This Nordic country in the northern Atlantic is this year’s king of travel photography. Iceland is incredibly photogenic and home to many natural wonders. Everywhere you turn there is another epic shot, and it often feels like you’ve been transferred from Earth onto the face of a new planet. From ancient lava rocks, to snow-capped peaks, rugged coastlines and tiny towns, to glaciers and their formidable caves, to powerful waterfalls and stunning lakes, this country seems to have it all. Not to mention the 1,332 km (827 mi) Ring Road that provides easy access to everything.
In June 2010 there was a serious eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull (say that ten times fast) in the southwest that sent a giant cloud of ash floating across the atmosphere toward the UK and Western Europe. It delayed flights for weeks, dealing a significant blow to the local economy, which had already been smarting from the financial crash in 2008. In response, Iceland Air offered some incredible flight packages to those in North America to entice people — and offset the loss in tourism dollars.
No darkness before the dawn
I wanted to make the most of my trip — so I contacted some locals who were running tours of Reykjavík and asked them if they would consider a road trip. Because I didn’t have much cash, we opted to camp most nights and spend the majority of the money on food and gas. It was a good choice and the road trip ended up being a great success.
I had ten days to tackle just over 1,000 km during the summer solstice — when Iceland gets almost constant daylight. The sun just dips below the horizon at midnight—and when twilight takes hold, it doesn’t get much darker than an overcast day.
All roads lead to Reykjavík. And fjords. And waterfalls
Iceland is divided into two major sections — the western fjordlands and then everything else. Everything else is relatively shaped like a giant circle and, conveniently, outlined by the country’s Ring Road. This section of immaculately paved blacktop stretches exactly 1,332 km (827 mi) and is nothing short of an absolute beauty. I wouldn’t be surprised if this trip soon found its way onto the world’s top ten road trips. It’s deserved.
It doesn’t really matter in which direction you travel — the Ring Road boasts so many great highlights and fantastic photographs that it’s all good, no matter the direction you choose. We headed northeast from Reykjavík to our first stop at the fishing village of Akureyri, which is tucked into a massive fjord. From there, we explored the azure blue of the natural hot springs of Lake Myvatn (cheaper and less crowded than the Blue Lagoon). We continued along the incredible coastal stretch of the eastern fjords, with black beaches and surreal-looking glaciers that come right down to the sea. Finally, we finished our circumnavigation of the island along the south coast with its famous waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Gullfoss.
Iceland is a dream destination. It is a beautiful country with friendly people and otherworldly landscapes. No matter when you go, one thing is certain, you will not be disappointed. As they say, Iceland inspires — and one day I’ll be sure to return.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in Iceland encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.