I already showed you some snaps from my Icelandic escape here and gave you my overall feeling about it: that it’s overwhelmingly beautiful. It’s nature showing off. A land of ice and fire. The huge glaciers contrast with the geothermal force bursting from the earth and even more with the volcanic activity roaring from the island’s belly. Much To Verne’s inspiration, as Journey to the center of the Earth was born in Snæfellsjökull, in western Iceland.
Below are some of the places I loved the most. We spent 10 days on the island and focused on the west, south and south-east, largely connected by the “ringroad”, Road number 1.
South east – Skaftafelljökul, Jökulsarlon and Laki Craters
As you hike to the Skaftafelljökul and see the blue blocks of ice detaching from the glacier, the word Ice-land takes a whole new meaning. A relentless white giant falling apart. If you can, take a zodiac tour on the Jökulsarlon lagoon with Icelagoon, some 50km from Skaftafell. Breathtaking. A land of ice beneath you. Huge ice cubes floating all around. The zodiac moving fast on the waves, like those flat pebbles kids throw on the water and ricochet across the water. The sheer blue of the icebergs. Concentrated ice. One centimetre of ice is 20m of snow pressed together by time. If you have a 4×4, you can drive to the Laki Craters. Otherwise, you can take a private jeep tour with holasport or take the bus, like we did. Both leave from Kirkjubæjarklaustur’s oil station.
South: Vik, Reynisfjara and Dyrholaey
The road number 1 connects the whole area between Reykjavik to the East, along the southern coastline. I loved the lava fields and the black beaches. Three musts would be Vik, Reynisfjara and Dyrholaey cliff. No swimming though! Not that many would be enticed, with the rather cold waters -especially with all the hotsprings everywhere. But it so happens that I know some who were thinking of taking a swim. As a local told us: it’s not dangerous. It’s suicide. At Dyrholaey cliff you can observe plenty of puffins. They’re not shy at all and they seem to pose for the pictures. Funny creatures indeed. I’m no bird fan in general but their cartoon look is quite cool. Vik’s black beach has ginormous waves and you can find local products and wool crafts. Reynisfjara has incredible basalt columns and caves.
West: Blue Lagoon, Thingvellir, Geysir and Snaefellsnes fjords
Thingvellir National Park is a bit meh while Geysir is smoking hot. It’s truly mind blowing how Strokkur bursts every 7 minutes or so. 25 meters of hot water and steam. Mudpots everywhere, little craters of boiling water and tiny wells with blue water, due to silicium. A rather unpleasant smell of rotten eggs due to the sulphur. Nature showing off, really.
We went hiking near Hveragerdi and saw small hot springs steaming from the earth. As we climbed the soft mountain –it was like walking on green mousse, the colours became more and more incredible. Pink and coral little flowers sprinkling the earth. Long grass combed by the wind and mossy rocks.
The somewhat secret private hot-spring of Hrunalaug, near Fludir was marvellous. Three little bathtubs made of rocks and a tiny wooden cabin as changing room. We arrived near 7:30 pm and everybody was leaving so we had the whole spring for ourselves. The perfect bath, minus a spider that wanted to come diving. We stayed near by at Sel farm and had the cutest little cottage for ourselves.
Blue Lagoon, near Reykjavik is definitely worth the 50eur entrance. Better to book in advance. We went in the “high season” and yet it wasn’t very crowded. The waters are really blue and opaque. It’s truly a weird feeling to be bathing in hot waters under the rain. There are pots here and there with silica mud you can smother your face with. A word to the wise tough: the high mineral content in the water may be great for your skin, it’ll play havoc with your hair. So if you want to avoid having a straw mane for days on end, smother your hair with conditioner before entering the lagoon. And try not to wet your hair.
Iceland can be super expensive, especially if you intend on drinking a alcohol. But I recently read about people organising house & car swaps, which is about the smartest thing you can do to reduce the budget and get top notch tips of what to do and where to go. Also, the horses. Goooorgeous horses who seem to outnumber the icelanders! We went horseback riding on the beach and it was such a thrill. I’ll definitely come back to Iceland. Maybe when I have kids and they can camp while I stay at a guesthouse with a hotpot in the garden. Maybe to see the Northern lights in the winter.
But for now, enough holidays -said no one ever…