Reykjavik and Isolation Jam were pretty great, but we all know the real attraction of Iceland is all the crazy geological weirdness that is going on around every corner. Iceland is AMAZING if you’re into nature stuff. But it’s nature unlike you’ve seen it before; completely different to anything else I’ve encountered. I kept arriving at some new natural phenomenon and being like “What!? C’mon Iceland, you’re doing this now!? This makes no sense at all.” (NOTE TO SELF: Excellent writing back there, good job.)
For most of this blog post I’m just going to let the photos do the talking. Brace yourself for a lot of pictures. The first bizarre piece of Icelandic nature we visited was on the way back from Isolation Jam. It was a large volcanic crater called Grabrók.
Another thing we did was a short bouldering excursion to somewhere north of Mosfellsbær. We sampled the problems on the low cliffs, which had the advantage of being taller than the ones by Fossvogskirkjugarður (where we went in Reykjavik), but this was unfortunately balanced by some rather forgettable landings. And by forgettable landings, I mean being deposited on a steep gravelly scree and eventually, in a river.
Anyway, the little valley is beautiful and we had a lot of fun climbing rocks, throwing rocks and jumping between rocks. Icelandic summer is pretty great for a weekend warrior. You can have a decent climbing session after work because you’ve still got several months before the sun sets.
Another after work mission was Reykjadalur; something I was very psyched about since I heard of it’s existence. Basically, it’s a place in the mountains where a boiling hot stream (too hot to swim in) and a regular stream (too cold to swim in) meet, and they form a stream which is just perfect to swim in. I knew that bathing in a natural hot spring in the mountains was going to be great, but I wasn’t expecting the hike there to be so spectacular too!
Joon and I also did some pretty epic roadtrip days.
Every Icelander has done it a million times, but it would be somewhat of a crime to go visit Iceland without doing the Golden Circle. Luckily Joon was easily persuaded to take me on such a mission. After spending the morning celebrating Icelandic independence day, we started our trip with Kerið crater, which isn’t part of the Golden Circle, but it’s more or less along the way.
After that we were onto the Golden Circle proper. The circle consists of three famous sites, we started with Gullfoss – a gigantic raging waterfall in an impressive valley.
The second stop on the Golden Circle was Strokkur, a geysir that erupts every few minutes spewing steam and boiling water several meters into the air.
The final piece of the circle was Þingvellir national park. A beautiful park packed with not only lakes, waterfalls, and even a forest, but also a huge amount of historical significance.
If this was another country, it would’ve been getting dark by that point, but luckily this is Iceland and the only thing stopping you from starting an epic hike is whether or not you still have the energy. And what and epic hike it was! If ever you are in Iceland, make sure you hike up to Glymur waterfall, cross the river at the top, and then hike back down the other side of the valley.
When we were nearing the top of the waterfall we saw that the sun was dipping behind the mountain and casting a brilliant red light onto the rocks 100m up the path. We wandered for a moment whether we could catch the sun, and then promptly started running up the mountain as fast as we could. We made it just in time to catch the last few minutes of a spectacular sunset. Not that it really set, of course.
We got a little lost on the way down and descended some pretty sketchy scree slopes, but survived and eventually ran back to the car in the early hours of the morning. What an amazing hike, the perfect conclusion to a ridiculously cool day! I was so stoked!
The next day we decided to go on a similarly jam-packed road trip. This time Owen (a friend from Joon’s co-working space and all around swell guy) joined us. Aside from the odd piece of game analysis, Joon and I had spent the previous day going on an exploratory musical journey by alternating who gets to pick the next song. I really enjoyed this, so we carried. Except this time we got Owen on board to give us a third set of tastes to explore.
Because we’d only seen like 8 amazing waterfalls so far, our first stop was determined to be Hraunfossar. A place that has waterfalls that kinda just come pouring out of the ground. Awesome.
After that we drove out past Húsafell and into a bizarre rocky wasteland in search of a high quality customizable caving experience. We found that in Stefánshellir, a series of lava tubes with four different entrances. So you can enter in one place, walk underground for 500m and then emerge somewhere else. Luckily all of our decision making turned out to be pretty solid and we didn’t get lost underground. Yay!
Satisfied with caves, we moved on to glaciers; specifically: Langjökull. After driving through terrain that strongly resembles the moon (only blacker) and passing by increasingly large and ominous looking vehicles, we managed to make it right to the glacier. Which was a good thing too, because icy wind was blowing off the glacier at a tremendous pace and it was freezing! When I ran with the wind, I could barely move my legs quickly enough to keep up with how fast my body was moving. In those conditions I’m sure I could run a 10s 100m. It was insane!
Now it was time to start heading back towards Reykjavik, but forgoing tar roads and enjoying the outrageous scenery of the highlands. On the way back we decided to make one last stop. We had heard of a little hot pool that was only about 20 minutes out of our way. We knew nothing about it and only had a GPS pin to go by, but we decided to check it out. And it turned out to be a gem! Perfect hot water, stunning location, and big enough for all three of us! We drank coffee and ate terrible Russian candy whilst enjoying the splendour of Iceland. Another fantastic finish to another fantastic day!
The next day was my last in Iceland. Joon and I were feeling pretty beat up after two full days of road-tripping, so we decided to take it pretty easy. We slept late and played board-games for most of the day before heading out in the evening to see a few more crazy spots on the Reykjanes peninsula.
We started with the Blue Lagoon. We didn’t go into the spa itself (we didn’t have the time or money, plus the weather was terrible), but we settled for skimming stones off the pale blue surface of the silica filled water.
We followed the blue lagoon with Gunnuhver hot springs. Another strange smouldering landscape with steam billowing out of the earth.
Next up was the “beach” as Joon put it. It was more like sheer cliffs, black rock and huge waves crashing onto serious boulders. Aside from being the most intimidating place in the world I guess it was an okay beach?
Our final stop before the airport was the Bridge Between Continents. A literal bridge between two bits of rock which are on separate continental plates. Joon and I enjoyed tossing large rocks off said bridge because they made a satisfying sound when they smacked into the black sand below.
And that’s it for Iceland! Undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip. Such good times hanging out with one of my favourite people and seeing so much amazing stuff. I really like Iceland you guys. Now just win the Euros please.