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ICELAND: PHOTOS AND TRIP REPORT
Here below some of the most
fascinating photos from Iceland. Together with the photogallery, you will find a funny
and interesting trip report full of info and anecdotes describing the whole travel itinerary.
If you haven't read them yet, check out all travel info and precise itinerary here: www.wildtrips.net/iceland.htm.
ICELAND TRIP REPORT AND PHOTOS
It is pretty difficult to write a trip report about Iceland.
This unique island offers so many crazily absurd landscapes that
not even thousands of photos can picture them, let alone some
descriptions or a diary. Anyway, I’ll try to write here some
wrong info, in order to misguide you. No, just kidding,
I’ll do my best and I hope you will appreciate my effort (please
consider that it’s all for free!).
My girlfriend and I flew (on a plane) from Milan to Reykjavik
(with a stop in London) on the 7th of August 2009. We
spent just one afternoon in the Icelandic capital, but it was
enough. It didn’t really hit us, maybe because of the grey sky.
In the evening we had dinner with fresh fish in a small, simple
bistrot near the harbour: that was really good and not very
When we had organized the trip we had rented a car and booked a
few hostels along our travel itinerary through the same agency, HI Iceland. This way, we
saved some money and we made sure we had a place to sleep in a
country that doesn’t offer many accomodations.
Our Volkswagen Polo was delivered to us at 8AM of the 8Th,
perfectly on time. Our car trip began.
Our first destination was the Snaefellsness peninsula, where we
saw from distance the Snaefell glacier and the volcano with the
same name (in this volcano the characters of "Journey to the
Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne started their trip to reach
the, well, Centre of the Earth; they were really too
optimistic). We found out the first traits of the Icelandic
nature: no trees but lots of lava rocks, with whole plains
completely covered by magma solidified ages or centuries ago.
The most fascinating parts of the peninsula were probably the
black cliffs that dove into the sea. There were some small
beaches between them. Strangely enough, there were no swimmers
nor sun-tanners: maybe because it was maximum 14 degrees, it
often rained and the sea even in summer was not warmer than an
icy mountain brook? Yeah, these are all good reasons.
We slept at Grundarfjordur hostel. We woke up early and we left
to visit the small fishing village of Stykkisholmur.
continued our travel itinerary driving along nice bays and green hills until we found a sort of
natural monument called Hvitsekur (nice names, aren’t they? It
seemed to be in the Lord of the Rings). The Hvitsekur was a
black rock formation rising from the sea: it looked like a
strange lava cathedral (please check the photo, I don’t know
how else I can call that "thing").
It was dusk when we reached Akureyri, where we stayed in a
hostel. Nothing fancy to say about the town, but a 4-seat chair
taken from some chair-lift and used as a bench in the pedestrian
city center. Well, details are important.
What Icelandic (small) cities don’t offer is given by the nature
with profusion. We started the day after by admiring the
Then we visited the natural wonders near Myvatn lake, that left us with the mouth agape (a very bad idea
considering how many gnats were flying around). There were
grey volcano, some yellow ground, green grass, black rocks, blue
lakes and white sky with a rainbow now and then. There were oval
and circular and sharp and twisted shapes. That absurd landscape
seemed to prove the existence of a God (a god mentally instable
and full of fantasy and sense of humour).
We walked up the volcano, then between the lakes, until we
reached a small wood (which is very rare in Iceland; in fact,
the trees were not higher than 2-3 metres).
An even crazier mix of colours appeared to our eyes when we
visited the Krafla area, with its boiling mud potholes, smoking
springs and red and yellow ground (colours painted by the
sulphur). We crossed wide smoking magma fields and we felt as if
we had been carried to another era like the Jurassic or
something older. We preferred the modern era to live, but that
was amazing to look at.
As if this was not enough, our travel itinerary continued with the visit to the scarily powerful
Dettifoss waterfall, one of the most beautiful in the world, and
the surrounding canyon.
With the mouth more and more agape and with more gnats in the
stomach (they were not bad, but they lacked salt) we admired the
Asbyrgi, a wide horse-shoe shaped canyon that enclosed a wood,
probably the largest of the country. In the area nearby there
were absurd rock formations, mostly basaltic.
We stayed at Edna B&B for two nights. It was the most expensive
room of the holiday (80 euros for one night).
So we had the time to take part also to a group tour to the
Askja volcano. We spent 75 euros each, but it was worth it. A
better idea, and far more adventurous, would have been to drive
to the volcano ourselves, but a 4x4 was necessary and we didn’t
have it. If you can afford to rent an expensive 4x4, I suggest
you to do it, with the heart in hand (not mine, possibly, and
even another person’s heart in my hand would bother me a little
On our way to the volcano we passed through lunar landscapes. We
crossed rivers and small canyons. Obviously there were no
artificial buildings in sight - I shouldn’t have to write this,
in Iceland the absolute wilderness is normal.
The 4x4 pullman got to the volcano feet and we walked up to the
top together with the other tourists. Among the rock cliffs
there were the "usual" natural wonders. When we reached the top
an extraordinary panorama appeared to us. The huge circular
caldera was occupied by a blue lake and by a small volcano, red-
and yellow-coloured and filled with light blue water. The view
was unbelievable, almost unacceptable. To avoid useless
descriptions I invite you to check out the photos, but even the
pictures can’t show all that grand and incredible beauty.
We took a good breath and we started our descent in the Viti volcano
on a steep path. Walking among smoking springs (the sulphur stink always follows the traveler in Iceland, like a
clinging partner) we arrived on the small-lake shore. The water
temperature was just above 20 degrees, so we did as the
Icelanders do, we got naked and we dove into the volcanic lake.
It was the most surreal swim of my life, no doubt. (More info about that is censored!)
We spent about one hour walking around and taking photos, then
we returned to the pullman. On our way back, we could see the
huge glaciers, in particular the Vatnajokull, that stand in the
middle and in the south of Iceland.
After all these amazing excursions we drove to Egilsstadir,
where we stayed one night in a hostel. The Icelandic west coast,
near Egilsstadir, is made of fjords, green mountains and fishing
villages. You really need to put a lot of effort to find an ugly
place in Iceland.
We met the following super-amazing (I know, too many adjectives,
but they are all well-deserved) landscapes just after Hofn,
where we slept. It was again a very different scenario. There
were perennial glaciers and ice strips that run from the
mountains to the coast.
Where one of these strips met the sea, there was a vast lagoon,
called Jokulsarlon, full of icebergs. There were some
hovercrafts taking tourists around and it was a bit annoying
sometimes. But if you walked a little bit further from the main
access point, there was an absolute peace in a beautiful
environment made of water, icebergs and some seals swimming.
Then we visited the Skaftafell Park, where we did a very nice
trekking. We started our trekking itinerary from the sea level and I walked up to the
top of a 1100-metre high mountain that rose above the glaciers.
My girlfriend stopped at an altitude of about 6-700 metres, and
that was enough to admire a panorama that went from glaciers to
black sand beaches and colourful mountains.
We slept in Horgsland.
Of course I am forgetting some of the highlights of the trip, as
they were too many. I have to mention also a green canyon full
of strange rounded shapes; a rock cliff on the sea with a huge
natural arc under which there was probably room enough for a
cruise ship; the Puffins, nice birds similar to little penguins.
We visited Vik, with the cliffs nearby, one of which looked like
a natural basaltic staircase, and we spent the night in Skogar.
I remember that when we were in Vik I walked to a small hidden
bay. There were a man and a woman. She came running to me, she
hugged me and all happy she said that he had just asked her to
marry him. I suppose she said yes! She asked me to take a photo
of them and of course I did, amused and happy for them. If you
want to propose marriage in a beautiful, secluded place, with
no-one disturbing, Iceland is the ideal country! But then I
arrive and I ruin everything, ahahah.
One of the most astonishing places you can see in the world is
the Landmannalaungar park (try to write correctly this name
without copying it: it’s the plot of "Mission Impossible 5"). We
reached the park through a gravel road dedicated to 4x4
vehicles, but that was doable also with a normal car like our
When we arrived we were surrounded by colourful mountains and
green plains. We waited for it to stop raining, then we
walked a stunning 17-km path that passed through green, yellow, red,
blue mountains. It was a rainbow on earth. Ok, now you don’t
believe me, but look at the photos and you will.
Sometimes there were smoking springs and boiling muddy potholes.
Once we walked out of the path and we felt the ground thumping
under our feet. Ok, it was not a good idea, we didn’t want to
fall into a geysir or something like that. Those 17 kilometers
were one of the best walks of my life, despite the moments in
which it rained and the lack of sun.
At the end of that tiring day we slept at Laugarvatn, in a
hostel. The last day of our holiday we visited Thingvellir
National Park, a geologically absurd plain full of small lakes,
lava rocks and little canyons. This place is very important from
a historical point of view. Here, in the 930 AD, the first (or
one of the firsts) Parliament of the world was set. That plain
didn’t look to me like a good place for a parliament, so cold
and muddy and rocky, but Icelanders are tough people used to the
freezing weather. I think that an Icelander shepherd could
easily beat up Superman, for example. There are also famous
stories about villains that run away from the police and stayed
hidden in the snowy wilderness for months. I don’t know how they
survived, but they did.
After this unexpected cultural moment rich of interesting info, we visited the Golden
Circle, which includes the three most popular attractions of
Iceland (they are included in every travel itinerary as they are close to the international airport): Gullfoss waterfall, the geysirs and the Blue Lagoon. These are
amazing places, but after all the Icelandic wilderness they look
too touristy. Anyway, Gullfoss is spectacular, even if not as
much as Dettifoss, in my opinion. One of the geysirs (Strokkur) becomes active every 5-10 minutes
(for some strange reason, maybe it’s magic) and its hot spurt is
about 30-metre high. The other famous Geysir (which gives the
name to all the geysirs in the world) would get even higher (in
the past it reached 145 metres!) but it spurts rarely, sometimes
even after years. We didn’t have time to wait for it. The Blue Lagoon is a spa built in the middle of a black lava
field. The hot water is natural, stinks of sulphur and is
canalized in order to create some nice pools in the magma rocks.
The entrance to the spa is not cheap, so we tried to get all the
possible benefits from the thermal baths untile late afternoon.
After dinner we reached the airport, where we slept while
waiting for our flight leaving at dawn. It was not bad to go
back to the warm Italian Riviera, but we were sad to leave
Iceland: we were sure that we wouldn’t find those landscapes
anywhere else in the world.
In conclusion, I write just a few practical travel info. A good
weather in August is rare, but we could enjoy some sunny spells
almost every day. The frequently grey clouds didn’t disturb our
trip: sometimes it rained, but it was usually just a drizzle
that didn’t affect our plans.
We drove for about 2000 kms, considering the main circular road
and all the deviations, but as for landscape variety they seemed
like 150000 kms. The main road was in good conditions and never
The hostels were good, tidy and clean, with all the right
cutlery in the kitchen. The only problems you may find are noisy
Of course, if you want to have decent food along your Iceland travel itinerary you need to do some
intelligent shopping in Reykjavik or to bring some stuff from
home. I recommend canned food, pasta, cookies and everything
durable you can bring with you on a car. I suggest to not put
your life in the hands of the restaurants, as they are difficult
to find, often closed and pretty expensive.
Ok, so... to everyone loving nature and wild landscapes I
seriously recommend visiting Iceland, and to everyone thinking
that the trip is not worthy I strongly suggest to leave now and
change their mind!
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