96 hours in outworldly iceland

 

That’s all we had, exactly 4 days. And yet looking back on the trip to Iceland (right as the Bardarbunga volcano was stirring up memories across Europe of that Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010) and the below photos it seems like a lot more. Despite the fact that it was cloudy for a good 2-3 days and rained quite a bit, it feels as if we’ve done a million things and spent a few weeks wandering and exploring. Which you should do, by the way — just rent a 4×4 and go deep into this incredible country because that’s where the real beauty lies; where narrow gravel and dirt roads lead you to long since last visited places; where you can trek for days without seeing people (plenty of sheep though 😉 ) or wind down in natural hot springs; where you can appreciate the immensity of the glaciers and mountains around you as they stand right at the sea level; where you can really feel what a volcano eruption does to Earth as you see the oceans of moss covered lava fields; where you can witness the light spectacle that is the Northern lights.

I can honestly say it’s one of the most unbelievable places I’ve been to with its vast empty spaces, breathtaking vistas, and surreal and often outworldly landscapes. It’s definitely as close as I’ve gotten to seeing a terraformed Mars or something. We’ve just barely scratched Iceland’s surface and my hunger for adventure beckons me to go back for more… 😉

Some highlights below, more in the coming weeks. Enjoy, comments are always appreciated!

***

 
First morning in Iceland. The mini camper van proved to be quite useful.

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The incredibly clear atmosphere lets you see really far — that “little” rock in the middle is about 1,000m high and stands around 10-15km away, with the glacier at the back being at around 50km.

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Even some of the back roads are well maintained with lights and signs.

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Eyjafjallajökull in all its glory… what a view. Best part? I learned how to pronounce the name properly 😉

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No currency tossing in rivers, please!

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View of long extinct volcanic fissures from the Laki mountain — you can actually see where the earth literally opened up and spewed lava from its core, amazing. The 1783 eruption here was amongst the most devastating ones in recorded history, it basically wiped out a 5th of Iceland’s population and the majority of livestock, further impacting Europe and even Earth’s climate as a whole… mind boggling really.

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Geysir!

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Cool little lake in an old crater.

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Relaxing in a natural hot spring as the rain is pouring over our heads… luckily and miraculously my equipment was dry, but we were completely soaked by the time we got back.

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Comfy 🙂

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The best lobster I’ve eaten!

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Father and son playing at the empty Reynisfjara black beach at dusk. One of my favorite shots of the trip, totally worth the soaked boots I got from trying to take it 😉

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Random sign that made me smile.

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Plenty of waterfalls around, some of them really majestic.

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Sheep protection. Seriously though, there were fences everywhere — they’ve built quite the infrastructure.

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Perched above.

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Sometimes it’s worth taking your eyes off the grandeur stuff and looking down.

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First I’ve seen a house engulfed in rock.

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One of the many glaciers from up close… perhaps the photo doesn’t do it justice, but it was very Moon-like.

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This guy was sick and tired of the rain for sure 😉

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An old US Navy plane wreckage, sitting in the middle of a gigantic black beach.

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Massive waves.

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Some down time.

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Scuba diving in some of the clearest water on earth (so they say) — right in between the two tectonic plates!

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The greenish-yellow looking moss was in sharp contrast to the black and curvy road.

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4×4 fun 🙂

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The first time we’d seen the sun in around 2 days.. always provides for some dramatic landscapes with the dark clouds in the background.

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Around the canyon.

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A tucked away little waterfall.

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Abandoned farms amidst the vastness of Iceland’s landscapes.

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A glacier some 20km away… believe it or not there were roads that did not make a turn for even more than that.

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Iceberg in the Jökulsárlón glacial lake.

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Reynisdrangar rocks at dusk.

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Sheep are everywhere! 🙂

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Wrapped and weather protected bales of hay.

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The grand finale! Truly a spectacle of nature that we didn’t expect to see, but were luckily rewarded with… as we were chilling in hot thermal pools around 11pm! You couldn’t ask for more out of life really 😉 All Northern Lights photos here.

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More photos and stories coming soon 🙂

 
 

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188 thoughts

    • Thank you! To your questions:

      Yes, very sulfurous and stinky but also and warm, which was nice considering it was below 10 degrees outside and quite windy.
      They were sheep alright, but don’t think they were wild… farmers normally leave sheep to wander around so these had decided that it was as good a place as any to get stuck in 😉
      Don’t think so, no. Even in the “summer” months July and August it doesn’t get too hot.

  1. These are magnificent. Because I live in a crowded part of the world, I had no idea such vast, uninhabited places still existed. Are there many people with you when you go out on these photographing tours?

    • There’s plenty of those places, but you have to go and find them 😉 I usually travel light, 1-2 other people max — after that it gets difficult to agree on things and not everybody has enough patience for my (sometimes) time consuming photo taking 🙂

  2. Hristo, your photos are spectacular! I’ve only been to Iceland once, but those few days convinced me that I needed to return – and your great photo essay just confirmed it. The shot of father and son on the beach is a joy! And since my husband is a geologist I was particularly amazed by the “Some down time” photo. Amazing! Congratulations on the FP – you totally rocked it! ~Terri

  3. These are beautiful inspiring photographs! My new boyfriend keeps mentioning going and now I’m convinced. One of my favourite songs begins, ‘All the other girls here are stars, you are the Northern Lights…’
    Speaking of songs, what is that one playing at the top, the Lay Me Down one? It’s lovely.
    Really awe inspiring post. Glad to have found it on Freshly Pressed.

  4. Your photos are wonderful, Iceland is a place I have always wanted to visit and this post may be just the encouragement I need to fulfil that wish.

  5. That is just amazing !!! My dream is to visit Iceland it’s so different from us and such a great place to just forget about your day to day life.
    Well done for all that you achieved.
    :)x

  6. I clicked on your post because my daughter will be in Iceland next week (only for a day, she works on a cruise ship) and so was curious about the country. Amazing pictures, thanks for sharing. P.S. My favourite is the boy and father on the beach as well.

  7. Wow. Your photos are absolutely stunning! This is bringing out the wanderlust in me to just hop on a plane and head straight for Iceland! And if I’m correct, one of my best friend’s plane was delayed while she was in Iceland because of the volcano eruption in 2010 that you mentioned earlier.

  8. Haven’t read it actually, but I take the liberty of commenting already. Traveling is such a food for thought. And here I may add, even though your senses were rendered chill numb, that one instinct still is at work.

    • The funny thing is sometimes (often even, I’d say) they are much closer than that. So I’m debating whether people can’t afford to spend the time traveling or are just happy without it and like staying in their comfort zones. Thoughts? 🙂

      • Very true. I am time (and cash) poor, so part of the reason I don’t get around much is because of that. For me it is definitely not the comfort zone thing, my honeymoon was the best time we ever had, we climbed a live volcano and looked down into it, we were thrown down hills in massive plastic balls, we went rampaging through a muddy jungle in a 4WD buggy and we climbed numerous waterfalls (apparently my Husbands friends were incredibly jealous), it was an incredible adventure.
        I think it would be a combination of time, money and perhaps just a lack of awareness 🙂

  9. What an incredible photo series from an adventure to one of the most amazing places on the planet! Those vast empty spaces, only occasionally dotted with small houses and sheep… Iceland at its best!

  10. Please don’t feel you have to reply to this, but you should know that this is the best photo post I’ve seen in a long, long time. Mesmerizing. Cheers from Texas, and thanks for putting Iceland on my short list of places I must go to.

  11. Great photos. They make me want to go back to Iceland and see more of the spots I wasn’t able to (it was close to winter and reaching many parts of the country required a more serious vehicle than I had). I really miss the chocolate-covered licorice. Did you have any of that?

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  13. Iceland… wait, that’s where the fairies live, isn’t it?
    These photos are absolutely surreal. Absolutely out of this world. And the colors! Now I know where my next trip’s headed! Thank you for the daydreams… 🙂

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  15. Thank you for share this awesome moments to all of us.
    It’s really beautiful, you might see how speechless I am.
    And I think I didn’t wrong to put Iceland and Aurora as two of my bucket lists.

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