Lake Mývatn, Iceland

Thumbing my way to Dettifoss

Forrest Mallard

A random traveler gives me hitch-hiking lessons on the side of the ring-road in Iceland.



Hitchhiking Iceland

I’ve never hitchhiked before, but I am going to need to in Iceland if I want to see anything.

A large majority of the amazing images you see of Iceland in the media are all fairly near Reykjavik. Thus there is great transportation in this area for tourists. The other 5/6 of the country, not so much. This makes it very frustrating for people that want to do a lot of hiking if they do not have their own vehicle.

Today I left the Eastern Fjords and headed west in hopes to get to a small town named Ásbyrgi. From there, it is an intensely beautiful 2-day hike through a nature reserve which ends with the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe, Dettifoss.

Travel in Iceland is Not Cheap

Before I begin to talk about the prices of things here in Iceland, I knew before I came that this was an insanely expensive country, but it is my goal to find the way around these insanely high prices and still really enjoy myself, and so far this hasn’t been too hard, but now that I am really moving across the country, it is getting to be a bit of a struggle and is at the very least DAUNTING.

The bus system here in Iceland is beyond crazy expensive, so most of the people I meet doing the independent traveling thing, are doing so via hitchhiking. The problem is they make it sound SO EASY!!

I took the bus this morning from Borgarfjörður eystri to Egilsstaðir (1.5 hr & 2500 isk / $20) then from Egilsstaðir to Mývatn (2 hr & 5600 isk / $45). In other words, I went 1/8 of the way around the island on a major route. As I was on the bus we zoomed by so many amazing sights I would have loved to have stopped at. Insane waterfalls, hot spring geysers, massive lava formations. I was dropped off in a gas station parking lot next to the famous Mývatn lake, a key filming location for many episodes of Game of Thrones as well as many feature films. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, except this beauty comes with a curse. The name in Icelandic actually means something along the lines of ‘Lake of Flies’ and there are BILLIONS of them. They don’t bite and they really are quite well behaved, buzzing around in a never-ending, gigantic, insect rave. The problem is, they don’t know better not to fly into your mouth and eyes, so I’ve had to use a piece of cloth to cover my face to breath at times.

When I first arrived at the lake, I wanted to move on to Ásbyrgi so I can begin the hike, but I would have to travel much farther west and then catch another bus coming back this way, just traveling a bit farther north, and though this is not so far away, it would cost me an additional $50.

So it is time to learn how to hitchhike!!

I figured I do not look too intimidating, I have a nice tan, I have a sunflower on my backpack, this will be easy. Again, not so much.

Quick Lesson In Hitching

Along came an Asian/Canadian girl that started talking to me and for some reason, and started giving me pointers on how to hitchhike.
1. Point your body towards the car.
2. SMILE even if you are feeling defeated.
3. Look DIRECTLY into the driver’s eyes. Make eye contact.
4. At 100 meters put your thumb out.
5. At 25 meters smile big and wave friendly to the car.

She said that she always has good luck hitchhiking and that if she is standing in one place for more than 30 minutes and nobody picks her up, then that is very unusual.
The problem is, I had been standing there for over an hour. LOL

So I picked up my stuff and headed to the lake of flies. I booked a night at the campground and set my tent up right on the shore of the lake. I had scored an absolutely stunning location to put my tent up. Even though there are so many amazing things to see right here, I was caught in another emotional slump, my second one this entire trip (the first being when I lost my cell phone in Bulgaria). Feeling a bit down because there is so much I want to see, I will need to rely 100% on hitchhiking for the rest of my trip here.

Tomorrow I give it one more shot to get to Ásbyrgi by hitchhiking, and I will try all day long, standing on the side of the road until I get my ride there.

The girl also gave me one more bit of advice.
Pay the driver with CHOCOLATE when you get picked up.
At least I can do that. I already have my chocolate ready for payment.



Receive weekly travel news and special offers.