I struggle to find the words to describe how content I feel sat in a small field listening to sheep. One of Iceland's best glaciers sits a few kilometres back down the road. I can see four different waterfalls from my tent and all around me is a mix of the sound of the wind, of animals and the rustling of my tent. Two birds chase each other through the warm light, flying fast across the field before diving in to a patch of scrubby long grass. As always the campsite is filling later in the day. I have been quietly enjoying the sun for hours and only now is it starting to get busy. I came to Svinafell, just past Skaftafell because the campsite is quieter, better maintained and the showers are included!
Driving round from Klaustur to just past Skaftafell isn't very far but is it is some of the most beautiful scenery I have experienced so far. Yes, it just keeps getting better. From driving across vast flats of black sand, to lush green fields bordered by giant rocky crags and then finally finding myself at the feet of giant ancient glaciers. I only make it a few kilometres before stopping at the next picnic area or junction in the road to look again and just sit and stare. Beyond a stop at a small road-side set of falls, I have taken no pictures today. No on location would encompass the short but wonderful journey I have made. It has been a sequence of unfolding, of turning corners and bends in roads to find something else beautiful. You will just have to come and see for yourselves!
We're there interesting points in my day that might take this beyond an unusually short two paragraphs? Yes. There was a drive-by shooting at the small waterfall I was taking photographs of. I was finishing up my own work and the small pull over area was getting crowded. I had spent some time being too polite with a German landscape photographer. I had arrived first and she had dashed over as I was setting up and began taking her own photos. Then she looked sheepishly sorry. Something about also pulling an SLR out of my bag made her realise what she had done, but I explained that I was in no rush and sat around enjoying the rushing sound of the water and exploring around the site. Waiting is important too and it gave me time to look for other photographs.
As I was packing up and getting back in the 4x4 a white car screamed to a halt, in lane on the 1. There was the faint sound of recorded noises for digital camera and then it tore off again. Thankfully the traffic in this part of Iceland is so sparse that you can just about get away with this kind of behaviour without having someone run into the back of you. There are a number of people that I have met along the way who are in Iceland as part of the stop over program that Iceland Air now run where you may have a 7 day stop over for no extra cost in one direction. I am here for three weeks and even then I think I will struggle to do the 1 route in that time and have certainly got plenty to come back for and have several different types of holidays. Seven days would be an immense, rip-stop tour of absolute highlights but even then, would you really be in such a rush as to not pull over and open a car door? In such a beautiful place, that is 'I've been there and here's proof' pushed to an extreme.
This evening I have also demonstrated Botha great act of planning and a terrible lapse in preparation. I don't have any beer. Even when I went to the petrol station that is also Skaftafell's cafe and corners shop, I forgot to pick some up. I did however come away with some tourist tat and mutton salami (it's apparently a local delicacy and really good!). But it's ok - when passing through Gatwick, I grabbed a bottle of a rather pleasant single malt to see me around. I opened it this evening and am not disappointed! And so I'm sat in the growing golden light of another beautiful Icelandic day. Here's to the rest of you! Sláinte mhath!