Iceland – on a photographic journey
How should I try to describe a country that is so full and rich of wonders, beauty and mystery?
I´ve already been to Iceland a couple of years ago, in February 2013 I was looking for the northern lights. While traveling with my mum the comfort had to be a bit more settled. That also ment that we took some organized trips through the country.
But this time I decided to travel on a different way! I wanted to have more freedom and wilderness, more time to enjoy every place and make my own decisions about how long or where I wanted to go. I wanted to spend the nights in the middle of nowhere, also trying to catch the Aurora. So renting a campervan was the perfect choice for me.
I´m in love with photography, especially with ﬁne art and surreal pictures within raw and natural landscapes. As these pics take some time to do and sometimes people think you´re crazy by pulling yourself into a dress in the freezing night, I needed a travelmate who respects and understands that. So ﬁnally I found Christoph, he was just perfect!
He´s taking a lot of analoge pictures and knows that it takes some time to wait for the perfect moment or location to take a picture. I was able to excite him easily with the idea of traveling independent on a campervan around Iceland. In advance I was looking for special locations where I haven´t been before and are supposed to be more „hidden“ places.
A great source for that is pinterest. Just type in Iceland an you´ll get blown away by inspiration. I collected them all at a google map, knowing the camper will have free WiFi to access the map during our trip. Red pins are representing my must see places, and the lighter blue ones are hot pools, where you can swim and relax within beautiful landscape. So everything was planned. (Click on the map to go to Google maps)
Read more: Travel apps for Iceland
My journey started at 23rd of September. I attend a resuscitation congress in Reykjavik (as I´m working in medical business) before going on holiday. So I got picked up by a rent.is member at my hotel on Sunday evening the 25th. Everything was well organized and very easy, I also got some tips on driving in Iceland, f.e. make sure your doors won´t be blown away by the wind or be aware of sheep on the roads.
My ﬁrst stop then was a supermarket. „Bonus“ is supposed to be the cheapest one, but as food and drinks are expensive everywhere in Iceland (compared to Germany, where I´m from) I guess it doesn´t make a huge difference. I got some bread, noodles, pesto and of course coffee. We wanted to be as independent as we could, that also meant that we planned to cook on our own every evening (The camper includes a stove and everything you need to cook on your own).
Read more: What’s included in your Camper rental
I then picked up Christoph from the airport. And while waiting for him on a parking area near by I ´ve received my ﬁrst Icelandic gift. Suddenly the Aurora appeared above my head and I was so excited, grabbing my camera and smiled like a little child. It´s a fantastic play of nature that keeps me stunned every time. I was so excited about our trip, when I ﬁnally met Christoph.
We started our journey the next morning by stopping at the Blue Lagoon. But not to spoil ourselves at the expensive spa, we rather have been fascinated by the landscape that is surrounding the area. The blue turquoise water combined with the black lava rocks are just out of this world. I took my ﬁrst conceptual picture there, and am just in love with these colors… How surreal can a landscape be? I immediately remembered how beautiful this country is.
We continued our day and drove through breathtaking landscapes to the geothermal area of Krýsuvík. there we climbed up the hill and discovered steaming rocks. I mean how incredible is that???? Not only the view was amazing, also these outstanding geothermal rocks that spit warm steam everywhere and are changing within the wind…. Just unbelivable!
We kept on driving to Seljalandsfoss waterfall and just arrived there for sunset. It´s this awesome waterfall where you can walk behind, but be aware that this can be a really wet journey, so take some raincoats for yourself, and maybe your camera.
Read more: Packlist for camping in Iceland
As most of the tourists just stop at this one, we also walked just a couple of minutes further to Gljúfrafoss a waterfall, hidden in a cave. Just stunning…
Read more: Waterfalls in Iceland
As it already turned dark, we were looking for a place to spent the night and found a lovely place to stay next to an old bridge crossing a river, with an awesome view over the landscape. I put on the stove to prepare some pasta for dinner and then again…. They appeared out of nowhere. The northern lights. We stopped preparing food and started to take pictures until our ﬁngers nearly froze. The wind there blew also quiet heavy and so we ﬁnally decided to sit dawn, relax, have our pasta and just watch the spectacle above our heads…
The next morning we drove to Skógafoss waterfall and just got the last minutes where the sun didn´t hit the waterfall. Which is brilliant for photographers like us. We´ve had awesome sunny weather and everyone was happy but we were looking for a more smooth light, no harsh shadows and shade, so I was so glad that we got these last minutes there.
Our next stop was a lost plane that crashed on a black sandy beach.
You can stop at the parking area next to the road and then follow the path there. It takes around 45 minutes to walk through never ending black sand, but then it suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It ´s not a hidden place anymore and a lot of people climb the plane or demolish it with writing names or stupid things onto the surface. It´s so disappointing that some people have such a bad behavior, and destroy lost places like that. Please be aware and think about other people who also want to enjoy places like that. Be a traveller, not a tourist. But I don´t want to waste your time by pointing out bad behavior.
I´d rather tell you more about the beauty of Iceland. We kept on traveling to Reynisfjara beach, its black sand next to massive basalt hexagon stone columns. Also a very touristic place, but still beautiful and impressive. The sun didn´t do us a favor and was shining directly onto the columns, creating really hash shadows, so I decided to rather take some pictures hidden in a massive cave.
In the evening we ﬁnally reached the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. A breathtaking place, where the rocks are covered by moss and a river is ﬂoating through the ground. A place like straight out of a fairy tale.
As it was getting dark the light conditions were perfect to spot northern lights. We´ve just had some little clouds which made the sky even more interesting. We had dinner and after a couple of hours they appeared, as strong as I´ve never seen them before. Dancing above the night sky like they´ve been always there. A stunning spectacle that kept us stunning and forgetting about how cold it was during that night. Happy and excited we got some sleep in the middle of the night.
On the way to the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón we we passed so many beautiful places, like the glaciers, views onto the mountains, lava ﬁelds covered by moss and many, many more. We could literally stop on every parking area (not on the roads please).
But at the end of the day we arrived…
We decided not to go to the main touristic place and rather left the road a bit earlier to hit to the smaller lagoon. There I´ve had a picture in my mind of me sitting on one of these impressive ice ﬂoats in a red dress, representing Iceland as the land of ﬁre and ice. There were so many close to the beach that I thought its easy and safe doable.
So I set up my camera on the tripod, took my remote control and climbed onto the ice. What I forgot about is that ice is slippery like hell. Immediately after I was sitting in place I started to slide down into the water, it was so quick that I didn´t realize what had happened. In the ﬁrst seconds I was scared, but as I was so close to the beach i could stand into the ice cold water. It was freezing, so please don´t do that at home ? After I ﬁnally put myself together and realized what has happened and that I didn´t even take one picture but being completely soaked, from head to the shoes, I decided to take it as it was and went into the water again to take at least one picture.
Also Christoph took the chance and took a picture of me in the water… It was really freezing, but I guess my body is used being treated like that cause I didn´t got sick at all. The tourists around us where shaking their heads and probably thought how stupid I was, but I suppose it´s what art is about somehow… Being a bit crazy ? We dried my clothes over night by hanging them onto the campervan and the strong wind did the job. The next morning was all reserved for the surreal black beach with the white ice rocks at Jökulsárlón, an absolute stunning place.
We then drove to Höfn and wanted to go to Stokksnes but as we haven´t seen that from another place in Iceland, the landowner charges there around 7 € to walk to the viewpoint. We decided that we don´t want to support behavior like that as nature is the greatest treasure Iceland has to offer and should be free for everyone. There was also no special path build or maintenance that would justify the price. So we drove around the area and took some side roads, spotted an amazing lake where we´ve nearly been alone. That was by far the better decision.
The next day was reserved for driving back close to the airport. With some stops to take about 10, „one last pictures“ it took us nearly the whole day. We just couldn´t get enough…
The drop off of the campervan at Kevlavik airport was so easy as there is a 24h ofﬁce in 5 Minutes walking distance.
I also took some short clips for Instagram stories (with my crappy phone, so sorry for the bad quality ?) which I wanted to share also with you.
And while sitting on the plane, on the way back home I realized how lucky we are, that we are able to travel in such freedom and explore magical places like Iceland. I remembered it as outstandingly beautiful, but this country once again just blow my mind away… I ´m in love! Thank you Iceland!
Read more: Travel to Iceland
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