A Land of Ice

October 25, 2015  •  2 Comments

Best holiday experience EVER was traveling around Iceland for three weeks. Borneo had been my number one for a while, but this enigmatic photographic wonderland of ice, aurora and volcanic energy has made it to the top of my favourite destinations list. There aren’t many places in the world where you can meet so many friendly people, have so much freedom to explore vivid landscapes under constant golden light, swim in geothermal and glacial waters, climb your way to the top of an ice glacier and down into an ice cave, and camp on an ice lagoon under the magnificent northern lights.

There is definitely something spiritual about this country that draws you in to its magical wonder and natural beauty. I hope my photographs do justice to this amazing land of ice, and I hope that they spark some sort of energy inside of you to go explore this perfect country. There are so many variations to explore Iceland. You can do the 'Golden Circle' road in a few days or you can hire a 4WD from Blue Car Rental in Reykjavik and drive around the ring road for as long as you like. We started travelling in early October and just missed out on having to use the compulsory spiked tyres. This was our trusty steed, which comfortably seated three passengers, a load of back packs and camera gear, camping equipment, food and wine... We found some great travel advice from Alex Cornell, which I highly recommend when planning your trip. Skogafoss waterfall can't be missed... There are unique roadside symbols that stand for 'point of interest' that will guide you to many hidden surprises. Iceland’s iconic Sólheimasandur plane crash, however, is a bit tricky to find. We were lucky enough to get some local advice... Our first night on the road was spent in southern Vik. After eating some burgers we exited the restaurant to find a strange 'movement' in the sky. I thought it was smoke from a chimney, but Han-Wei quickly pointed to me that it wasn't! We screamed up the hill to this church over-looking Vik and photographed our first aurora... The roads in Iceland are so photogenic! During the 3853 km of travelling we came across one pot-hole. Great roads and very safe. If you do decide to travel around the ring road you will find a section of road that appears to lead to the middle of the ocean, and there will be several minutes of doubt pouring through your mind. You'll see what I mean... The black sand beach near Vik features an amazing cliff of distinct basalt columns. Out in the sea are the basalt sea stacks called Reynisdrangar, which according to folklore were two trolls attempting to drag a ship to land but were turned into the basalt stacks as daylight broke... There are plenty of places to take an afternoon nap such as this lava field covered in moss... The Icelandic horses find it hilarious that they are classified as horses but are in fact as small as a pony... Fjaorargljufur is a canyon that is 100m deep and 2km long located in south east Iceland, and was formed over millions of years by melting glaciers and erosion. The canyon has a very elvish feel about it... Svartifoss Waterfall, located in Vatnajokull National Park, is surrounded by dark basalt lava columns... To experience Iceland means getting close to the ice, and the team at Glacier Guides in Skaftafell National Park were excellent at showing us around. It was my first attempt at climbing an ice glacier with cramp-ons and ice axes. I felt safe the entire time. Highly recommend! After a big day of ice climbing over glaciers and traversing into ice caves it was time to setup camp. We hired our tents, sleeping gear and cooking equipment from the lovely Delphine at Iceland Camping Equipment, which was very affordable, great quality and convenient... My most memorable experience in Iceland was camping on the Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon. It was just Han-Wei, Anna and myself eating pasta, drinking Italian wine and watching the bright and playful northern lights dance across the star scattered sky. At one point the cameras became such a distraction that they had to be switched off so we could just sit back and enjoy the show... The aurora was highly visible with the naked eye and peaked that night at a Level 3, 9 being the highest level...can you imagine that!  The following morning was just as peaceful and spectacular, and served as an inspiring way to begin the day... Just up the road is Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where you can grab a warm bowl of mushroom soup while checking your emails and waiting for your name to be called out for a zodiac boat cruise on the lagoon. The zodiac gets right up close to the glacier and if you're lucky you might spot a seal. I thought this small iceberg looked like a prehistoric creature... The ice slowly makes its' way to the Norwegian Sea and washes up scattered across the black volcanic sand beaches... Everything spectacular to see is up for grabs in Iceland, and you can literally pull up next to the road and admire countless waterfalls and vibrant landscapes... As you approach the north of Iceland you can't miss Vogafjos Guesthouse in Myvatn. The accommodation is amazing, the food is divine, the service is world-class, and it's one of the few places where you can eat a bowl of muesli while viewing a cow milking. It's a great base location for exploring nearby. We loved it so much we stayed for three nights... Plenty of geothermal activity in Iceland. If you're prepared to hike there are a few places where you can swim in warm waters. Or if you're looking for easier access there is the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik and the Nature Baths in Myvatn. Dettifoss Waterfall is the largest waterfall in Europe and is featured in the science fiction film Prometheus... Keep heading north of Dettifoss and you will come across Asbyrgi Canyon. This time of year the trees are changing colour and look as though they are setting the canyon ablaze with orange and yellows... At the northernmost point in Iceland is the Arctic Henge, which is a monument that was built for Pagan worshippers and acts as a large sundial aiming to capture the suns' rays to cast shadows and capture light between aligned gateways... A cave exploration of Lofthellir is worth experiencing. There are some tight sections to negotiate as you slide your way into the darkness of the lava cave to reach the natural ice sculptures that sing if you're still enough to hear them... Iceland is full of geothermal activity, and this wacky looking energy station is an engineering work of art... As you head West out of Myvatn you must stop at Godafoss Waterfall... Heading west certainly put our wet weather gear to the test as we entered the Western Fjord region, so we didn't feel bad about lodging at Tangahus Guesthouse and Hotel Foss at Patreksfjorour. This region is absolutely magnificent and on dry occasions is a photographer’s paradise... The Garoar BA 64 shipwreck is a 100 year old Norwegian whaling boat thought to be the oldest steel ship in Iceland, and it's way beached. It's beached as! The Shark Museum at Snaefellsnes is worth visiting where you can learn about the art and history of shark curing. You might want to hold your nose... We headed south along the east coast into Grundarfjorour to see Kirkjufell or better known as 'Church Mountain'. This area featured in a couple of scenes from the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty..."Stay cold pony boy!" I've been looking at images of this Mountain for years, which partly inspired me to travel to Iceland. To finally see it right in front of me, as well as now having my own image to look at, I felt reassured in knowing that anything can be accomplished if you want something strong enough… I hope you've enjoyed my very brief story of our experience in this amazing land of ice. If you can picture any of my images on your wall send me an email. There was so much more that we saw that isn't included here. My only advice to you is to visit this country and create your own story. You'll love it!


Comments

Lev(non-registered)
Amazing photos!!
Nicklaus Lim(non-registered)
Great pictures Steven, inspires me to travel to Iceland too!
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