Part Four Myvatn to Egilsstadir
The next stage of our journey was to Egilsstadir, located at about three o'clock on our imaginary Icelandic clock. We are now a long way from Reykjavik and Route 1 mostly provides a loose surface to drive on. Other vehicles are even fewer than before and we often travel many miles without seeing one.
Although the northeast is the bleakest part of our journey and predominantly dark coloured, there was still plenty of green to be seen beside the road.
There are only around 500 species of flowering plants in Iceland and although some are easily visible as you drive by ..........
............others are not so obvious...............
...........and some really quite hard to spot.
From time to time we pass Icelandic horses which are are a pure and unique breed. No horses have been imported for 800 years and the breed has adapted to the demands of harsh weather and rough terrain. They are now used only to a limited degree by farmers and mainly they are kept for recreation and hire.
Organised breeding is common and there are now about 80000 horses in Iceland.
Very sure-footed and with great endurance, they have a very special distinguishing feature. Most breeds are naturally blessed with four gaits of movement, walk, trot, canter and gallop, but Icelandic horses possess also the very unusual tolt, described as a smooth walk effected at running pace. Icelandic Horse Connection website says: Further appreciation comes from the ride on an Icelandic Horse, to experience the smooth glide of the tolt, to feel totally safe as your mount confidently picks his way down a steep, rocky hill, and the feeling that these horses want to please and will wait patiently for your commands.
Colours are chestnut, black, grey, white, brown, palomino and skewbold. Silver maned horses are quite rare and much in demand
Unfortunately Iceland is likely to remain an expensive place to visit. You will know before you start out the cost of travel and accommodation but the price of eating out can come as quite a shock. Rates of exchange and other factors fluctuate, but at the time we found meals to be around three times the cost of equivalent UK levels. Drinks of any kind, but especially alcoholic, drive this up still more. Jugs of water on the tables are customary and it is not considered odd if you stick to this. As a consequence the driving law of no alcohol at all in the blood was easy to comply with. Tipping is not part of the culture and it seems that any gratuity offered may be refused and even resented
Egilsstadir is not quite as far eastwards as one can go in Iceland as it is a little way inland from the coast. Our stay is scheduled for one night only so there is little time to explore the area before we move on. With more time we would have taken Route 93 to visit the east coast port of Seydisfjördur and the haunted highway, Route 94, to the mountain pass Dyrfjöll.