Epic Road-Trip Chasing Iceland Waterfalls
I spent 12 days with a group of people roaming the untamed nature of Iceland, exploring its vast green land, chasing breathtaking Iceland waterfalls, tasting century old glaciers, and mesmerizing over beaches covered in black sand. Nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced. It was truly an adventure of a lifetime.
My hope for this post is to do justice to the beauty I became mesmerized with and to inspire you to explore it too. I thought of keeping Iceland as my secret destination but I can’t not share something so magical.
I have broken down Iceland into different posts:
- Iceland Road Trip
- Reykjavik Nightlife
- Golden Circle (coming soon)
- Heimaey Island
- Gear and Equipment (coming soon)
Day 1 – Reykjavik
Our journey started in Reykjavik. We grabbed a quick bite at the Perlan and checked into our hotel, Fosshotel Reykjavik. We started roaming immediately but as eager as we were to take off and explore every corner of this fascinating city, we needed to rest and prepare for our trip ahead. I ventured off and enjoyed the summer’s late sunset. It was mind blowing to be walking around at 10pm and still see sunlight. The sun finally set around 11pm.
Day 2 – Golden Circle
Early morning risers off to explore the Golden Circle! This was the perfect intro spot for the trip; if you are short on time, Golden Circle is ideal to sample Iceland’s nature.
Day 3 – Myvtn – Hraunfossar
We embarked on a six-hour drive on Route 1 to Myvtn on the Northern part of the country (the most northern I’ve been yet). On the way, we stopped at Hraunfossar, an iconic area surrounded by Iceland waterfalls that stream out from a lava field created from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier. Although the waterfalls were not the tallest nor the most powerful, they were certainly full of character.
One great thing about traveling with a group of photographers is that they are always leaving their comfort zone to attain the perfect shot. We climbed down the cliff to get as close as possible to the waterfall. The cliff was very muddy and unstable. If it wasn’t for the help of one of the photographers, who happened to be a pro climber, I wouldn’t have been able to come back up for a while. After turning my black pants into brown, I shot my favorite images of Iceland!
Day 4 -Namafjall Hverir – Dimmurborgir
Like the smell of rotten eggs? Want to feel like you are in “The Martian”? Welcome to Namafjall Hverir! The sulfuric smell emanating from the mud pods was so strong but the experience was worth it. The sharp color contrast of grays and brown, the fuming steam, and vast field showcases the illusion that you are exploring terrain on another planet. After breathing in the intoxicating scents, we headed towards Dimmurborgir – a uniquely shaped lava field located about an hour East of Myvtn.
Day 5 – Dettifoss
Started the day with excitement yet again! The destination of choice was the most powerful of Iceland waterfalls, Dettifoss. This is where I truly began grasping the majestic nature of Iceland. The force of this waterfall can be felt through the vibrations of the rocks surrounding it! Dettifoss is untamed territory so you may explore as close or as far away as desired. Alas, the adventure begins – a group of guys and I ventured onto the edge of the rocks to get a close shot. The water splashed against us like furious rain. The mist covered our clothes and gear. I still can’t describe the feeling of sitting on the edge of one of the most iconic Iceland waterfalls.
The best thing about going on a road trip is that you can stop at any point. Chasing beauty in Iceland is hard. Not because of scarcity but because of pure abundance of it! It’s human nature to want to see it all, so why stick to a schedule? Add some spontaneity in your repertoire! We stopped twice to admire the plethora of beauty surrounding us. First, the waterfall was up high so we climbed it. The second stop was my favorite waterfall and probably my fave spot (it’s hard to choose one in Iceland) but the location was so quiet and majestic. The waterfall was a bit nestled but once close to it, you can enjoy all of its beauty. Cherry on top? A double rainbow glistening amid the water and sky. Familiar with what I’m describing? Contact me – would love to know the names of this place!
Beauty in Iceland Waterfalls
Back on schedule…we finally arrived at a small town in the south-east region of Iceland. A few miles away from the small fisherman town Höfn.
Day 6 – Jokulsarlon – Höfn
In the morning, we headed to Jokulsarlon to admire the glaciers. There are two type of tours in Jokulsarlon: the Amphibian and the Zodiac. The latter takes you up close to the majestic (can’t stop using this word, so fitting though!) glaciers and the Amphibian takes you around the lake. I went on the Zodiac tour and geared up in what I can only describe as a space suit (ok it’s a dry suit), and marched in slow motion towards the speed boat like we were in Armageddon, ready to take over. We boarded the little speed boat and headed toward the big glacier. The glaciers are hundreds of years old. We got to pick up some of the floating ice. Our tour guide was cool enough to get us extremely up close to a big floating iceberg; we even gave it a little bump. After our adventure exploring the glaciers, we headed back to town. A few of us had lunch at Pakkhus, in little fisherman town of Höfn. The food was delicious, as I suspected since everything in Iceland has been.
Lunch at Höfn
We headed back to Jokulsarlon late afternoon. This place was even more beautiful during sunset. The ice washed up on the beach and the sky was completely tinted with pink and purple hues. Iceland didn’t cease to amaze us.
Day 7 – Vik
We continued our trip to the south of Iceland, to the town of Vik. On our way, we spontaneously stopped to gaze at more glaciers. After 6 1/2 days of beautiful weather, surprising due to Iceland’s temperamental weather, we received the dreaded torrential rain and windstorm. There was no deterring us so we continued towards Black Sand Beach Vik. I admit, it was not the best time to try to spot Puffins, but we were still graced by their presence. We took cover in the cave but were not the only ones struggling to take pictures as a sad bride and her photographer took cover in the cave as well. The sky was dark grey, the water was just as dark, and the black sand gave the illusion that that we were seeing an infinity gradient of darkness. As gloomy as it may sound, it was simply spectacular.
Day 8 – Skogafoss – Sólheimasandur
We woke up early in the morning and headed to another of Iceland waterfalls, Skogafoss. As a very popular tourist spot, I highly recommend you go as early as possible to avoid the crowd. It’s hard to pick favorites in Iceland but this was definitely on the top 5. I climbed the stairs to the top, realized how badly in shape I was, and got an amazing view of the waterfall. Since it was basically empty, I got to shoot from various angles. After hours of bumpy roads, we arrived at Sólheimasandur plane crash sight (an airplane ran out of gas and crashed at this site). The odd thing is that the plane was left there. Afterwards, we headed to the port to take the ferry to Heimaey Island.
Day 9 – Heimaey
We spent the day exploring the small island of Heimaey and did some hiking through the lava fields. A separate post will be coming soon!
Day 10 – Volcanic Moss Field
We took the ferry back to mainland and headed back to Reykjavik to complete our road trip. On our way, we stopped at a vast volcanic moss field which can take up to 1000 years to grow. According to the Icelandic people, trolls and elves live under the moss. One of us went in search for them…
Days 11 and 12
We spent our last two days in Reykjavik. It felt very sad to say goodbye not only to this amazing amazing nature but to the people I bonded with while on tour. I will never forget the handsomest Icelandic horses, the mouthwatering food, Iceland waterfalls, their hip capital…Iceland surely holds a special place in my heart. .
If you want deets on specifics of my photography, leave a comment below and I will try to create a post. Keep in mind, I’m not a professional, just an enthusiast.