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Circumnavigating the Land of Ice and Fire:
ICELAND ROAD TRIP

The power of Iceland's nature is to turn the prosiac into the extraordinary. All the way around Iceland, its raw gargantuan nature delivers overwhelming beauty that will - simply -  stir the soul and shake you in your hiking boots. 

An underpopulated island marooned near the top of the globe, Iceland is one big volcanic laboratory of ice, fire and rock where mighty forces shape the earth: geysers gush, mudputs gloop, ice-covered volcanoes rumble and glaciers cut great pathways through a maze of mountain systems. The island is one big supercharged natural experience.

Barely forging through the geological magnificence is the Ring Road, Iceland's Route 1, which joins nearly all places you can get to without a 4WD. 

So, we decided to spend one month in a camper wagon doing a circumnavigation of the island driving West, South, East and North, with detours to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Epic doesn't even begin to descripe this road trip! In the nordic hemisphere, it is a drive like no other.

Location: Iceland, during 1 month

Since we wanted to start our trip with massive amounts of hiking, we kicked off our roadtrip with a long drive to the Skaftafell area, the jewel in the crown of Vatnajökull National Park. As this area encompasses a breathtaking collection of mountain peaks, glaciers and lagoons, we based ourselves here for a couple of days to allow for several treks, waterfall hikes and zodiac adventures. The drive along the Ring Road towards Skaftafell transported us across stark deltas of grey glacial sand, past lost-looking farms, around the toes of craggy mountains and alongside glacier tongues.

Then we drove back towards Landeyjahöfn in South Iceland - threwing in a couple of massive waterfalls along the way - to catch the ferry to the remote Vestmannaeyja (Westmann Islands), staying on a camping ground on the island of Heimaey. For nearly a week, we did tons of trekking, beach hikes and zodiac tours. Highlights were climbing the blod-read Helgafell and Eldfell volcanoes, hikes to Blátindur, the Stafsnes ridge, the ridge of Eggjar, the Heimaklettur rocks, the Botn cliffs, the entire Dalfjall mountain and the the Storhifdi loop as well as trips to some of the other islands in the archipelago, meeting Beluga whales along the way. 

Next, we moved back on mainland Iceland and explored Tingvellir National Park, did some diving at Silfra and hiked to the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula. From there we followed the Ring Road  along the southern part all the way to the remote Eastern Fjords, exploring along the way: waterfalls, remote beaches, e.g. Solheimafjara and Sólheimasandur, and the natural areas around Dyrholaey, Arnardrangu, Reynisfjara, and the grottoes of Hálsanefshellir. We visited villages such as Husahafn, the Nupsstadur turf houses, Vík í Mýrdal and Höfn, and we did hikes across the Mýrdalssandur outwash plain, in the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, across the Vestrahorn Mountain and the Stokness Peninsula. Reaching the Skaftafell area once again, we did glacier lake treks in the Jökulsárlón lagoon area.

Reaching the beginning of the remote Eastfjords, we spent several days of slow-driving along all the fjords, visiting e.g. Mælifell beach, Djúpivogur, Berufjörður, Breiðdalsvík, Stöðvarfjörður and Reyðarfjörður, and we did hikes in the Hólmanes Nature Reserve. After soothing ourselves in the exclusive Vök Baths in Egilsstadir, we climbed down the road towards the long and deep fjord of Seyðisfjörður. Here, we stayed several days to explore the surrounding mountains, waterfalls and fjord systems, including Hjaltastadhur, Vopnafjörður, Njardhvik, Kögurviti peninsula, Njarðvíkurskriðu, the island of Hafnarhólmi and the Bakkagerðiskirkjugarður mountains. This region surely rewarded slow travel with superb vistas as our camper wagon followed the road and skirted steep-sided fjords, more black-sand beaches, broad valleys and offshore islets.

The magnificent central and northern part of Iceland was our next stop, a wonderland of moonlike lava fields, belching mudpots, epic waterfalls, snowcapped peaks and whale-filled bays. Nature's masterpieces were everywhere as we explored the Möðrudalur plateau, Dettifoss waterfall and the entire Lake Mývatn area - sitting amongst an azure-blue lake with several islands - with all its volcanoes, crater lakes, pseodu-craters, smoking volcano fields, and lunarlike landscape of mud cauldrons and spitting solfataras. We do stints along remote roads to Central Iceland and Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður NP. We then pushed north to the Húsavík region to do some whale-watching and more ice diving.

 

We finished our road trip in the West exploring some of Iceland's signature highlights, such as Geysir and Gullfoss, and the entire Snæfellsness Peninsula. We also do some driving to the remote Westfjords region. This long arm had splendid mountains, inland lava tubes and remote highland glaciers, and we did tons of trekking and hiking arocess the entire penesula in north, west and south.  

Selected pics from Iceland:

Oure route during the big road trip around Iceland
Oure route during the big road trip around Iceland
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View over Reykjavík
View over Reykjavík
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Akureyrar kirkja, Reykjavík
Akureyrar kirkja, Reykjavík
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Start of roadtrip with a long drive to Vatnajökull National Park, South-East Iceland
Start of roadtrip with a long drive to Vatnajökull National Park, South-East Iceland
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Coffee break on the moss-covered lave fields on the Eldhraun plateau, South Iceland
Coffee break on the moss-covered lave fields on the Eldhraun plateau, South Iceland
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View of Fjallsárlón glacier and glacier lagoon before a zodiak tour in the lagoon, South-East Icelan
View of Fjallsárlón glacier and glacier lagoon before a zodiak tour in the lagoon, South-East Icelan
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Sailing on the Fjallsárlon glacier lagoon, South-East Iceland
Sailing on the Fjallsárlon glacier lagoon, South-East Iceland
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Icebergs in the Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon, South-East Iceland
Icebergs in the Fjallsárlón glacier lagoon, South-East Iceland
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View towards Fagurhólsmyri village with Öræfajökull in the background, South-East Iceland
View towards Fagurhólsmyri village with Öræfajökull in the background, South-East Iceland
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The small church at Nupsstadur, South Iceland
The small church at Nupsstadur, South Iceland
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Camping ground with view of 2110m Mount Hvannadalshnúkur, South-East Iceland
Camping ground with view of 2110m Mount Hvannadalshnúkur, South-East Iceland
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Late afternoon hike to the Skaftafellsjökull glacier tounge
Late afternoon hike to the Skaftafellsjökull glacier tounge
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Dusk during dawn on the Flár plateau with views towards Kristinatindar
Dusk during dawn on the Flár plateau with views towards Kristinatindar
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Hiking trip along the Bærjagil river to reach the Mórsárlon lakes, South-East Iceland
Hiking trip along the Bærjagil river to reach the Mórsárlon lakes, South-East Iceland
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View of the black falls of Svartifoss, flanked by geometric basalt columns, South-East Iceland
View of the black falls of Svartifoss, flanked by geometric basalt columns, South-East Iceland
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Hike to the Gláma cliffs with view of the Skaftafell glaier, South-East Iceland
Hike to the Gláma cliffs with view of the Skaftafell glaier, South-East Iceland
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Moving onwards away from Vatnajökull National Park to reach the ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands
Moving onwards away from Vatnajökull National Park to reach the ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands
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Crossing the southern coast, here with a view toewards the Skogár mountains, South Iceland
Crossing the southern coast, here with a view toewards the Skogár mountains, South Iceland
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Hiking in the Seljalandsfoss plateau, South Iceland
Hiking in the Seljalandsfoss plateau, South Iceland
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Sailing to the Vestmann Islands, off South Iceland
Sailing to the Vestmann Islands, off South Iceland

Here with a view of Halldórsskora (Elephant Rock),Heimaey Island

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Church in the Skainsinn fort build to defend the harbour, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Church in the Skainsinn fort build to defend the harbour, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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View over Heimaey Island and Vestmannaeyjabær village from Helgafell volcano, off South Iceland
View over Heimaey Island and Vestmannaeyjabær village from Helgafell volcano, off South Iceland
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Standvegur harbour houses, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Standvegur harbour houses, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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Herjólfsdalur camp site beneath the Dalfjall, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Herjólfsdalur camp site beneath the Dalfjall, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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Hiking at across the blood-red Eldfell volcano with a view of Elliðaey and Bjarnarey, off South Icel
Hiking at across the blood-red Eldfell volcano with a view of Elliðaey and Bjarnarey, off South Icel
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View of the west coast of Heimaey Island during hiking to Blátindur, off South Iceland
View of the west coast of Heimaey Island during hiking to Blátindur, off South Iceland

The backdrop view has the islands of Álfsey, Brandur and Suðurey in sight. All of the islands were formed by submarine volcanoes around 11.000 years ago, expect for Surtsey, the archipelago's newest addition, which rose from the waves in 1963.

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Hiking along the ridge of Eggjar in north-west, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Hiking along the ridge of Eggjar in north-west, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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Beluga sanctuary, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Beluga sanctuary, Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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Hiking atop the Heimaklettur rocks, northern cost of  Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Hiking atop the Heimaklettur rocks, northern cost of Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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Bad weather at the Botn cliffs during a another hike across Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
Bad weather at the Botn cliffs during a another hike across Heimaey Island, off South Iceland
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