Join us when we continued our winter Ring Road of Iceland adventure tour. On the road, we encountered snowstorms, stunning sceneries, and took some time to relax in the nature baths.

Rapidly Changing Weather Conditions

We have continued our Iceland tour in changing weather conditions and drove all the way to Seydisfjördur from Hali. The weather varied a lot from blowing snow to an almost clear road. We left from Hali at about ten in the morning and our total driving time, including three stops on the way, was five minutes to eight hours!

The last stretch from Egilsstadir to the port town of Seydisfjördur was a little road with loads of snow on it, and it was also continuously snowing more from the sky. Just a day before this road had also been marked with red in Vegagerdin (which means impassable, practically closed). But luckily today it was drivable. Even though there were harsh winds, snow, and darkness. We were lucky again, I guess.

Our place in Seydisfjördur was a little cabin constructed of logs at the other side of the fjord. We settled around with all our stuff, grabbed a couple of beers and took a bath in the lovely hot tub located in the backyard of the cabin. We were the only guests in this cabin village, which wasn’t a surprise. Since we’ve arrived in many of our hotels when it’s already dark, we haven’t seen the surroundings properly until the next morning. This day wasn’t an exception.

When the morning rose, it revealed a lovely scene to the fjord around us with the surrounding mountains. During breakfast, we did our morning routine: checking the road conditions ahead of us from Vegagerdin. This site is worth more than gold there, especially in the wintertime. We have a tight schedule on this trip and because of that, we have these many one night stops on the way. From this stop in Seydisfjördur, our route took us next to Myvatn. Luckily this days’ drive was going to be quite a short one compared to the yesterdays’.

A cabin in Seydisfjördur, Iceland
Our cabin in the lap of Seydisfjördur, Iceland

Driving in the North and Relaxing in the Myvatn Nature Baths

The road to Myvatn is one of the most scenic parts of Northern Iceland, and we had planned to visit all the interesting sites on the way. The first of them was supposed to be Krafla, a volcanic crater located at the end of a side road from the Highway 1. We had found the way, and we had driven about 5 km when the cleared length of the road just stopped dead.

From that point onwards ahead of us there were just loads of snow. We saw that no one had driven the road since the snow had fallen. We did have a 4RW car, but it wasn’t a super jeep, so we chose not to take the risk to get stuck somewhere up the snowy road. We were just half way of the whole length of the road, and no one knew how the road would be like further away. So we decided to turn back to the main road and continue towards one of our highlights in this region – the Myvatn Nature Baths!

Myvatn is one of the best of the Iceland Geothermal Baths! Remember, when driving in Iceland in winter, you have to accept that every place may not be accessible in those current conditions. If that happens, you just have to skip it and continue your way. But fortunately, there are so many great places that if you miss something out, you’ll have something in replace for sure! So don’t let that ruin your day.

We arrived at the nature baths in the afternoon and were very excited to have the chance to swim in the hot nature pools of Myvatn, full of nurturing minerals. Fortunately, we also were one of the few people around at that particular time. It’s always a pleasure when you don’t have to share your experience with hundreds of other people at the same time.

The Myvatn nature baths reminded me of the onsens of Beppu in Japan. There was the same smell of sulfur in the air, the same color of the water. Even the same thing happened to my silver ring which I forgot to remove from my finger – it turned all dark from the power of the waters’ minerals.

Myvatn nature baths, Iceland
Myvatn nature baths (Photo by: Mirkku Merimaa)

Finding a Great Guesthouse at Very Short Notice

We spent few great hours at the nature baths and then continued towards our next accommodation, as well as to look for a good dinner. For the dinner, we found a very nice looking place called the Vogafjos. It was a guesthouse, restaurant, and also a working farm near Dimmuborgir, here in Myvatn.

Vogafjos serve many organic products and of course products of their own farm. You can also watch the cows in their cowshed from behind glass in the restaurant. This is maybe a bit bizarre but also a refreshingly different solution for a restaurant. The dinner itself might have been better if it weren’t the Christmas and New Years’ holiday season, even though there wasn’t nothing wrong with it. At this time many of the places in this region are actually closed. When you’re able to find a nice place to eat during the holiday season, you can consider yourself lucky.

After long dinner, we drove to our pre-booked hotel, the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse – which turned out to be a disaster! When arriving, we were told that they wouldn’t serve any breakfast, although we had booked the rooms with one. Then we got three (!) different keys from the reception because one’s door may not have been properly closed and therefore the room could be freezing cold! Hearing this didn’t actually raise our hopes. Instead of showing us the way to the rooms, we were given a map to them. What a service!

When we found the right rooms, we first noticed that at the front of the doors of two of them were at least one meter high piles of snow. This meant that if we had wanted to see the rooms inside, we would have had to dig our way into them! This was surely a thing of what you shouldn’t have to do anywhere. Nor there even were any shovels around. But at this point, we chose to call back to the Vogafjos Guesthouse and ask if they’d have two rooms available and just leave from this disaster called the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse.

Luckily the Vogafjos had vacant rooms for us and even for a lower price than the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse would have cost – including breakfast! It was a good thing that we haven’t paid anything in advance to Dimmuborgir, so we could just drive back to the reception to tell them that we weren’t staying. The two overwhelmingly friendly sheep dogs that greeted us when we arrived were the only good thing in that place.

After this little accommodation disaster we drove back to Vogafjos farm, and we got very lovely, cozy, warm, and new cottages to sleep in. The staff was happy to welcome us back, and we got very professional and friendly customer service! In the morning, after a good nights’ sleep, we enjoyed the best breakfast of our whole Icelandic road trip in their restaurant. So I can warmly recommend staying over there if you ever find yourself in the Myvatn region!

A room at Vogafjos guesthouse and farm in Iceland
Our cozy room at Vogafjos guesthouse and farm in Iceland.

Private Exploring in Dimmuborgir – a Place With a Thrilling Legend

On the next day, we had planned to go visiting the best part of this region – the Dimmuborgir. In this vast area, there are unusually shaped lava fields and volcanic rock formations. There is also a legend about Dimmuborgir that when Lucifer was cast out from Heaven, he landed here and therefore created these “Catacombs of Hell”. What an impressive and exciting place!

During our breakfast, we chatted with the staff about Dimmuborgir, and they told us that there’d be so much snow now that the only possible way to explore it further would be with snowshoes. They would’ve even helped us to rent some if we had wanted to. After some thinking, we nevertheless decided not to rent them. We thought about just going to see the place as much that it’d be possible without snowshoes. But very well, I have to admit that eventually, that wasn’t exactly what happened. I’ll tell you what actually happened.

We drove a couple of kilometers to Dimmuborgir, got our gear together, and started to explore around the area. After a while we got to the point of which the staff had said would be the farthest point you could reach without the snowshoes. But despite that, we just continued further!

What we were thinking then, was to just “explore a bit further” since there weren’t actually so much of snow that you wouldn’t have been able to walk forward. So we slowly walked further and further, fascinated by the peacefulness and beauty of the place. After awhile we noticed that we had already come half way of the longest hiking route of the whole place! So at this point, instead of turning back, we decided to walk the whole way – of course!

Once in a while, there were points in where there was so much untouched snow that it reached to your groins. And then walking was a bit difficult. There were also points where the route marker poles were almost invisible, buried under the snow. But with keen eyes, they could still be seen.

All of a sudden, it had turned into a real adventure in this desolate place. And without much surprise, we were the only people there. Of course, you have to remember that we had good gear with us, and we had more than one GPS system, so there weren’t any actual danger of getting lost. If we hadn’t had the GPS, we wouldn’t have dared to go all the way.

It’s still true that there could have been anything under the snow – holes, gaps, you name it. We carefully followed the route markers and trusted them. It was the only choice to do. It took us about more than 4 hours to complete the whole route, but it definitely was worth every step!

Dimmuborgir (The Dark Castle), Iceland
Rock formations in Dimmuborgir (The Dark Castle), Iceland.

I admit that doing something like this wasn’t such a wise thing to do. If we’d have told the locals about what we did, they would have said that we were just completely crazy. But then again maybe we Finns just are a bit crazy.

But it was so much fun and above all, it was an adventure. And we always crave for adventures! On our hiking adventure, we also saw the “Church,” a cave of a very unusual shape. I think we also saw “the Gate of Hell,” even though we didn’t actually recognize it for sure at the spot. We also got loads of excellent photographs. And we got to experience something very unique in our own pace and in peace.

There are many advantages of having the whole place just for you. One of them was that we got to climb to some locations where it wouldn’t usually be allowed to climb. So we actually got everything you could hope for of that place. I also think that Dimmuborgir wouldn’t be the same if experienced at summer, with crowds of other tourists walking the paths beside you.

So always consider traveling in the odd periods of the year and definitely in the off-season. Then you can perhaps do many unusual things but make sure that you can fully trust in your gear, in your skills, (without overestimating them!) and into your friends. And if it’s winter you have to take some special consideration about your gear. In winter the conditions are going to be twice as hard.

We had warm clothes, GPS equipment(s), lots of time in daylight hours, and above all, we had good shoes! And if we would have wanted to make the hike a bit easier for ourselves, we’d had rented the snowshoes. But because we didn’t, we got at least weeks’ worth of exercise at the same time.

After reaching back to our car from the extreme winter hike, we drove ourselves to Akureyri. It’s the biggest town in Northern Iceland. There we spent the New Year’s Eve and had the second one for our two nights’ rest at an apartment.