Iceland - an encounter with fire, ice, and many more wonders

Tripoto
2nd Sep 2016
Photo of Iceland - an encounter with fire, ice, and many more wonders by Pranay Maloo

Around 1:30 am at night we picked up our car and made our way from airport to the city of Reykjavik. The left hand right side drive, the vastness of the place, the eerie quietness of the night, the row houses; everything was different. But it was something we were looking forward to when we set course for Iceland from Mumbai.

The next morning was a quiet one. Sitting near the window having my breakfast, I interacted with fellow travellers from Vietnam staying at the same place. Soon, it was time for us to leave and explore the city of Reykjavik and nearby area.

Reykjavik

We started off with driving to the most famous hot spring of Iceland, the great Geysir. The next 2 hours of drive was filled with varied landscape and the kind of weather that would surprise you any moment. As if, it was playing with us as per its whims and fancies changing even before we got time to adjust with it. The great Geysir was one of the best natural phenomena we witnessed. The entire area is a geothermal field with different active natural geyser and hot mud pots. I can still remember the anticipation of waiting for the geyser to erupt, fixating my gaze at the ring and the sheer fascination when it sprouts as high as 30 meters in the air. At times, it used to come up a bit ready to shoot and then calm down again leaving the spectator wanting for more. There is a small mountain called Laugarfjall which offers a panoramic view overlooking the Geysir area. After spending some time, we went our way back to Reykjavik.

In evening, we decided to explore the city area. There are some good restaurants, shopping area, a concert hall "HARPA", etc. It also holds a sea line which is a good place to sit and relax and appreciate the beauty of Reykjavik.

The next morning we had a heavy breakfast courtesy our host. He took us through the history of Iceland, the religious practice that was followed and how it changed, how the famous spots were named, the chaos when Iceland changed its driving style and many more. If it wasn’t for our trip, we wouldn’t have left his house and his stories which transported us into a world, the present of which we had just started exploring.

Reykjavik was a great start to our trip. We were greeted by a culture and landscape which is completely different from ours and a language which we still cannot understand. Still, there was no fear of unknown but, the excitement of something new at every turn which kept our spirits high.

We were soon out and as planned, embarked on something different than most of the travelers. We started our road trip to the famous golden circle however, the other way.

Photo of Reykjavík, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

Dynjani Waterfalls

Our next stop was a small place in western fjords besides Dynjandi Waterfalls called Laugabol Farms. We decided to take turns for driving and it was my turn to take the wheels. Driving in Iceland was a bit difficult at start to adjust but once I got comfortable, it was a pleasure driving on the empty roads. With no traffic and the ever changing landscape, it was a not easy to keep my eyes on the road all the time as I was tempted to admire the surroundings. We took many pit-stops at the designated areas to explore the place as going off-road in Iceland is not allowed.

Driving in fjords was both a challenge and fun. With clear water on one side and mountain on other and to add to it was the fact that we encountered a passing vehicle almost every half an hour, it was an experience like never before. The best part about driving there was when we were on top of a mountain and we could see the creeks of Atlantic Ocean and the vastness it spread into. Coupled with that the evening time when sun was on its way to set; words literally fall short of expressing the sight.

We took around 7 hours to reach the foot of the Dynjandi Waterfalls. There was a camp site at the base of it where people started setting up their tents for the night. The waterfall had a good height and was facing the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We took a break to figure our way to the Laugabol Farms, as we saw the sun set filling the entire fjord with bright orange light; a sight I still cannot forget.

Photo of Dynjandi, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

The Laugabol Farms is a private area owned by a couple. A bungalow in the middle with its own hot tub, stable on one side and open farm on other with stallions strolling around, mountain on the front side and the creek of the Antarctic Ocean on the back side, the entire setting seem to out of a fiction book. We had our dinner along with a German couple, two French girls, and a Chinese couple who were all staying there.

We came out at night to test our luck with northern lights. The sky was clear which was a great sign. We waited around an hour for the lights to appear and were greeted with the first sight just when we were about to leave. At the start it was Grey in colour. It rapidly changed shapes and moved like a snake, slithering and slowing covering the entire sky. Once again, Iceland surprised me with yet another natural phenomena and I stood like a five years old kid watching the northern lights create magic in the sky. We were out for another hour before we left for our room. For the rest of the night, the sky was filled with particles colliding with earth’s magnetic field to create a green tail of light i.e. Aurora Borealis a.k.a. northern lights.

Photo of Iceland - an encounter with fire, ice, and many more wonders by Pranay Maloo

The next morning we talked a bit about the northern lights at breakfast as we enjoyed the view from the porch outside. It was time to continue on our trip and we soon were on road again for our next destination, Akureyri.

Akureyri

We took a stop at the town of Isafjordur located near the creek at one of the fjords. Its dramatic landscape surroundings provided a perfect setting for a peaceful and delicious lunch. If not for our already planned trip, we would have definitely stayed here a night or two.

We were once again moving as the way to Akureyri was long. During our journey, we came across some amazing landscape which we never encountered before. Iceland greeted us with bright sun, drizzle, thick fog, all on same day. It was as if we were in a fictional world. The drive was longer than we expected and we reached our next home around 1 am. We were on road for around 10 hours and soon retired for the day.

The next morning was a quick one and we were once again on the road. The charm of exploring Iceland was insatiable and couldn't keep us away from the wheels for long. We had our breakfast at the outskirts of the city near a river under the perfect surrounding of mountains. Our next destination was Eskifjörður but we had many pit stops to take as the road ahead was filled with adventure and some exciting places to discover.

Eskifjörður

The first stop on our way was the Godafoss Waterfall, locally known as the waterfall of gods. Though not at a very good height, but its semicircle arch gives it a magnificent look. This place is closely connected to a major historic event when the entire Iceland decided to adopt Christianity as against then existing paganism. It is said that after the then chieftain decided to adopt Christianity, he took the statue of all the gods and threw them into the fall as a symbol of conversion and letting them go. Our brief encounter with Iceland's history at our host's palace in Reykjavik made this place more special for me. After spending some time there, we were back on the road.

Photo of Eskifjörður, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

Since the time we landed, we were mostly on the road but driving in Iceland wasn't a tiring affair. The natural setting amidst which we drove was inspiring us to continue and explore this unique land filled with varied natural phenomenon.

We soon reached yet another natural wonder of Iceland, a geothermal area called Myvatn. One could spend an entire day here as it holds a mix of something called "sulfur hot spring", molten mud pots, sulfur vents, a lava field and so much more. The entire area seemed to not belong to earth. For miles there was no vegetation, no trees, grasses, or shrubs. There was nothing but barren volcanic rock. We started from the Sulfur hot spring, and then made our way to the molten mud pots and sulphur vents. The sulphur vents were spread across the field and of different velocity and strength.

Photo of Goðafoss Waterfall, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

After spending some time, we made our way to the lava fields of Leirhnjukur. There was an easy trail to the top of the mountain but the view above was something I could never imagine to see. It was like standing at the gates of hell. The entire surface was emitting hot steam as if waiting to explode. The mountain gives a good view of the area. After spending some time exploring the entire area, we were back on the road to our destination. Every day at Iceland brought something new to discover and explore and today was no different. We looked for a new adventure at every turn on our trip. We reached Eskifjörður around 9 pm and took some rest for the day.

Photo of Mývatn, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

Eskifjörður is a seaside village in the eastern fjords. Take a walk around the town and you’ll come across some of the historical building and piers. One can also rent a boat and sail around the fjords. Also, one of the globe’s most famous spar mines with some of the world’s largest spar crystals have been excavated is also found here.

Vík

The next morning was a quiet one. We were greeted with drizzle and a bit of cold which was different then what we encountered so far. Our next destination was a town at the south of Iceland called Vík. But this time was different as for the first time, we came across snow and glaciers in Iceland. The weather was cold at this part which was a sign of close by glaciers. We came across some of the most amazing beaches this part of Iceland. While one was filled with black pebbles all across, another one was the famous black sand beach with a mountable cliff which gives panoramic view of the mammoth Atlantic Ocean and the varied landscape of Iceland.

Photo of Dyrhólaey, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

While these surely added lot of color to our journey, the highlight of the day was a large glacier lagoon called Jökulsárlón. It is bordering the Vatnajökull National Park and has still blue water with icebergs floating, at times breaking in the lagoon. The lagoon flows through a short waterway into the Atlantic Ocean taking with itself chunks of iceberg. The entire sight was simply breathtaking and worth admiring the place. There is also a boat ride that gets you near the iceberg in the lagoon. It was difficult to leave the place but we were short of time and had to reach our next home well in time.

Photo of Jökulsárlón, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

We started a bit late next morning and had breakfast at the Black Beach Restaurant near Vik. It was raining constantly. Our next stop was a drive to the Landmannalaugar, a place in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the highlands of Iceland. The road to the place is bumpy and full of gravel. Therefore, one must have a proper 4x4 vehicle to ride there as other smaller vehicles are prohibited. The entire place is famous for hiking which usually takes from few hours to few days depending on the trail one chooses. The multi-colored mountains, the magnificent waterfall, and many more greet those who go deep in the reserve. One has to cross the river to get to the main area. All this really makes this place a true jewel of Icelandic landscape.

Selfoss

We were spending our next two days at Selfoss. Selfoss is the largest town in south Iceland; still it is a peaceful town with varied options for some good restaurants to try. Our entire day was already planned as we had booked a visit to the Langjökull Ice Cave. We had to drive all the way to the Klaki Base Camp. The drive to the base camp was nothing short of an adventure itself with rough roads and a weather which was windy and turning colder the closer we reached to the base camp. When we reached the base camp, we were in for a big surprise. We were just at the foot of the glacier and the wind was at its best. A big SUV was like a matchbox in front of the power of the wind and was shaking continuously. We had to take our gears from the camp which included shoes, complete pullover and pants, and gloves. The temperate near the base camp was freezing cold and luckily we had brought extra pair of jackets. We were then transported into a special purpose vehicle converted to be able to drive on the glacier. Our tour guide gave us some basic information on the Ice tunnel.

We soon reached the mouth of ice tunnel. The wind was blowing fast and the temperature was around 0 degree. We were taken in and were given crampons so that we could walk on the ice. It had a briefing area and we soon divided into a team of two. It was an experience like never before as we explored the nooks and crannies of the tunnel with our guide filling us on information about the tunnel. The highlight of the tunnel was a ice made chapel where people can get married. Our guide did a small singing performance for us inside the chapel. After wandering around the tunnel for a while, it was time to go back.

Photo of Langjokull, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

Next morning was our last day in Iceland. We were heading back to Reykjavik. However, we still had an entire day with us to explore. On our way, we picked up a Russian Couple. They were hiking the entire of Iceland on foot which sounded daring and inspiring both at the same time, a perfect way to explore this beautiful and amazing landscape.

Our last stop was Iceland’s one of the biggest and strongest waterfall, Skógafoss. There is a walking path close by to the top of the waterfall which rewards the visitor with an awe-inspiring view from the top of the mountain. While it seem a normal waterfall from far, its might and power is felt as you go near. The height of it made people standing at its foot look like dwarfs. There is a camp site near the waterfall. After, spending some time there, we were on our way to Reykjavik and dropped our Russian friends midway at their destination.

Photo of Skógafoss, Iceland by Pranay Maloo

It was time to bid farewell to this amazing and beautiful country. We stayed people who treated us like their own; we explored the country like nomads wandering from one destination to another and discovered some of the amazing landscape and natural phenomenon. Each day brought a new adventure to take, a new place to discover, new people to meet. Iceland wasn’t just another travel destination, but an inspiration for us to keep exploring the unknown, keep travelling to places we have never been, and create a life that we witnessed over last 8- 10 days, a life rich with quality, well being, and full of adventure.

This was the first of our travel adventure to a Nordic country but certainly not the last one. There was so much more waiting to be explored. With this and many great memories of our trip, we saw the last of Iceland as we boarded our flight for Mumbai.

Photo of Iceland - an encounter with fire, ice, and many more wonders by Pranay Maloo

Until next time...for a new adventure :)

Kveðja

3 Comment(s)
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Amazing, could you help me with the expense details.
Thu 10 05 17, 13:49 · Reply (1) · Report
Hi. Apologies as I have been away from this portal for a long time. Broadly, I can divide the expenses into following: 1. Flights 2. Stay 3. Car Rental 4. Food We got decent flight bookings at around 50K return as we booked 6 months in advance. So planning early can be beneficial. Stay was via Airbnb. Iceland is a bit expensive in this aspect as compared to other European places. There can be cheap ones as well near the city area but far off places will be expensive. So planning where you want to go will help you decide on how far you want the stay to be. With Iceland, it can be a blessing as you get to see nature very closely. Car rental can be controlled depending on whether you want to stay on paved roads or you want to go off-road. There are specific vehicles which can go off-road and again it depends on what part you want to cover. Food is expensive everywhere because of tourism boom in Iceland. Also, veg is a luxury there so if you veg, then you would have to search before you can get a good place to eat. Supermarkets are great place to get some cheap stuff. Overall, for 10 days, it costed me around 1.5 inclusive of everything but excluding personal purchases such as souvenir or gifts. Hope that helps.
Fri 06 08 18, 10:02 · Report
Amazing work and the pictures left me awestruck.. Waiting for more such blogs!
Wed 06 21 17, 07:29 · Reply (1) · Report
Hey thanks a lot. A formal blog is on its way and should surface in sometime.
Sun 06 25 17, 04:56 · Report
Spellbound.. Beautifully written.. Keep it up
Sat 06 17 17, 00:01 · Reply (1) · Report
Thank you
Sat 06 17 17, 06:39 · Report

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