Iceland Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

Sjáumst Síðar, Iceland

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The daylight hours were growing shorter, but we took our leave of Iceland before the true onset of winter, when the country would be plunged into a period of almost unbroken darkness. For us, Iceland was all about the light. A light which powered long summer days. Which illuminated vistas of mountains, fjords and waterfalls. Which fought through clouds to reflect off a glacier and momentarily blind us. This light, shining on a country that didn’t need anywhere near 91 days to work its way into our hearts.

Goodbye Iceland

Only 300,000 people live in Iceland. This shocked me at first. An entire country for a population smaller than that of Honolulu? But by the end of our stay, 300,000 felt like a lot. Iceland might be a country in name, but in spirit it’s a big, widely-scattered family. We’d meet people in Akureyri with cousins we’d photographed in Ísafjörður. “Húsavík? Sure! My sister works at the town bar. Stop by and say hi.” Or we’d see a friend from Kópavogur during a visit to the Westman Islands. And he would just wave, like it’s no big deal. Like it’s right around the block!

Considering the small and tightly-knit population, the sheer number of tourists who come to Iceland should be overwhelming. Walking down Laugavegur, the main street of Reykjavík where foreigners far outnumber locals, I always felt a little guilty. After all, I was one of these invaders. But although it would be understandable for Icelanders to turn insular, shunning strangers under the guise of protecting their culture, they are among the most welcoming, friendly people we’ve ever encountered. Whether striking up a conversation at the bar, offering advice, pulling over when we stuck out our thumbs, listening to our stories or sharing theirs, locals were always happy to engage with us. Icelanders are proud of their country, eager to know what we’d seen and what we thought.

And they have reason to be proud. Iceland is home to the most bizarre and beautiful nature we’ve ever seen, bar none. The glaciers, the geothermal areas, the desolate interior, the raging arctic oceans, the black sand beaches. The hiking! During our walk along the Fimmvorðuháls Trail, the moment we crossed between two glaciers and saw the valley of Þórsmörk beneath us, glowing in the evening sun, was one of those transcendent experiences I’ll never forget. How many times in your life does something happen that you immediately know will be etched into your memory forever? It’s rare. But perhaps less so in Iceland.

The nature is unforgettable, but that’s only half of what makes Iceland so special. We were just as amazed by its people. This tenacious little community who brave life on an island which (let’s be honest) is set to explode any day now. Who, despite their small number, have their own language, compelling history and incredibly rich culture. Who have created one of the most liberal, tolerant, environmentally-friendly, pragmatic and down-to-earth countries on the planet. These people who love camping! Who party like maniacs! Who bathe in rivers and climb glaciers for sport! Who knit!

Iceland, you’re fascinating. We left a little sad, but with amazing memories and friendships that I’m sure will stand the test of time. And I have no doubt that we’ll return. It’s your fault. You welcomed us with open arms and now, we’re kind of family.

Download Our Travel Books Here

Goodbye Iceland
Goodbye Iceland
Goodbye Iceland
, , , , , , ,
November 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm Comment (1)

The Hot Spring Town of Hveragerði

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Precariously situated in the middle of an active geothermal area southeast of Reykjavík, Hveragerði makes for an easy excursion from the capital. During our visit, we explored hot springs, ate an geothermally-cooked egg and treated our feet to a therapeutic mud bath.

Hveragerði Mudd Bath

Nowhere else in Iceland is geothermal power so intricately connected to everyday life as in Hveragerði. Here, you can visit geothermal bakeries, eat bread fresh from geothermal ovens, buy vegetables in geothermal greenhouses, play golf with geothermal vents blasting out of the ground around you, tour a nearby geothermal plant, walk around a geothermal park, and take a dip in geothermal waters.

With the Varmá River running through town and the Hengill Mountains providing the backdrop, Hveragerði is stunning. But I must question the sanity of anyone who says, “Yes, this is where we shall settle! Here, where scalding steam bursts forth from the earth. Where muddy pools of boiling water open up below unsuspecting feet. Where the earth quakes regularly. Here, the exact spot that nature is clearly trying to warn me away from, is where I shall make my home.”

Our first order of business in Hveragerði was a visit to the Geothermal Park, where a short trail leads around a number of bubbling, smelly hot springs. We bought an egg to boil in one of the pools and paid a little extra to take a footbath in hot mud. There might not be anything as weirdly pleasurable as the feeling of warm clay squishing between your toes. Afterwards, we stopped into one of the town’s bakeries for coffee and a delicious cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven.

Re-energized, we set out to explore the trails which lead from town into the foothills of Hengill. We saw the golf course and a number of steaming vents that had opened in the ground. These trails eventually lead to the wonderful hot spring rivers that we had visited a few weeks back, but for today we’d had our fill of geothermal-related activities and turned back toward town.

On almost any trip to Iceland, you’ll be passing right through Hveragerði on your way to or from Reykjavík. And while the town might not have enough to keep you entertained for days on end, the sheer strangeness of its sights definitely make it worth a stop.

Locations on our Map: Hveragerði Geothermal Park

Great Hotels in Hveragerði

Earth Cooking Iceland
Geothermal Cooking Iceland
Haetta
Geothermal Park Hveragerði
Hveragerði Travel
Hot Spring Egg Boiling
Icelandic Egg
Hiking Hveragerði
Strange Iceland
Hveragerði Hot Spring Park
Man Made Steam
Steam Pot
Pipes Geothermal
Foot Bath Hveragerði
Relaxing in Iceland
Steam in Hveragerði
Strange Fashion Iceland
Hey, we warned you that Hveragerði was weird!
Secret Hot Spring Hveragerði
Greenhouse Hveragerði
, , , , , , ,
October 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm Comments (5)

The Dynjandi Falls

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Without exaggeration, I think waterfalls might outnumber people in the Westfjords. Fed by the massive ice blocks which dominate the highland interior, and coursing down the mountains toward the shore, there seems to be another waterfall around every corner. Some are trickles, some mighty cascades, but the most impressive we saw throughout our time in the peninsula was easily Dynjandi.

Dynjandi Falls

Dynjandi begins where a wide glacial river drops off a cliff on its way to the Arnarfjörður Fjord. From the parking lot, it looks like one huge waterfall, but as you approach you realize that there are at least a dozen. A path leads past the smaller falls, up to the main drop.

Cascading down over an ever-widening series of cliffs, Dynjandi forms a pyramid shape. Its initial width is 30 meters, but by the time it hits bottom, it has expanded to twice that. You can walk nearly to the foot of the waterfall, although it’s a slippery and dangerous path, and there’s no way to avoid getting drenched by the powerful spray.

We stayed for almost two hours. With the picturesque fjord stretching off into the distance, it’s an enchanting location and easy to reach, just a couple minutes off road #60 south of Þingeyri. An unmissable sight while in the Westfjords.

Location on our Iceland Map

Book Your Car For Iceland Now

Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Dynjandi Falls
Cheap Flights To Iceland
, , , , , , ,
September 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm Comments (2)

Socializing in Suðureyri

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

It’s hard to imagine what life must have been like in tiny Suðureyri prior to 2001 and the completion of the tunnel connecting it to Ísafjörður. Today it’s just a twenty-minute drive, but before the tunnel, Suðureyri was connected to the outside world only by boat.

Suðureyri Tunnel

Driving through the tunnel to Suðureyri is quite an experience. It quickly narrows down to a single lane and there’s even an underground intersection at one point. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but the view which waits at the end is worth the stress. Suðureyri sits on the southern tip of the long and narrow Súgandafjörður fjord, and it’s a joy to drive down the smooth, curvy road into town, with such an astonishing and wholly Icelandic landscape laid out before you.

Only about 300 people live in Suðureyri and there’s not much to see in town, but we had come for relaxation, not tourism. We grabbed a beer at the bar to loosen inhibitions, and then walked over to the town’s popular geothermal pool. A couple minutes after settling into the hot tub, we had already made a dozen new friends. A German couple, a group of Finns, tourists on their way to Hornstrandir, and of course a bunch of Icelanders.

Even more than bars, swimming pools are Iceland’s real social hotspot. Alternating between the hot tub and the pool, we swam and drank coffee and chatted about everything under the sun, and ended up staying until closing time… which is not recommended by the way, as you’re then forced to shower naked with all your new friends before saying goodbye.

Location of Suðureyri on our Map

Places To Stay In Suðureyri

Suðureyri Valley
Suðureyri Street
Panorama Suðureyri
Suðureyri Reflection
Suðureyri Iceland
Suðureyri Harbor
Suðureyri Church
Suðureyri Fjord
Way To Suðureyri
Suðureyri House
Suðureyri Town
Leftover House Suðureyri
Kids in Suðureyri
Ducks
Duck Daddy
Pool Suðureyri
, , , , , ,
September 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm Comment (1)

Ísafjörður

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Memorably situated on a narrow spit of land which nearly cuts the Skutulsfjörður fjord in half, Ísafjörður is by far the largest town in the Westfjords. Not that it’s terribly large; just over 2700 people call it home.

Ísafjörður Harbor

Ísafjörður is small enough to comfortably see in a couple hours, but most visitors tend to stay longer. After negotiating the remote and lonely roads of the Westfjords, Ísafjörður comes across as a relative metropolis, and is so beautiful that it’s impossible to leave immediately. We hung around for three nights.

A fishing town since its inception, Ísafjörður was devastated by the near-collapse of the industry, losing much of its population and identity. So it’s nice to see the town catch on as a tourism destination. There are loads of guesthouses and hotels to stay in, some of which are supposed to be great… but we wouldn’t know. Every single room was booked out on the weekend we visited, and we had to content ourselves with camping.

Not that this was a real problem. Ísafjörður has one of the best campsites we saw in Iceland. Tungudalur is a couple kilometers from the town center, but it’s directly across from a lovely waterfall and has all the amenities you might want.

Tungudalur Campsite

We had great meals at Cafe Edinborg and Tjöruhúsið, but besides eating and enjoying the novelty of being in a functional town, there isn’t much to do in Ísafjörður. The Byggðasafn Westfjarða Heritage Museum is supposed to be nice, but we passed it up in favor of a day spent walking down by the docks, sitting in cafes, and watching planes negotiate the terrifying landing strip of the town’s airport. Ísafjörður is surrounded by mountains and the sea, forcing planes to turn at a sharp angle, and descend rapidly in order to stick the landing.

We had a great time in this little northwestern town. It’s worth visiting just to appreciate its stunning location on the narrow spit of land in the fjord, but once there, you’ll likely find it hard to leave.

Location on our Iceland Map

-Save Money! Buy Your Iceland Outdoor Gear Before Arriving!

Tungudalur Waterfall
Ísafjörður Flight
Ísafjörður Tanks
Ísafjörður Streets
Ísafjörður Street Art
Blue House Ísafjörður
Ísafjörður Fjörd
Ísafjörður Industie
Relaxing in Ísafjörður
Ísafjörður Museum
Ísafjörður Fence
Poppy Iceland
Icelandic Kids
Borea Cafe Ísafjörður
Ísafjörður Art
Ísafjörður Flowers
Red House Iceland
Ísafjörður Gardens
Iceland Design
Ísafjörður Architecture
Ísafjörður Bench
Icelandic Old Doors
Ísafjörður Boats
Ísafjörður Blog
Kayaking Ísafjörður
Icelandic Punks
One way Ísafjörður
Living in Ísafjörður
Trees Iceland
Cute Houses Iceland
Ísafjörður Laundry
Doors Iceland
Cute Iceland
Street Photography Iceland
Ísafjörður Statues
Ísafjörður Church
Master Chef Iceland
Grilling Ísafjörður
Sailing Ísafjörður
, , , , , , , , , ,
August 29, 2013 at 11:57 am Comments (5)

Hengill Death Hike

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

The three of us laced up our boots and started off in high spirits, excited for a day-long hike through the Hengill volcano range. A few hours later, I was alone on the top of a mountain, terrified and shouting until my throat was raw. This was supposed to have been an easy day out. Where had it all gone wrong? And where the hell was Brandt?

Death Hike Iceland
See you on the other side, right guys? … Guys?

We had been prepared! I had carefully studied our route and plotted the exact path we’d be taking on my GPS device. We had a map, snacks and plenty of water. Nothing could go wrong. Our goal was the summit called Vörðu-Skeggi, about six hours round-trip. The weather, though not ideal, was supposed to improve as the day went along. No problem, right?

The initial ascent was brutal and almost immediately we were enveloped in a dense fog. Though the path was well-marked with posts, the cloud had reduced visibility to about ten meters, and we couldn’t see any landmarks; nothing with which to orient ourselves. Without GPS to guide us along the way, we’d have been completely lost.

Our friend Brandt was visiting from the States and had joined us on the hike. He’s no fan of heights, and so the fog worked to his advantage, while it lasted. We were inching along a narrow cliff when the cloud suddenly lifted. The effect was phenomenal. Where before had just been white nothingness, we could now see for miles. And Brandt, who had been moving at a steady clip, now stopped completely. For the first time, he could see how high we actually were, and how precarious our cliff-top position was.

Amazing Hike Iceland

So from here on out, our progress would be slower. But that was fine. With clear weather, the hike had become exhilarating, and we were still approaching the summit well ahead of schedule. World-beaters!! Feeling invulnerable, I barely registered the presence of a giant snowdrift blocking our path and trudged across without much thought, easily reaching the trail’s continuation on the other side.

But Brandt and Jürgen hadn’t followed me. I looked back, surprised to find them still on the other side. And when I took a second look at the snow drift, I understood why. Not far from where I had crossed, the snow dropped off at a terrifying angle, and straight down a cliff. A death trap! Had I somehow slipped, or had the snow given way under my feet, I could have slid straight off into the void.

Brandt found a different way around, by going up and over the drift. Higher up, the snow ended and the dirt seemed a safer prospect. We all agreed. “Yes, good idea!” But halfway across, the gravel began slipping under his scrambling feet. He kicked loose stones which bounced down the slope at a sickening velocity. Advancing slowly, he eventually made it to where I was waiting, but was shaken up. His path had been even more dangerous than mine.

Having watched both of us court death, Jürgen wasn’t about to do the same. But neither did Brandt or I want to chance a return over the snow. Reluctantly, we all agreed that the least horrible option would be for the two of us to continue, while Jürgen returned to the car alone. Not good, but he knew the path already, and we all had phones. We would check in with each other every half-hour.

Hiking Buddies

Now down to two, Brandt and I soldiered bravely on. Our path soon looped back around the mountain, and we realized Jürgen might be able to rejoin us. We left the path and ran up the nearest slope, in order to spot him. And this is where we made a rookie hiking mistake: never lose sight of your companion. I ran up ahead on the hill, reached the top and … there! I could see Jürgen off in the distance. He saw me, too! But he’d already made such good progress on his lonely return that, over the phone, we decided he should just continue.

So I turned around to rejoin Brandt… and there was no Brandt.

No Brandt! I returned to the spot where we had left the trail. No Brandt. I walked up ahead on the trail. No Brandt. I re-climbed to the viewpoint from which I had spotted Jürgen, to see if I could spot Brandt. No Brandt. I shouted. No answer. I screamed. No answer. He had been right behind me as I ran up that hill. And now he was gone.

Panic set in quickly. There was nowhere for him to have gone! He had been right behind me! I shouted until my throat was raw. Images of Brandt laying unconscious at the bottom of a ditch. Images of worse. “Calm down,” I admonished myself. “Think rationally.” Rationally? Rationally, a person does not simply disappear. Rationally, Brandt is almost certainly… no. I pulled out my phone to call the emergency number (112), but decided to give it another couple minutes. I shouted again, with all the power I could muster. Where could he be? I was absolutely sick.

And then… there was Brandt, coming up over the hill. He had momentarily lost sight of me when I sprinted ahead. Thought I went right, when I’d really gone left. And figuring that I had found some path which led back to Jürgen, he continued going right. Luckily, he heard one of my final frenzied screams, and realized the mistake.

I’ve never known such relief as when he came into view. Dropping to my knees, I could feel the panic, this heavy sickness which had clutched my soul, rise off and fade away. I doubt I’ll ever forget that feeling.

The rest of our hike was happily uneventful. The path led downhill off the mountain, past some geothermal vents, and through a wide valley back to the car where Jürgen was waiting for us.

Iceland’s nature is beautiful, but not without its dangers. The experience taught me a few big lessons, chief among them: impulsiveness is not necessarily an admirable quality. But despite the drama, we had fun. This area of Iceland, just east of Reykjavík, lays claim to some amazing land. Definitely worth checking out… just don’t forget to keep your wits about you.

Locations: Our Hike’s Start | Vörðu-Skeggi

Here’s a tip! Save money and buy hiking gear BEFORE arriving in Iceland! And don’t go hiking without some sort of GPS device

Hengill Hike
Hengill Iceland
Hiking In Iceland
Sheep iceland
Icelandic Sheep
Braver Hikers
Fog Cliff Iceland
Mystical Iceland
Gothermal Mist Iceland
Death Iceland
Dangerous Hike Iceland
Eating Dried Iceland Fish
Alright, Iceland. Fish jerky is NASTY. What is wrong with you?!
Hiking Iceland
Strange Landscapes Iceland
Iceland Photos
Iceland Travel Blog
Amazing Landscapes Iceland
Lava Snow Iceland Mud
Steam Valley Iceland
Moon Scape Iceland
Iceland Travel
Sun Iceland
Iceland
Iceland Fotos
Iceland Valley
Iceland Flowers
Iceland Wonders
Iceland Stream
Travel Books
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
August 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm Comments (11)
Sjumst Sar, Iceland The daylight hours were growing shorter, but we took our leave of Iceland before the true onset of winter, when the country would be plunged into a period of almost unbroken darkness. For us, Iceland was all about the light. A light which powered long summer days. Which illuminated vistas of mountains, fjords and waterfalls. Which fought through clouds to reflect off a glacier and momentarily blind us. This light, shining on a country that didn't need anywhere near 91 days to work its way into our hearts.
For 91 Days