out of bed and time lapsing from a spot near the west side of Dettifoss.
It was one of the few mornings were we enjoyed our coffee at a leisurely pace, and just watched the sun come up. All too often we were going like crazy long before the sun came up trying to see and photograph as much as possible. But I guess that’s why the slow mornings are so delectable when they do happen.
When the time lapse finished, we packed up the gear and headed in to see both Selfoss and Dettifoss from the west side. This side is much more accessible and generally more crowded than the east side. Each side is beautiful but the east side of Dettifoss was so much better in our opinion.
So we were extra bummed out we hadn’t had time to see Selfoss on that side as well. However the east side does have the downfall of a 30km drive in that will likely leave you with a headache, or maybe it was just our particular rental vehicle’s lack of suspension.
After getting a few photos of Selfoss, (the first 2 photos in this post) and bemoaning the fact we weren’t on the other side, we headed out on the short walk to Dettifoss. As you can see from the above photo, Dettifoss is still impressive on this side as well.
But if you take a look at the photos where Tyler is standing right next to the thundering waterfall in Day 10, (last photo) I think you’ll see why we’re in favor of the more difficult east side. The more touristed west side has fences and barriers that keep you from getting any close views of this powerful waterfall. Whereas on the east side, you can walk right up to the rushing water, and see where it thunders over the cliff. You can also climb around some of the rocks to get a full view of the height and depth as well.
However having said all that, if you’re running short on time and don’t feel the need to stand right next to Europe’s most powerful waterfall, you might want to just see it from the easier west side. Unless the road in to see the east side improves significantly, that 30km can take a couple hours to drive because you’re having to go so incredibly slow.
We were second to last to leave the east side parking lot the night before, and there was a Toyota Prius following us out. We were going so slow, averaging around 5-15 mph, yet we quickly left them behind. Their tiny car had to just creep out, and as long as it took us, I can’t even imagine how long their drive was!
After visiting waterfalls all morning, we headed towards the Lake Mývatn area for the afternoon. First we went up to visit the Krafla Crater. We had originally planned on visiting some craters in the interior highlands of Iceland. But after getting our rental vehicle switched out at the last minute, we had to make some other plans. I’m still hoping we’ll go back someday to spend more time in the highlands.
Even though we didn’t get to stick to the plan, Iceland didn’t let us down in the least. Which proves without a doubt that if you don’t want to spend lots of money on a rental vehicle that can go into the highlands, there’s still more than enough to see. You will however see a lot more people at the sights that are right off Iceland’s famous ring road.
The Krafla Crater is just such a sight, but I don’t think it makes it any less spectacular because it’s highly touristed. You won’t find quite as many people here as you would on the very crowded south coast. But one thing we did seem to experience was more difficulty parking because the parking lots for sight seeing were smaller overall in this area of Iceland. Luckily we snagged a spot, and hiked up the short distance to look down on the mesmerizing blue water filling the crater.
This crater is so accessible, there was actually some people in wheel chairs that had made the short distance from the parking lot to the edge looking in. It’s also a popular place for families because the sights are spectacular and the walk to see it is very short, even if you go to the highest point.
After visiting the crater, we drove on a short distance to exploring Lake Mývatn. This whole area was so incredibly beautiful, and my photos don’t do it justice at all. The light was harsh, and the sun stayed behind the clouds, making it near impossible to get a good photo. But we took some anyways, because who knows if we’ll ever be back.
Then since the weather was starting to turn on us, we decided to get stocked up again on fuel and groceries before heading to the Mývatn Nature Baths for the evening. We had read that many people enjoyed the Mývatn Nature Baths more the the famous Blue Lagoon, and that it was quieter. Quieter definitely sounded good, so we decided to stop here in addition to the Blue Lagoon.
This turned out to be a great idea because we absolutely loved our time there. Even when we went to the Blue Lagoon several days later, we just couldn’t get over how much more we loved the Mývatn hot spring. I do have to say though, they’re in the process of a massive expansion. So I’d guess it’s going to turn more into a Blue Lagoon type of experience over the next few years.
But while we were there, we enjoyed the more personal atmosphere, as well as having pools with different temperatures. They also had lots of places to sit in the nature baths, which the Blue Lagoon didn’t have any. It seems like a small thing, but after standing in hot water for a 10 minutes, you kinda want a place to sit down to really relax into the warmth.
We had planned on just staying for an hour or so, then head back out to time lapse the sunset. But as the afternoon came to a close, it just got darker and more stormy looking. So we decided to stop working for the evening and just enjoy the nature baths.
Even while typing that out, I started laughing. The whole ‘stop working’ thing lasted all of an hour or so before Tyler headed back out to the van to dry out his phone. We had a LifeProof case and it quit being water proof after a couple photos in the nature baths. Turns out waterproof cases don’t work all that well with hot water and steam. Just thought I’d mention it in case you didn’t know like us.
So anyways I was relaxing in the water while he was taking care of his soaking wet phone. And when he returned from the van, he was packing along our DSLR camera. At first I felt like I might have a heart attack bringing something so expensive into the water. I wasn’t worried at all about one of us getting it wet, but there were kids around, and I really didn’t want to be 1 camera down part way through the trip. But of course I was worrying for nothing, and the photos were more than worth the tiny risk of bringing it into the pool with us.
While we were relaxing in the pool, someone from the parking lot area decided to do a flyover with a large drone. As the drone buzzed just a few feet over everyone’s head, everyone simultaneously booed the camera and performed all manner of hand gestures. They immediately radioed security to chase down the person illegally flying the drone, and we all went back to the wonderful peace and quite.
Again and again during our trip, there was always at least one person flying a drone in a completely inappropriate way. And it was so clear why they’re being outlawed everywhere. It’s such a bummer though for anyone creating videos or photography because drones are such a valuable tool if used right. Why on earth would you even want video of a nature bath so close to everyone sitting in it anyways?
As it started to get dark, we realized we’d been soaking for the better part of 3 hours! So we decided we really needed to get going to find a place to sleep and make dinner. We were actually pretty proud of ourselves for calling it quits at a decent time, and we were both really looking forward to a good sleep and a hot meal.
However, life had other plans in store rather than a laid back night. When we got back to the van, I discovered my phone was missing, which of course was the start of a very long evening. At first we figured it must have slipped between a seat or something along those lines. It was strange because I never loose my phone, I mean Never! For this trip, I had 2 spots I always kept it in the van, so I couldn’t figure out what happened to it.
We tore the van apart twice looking for it, but to no avail. At least we got really organized during the whole process. Finally after not being able to find it for the better part of an hour, I headed back into the nature baths just in case I had taken in, and left it in the locker.
I knew I hadn’t taken it in, but I was starting to run out of options to where it had disappeared to. Of course it wasn’t in the nature baths, so it was back out to the van to search again. We ended up going through it 3x thinking maybe we missed it, after all we were searching in the dark with headlamps.
Finally we decided the only possibility was it has slipped off my lap when I got out of the van, and someone had taken it. With a sinking feeling, (I didn’t have any kind of insurance on my phone) we put everything back in the van, and got ready to go.
All of a sudden while I was plugging in all of our gear to charge, an idea occurred to me. Hmm… what if something crazy had happened, and my phone had slipped through the tiny slit between where we were charging everything, and the top of the van console? But not matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get my hand far enough in the 1/4″ opening to feel anything.
Not to be deterred, Tyler got to work manhandling the console right off it’s hinges, (I was too scared of breaking it, luckily he wasn’t worried in the least). And there it was!!! Somehow during our travels that day, it had wiggled it’s way out of the console and into the void. We found all sorts of things in there including a map of Iceland that was super helpful. Turns out I’m not the only one who had lost things to the console void, just the only one to loose something valuable.
By this time, the whole ‘dinner and early bedtime thing’ was just a distant memory. But we were both just so happy to have found my phone, that it didn’t even matter! We decided to skip a real dinner, and break out some snacks during the drive to our next location for Day 12. Between finding the phone, finally getting something to eat, and being on the road again, we were both feeling pretty euphoric as we headed out into the darkness.