Iceland is an extraordinarily diverse landscape, enriched with everything from windswept valleys lined with snowy peaks reaching into the clouds, to mossy lava fields, black sand beaches, and cascading waterfalls. It is a place that can satisfy the craving for adventure, the traveler’s spirit that lives within us.
I had the opportunity to spend 8 days exploring Iceland, covering the Golden Circle, Ring Road, and the Westfjords, and I must say, Iceland was awe inspiring. Around every corner, there was a picture-worthy scene. Somedays I was unable to get to all my planned locations as I had stopped so many times to take photographs along my route.
When there were not farmlands for miles dotted with Icelandic horses and sheep, there were dirt roads leading to the mountains, or quaint houses to photograph in tiny villages. Iceland truly meets the longstanding idea that the journey is half the fun.
Perhaps my favorite adventure was the road to Þórsmörk, a gravel covered road that crosses several unbridged rivers and requires a 4×4 vehicle. Not only is the drive picturesque, but the pure excitement of crossing through rivers cannot be underscored, especially since we had a Landrover Defender, which we named Misty.
Even if you do not stray from the main roads though, the scenery is unbelievably spectacular. You can literally see the abrupt changes in the landscape occur before your eyes and if you find yourself disappointed with the weather, don’t worry because it can be raining and foggy one minute and sunny and blue skies the next.
In summer, although it is the peak tourist season in Iceland, its northern location ensures that it only gets dark for a few hours, meaning that you have enormous flexibility when traveling. If you intend to get photographs of waterfalls and heavily trafficked destinations, try traveling in the middle of the night, you’ll find less cars on the road and most places are completely empty.
The sheer exploratory opportunity that Iceland provides allows for every level of traveler to enjoy the raw natural landscape, whether you are a seasoned hiker and plan to camp, or prefer to stick to traditional hotels and spend time relaxing in geothermal hot springs, the possibilities are endless. I chose to do a mix of camping and Airbnbs which proved to be perfect complements.
I was able to immerse myself in Icelandic lifestyle and culture through staying on farms and in cabins while interacting with Iceland’s hospitable people. Through camping, I was able to be amongst nature by being able to experiencing the distant sounds of waterfalls and passing wildlife. I’ve just returned home and I am already ready for another Icelandic adventure. Trust me, your only problem will be that you did not have enough time to spend there!
Quick tip, if you intend to go to Þórsmörk, ensure that you have a 4×4 vehicle and be cautious when crossing rivers as we had to tow out another vehicle that got stranded.
Also, be mindful of the wind as Icelandic wind can blow the doors off of your car, no joke!
– Zach (@zachasato)