Iceland

This blog is some 6 months late, but better late than never I suppose...

Back in March I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime with my other half. 2 weeks in a van, travelling around Iceland. 

 Our home for the trip.

Our home for the trip.

The first thing we decided when planning this adventure, is that we wanted to do the trip in a camper van - this way we could go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and we didn't have to tailor our trip to where the next hotel would be. 

We ended up going with Happy Campers (our little van can be seen in the photo above), who seemed to offer the best value for money for a home on wheels. While it was a tight squeeze, I fell in love with this little thing - so much so, that I intend on getting a van when my car eventually dies (which i secretly hope is soon).

The next decision to be made was to choose a time of year to visit. This too was an easy decision; we decided to go in Winter so that we could see the Northern Lights - something that has been on my bucket list for a long time, and we gave ourselves 2 weeks in the country to increase the chances of doing so.
We ended up choosing March as we would get more daylight to explore the island, and we hoped we'd get better weather at the end of the Northern Lights season (although I don't think you're immune to any weather in Iceland, regardless of when you're there).

Since Iceland is a photographer’s dream, I made sure I was prepared for the trip. I scoured the internet for cool locations to visit, creating a very badly drawn map of the country to help us find our way to each, and I packed my Fujifilm XT2 and a bunch of lenses (10-24mm, 16-55mm, 23mm and the 55-200mm) in the hope of putting my own perspective on something that is photographed by hundreds of people on a daily basis.

Armed with my camera, and an ipad full of tunes - we hopped on a plane, and then we hit the open road. We ended up doing the ring road anti-clockwise, meaning we hit the majority of locations on the hit list in the first week. Here are a few highlights from the week in the south -

 The open road. The sky didn't stay this blue for long...

The open road. The sky didn't stay this blue for long...

 Pingvellir. Our first stop. Standing between North America and Eurasia.

Pingvellir. Our first stop. Standing between North America and Eurasia.

 Geysir. I ended up selling this photo to a German professor who was writing a book about Thermodynamics, thus becoming a internationally published photographer whilst in Iceland. Sounds even cooler every time i say it...

Geysir. I ended up selling this photo to a German professor who was writing a book about Thermodynamics, thus becoming a internationally published photographer whilst in Iceland. Sounds even cooler every time i say it...

 Gullfoss Waterfall. The last stop on the Golden Circle, but the first beautiful waterfall of many...

Gullfoss Waterfall. The last stop on the Golden Circle, but the first beautiful waterfall of many...

 Gljufrabui. This waterfall hidden within a cave was probably my favourite of the lot.

Gljufrabui. This waterfall hidden within a cave was probably my favourite of the lot.

 Seljalandfoss. This huge waterfall offers stunning views from behind. Unfortunately the path behind was shut by the time we got here, so this is as close as I could get. It was still quite a sight...

Seljalandfoss. This huge waterfall offers stunning views from behind. Unfortunately the path behind was shut by the time we got here, so this is as close as I could get. It was still quite a sight...

 Solheimajokull Glacier.

Solheimajokull Glacier.

 Sioned getting ready for our glacier hike.

Sioned getting ready for our glacier hike.

 Walking on ice was fun. We got to carry axes.

Walking on ice was fun. We got to carry axes.

 From frozen water, we headed to hot springs.. Seljavallalaug - Iceland's oldest swimming pool. Not a bad location for a swimming pool is it?

From frozen water, we headed to hot springs..
Seljavallalaug - Iceland's oldest swimming pool. Not a bad location for a swimming pool is it?

 The pool was colder than expected, but the views were even better than expected.

The pool was colder than expected, but the views were even better than expected.

 Solheimsandur Plane Wreck. Although it doesn't look it in the photo, it was super foggy when we got to the crash site - the plane almost appeared out of nowhere. It was super spooky...

Solheimsandur Plane Wreck. Although it doesn't look it in the photo, it was super foggy when we got to the crash site - the plane almost appeared out of nowhere. It was super spooky...

 Skogafoss. Waking up to this site was a good way to start the day.

Skogafoss. Waking up to this site was a good way to start the day.

 I'm not a religious man, but the churches in Iceland were cute.

I'm not a religious man, but the churches in Iceland were cute.

 Vik. The most southern point in Iceland. 

Vik. The most southern point in Iceland. 

 Svartifoss. Another day, another waterfall.

Svartifoss. Another day, another waterfall.

 Inside Vatnajokull Glacier. Even though we hiked a glacier the day before, I still had no idea how beautiful the inside of a glacier was...

Inside Vatnajokull Glacier. Even though we hiked a glacier the day before, I still had no idea how beautiful the inside of a glacier was...

 Jokulsarlon. Glacier Lagoon - where ice goes to die...

Jokulsarlon. Glacier Lagoon - where ice goes to die...

 In our last night before heading up the east coast, we saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen...

In our last night before heading up the east coast, we saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen...

 It was over very quickly, but oh boy it special... 

It was over very quickly, but oh boy it special... 

The further we drove from Reykjavik, the worse the weather got, and the less other people we saw. By the time we hit the East coast we were in the midst of a snow storm, and it pretty much snowed for the next 5 days - which slowed us down a fair bit, and stopped us going to a few places we had intended on visiting.

However most concerning for me was the fact we still had not seen even a glimmer of the northern lights... Luckily that all changed a few days later.

So here are some photos from the north of Iceland; including the natural phenomena which drew me to the country in the first place -

 As we started to make our way north we were greeted with snowfall - as you can see, this made Sioned happy. It didn't stop until we began to make our way back south. 

As we started to make our way north we were greeted with snowfall - as you can see, this made Sioned happy. It didn't stop until we began to make our way back south. 

 Snowfall quickly turned in to snow storms, and this slowed down our travel significantly - this was pretty much all we saw for a whole day. Disclaimer - our van became stuck in the snow when I got out to take a few photos, and we needed to get pushed out by some very amused locals.

Snowfall quickly turned in to snow storms, and this slowed down our travel significantly - this was pretty much all we saw for a whole day.
Disclaimer - our van became stuck in the snow when I got out to take a few photos, and we needed to get pushed out by some very amused locals.

 After the snow storms passed, the fun in the snow continued. My Fujifilm lens caps did a fine job as eyes and buttons for this big guy.

After the snow storms passed, the fun in the snow continued. My Fujifilm lens caps did a fine job as eyes and buttons for this big guy.

 Our first stop when we hit the north was Myvatn. Game Of Thrones fans may recognise it as the cave where John Snow broke his vows. Naughty boy...

Our first stop when we hit the north was Myvatn. Game Of Thrones fans may recognise it as the cave where John Snow broke his vows. Naughty boy...

 We managed to get up close and personal with a few of Iceland's majestic horses.

We managed to get up close and personal with a few of Iceland's majestic horses.

 And a few not so majestic ones...

And a few not so majestic ones...

 On day 10 it finally happened, for the only time on the trip. I'll never forget it. This was to be our last night in Akureyri, regardless of whether we saw it or not, and whilst the aurora forecast did not look promising throughout the day, by the night it reached a whopping 7 out of 9. We hadn't even left the city before the skies started dancing...

On day 10 it finally happened, for the only time on the trip. I'll never forget it. This was to be our last night in Akureyri, regardless of whether we saw it or not, and whilst the aurora forecast did not look promising throughout the day, by the night it reached a whopping 7 out of 9. We hadn't even left the city before the skies started dancing...

 And it got better...

And it got better...

 And better as the night went on. Well worth not being able to feel my fingers and toes.

And better as the night went on. Well worth not being able to feel my fingers and toes.

 Since we stayed in Akureyri for an extra night hunting Northern Lights, we had a big driving day ahead of us the next day if we were to make it back to Reykjavik on time. As we got further and further west, the weather improved.

Since we stayed in Akureyri for an extra night hunting Northern Lights, we had a big driving day ahead of us the next day if we were to make it back to Reykjavik on time. As we got further and further west, the weather improved.

 6 hours after leaving Akureyri, we arrived at the final stop on the trip; Kirkjufellfoss. Since I'd seen so many great photos of this place before coming, this was the first place i put on my map. A great way to end a great journey...

6 hours after leaving Akureyri, we arrived at the final stop on the trip; Kirkjufellfoss. Since I'd seen so many great photos of this place before coming, this was the first place i put on my map. A great way to end a great journey...

So there it is. 2000km of roads, and some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Although 14 days was plenty of time to do the ring road, there are still plenty of other places that we ended up missing out on because of weather, and a lack of 4x4. So I guess I'll just have to go back again...