Iceland has always been one of my top travel destinations because of its natural phenomena and stunning scenery. For my first official day in Iceland, I booked a 12-hour tour and glacier hike to see the beauty of south Iceland. My flight landed at midnight and I took the first bus leaving at 3AM from Keflavík International Airport to BSI Reykjavík, where I waited another 5 hours until I was picked up at the bus terminal. I was surprisingly ready for the tour despite my lack of sleep.
After driving out of the main city, I was blown away by the landscape, and I managed to take a few shots through the window after it got light (the sun doesn’t rise until 11AM in winter!):
Our first stop was the location of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption (try to pronounce that one)! In 2010, its volcanic activity disrupted flights across Europe for 6 days due to the fine particles it released into the air, and its ash affected 10 million travelers during that week. Yikes!
I luckily managed to wipe the mist off my camera and get one shot before the rest of the crowd came in. If Skógafoss is one of your go-to destinations, I would recommend coming during spring or summer, where the weather is warmer and the landscape is greener (or if you're looking to capture the waterfall with snow, pray that rain doesn't melt it away leaving you with mud puddles)!
Across the river were multiple Icelandic horse grazing on the hills. Despite their smaller size, these horses are unique to Iceland because they are low-maintenance and are selectively bred to have immense strength.
Our tour continued to the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara, and this is when the winds picked up and the rain started to pour!
Iceland's weather is very unpredictable, and if you plan to take photos, I would bring waterproof casing or even a plastic bag to keep water from ruining your gear. Since I didn't have either, I ended up covering my camera with my coat for about 30 minutes before my coat got soaked!
As I was running up the coast trying to get to the local restaurant and out of the rain, I ran past this cave and decided to take shelter here along with a few others to enjoy the mesmerizing motions of the crashing waves.
Eventually I grabbed lunch before we departed at 1PM to our final destination: a 700-year-old glacier!
Since it was still raining pretty heavily once we got here, I decided to leave my camera on the bus and take photos with my phone instead. The photo above was the only photo I could take before the battery died due to the cold weather, and this is when I panicked (could you imagine standing in front of the most breathtaking scenery and having no device to capture its beauty?? - a photographer's nightmare!). Thankfully, some members of the group let me use their phone to take photos on the hike.
I would STRONGLY recommend hiking a glacier in Iceland if you visit, and unless you're a professional, the only way to do that is to book a tour with guides that know what they're doing. We were provided shoe clamps and a pick axe to keep from slipping, and throughout the hike our guide knew which parts of the glacier to avoid (as crevasses could give-in under the weight of an unexperienced hiker).
(The sun broke out during the end of our hike and we watched the sky turn from grey to gold before heading back down.)
The food in Iceland is a little on the expensive side, but if you're here, I would definitely try their seafood. They also eat horse regularly, but I was not brave enough to get this dish!!! Instead, I had the BEST lobster soup and cod at The Sea Baronwith my friend Megan; the soup had a rich lobster flavor, and the cod was the freshest I've ever had.
To say that Iceland is one of the most beautiful places on earth is an understatement, which is why I'll be dividing up this weekend trip into two posts. Stay tuned for next week's post where I'll talk about downtown Reykjavík and Iceland's infamous Blue Lagoon!
Until next time!
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