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#4 Iceland

Updated: Aug 10, 2019

Iceland is quite possibly my favourite country in the world, a bold statementy firmly backed up by the fact that it's our third visit there in as many years. There is something about its raw and varied landscape that makes you want to keep coming back. Our first visit a few winters ago was just a little taster of the island, though it was enough to get us hooked completely. Our second trip was a rather ambitious ring road, highland and west fjords road trip crammed into ten days. There was a huge amount of travelling involved, and we certainly saw a lot of Iceland!

Diamond Beach Glacier Lagoon Iceland

One of the best things about doing it all was that it gave us a good insight into what we wanted to see more of. This year, we decided to focus on the south of the island. Those of you who have been to Iceland before will know that it's mega expensive! One of the dearest places I have ever visited. This in itself makes planning a trip there challenging, especially when you need a 4x4 to really explore some of our favourite locations. We make sure the back seats lay flat, giving us a rolling home so that not every night needs to be spent in an over-priced hotel.

This year we were upgraded to a Ssangyong Rexton. I'm not sure how being given a

Landmannalaugar Iceland Highlands Hiking Laugavegur Hike

Ssangyong is an upgrade but we rolled with it anyway as there was no other choice. With a super early flight from the UK, we were in Iceland by 9am. After a quick stop at a Bonus supermarket to stock up on our favourite cinnamon rolls and Maryland cookies, we headed to Reykjavik for lunch at my favourite ever soup spot. It’s at a restaurant called Svarta Kaffið, and I thoroughly recommend it if you are in the area. They only ever have two dishes on, both soups - one vegetarian and the other with meat. We've been three times now and have never been disappointed.

Once full, we headed to our first proper stop which we had visited the year before: Haifoss waterfall. While we only took photos from the top of the valley during our last visit, this time I wanted to get really close to it which meant a 40-minute hike down into the gorge. A nice way to stretch our legs after being on the plane all morning.

Stokksnes South Iceland Beach Black Sand

I seem to collect a lot of photos from waterfalls; I didn't think I was that fussed by them but the amount of shots I now have suggest a strange attraction on my part! Haifoss is certainly one of the more impressive ones you will see on a trip around Iceland. sIt is in fact the island’s fourth highest, with water dropping an impressive 122 metres.

From here, it’s only a short drive down a couple of F-roads to my favourite spot in Iceland - and our home for the next couple of nights - Landmannalaugar. There really isn’t another landscape like it. The colours are unreal, with rolling mountains of oranges and

Sólheimajökull Iceland Glacier Ice

greens. We had a good two days of hiking there, taking different routes from the year before to explore as much of the area as we could. There is still so much more to see though.

From there we went to Thorsmork; unfortunately not via the famous Laugavegur Hike which I hope to do one day - a 53km multi-day hike. With a room booked at the Volcano Huts, and not having been there before, we opted to get the special bus over. There are numerous water crossings on the way to Thorsmork, before driving through a proper river to reach the huts. All a bit too much for our Ssangyong - although it did take us over a couple of smaller river crossings elsewhere on the trip - truly commendable.

Dyrhólaey Puffin South Iceland Best Spot

We learnt a lesson in Thorsmork, and that's about prior planning, something which I normally do probably too much of! Aurélie traditionally gets a detailed PDF itinerary for each day we are away...

I went to Thorsmork with a couple of pictures saved from the area and presumed they would be easy spots to locate. Unfortunately, they weren't as easy to find as I had hoped and it was only after 18kms of hiking around that we learned where they actually were. Our legs weren't carrying us any further. We will call this an area to revisit in the future!

The next three days were mostly ice-based, focusing on glaciers and the famous Glacier

Svínafellsjökull Glacier South Iceland Ice

Lagoon. We didn't really visit or spend much time around the ice on any of our previous trips to Iceland so it was nice to do something different. We had however visited Glacier Lagoon previously, just before sunset when the light was absolutely perfect. We definitely wanted to revisit that spot.

One of the best things about road trips is the detours you take to unexpected places! We hadn't planned to visit Sólheimajökull Glacier but we saw a pretty road and ended up at it! One of the finer dead-end roads I've been down in my life.

From there, and with time on our side, we took another small detour back to Dyrhólaey. For those of you who have read my previous stories, you'll have realised by now my love

Vatnajökull National Park Iceland Glacier Troll Expeditions Hike Skaftafell

for puffins. So when there is a chance to see them only 10 minutes down the road you are on, it's rude not to pay them a visit. This year, armed with my Fuji 100–400 lens, I was able to get the shots that hadn’t been possible on our last visit.

The next day was spent in Vatnajökull National Park and included a glacier hike. It was my first time properly on a glacier and using crampons, a completely different feeling than I had expected and a lot easier. Something I really hope I get to do again at some point!

The last stop on our trip was Stokness, which we had wanted to see on our last visit but ran out of time. Starting with a morning stop at Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach in the

Landmannalaugar Iceland Highlands Hiking Laugavegur Hike

soft cold light, we made our way to our final stop. The light wasn't great; it suited Aurélie's style more than mine for sure but it was nice to tick an outstanding box in Iceland nonetheless.

From there, it was six hours back to Reykjavik where we spent our last day recuperating. There isn't anywhere on earth I would wish to spend driving for that amount of time, but if forced, Iceland would be pretty high on my list of places. Time certainly goes faster when you have their roadside views. I'm sure we will be back again, perhaps next time in the winter months.


August 2018


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