My Upcoming Icelandic Adventure: A 10-Day Journey Through Fire and Ice
Updated: Aug 12
Day 1: Touchdown in Reykjavík
In just a few days, I'll be soaring over the North Atlantic, destined for the land of fire and ice - Iceland. After a smooth flight, I will touch down at KEF at 15:20. The excitement will be palpable as I step out of the plane, ready to embark on this adventure. My first task? Picking up my ride for the next 10 days. I'm leaning towards a RAV 4 - it seems like the perfect vehicle to navigate Iceland's diverse terrains. My wife, my partner in all adventures, will be right there with me, equally eager to start this journey.
Day 2: The Golden Circle Beckons
On Day 2, I've decided to take a slightly off-the-beaten-path approach to exploring the renowned Golden Circle. Instead of the often-visited Secret Lagoon, I'm opting for a more intimate connection with Iceland's geothermal wonders. My wife and I are gearing up for a modest 3km hike that will lead us to Reykjadalur, a natural geothermal river. The idea of bathing in its warm, naturally heated waters, surrounded by the raw beauty of Icelandic nature, has us both thrilled. My wife, in particular, is buzzing with excitement at the thought of this unique experience, a blend of adventure and relaxation in the heart of nature.
Nestled in the Golden Circle route of Iceland, Kerið Crater stands as a testament to the island's volcanic heritage. This ancient volcanic crater is unique, not just for its strikingly vivid red and green colors but also for the serene blue lake that rests at its heart. Formed over 6,000 years ago, Kerið's steep walls contrast beautifully with the calm waters below, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
Day 3: Chasing Waterfalls on the South Coast
The following day will be dedicated to the stunning south coast. Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are on the itinerary, and I've heard that the views from behind Seljalandsfoss are not to be missed. If time allows, a detour to the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon might be in order.
Seljalandsfoss: One of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss is renowned not just for its majestic drop but also for the unique opportunity it offers visitors. A pathway leads behind the cascade, allowing for a 360-degree view of the waterfall. Standing there, with the water thundering down in front of you and the vast Icelandic landscape stretching out behind, is an experience like no other. The play of light through the water, especially during sunset, creates a magical ambiance that's truly unforgettable
Skógafoss: Just a short drive from Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss is another testament to the raw power and beauty of Iceland's natural landscapes. With a drop of 60 meters and a width of 25 meters, it's one of the largest and most striking waterfalls in the country. Legend has it that a treasure is hidden behind the cascade, adding a touch of mystery to its already impressive allure. The constant spray from the falls often results in a vivid rainbow, making for picture-perfect moments.
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon: A bit further east, Fjaðrárgljúfur is a massive canyon that spans about 2 km and has a depth of up to 100 meters. Carved out by the Fjaðrá river over millennia, its winding pathways and steep green walls are a sight to behold. The views from the top are breathtaking, overlooking the meandering river below and the vast landscapes beyond. It's a testament to the slow and persistent power of nature.
Day 4: Glacier Adventures Await
Day four promises to be thrilling. I've booked an ice cave tour in Vatnajokull for the morning and a glacier hiking tour in the afternoon. Exploring the blue ice caves has been on my bucket list for a while now.
Ice Cave Tour in Vatnajokull: The morning will see me delving into the mesmerizing world of Vatnajokull's ice caves. These natural wonders, carved out by the flow of meltwater, are a spectacle of shimmering blue ice. The play of light within these caves casts ethereal shades of azure and sapphire, creating an otherworldly ambiance. It's a surreal experience to be surrounded by such ancient ice, knowing that you're inside Europe's largest glacier. This tour has been a long-standing entry on my bucket list, and the anticipation of finally witnessing the caves' beauty is palpable.
Glacier Hiking on Vatnajokull: As the afternoon rolls in, the adventure continues with a glacier hiking tour on the vast expanse of Vatnajokull. Traversing the rugged, icy terrain, with crampons strapped to my boots and an ice axe in hand, promises to be both challenging and exhilarating. Every step on the glacier offers a new perspective of its vastness, with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and the distant peaks. The sheer scale of Vatnajokull, combined with the beauty of its icy surface, makes this hike a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The day promises a deep dive, quite literally, into the heart of Iceland's glacial wonders.
Day 5: Lagoon Magic and Mývatn Mysteries
The next day, I'll be taking a Zodiac boat tour of the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Later, I'll head to Mývatn to explore its geothermal wonders.
Zodiac Boat Tour of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon: The allure of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is something I've longed to experience firsthand. As dawn breaks on the next day, I'll be setting out on a Zodiac boat, cutting through the serene waters of the lagoon. The sight of massive icebergs, calved from the nearby glacier, floating gracefully is a spectacle that's both humbling and awe-inspiring. Their crystalline blue hues, set against the backdrop of the lagoon's tranquil waters, create a mesmerizing tableau.
Journey to Mývatn via Egilsstaðir: After the exhilaration of the lagoon, a different kind of adventure awaits - the road trip to Mývatn. The Icelandic landscapes are as much about the journey as the destination, and this drive promises to be a testament to that. We're not in a rush. The plan is to take our time, soaking in the vistas, and making spontaneous stops at local eateries to savor Icelandic delicacies. The joy of a road trip lies in these unplanned moments, and we intend to make the most of them. As the day draws to a close, we'll rest in Egilsstaðir, recharging for the next day. Come early morning, we'll set out for Mývatn, eager to continue our exploration.
Day 6: Mývatn's Geothermal Marvels
On day six, my journey will remain centered around the captivating region of Mývatn, where I intend to delve deeper into its diverse natural wonders, immersing myself in the unique geothermal landscapes and volcanic formations that have made this area a highlight of Icelandic exploration.
Hverir Geothermal Area: Mývatn's Hverir is a geothermal wonderland that looks as if it's been plucked straight out of a sci-fi movie. The area is dotted with bubbling mud pools, steaming fumaroles, and a landscape tinted in shades of red, orange, and brown. The earth here feels alive, with steam vents hissing and the ground warm to the touch. The sulfuric aroma is a testament to the intense geothermal activity beneath the surface.
Hverfjall Volcano Trail: Towering over the Mývatn area, Hverfjall is a tephra cone volcano that promises an exhilarating hike. The trail leading to its rim offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, with the vast Mývatn lake on one side and the geothermal areas on the other. The crater itself, a vast circular expanse, is a stark reminder of the volcanic forces that once erupted here. As I tread this path, I'll be walking in the footsteps of ancient volcanic eruptions, with every vantage point offering a new perspective on the region's volcanic heritage.
Grjótagjá Cave: A hidden gem in the Mývatn region, Grjótagjá is a small lava cave housing a thermal spring. Steeped in history and folklore, this cave was once a popular bathing spot for locals. The interplay of light and shadow within the cave, combined with the azure blue waters of the spring, creates an ethereal ambiance. It's said that the water's temperature is just right for a dip, though recent volcanic activity has made it a bit unpredictable.
Day 7: Northern Wonders
As dawn breaks on the following day, my compass will be set firmly to the north, guiding me towards the awe-inspiring force of the Dettifoss waterfall. With anticipation building, I'm eager to witness these iconic landmarks before continuing my journey to the charming town of Húsavík.
Dettifoss Waterfall: Further north lies Dettifoss, often hailed as Europe's most powerful waterfall. The sheer force with which the water plunges into the canyon below is a sight to behold. The roar of the falls, the mist rising from the chasm, and the stark, rugged beauty of the surrounding landscape come together to create an experience that's both humbling and exhilarating. Standing before Dettifoss, I'll be witnessing nature in its most primal form, a force both beautiful and formidable.
Day 8: Whales and Waterfalls
Day eight promises a close encounter with the giants of the sea. I've booked a whale watching tour in Húsavík. On the way back to Reykjavík, a stop at Goðafoss is a must.
Whale Watching in Húsavík: Day eight beckons with the promise of an intimate rendezvous with the ocean's gentle giants. Húsavík, often dubbed the 'Whale Capital' of Iceland, offers some of the best opportunities to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. As the boat slices through the calm waters, eyes will be peeled for the telltale spouts and flukes. From humpbacks to minke whales, and if luck is on my side, perhaps even the elusive blue whale, the experience promises to be both thrilling and humbling. The dance of these majestic beings, set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and the vast expanse of the North Atlantic, is a sight I've longed to witness.
Goðafoss - The Waterfall of the Gods: En route back to Reykjavík, a detour to Goðafoss is non-negotiable. Often referred to as 'The Waterfall of the Gods', Goðafoss is not just a natural marvel but also a site steeped in Icelandic history and folklore. The water cascades in a semicircular arc, creating a mesmerizing spectacle of power and beauty. Legend has it that when Iceland converted to Christianity in the year 1000, the pagan god statues were thrown into this waterfall, giving it its evocative name.
Day 9: Geysers and Goodbyes
As my journey nears its end, I'll be exploring the Geysir area and the iconic Gullfoss waterfall. Later in the day, I'll be returning my trusty RAV 4 and preparing for my departure.
Geysir Geothermal Area: As the final chapters of my Icelandic saga unfold, the Geysir geothermal area beckons with its steaming vents and erupting geysers. The most famous of them all, Strokkur, puts on a dramatic show every few minutes, shooting water and steam up to 30 meters into the air. This geothermal marvel, with its bubbling mud pools and colorful mineral deposits, is a vivid reminder of the volcanic forces that lie just beneath Iceland's surface. Walking amidst the steam and geothermal activity, I'll be enveloped in a world where the earth's raw energy is palpably felt, making it a fitting tribute to the land of fire and ice.
Gullfoss - The Golden Waterfall: A short drive from Geysir leads to another of Iceland's iconic landmarks - Gullfoss. Often referred to as the 'Golden Waterfall', Gullfoss is a two-tiered cascade that plunges into a deep canyon, creating a spectacle of unmatched grandeur. The sheer power of the falls, combined with the rainbows that often form in its mist, offers a visual treat that's both awe-inspiring and humbling.
With these final explorations complete, the time will come to bid farewell to my trusty RAV 4, which has been a reliable companion throughout this journey. As I prepare for my departure, the memories of this adventure will undoubtedly linger, promising a return to this magical land.
Day 10: A Final Adventure
Before I close the chapter on this Icelandic odyssey, there's a final quest awaiting me - a 20 KM hike to Litli-Hrútur. Set against the backdrop of 2023's currently erupting volcano, this trek promises an experience like no other. The juxtaposition of serene landscapes with the raw, primal energy of the volcanic eruption is bound to be a sensory overload. Every step towards Litli-Hrútur will be accompanied by the distant rumble of the earth, the sky painted with plumes of ash and smoke, and the ground echoing the tales of ancient sagas. This hike, amidst nature's most dramatic theater, promises to be the crowning jewel of my journey, a fitting finale to the myriad wonders I've witnessed in this land of fire and ice.
Day 11: Farewell, Iceland
All good things come to an end, and so will this journey. With a heart full of
memories, I'll board my flight from KEF to Amsterdam at 07:45. Until next time, Iceland!