According to my guide book, 53% of Icelanders believe in fairies. It might seem silly when you read it, but when you find yourself driving through some of the island’s prehistoric-looking landscapes, such ideas become totally plausible.
Our trip to Iceland was totally accidental. I had planned to go on vacation to a completely different place, but for various reasons, things didn’t pan out as planned. One day, after watching a random tourism video I had Iceland on my mind and I really, really wanted to go there. So do tourism videos work? Heck, yeah!
We decided to rent a car and do a seven-day driving tour around the island. That meant we were able to maximize how much we could see in the time we had. Iceland isn’t very large in the sense that you can drive the whole country on the main motorway – Route 1. Also known as the Ring Road, it runs for 1,300 km (808 miles) around Iceland and most of the attractions are concentrated along the route. As we were there in late September, we found the road in great condition, easy to follow and very safe.
The most challenging part of planning this trip was figuring out our accommodations. As we stayed in a different place each night, it was very important to have enough time to see the sights and make the designated stop in time. Planning something like this was part research, part guesswork mixed with a whole lot of hoping for the best. It worked out beautifully, if I do say so myself.
Iceland is like no other place I’ve ever visited. Sure, some of it looks like the mountains of Hawaii or rocky coastline of Ireland, but when put together it is a breathtaking place like no other. There were times where we were the only car around with no people anywhere in sight. Driving though some parts felt like driving through some forgotten, prehistoric land, untouched by humans. I half expected a dinosaur or some other forgotten creature to run in or run by in the distance, but the only animals we saw were the ubiquitous sheep that roam Iceland. And there are a LOT of different kinds of sheep there. They roam the country side, show up on roads and totally random places, and stare you down if you happen to come across them unexpectedly.
We saw waterfalls – large and small – rainbows and stars each day and night. We marveled at the icebergs floating in the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the lights of the Aurora Borealis dancing in the sky and the warm glow of the Bardabunga volcano glowing in the dark near Lake Myvatn. We saw the geysers spew into the air, climbed craters and bathed in geothermal pools.
Sometimes it rained, sometimes it was sunny. Through the mist, fog and occasional sunshine we experienced the magic of Iceland. By the end of our trip, the idea that there could be magical creatures living in the land around us wasn’t so far-fetched anymore. Although we saw a lot, I feel like there is so much more that we didn’t get a chance to explore.We will definitely return to Iceland one day as both winter and summer seasons offer plenty of things to do and see.
Have you been to Iceland? What was your favourite part?