Glaciers, Geo Thermal Springs, Icebergs, Volcanoes, Fjords, Waterfalls and sensationally rugged geography. It might sound like a National Geographic or Discovery show to you, but it isn’t. I am referring to Iceland, which is home to all of this. Every photographer, adrenaline junkie and/or adventure enthusiast will dig this country. Be it caving, glacier hiking, ice climbing, whale watching or white water rafting, Iceland offers this and more. Throw into the mix, Europe’s largest glacier, lava fields, Europe’s largest waterfall, volcanic craters, Aurora Borealis and some of nature’s best landscapes and you have in my opinion, the rawest form of adventure in the world. I am not surprised that Jules Verne used the ice covered volcanic crater in the Snaefellsjokull National Park as the setting for his famous science fiction novel ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’.
Iceland has been on the top of my travel bucket list for a long while now and which is why I mention it in my 5 unlikely destinations in Europe. The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallakokull that disrupted air traffic across Europe for almost a week and my recent experience with active volcanoes, lava fields and eruptions in Indonesia added fuel to my Iceland thoughts. And when I saw my friend posting pictures of surreal landscapes from Iceland this summer, I decided that I have to see this country for myself and real soon!!
And when I visit, I want to explore these sights from my Iceland travel guide. I feel that this niche list offers some of the best experiences of Iceland and quite possibly some of the best on planet Earth.
Snaefellskokull Glacier – The Mystical Volcano
Ever since I read Jules Verne’s book ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, I have wished to visit this national park that is set in one of Iceland’s most geographically diverse West region. And hopefully, I can climb to the summit of the 700,000 year old strata volcano when the hike is open during the summer months.
And while I am here in West Iceland, I would love to sample everything from fjords to wildlife, craters to valleys and from glaciers to the highest waterfall in Iceland.
Golden Circle – Magical South
The most popular and visited area of Iceland, the Golden Circle includes the world’s longest running parliament at Pingvellir National Park, Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall in Gulfoss and a geo thermal hotspot at Geysir. I think the Golden circle is where inhospitable terrain forms some of mother nature’s best wonders.
The always active Strokkur geyser that sends up water as high as 50 m high, the Skogafoss waterfall and several other natural wonders nearby are also on my mind for this region.
Vatnajokull National Park – Europe’s Largest National Park
Set in North Western Iceland, this is a land of contrasts. This national park, which covers 12% of Iceland’s landmass is home to Iceland’s highest mountain, its largest glacier (Vatnajokull) and Europe’s most powerful waterfall (Dettifoss). And to its northern extremes as you get closer to the arctic circle, you meet the midnight sun and the magical Aurora Borealis in the darker months. The Asbyrgi canyon, located in the north is also one of the key highlights of this massive national park.
Westfjords – True Icelandic Wilderness
The wildlife enthusiast in me is instantly attracted to the words arctic fox and rare species of birdlife that seem to be synonymous with Westfjords, the country’s peaceful north-west corner. This relatively unspoiled wilderness is said to be serious explorer material. Europe’s western most point, the tall Dyjandi waterfalls and rich heritage and traditions are some of the other things that make up that largely uninhabited mass of land.
As I leave you with dreams about Iceland, here are some stunning landscape shots and traveler shots of Iceland from the National Geographic website. I am pretty sure that you will have end up booking your tickets to Reykjavik by the end of it!!
The photos used in this post are courtesy of Tourism Iceland.