DAY 1 - SKÓGAFOSS
We spent the first part of our initial day in Iceland driving back to the airport to collect our luggage that had been lost by the airline on our layover. Not the greatest start to a trip but hey, what can you do. After many hours of driving we then reached our first stop, the popular Skógafoss on the south coast. As expected, it was quite busy (and I'm not too fond of seeing busloads of tourist on my trips) but we didn't care; we were finally in Iceland and in some typical moody Icelandic weather, we went exploring. It didn't take long before the rain came and we decided to keep going on our way towards our AirBnb, which was still quite far up the road. Along the way, we quickly drove up to Dyrhólæy but you could barely see a few meters because of the fog. No big deal, we were always going to come back here when we made our way back west later on in the week. For now, we were looking forward to a good night's sleep.
DAY 2 - JÖKULSÁRLON
On this second day, we continued driving eastward from our AirBnb, which itself was about an hour east of Vik. The advantage of being from Europe when travelling to Iceland is that you wake up nice and early because of the two hour time difference. The weather wasn’t looking very promising, but we still made our way out to the easternmost point of our trip, Stokksnes. This was quite a long drive, but there are plenty of road-side attractions along the way and the road itself leads through some incredible landscapes.
The first stop on our way east was at Svínafellsjökull, a glacier you can access with a short F-road (which had an insane amount of potholes at the time we were there). Shortly upon arriving there, we got very lucky in that there was a break in the very low hanging clouds and we even got a little sun. This was a very welcome change as we had been driving through the fog for a few days, hardly seeing any of the surrounding landscape. As we had gotten up early, we basically had the place to ourselves and were just leaving as the masses started to pour in.
After walking around the glacier, we kept driving east with our eyes set on Stokksnes. This was one of the stops I had been looking forward to the most, but unfortunately the low hanging fog made it impossible to see the Vestrahorn that made this place famous. Instead, we just took a stroll on the black sand beach in the very wet and freezing conditions.
Slightly disappointed but still excited about what the rest of the day had to offer, we jumped back in the car and headed back the way we came, since we were staying in the same place as the night before. On the way back, we stopped at Jökulsárlon, where the sun came out a little just as we were arriving, blessing us with some beautiful light. The glacier lagoon itself is of course a stunning place and if you walk a few minutes over the hills away from the parking lot, you can even avoid the masses of tourist that will inevitably be here. It wasn’t long, however, until it started raining again and we headed back towards our AirBnb for some much needed rest after a day full of exploring.
DAY 3 - DYRHÓLÆY
Day 3 involved a lot less long distance driving and definitely a couple of the highlights of the trip. As I mentioned above, getting up early was super easy for us and we made good use of this by arriving at the Fjaðrárglúfur canyon in beautiful morning light with hardly any other tourists around. This is definitely one of the cooler spots on the south coast and we were lucky we got to see it like this. We were also elated to actually get to see some of Iceland’s landscape instead of having to imagine it behind a wall of fog.
From there, we drove up to Dyrhólæy, where we had (unsuccessfully) been on day 1. However, the light was very harsh and anything but good for taking photos. So, after we had enjoyed the view for a bit, we made the short drive over to Sólheimajökull to go on a little hike around the large glacier lake there. It was great to just walk around there, take in the views and relax a bit by the glacier, all while the weather was holding up. This relaxation then continued a little further west, where there’s a nice hot spring hidden in a valley, which can only reached by foot. After a nice swim in the semi-natural pool, we ironically got drenched by a rain shower on our way back to the car.
In the evening, we then made our return to Dyrhólæy after having eaten dinner in Vik. What followed was one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. After a clear golden beginning, it seemed like the sun would just disappear behind a layer of clouds that was on the horizon. This luckily wasn’t the case and it created an incredible sunset with the red and orange light being reflected by the clouds as well. But only the light, but the location was perfect as well of course, with a 360° view of the ocean, beach, cliffs and mountains. While this description and the images might suggest a very quiet and calming atmosphere, the reality was quite different as wicked winds were constantly blasting up the side of the massive cliff we were standing on. It was a challenge to stand upright in the wind and whenever I lifted my camera to take a photo, the big lens got caught in the airflow and it smashed my camera into my face. This however did not take away from the experience at all and in the contrary actually enhanced it. It felt so much more real, much more like you’re actually part of the landscape you’re looking at. It was truly an unforgettable evening.
DAY 4 - ÞÓRSMÖRK
DAY 5 - LANDMANNALAUGAR
DAY 6 - HAGAVATN
DAY 7 - GULLFOSS