5 Oct 2015
We were delighted to hear that on our way to Vik, the photo tour was stopping at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park and we would have a second chance at some photographs of the area. The weather forecast was poor; still raining, but intermittently, and no wind. Niall, our photo guide, is quite knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna and was able to identify some of the plants for us. The lovely red brush that we saw yesterday is dwarf birch and the yellow is willow. Also are mosses, sedge, and alpine bearberry. When Norse people first settled Iceland toward the end of the 9th century it was heavily forested with dwarf birch and willow. Only a quarter of the island now has native plant coverage due to overgrazing and volcanic activity. The area around Thingvillir is one of the few places where you can see what it looked like before it was settled.
The only native mammal on the island is the arctic fox! There are sheep everywhere and much of the meat served here is lamb, very little beef or chicken. There is plentiful and delicious fish and the bread is wonderful. We passed a geothermal area where much of the local produce is grown in greenhouses. I suspect that the recent rush in the tourist trade is taxing their resources and wonder if they are now importing more food. Something to look into.
We were able to spend a couple of hours here with minimal drizzle taking photographs.
After leaving Thingvillir we had rainy weather the rest of the day. We stopped for lunch at the cafeteria there at the national park and then made our way on to Vik (about 110 miles). It rained heavily the whole distance and we were all feeling a bit skeptical about the next day’s forecast. We had a nice dinner at Hotel Katla where we stayed for the night. Early morning departure for Jokulsarlon (prounounced ˈjœːkʏlsˌaurˌloun̥) Glacier Lagoon about 118 miles.