f899 Flateyjardalsvegur north iceland

Day 9 – Northern Highlands

F839, Leirdalsheiðarvegur and F899, Flateyjardalsvegur combined with Husavik whale watching and Asbyrgi canyon. For this day of our highlands trip we once again planned a more relaxing day without hikes and with more driving. Firstly, I wanted to drive the two F-roads leading to the sea – F839 and F899. Then we had whale watching in Husavik scheduled for the afternoon. Afterwards we simply wanted to head towards our accommodation in Grímsstaðir and if we had time and energy, make a stop or two along the road.

F839 – Leirdalsheiðarvegur

F839 is one of the two F-roads leading to the shore from where you may reach Flatey island. It’s a beautiful F-road leading along the green valley, in between mountains on both sides. The road has many curves and you have to drive it slowly, not because of it being dangerous but because of narrow curves everywhere. It took us longer to complete than Google had suggested, because of this.

f839 Leirdalsheiðarvegur iceland

F839 – Leirdalsheiðarvegur

I don’t remember any bigger river crossings on the road. There were some streams, puddles and smaller rivers but nothing major. That being said, any 4wd car should be able to complete the road in summer. The main challenge of the road is the curved, slightly mountainous drive with some ascents and descents. Otherwise the road is fine to drive.

f839 Leirdalsheidarvegur north iceland

F839 Leirdalsheidarvegur

F839 or F899? If I had to choose again, I would go only for F899. The roads are pretty similar and I liked F899 – Flateyjardalsvegur more. The views around F899 were slightly more beautiful in my opinion and the road was more exciting – both because of the terrain and the medium river crossings. There’s also a nice beach at the end of Flateyjardalsvegur.

F899 – Flateyjardalsvegur

f899 iceland

Flateyjardalsvegur

The roads F899 and F839 are pretty similar in terrain and surroundings. F899 is the second of the two F-roads leading to the shore from where you may reach Flatey island. It’s also a beautiful F-road leading along the green valley, in between mountains on both sides. F899, Flateyjardalsvegur, too has many curves and you have to drive it slowly, not because of it being dangerous but because of narrow curves everywhere. F899 also took us longer to complete than Google had suggested, because of its curvature.

f899 Flateyjardalsvegur north iceland

F899 – Flateyjardalsvegur

F899 contains several river crossings. At the time of our visit, in the end of August, the biggest river crossing at F899 could be classified as a medium-sized river crossing. There are multiple streams and small river crossing at the road. The biggest river crossing is located almost at the end of the road, close to the beach. So, you may still drive the road up to this point and if feeling unsafe, simply turn back.

In good conditions in summer, you can drive F899 with any 4wd vehicleup to the last river crossing. The last river crossing really depends on whether it rained during past days/weeks, i.e. what is the actual water level in the river at the time of the crossing. In good conditions and dry weather, it’s doable by any 4wd car, in medium conditions Dacia Duster would be a minimum and in worse conditions it’s better to opt at least for a Land Cruiser (as we did).

f899 near flatey

F899 near Flatey island

After the last river crossing of F899 you will spot the sea and the beach in front of you. This part of F899 actually leads literally “through the beach”, because you will be driving in a deeper sand. This is also the spot where bigger 4×4 may come handy. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in the sand with some small Subaru or Suzuki in here, trust me. We didn’t have much time to enjoy the beach and the coast, but I definitely do recommend you do it. Especially on a beautiful day. It’s a very picturesque place.

Whale watching

Although I’m personally not a big fan of organized tours, we decided to go for a whale watching in Husavik. Why? Because you probably won’t find a better place in Europe to see whales. And that’s a once in a lifetime experience.

husavik whale watching gentle giants

Whale watching overalls

Whale watching tours we recommend

When it comes to whale watching by wooden boats, we definitely do recommend North Sailing whale watching. North sailing is one of the oldest Icelandic whale watching companies with almost 30 years history. They run their tours from Husavik, Hauganes as well as from Hjalteyri – so you may choose which spot works better for you. North Sailing is also very covid-friendly, because they rapidly reduced their boat capacities due to Covid. North Sailing is also one of the cheapest companies out there.

north sailing whale watching

Whale watching by North Sailing

Because of the reasons above we decided to partner with North Sailing and can offer our readers a free 10% discount code for North Sailing: EPICICELAND

If you prefer whale watching by speed boat, our favorite company for this is Gentle Giants. They have long history and experienced crew. You won’t make a mistake by going with them.

Our whale watching experience

We wanted to try whale watching by speed boat, because we were short on time and wanted to maximize our chances to see the whales. When it comes to speed boats there’s a simple number one company – Gentle Giants. They are both the most famous speed boat whale watching company in Iceland and also the most professional.

husavik whale watching rib boat

Husavik whale watching by RIB boat

We arrived at the base of Gentle Giants in Husavik and everything started on time exactly according to schedule. English speaking guides, warm overalls, whale watching stories and vycerpavajuce information are a certainty. Our guide was a marine biology student from Italy, so she knew every bit of information when it comes to whales.

Meeting the whale

She also explained to us this summer was especially hot, which meant lower number of whale spottings. There were 10 passengers on the board of our speed boat. The captain sailed the boat for roughly 20 minutes when the first humpback whale appeared. As we were told later, we were lucky to meet this whale, because during past 3 days there were no sightings at all.

humpback whale husavik

Humpback whale taking a dip

Once you meet a whale, it has a special ritual which can be predicted. Firstly, it comes above the sea level to get some air for a few minutes – this is when you spot a whale. Secondly it dives back into the sea, leaving a “diving circle” mark behind itself. Thirdly, after roughly 3-5 minutes a whale comes above the sea again. This cycle usually repeats for a few times, meaning that once you find a whale you should stick to it and enjoy a show several tens of minutes long.

While we were lucky to see the beautiful humpback whale, we weren’t that lucky with anything else. Other than humpback whale, we’ve seen one seal sunbathing near the rock and that was it. The boat sailed around for another hour but didn’t find any other whales nor dolphins or anything else. Probably due to warm waters as mentioned before.

Ásbyrgi canyon

asbyrgi canyon iceland trail

Alone in August at Ásbyrgi canyon

Our next and the last stop for the day was Ásbyrgi canyon. Every Icelander we met recommended us Ásbyrgi as one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. On the other hand, if I read reviews online, Ásbyrgi sounded like nothing special. That’s also why we hadn’t visited it before, only now. From what I’d read, Ásbyrgi also seemed to be a pretty touristy place and I had expected it to be really crowded.

We arrived at Ásbyrgi pretty late, at half past 7 PM. For a short while, we thought we made a mistake and chose a wrong path, because there were no cars, nor buses, nor tourists both along the road and at the car parks. In late August. We left our car at a huge, well maintained, paved car park and went for the short exploration of Ásbyrgi on foot.

asbyrgi canyon iceland trail

On a trail to Ásbyrgi canyon

There are many hiking trails in Ásbyrgi, and if you are into it, you may easily spend here an entire day, or even several days. To have an idea, here is the map of Ásbyrgi hiking trails:

asbyrgi hiking trails map

Ásbyrgi hiking trails map

We took the shortest (and probably most efficient) visitor’s trail (A1 on the map above). The Ásbyrgi visitor’s trail will take you to the main viewpoint for the canyon, from below, in about 10-15 minutes. You will reach the nice spot near little lakes located at the bottom of the canyon. From there you may observe the “U-shaped” canyon embracing you from several sides. There are also several short detours from the visitor’s trail which end up at viewpoints of the same canyon, but from different angles.

Icelandic midges

Ásbyrgi is also the place where we really had a chance to get seriously attacked by midges. I didn’t understand everyone asking about the midges in Iceland. We travelled around Iceland several times and met almost no midges. But the Mývatn area is different. In a good weather, i.e. when it gets hotter in summer, you may meet unpleasant midges, especially in the Mývatn area. They are not dangerous, just unpleasant. Imagine 1000 midges fighting to get as close to your face as possible. That being said, if you plan to spend longer time around Myvatn, headnets may be a useful tool for you. You may buy them e.g. at gas stations.

lake myvatn

Lake Mývatn is a place with the highest concentration of Icelandic midges

Ásbyrgi canyon – is it worth visiting?

Yes, Asbyrgi canyon is beautiful. Is it one of the most beautiful places in Iceland? Definitely no in our opinion. Having seen hundreds of out-of-this-world amazing places in Iceland, Ásbyrgi wasn’t that great in our opinion. It’s a nice stop if you have a way around, but you also won’t make a mistake skipping it. Hiking trails and surroundings of Borgarfjörður Eystri, Landmannalaugar or Skógar were much more stunning in our opinion.

Hljóðaklettar

Hljodaklettar iceland

Hljóðaklettar

Another interesting place we wanted to go look at is called Hljodaklettar. Hljóðaklettar is supposed to be a nice area for short hiked we beautifully colored hills and rocks. You will for example find a “red hill” there and several other interesting spots. Although Hljóðaklettar looked interesting from the photos, we decided to skip it due to lack of time. Hljodaklettar also didn’t seem to be that super interesting compared to many other amazing places in Iceland (similarly as Asbyrgi).

Videos



epic iceland facebook group ask questions or get inspired in our community

Posted by epiciceland

Leave a Reply