Iceland: A thousand splendid miles

Tripoto
10th Mar 2017
Photo of Iceland by Yamini Gupta

When we first set our feet on the land of Vikings, I hadn’t known much about what the next 828 miles have in store for us. Ranging from snow stretched horizons to unbelievably beautiful waterfalls to geysers to volcanoes to glaciers, there wasn’t a thing Iceland didn’t have to offer.

The road trip began from Reykjavik, which is the capital city of Iceland. The main highway around Iceland, Route 1, or Ring Road, circumnavigates Iceland in around 1,300 kms and that is pretty much where we spent all of our time in the coming days. With the exception of spending nights, which happened in Vik, Hofn and Akureyri respectively.

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

1. The Roads

The roads are breathtakingly beautiful. For as far as you can see, you will see vast horizontal stretches of snow or fertile lowlands or mighty snow covered mountains. In this vastness and absolute nothingness, the horizon feels like the end of this world.

It will shift something in your mind. I promise

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Iceland has got some pretty interesting road signs. Have a look!

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Tips:

You can pre- book a car along with your flight tickets. It turns out to be cheaper. An international driving license isn’t required to rent a car there

Take a gravel insurance as a large portion of Iceland's road system is made up of gravel roads

Take a car with seat heaters. It’s a plus

Stock enough food supplies to keep you from starving. The roads only treat your eyes and your soul :)

Rent 4X4s if you plan to go off-roads across harsh terrains and glacial rivers

You can keep a track of road conditions and weather on www.road.is

The terrains change in a matter of minutes. Your cameras would never be at peace

The average driving speed is 120 Kmph. You can cover large distances quickly, if only you don't stop after every 15 minutes

P.S. You can take your driving lessons there. There are 0.000001 chances of you ramming your car into anothers because the next car that’s ahead of you is probably 10 kms away. :D

Fun facts:

The capital city alone is home to 60% of the entire population so the further you get the lesser people you see

The only real traffic jam that has ever happened in the country was on the 17th of June 1994 when Independence Day celebrations took place at Þingvellir and people were stuck in traffic for hours

2. The cities

Iceland has cute, small cities. Some of them as cute as a bunch of 21 houses hidden in a valley. Some cities less cute. They are heavily populated. Like with 18000 people in it.

Akureyri: Second largest urban area with a population of 18000 and an important port and fishing center

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

But let’s come back to the cutest one. My personal favourite, Vik. With a population of 270 people, it’s the southernmost village of Iceland. Home to the never-ending black basalt sand beaches, cliffs and sea-bird puffins, it’s a place with some character. You can spend almost half a lifetime here.

Notice the church? That's the highest point of the village

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

The city has got a map along with details of all its 21 houses. We stayed in the hostel circled on top center

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Needless to say, the view was amazing

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

and mornings were like this

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Reynishverfi: The black salt beach

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Fun facts:

Vík lies close to Katla volcano. It has not erupted since 1918, and it’s believed that another eruption may occur soon. An eruption of Katla could melt enough ice to trigger an enormous flash flood, potentially large enough to obliterate the entire town. The town's church (go back to the picture), is believed to be the only building that would survive such a flood. So there are regular drills for people where they are trained to run to the church.

Iceland has amusing naming rules. They don't have family names. The last name of a male Icelanders ends in the suffix -son (“son”) and that of female Icelanders in -dóttir (“daughter”). For example, Iceland's current president is Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, his first name is Ólafur Ragnar and his father's first name was Grímur. Interesting, isn't it? So next time you ask an Icelander his/her name, you can figure out the name of the parents too. :D

3. And everything else in between

Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Skógafoss: According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

icelandic horses are used for traditional sheepherding work, and for leisure, showing, and racing. Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

This is what i meant when i said, leisure :D

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Glacial lagoons: The icebergs are seen in two shades: milky white and bright blue, which depends on the air trapped within the ice and is an interplay of light and ice crystals

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Strokkur: One of very few natural geysers to erupt frequently and reliably. It erupts every 8 to 10 minutes

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Can you spot the sheep?

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta
Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

The magical northern lights: it is amazing the way these lights dance across the sky. At one moment they are here and the next they are there. We had to spend an hour in the mountains at -2 degrees and at 1 am..but every single second was worth it

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Mt. Hverfjall: A beautifully formed 2500 years old tephra crater. The crater is about 1 km in diameter and 140 meters deep

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Just chilling

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

Things lost: a hair brush, a woollen cap and a heart <3

Photo of Iceland: A thousand splendid miles by Yamini Gupta

P.S. Carry a gopro or a wide angle lens camera or a drone. Nothing lesser could do justice.:)

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