Hideaway Report photo editor Arielle Berger recently returned from a trip to Iceland. While most staffers report back in the form of a “Just Back From” column, we thought a photo essay would be the perfect way for her to show us everything she experienced on her 10-day trip.
Iceland has long been on my bucket list. Being an outdoor enthusiast and a photographer, I felt like it was the perfect place for me to visit. It is rich in nature, low on people and big on hiking. In fact, hiking trails were everywhere we went. We didn’t have to hike far to see grand waterfalls, bubbling hot mud and ancient volcanoes in the distance.
Most of the people we met on our way to Iceland were sticking close to Reykjavík, the capital, and taking tours buses out to some of the popular spots for day trips. We opted to drive Route 1, popularly known as the Ring Road, so we could see many different parts of the country. It was a decision I will never regret. As soon as we embarked on our drive, the natural serenity of the place was obvious.
With a waterfall at every turn and miles of lava fields, I could have been fooled into thinking I was on another planet.
There is something for everyone in Iceland, and with daylight being nearly 24 hours in the summer months, visitors have plenty of opportunities to see the country. Tourism has become popular in the last 10 years, but I strongly suggest visiting, especially for the tranquility and vast beauty no matter where you look.
Within five hours of landing in Iceland, we were on the Ring Road and at our first major site, Seljalandsfoss, a 200-foot waterfall on the southern coast, right off Route 1. We hiked behind the waterfall and down to another hidden one through a cave. We came out wet, but it was well worth it.
Being in Iceland, where waterfalls are so abundant, you start being critical of their size and beauty. When we walked up to Skógafoss, I was more impressed by the cute village in view. But when we got to the top, my lack of enthusiasm was washed away. The top of the waterfall was absolutely beautiful, and I hated for the walk along the rushing water to end.
It quickly became clear that our first night’s stay in Iceland was going to be hard to beat. As we drove down a long road, on the phone with our host, he told us to watch out for the sheep. Sure enough, a group of them ran right in front of our car as we made our way to the small A-frame cabin in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. I spent hours walking around the farm.
The sheep were curious, but for the most part they just kept a close eye on us. We woke to the sounds of them and were really disappointed to leave the cabin.
Fjaðrárgljúfur is a magical place. It’s so fairy-tale-like that I wouldn’t have been surprised if a dragon had flown through the canyon. It was absolutely stunning.
After our glacier-kayaking excursion was canceled due to wind, we booked a short boat tour through the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in southeast Iceland. The icebergs flow through the lagoon and onto the nearby black-sand beaches.
The bright blue of the icebergs was mesmerizing, but they were also a source of sadness, too, as our guide explained that the glaciers feeding the lagoon have been receding at an alarming rate. Sixty years ago, the lagoon did not even exist; it was just part of the glaciers. The Breidamerkurjökull glacier has receded 6,600 feet since 1973.
This is the Grjótagjá cave near Mývatn, Iceland. It’s significant to “Game of Thrones” fans who know it as the place where Jon Snow broke his vow of celibacy. For me, it was just a pretty sight to see.
Mountains seen from the harbor in Húsavík at midnight. Húsavík was by far my favorite town in Iceland. We arrived for a 9 p.m. whale-watching tour, which, little did we know, would be a highlight of the trip. Whales came right up to our boat, breaching so close that I could feel the aftershocks. Not lost on me, though, were my surroundings: the mountains lit by the beautiful midnight sun that hits Iceland in the summer.
The midnight sun highlighting the mountains and the Nootka lupine flowers in Húsavík. The sun only goes down for a second before it comes right back up again in the summer. Witnessing the myriad colors was something I still really can’t believe.
An Icelandic horse near the Golden Circle on the Ring Road. The horses are incredibly friendly and cute, not to mention those hairstyles!
An Icelandic horse says hello as we stopped to take its photo.
Introduced in 1945, the vibrant Nootka lupine flowers have spread like wildfire across Iceland, and while they have helped stop erosion, they are causing native species like moss and lichen to decline.
The Kerið volcanic crater made for a nice, quick stop off the Golden Circle. We were lucky to see a rainbow right through the middle of it.
Reykjadalur was one of our last destinations on the Ring Road and Golden Circle before heading into Reykjavík to prepare for our flights home. The hike was a tough one: over an hour straight uphill, but every moment was worth it. At the top you reach a hot spring stream scattered with people relaxing after their hike. Despite the crowd, we were nowhere near others as we sat quietly in a corner, taking a lovely break from the cool air.