We knew that Iceland would be a destination unlike any other we had experienced before. It promised to be a land of extremes: 20 hours of daylight each day, yet with midsummer temperatures that were fresh and cool. Glaciers spilling from the mountains to the sea, punctuated by active geothermal areas spewing steam and mud into the air. Beaches covered in ice. Even one extreme that we weren’t quite expecting – complete underpopulation.
Our itinerary was simple: fly into Reykjavík, explore its surrounds on the so-called ‘Golden Circle’, and then spend five nights on Iceland’s famed ring-road – an 800km round trip that encircles the island nation. The ring road allows tourists to access many of Iceland’s less explored sights (relatively speaking), at their own pace.
Day one of the ring road included a pair of waterfall visits en route, and ended at the spectacular and remote black beach, Reynisfjara. From here, we could see dramatic sea arches and stacks, basalt columns, and a thriving puffin colony at the Dyrholaey lighthouse.
Day two took us along Iceland’s wind-and-rain-beaten southern coast, past the Vatnajokull national park with its immense glacier ice cap, where we stopped and hiked to the picturesque Svartifoss waterfalls. The day ended at the spectacular Jökulsárlón lagoon and adjoining diamond beach, where the Vatnajokull glacier shears directly into a saltwater lagoon, and massive icebergs float out into the North Atlantic surf. Replete with playful seals to entertain onlookers, Jökulsárlón was one of our favourite spots in the entire trip.
Day three took us through the winding east fjords, taking in the sights of charming seaside towns Djúpivogur and Seydisfjordur, with a few more waterfalls thrown in for good measure. The following day we took the paths less travelled (gravel roads) past the stunningly powerful Dettifoss waterfall and into the Myvatn geothermal area. The Myvatn area was another highlight – a wonderland of eclectic volcanic sights, hot springs and geysers.
On our final two days, we traversed the northern coasts of the island, taking in the whales in Húsavík and experiencing the bustling food scene in Akureyri before stopping off at the Snaesfellsnes peninsula on our way back to Reykjavík.
Each day of the round trip brought more jaw dropping sights, and our go pro received a real workout from day one to day seven. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the culmination of all the little snippets of footage we caught along the way. Disclaimer: no matter how incredible the videos look, they cannot do justice to the real Icelandic landscape itself. If you ever have a chance to visit the land of fire and ice, take my word for it and GO!
– words by Andy