Given that Iceland’s landscape is so otherworldly, it comes as little surprise that the country has featured as a backdrop in everyone’s favourite fantasy series, Game of Thrones.
One site in particular stood out to us, and that was Gjain. Stunning in its own right with a myriad of waterfalls, funky geology and some awesome archaeology just lying around the corner, the site was just a short detour from our main itinerary. Or so we thought, to our potential demise.
But hey, as they say, getting there is half the fun. But more on Gjain.
This stunning spot sits in a valley, with a mixture of waterfalls pouring from Basalt columns, ponds, rivers, and interesting stone formations created by the surrounding water over the millennia. If you are short on time it’s possible to view Gjain in its entirety from above just off the main road. To really appreciate all its different aspects though, take the road less travelled and explore Gjain on foot.
To reach it though, first you must travel across a dirt road riddled with sharp rocks, giant potholes and small humps. As we rocked up in our fabulous but sadly ill-equipped campervan, our hearts dropped when we saw the state of the road. The route is a car tyre’s worst nightmare, and the thought of being stranded on a remote road for possibly hours did make us hesitate. At this point the clouds started rolling in, as if on some ominous cue.
However, the thought of missing out on Gjain gave us determination, and it was with a ready foot on the brake pedal and a tentative foot on the accelerator that we set forth.
Having crawled at snail pace to the parking area, we did a little jig of joy when we arrived in one piece, car included, and set off on the trail to enjoy Gjain’s natural beauty.
Just a short walk from Gjain is Stong, an old Viking longhouse. Or rather, the remains of an ancient Viking longhouse. The site was home to a settlement before the volcanic eruption of Hekla caused it to be abandoned in 1104. Today visitors can explore the archaeological excavations, and in the summer months have a look at one of the reconstructed Viking farmhouses.
While we were dreaming about having Gjain on our doorstep, the ominous clouds from earlier kept on rolling. With dark skies surrounding us, we decided to hightail it out of Gjain and onto our campsite for the night, Reynisfjara.
As with most of our plans in Iceland, we had every intention of making it to Reynisfjara before dark, but Seljalandsfoss got in the way. This waterfall can be easily spotted from the road day or night, and even has a walk that enables you to see it from behind in a cave – of course we were going to check it out!