duminică, 9 octombrie 2016

Black sands and moving ice- day 3

The third morning found us in Vik i Myrdal, the southernmost town in Iceland. A small settlement surrounded by mountains and the Atlantic.
This day was rather special because it was also the day one of us turned 27. It didn't really affect our plans because we didn't plan to make this a relaxing day, on the contrary.

The plan was to do the rest of the south coast and end the day in Hofn, a small town on the south-east coast. The weather was incredibly good. Our third day here and none of our worries regarding bad weather had come true. It was rather cold during the day, colder during the "night" but all in all, we were happy.

As previously said, there are remarkable differences from the coast inward. In Vik there was a beach with volcanic black sands and 2-3 kilometers inland, mountains and glaciers sprung out of nowhere. The road itself from Vik to Reynisfjara (a black sand beach with impressive basalt cliffs) meanders across mountains passes and down to plains with visible geological layers.
A panoramic view of Dyrholaey and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara

 Driving eastward on the Icelandic south coast is an experience everyone should try at least once. It is here where there is an active volcanic activity. Some of the volcanoes in the area have erupted in recent years, some of them are actually expected to erupt in the near future. Add ice and glaciers to the mixture and you have a perfect and extreme destination.

Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon
Vatnajokull glacier is the largest ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe. It covers large areas inland and spreads out to the Atlantic in the south. One such area is the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, where parts of the glacier mouth break off as icebergs and are carried out to the ocean. This lagoon was truly incredible, almost other-worldly. There was this chill in the air and a daunting silence that came down the mountain. Glancing at the mouth of the glacier, we could almost feel the immense void that engulfed the horizon. It reminded us of those rough winter days on the mountain where the only sound you hear is the raging wind scattering the fresh snow. It was a sensation that I personally will try to come back to whenever I feel the need for serenity. 

Moss covering lava fields

A preview of what was to be expected on the east coast
It was a special day indeed because we had reason for a double celebration. We celebrated ourselves for being alive and we celebrated nature for keeping us alive.

vineri, 30 septembrie 2016

Continuous daylight

One does not really sleep in Iceland, during summertime. How could you, when there is no real night? If it weren't for all the splendors surrounding us at each step, constantly engaging us, we would have been crushed by weariness after only one day. 
There are a handful of transport possibilities when arriving in Iceland. If you plan on staying here more than a few days, and you probably are, you would want to travel a bit outside Reykjavik's comfort zone. Renting a car or caravan is the best choice because it gives you that freedom to stop whenever and wherever you want. There are plenty of camping places, specially dedicated to cars and caravans, with everything you need for a decent (luxurious even) stay. If one is after the true and complete Icelandic experience, biking is definitely the choice. We have encountered many people along the road that biked the country. Many of them were here for months, going around the island. 

If you prefer not to travel to much from one point to another, there is the possibility of hoping on a plane and flying. Every (major) town in Iceland has its own airport with several flights a day.
If one is really lazy or is not used to hiking, trekking or camping, there is always the option of taking on a guided tour, that takes you only through the most renown places in the country, with no real taste of what the country is really like.


We spent three days on the south coast. There are literally dozens of places you can go to like glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, valleys. It is a fabulous area with an entire range of natural landscapes. Imagine walking at the foot of a dying glacier, surrounded by high glacial walls and within a half an hour, gazing endlessly in the distance and seeing nothing but a faded horizon.

Iceland is not very fertile, given the volcanic soil, but efforts have been made to remedy this. Plants have been introduced in the ecosystem to regenerate and fertilize the soil. Such a successful effort is the introduction of lupine (brought from Alaska) to help soil erosion.

The 1973 US plane wreck 
 As mentioned, the landscape is more than interesting. From mountains swallowed in perennial snow and ice to volcanic plains, spreading to kilometers in each direction. Continue walking and you'll reach black sand beaches and high cliffs, washed by fearful oceanic waves.

The black sand beach of Reynisfjara

 One thing is certain, one week is not enough. Once here, we felt that calling, those inner voices that were luring us further inland and upward. It's very hard to keep to the plan when you have every excuse not to.