Things were starting to wind down by the ninth day of our Ring Road trip in Iceland. We had just spent several hours the day prior driving through the Westfjords region and we still were only halfway done with the winding road that traced in and out of every deep inlet.
As beautiful as the drive was, especially with the moody weather, we felt like after seeing one fjord, we had seen them all! We could have actually skipped the Westfjords altogether on our Ring Road trip, but there was one sight in particular that I had been eagerly wanting to see as far back as our first Iceland trip in 2018.
Dynjandi waterfall is the tallest waterfall in the Westfjords and it’s so impressive that you can see it from a far distance while driving up to it! This waterfall definitely ties for my favorite waterfall in all of Iceland, next to Glymur waterfall.
Dynjandi is located right off the road and only requires a very short walk to get to, so we knew that meant there would be tons of tourists around. Luckily, our campsite the night before was only 45 minutes away, which, coupled with our early morning start, gave us a good lead for visiting the waterfall before most people had shown up.
The beauty of this waterfall and its many incredible tiers will speak for itself, so I don’t think any more needs to be said. I’ll just leave these photos right here.
It was still very early in the day after visiting Dynjandi waterfall, with plenty of time to fit in more sights, but we hadn’t put together a plan for what we would do next. Furthermore, we had the vehicle for three more days, but we only had one more big sight left on our to-do list.
The sight we had left on our to-do list was another iconic Iceland attraction, Kirkjufell mountain, and it was located at the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which meant another long drive out of the way to get there and back. We obviously had plenty of time to see this sight, but I couldn’t get another sight off my mind that I had been thinking of since Day 1…THE VOLCANO!
Yes, we had already been super fortunate to have seen the volcano on the very first day of our journey while it was erupting, but with it being a once in a lifetime activity, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to possibly make it a twice in a lifetime sight.
Midway through our Ring Road trip, I had found out that there was a seismic graph online that showed live data of activity in the area of the volcano. I had become quite obsessed with checking the data hourly in order to understand what it meant and how it coincided with the eruptions. Eventually I learned that as the activity was beginning the spike, it meant an eruption would soon go off, and at the time, the eruptions were lasting about half a day.
Per usual, I had been watching the activity early in the morning while visiting Dynjandi and the volcano was definitely heading towards an eruption, but we had five hours of driving ahead just to get back to the main city of Reykjavik and another hour past that to get to the volcano. We had no idea if it would still be erupting if we headed straight there or what the weather was like at the volcano (because even the slightest amount of fog could make visiting the volcano a waste of time); however, it was an easy decision to skip Kirkjufell mountain and finish the Ring Road that day so we could hurry back to the volcano area.
When we finally reached Reykjavik, the graph was at the top of a spike, which meant it was currently erupting. Our plan was to grab a quick bite to eat in the city before continuing on to the volcano. Little did we know that we would hit a big snag in our plan.
When we were ready to hit the road out of Reykjavik, our Land Rover Defender wouldn’t start. We had had several problems with the vehicle hesitating to start throughout our trip. In fact, our first instance of the vehicle not starting happened right in the rental company’s parking lot before we could even take it off the lot; however, hubby had always been able to start it after giving it another try or two and he never seemed to let on that it was a worrying issue, so I just chalked it up to it being a manual transmission quirk and/or the fact that the vehicle was old (2012) with a crap-ton of mileage (260,000 km).
This time though, it was not starting, no matter how many times hubby tried it! We were fortunate we were in the city when this happened because we figured it would be an easy ordeal to call up the company and have them send someone right over to help us, but somehow, we couldn’t figure out how to make a call to an Icelandic phone number. We had not had cell service in Iceland, but thought we would at least be able to make a call over WiFi if needed. We were wrong!
We had no choice but to keep trying to start the vehicle and eventually, it finally started! We felt relieved and still nervous, but onward we continued!
Not even five minutes later while we were driving on the highway, hubby randomly started taking an exit off the highway that we weren’t supposed to be taking. I asked him why he was getting off the highway and after being momentarily speechless, he finally replied that the car was stalling. *cue panic*
It was actually pure luck that we were near an exit when this happened because the highway we were on didn’t have anywhere to pull off. Even more lucky was that the exit hubby had randomly taken for safety just happened to be the exit to get to the vehicle rental place. And as if all that wasn’t enough lucky coincidences, the place was a mere 30 minutes away from being closed for the night.
After restarting the car right away, we headed to the vehicle rental place and the mechanic guessed that the problem was with the ignition switch and not an easy fix. We ended up swapping out the vehicle for one of their only available vehicles, a large 2WD Renault camper van. The Land Over was officially OVER.
As much as I should have been excited that we were switching out our cramped Land Over for a comfy van (the type of vehicle I had begged hubby to get from the very start), I was actually really sad. The Land Over had officially gotten us all the way around the Ring Road and we had created so many amazing memories with it.
Furthermore, we hadn’t really done anything in the Land Over yet that really required 4WD, which was the whole purpose we had rented such a cramped vehicle, and we had hoped to finally squeeze in one or two 4WD activities in the next couple of days before we had to return our vehicle.
However, we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter because neither hubby nor I wanted to chance it with the vehicle not starting if we did decide to take it to a remote place, especially after we learned we would have a hard time calling the vehicle rental place.
After moving all our belongings from one vehicle to another, we hit the road towards the volcano. Although we had been relatively lucky with the vehicle breakdown situation, I had been a bit bummed that it had derailed our plans to visit the volcano because by this time, the volcano was surely not erupting any more. We decided we would still head to a campground near the volcano, so that we could wait nearby to see if it would erupt again the next day.
Unfortunately, even though it was still fairly early in the evening, the two campgrounds nearby were at full capacity by the time we reached them. We had already learned from our first day that the next closest campground was going to be two hours away and we had neither the energy for that much driving nor the desire to be that far away from the volcano. We had no choice but to park in the paid parking lot for the volcano and hope that we wouldn’t get in trouble for doing this, since Iceland technically only allows camping in campgrounds.
When we reached the volcano parking area just 30 minutes away, the weather was a complete mess! It was extremely windy, foggy, and rainy! It was then that we realized that we likely wouldn’t have been able to see the volcano that day, even if we hadn’t had vehicle troubles stalling us (pun intended).
We ended up not being the only ones hanging out in the volcano parking lot that night. The few other people parked there probably also had the same plan as us, to wait out the night and weather for another eruption. It was a darn good thing we had the comfy van to wait out in!
Stay tuned to see if we get to visit the volcano the next day!