Journey through the land of fire and ice
Date: April 2013
Photographer: Nick Jackson
I’d wanted to visit Iceland since seeing photos of the Northern Lights in National Geographic magazines as a child. Despite it only being a mere 3 hour flight from London to Reykjavik it wasn’t until this year that I finally got there.
I travelled with my family and planned a detailed route which would see us driving from Reykjavik all the way to the East of the island and back in 4 days. It was a surprisingly long distance to travel in a short time but the variety of weather, landscape and food was incredible.
First stop was Thingvellir National Park, only an hour from the airport. It was the location of the first Icelandic parliament in AD874 and lies within an enormous rift valley. Here we visited fjords, the biggest geysir I’ve ever seen, and two magnificent waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss). The highlight for me was Gullfoss waterfall– a vast force of water crashing hundreds of metres into a gigantic fault.
That night we stayed in a beautiful glass-fronted eco lodge and waited patiently for the aurora to arrive. Despite perfect conditions it was not to be.
From there we visited another spectacular sight, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, an outlet where icebergs break off a glacier and float wistfully past into the sea.
On the way back to the airport, we also managed to find the wreck of a US Navy airplane still in situ from where it crashed in 1973, and also spent some time in a bizarre museum dedicated to Iceland’s “hidden people”. These elves of Icelandic folklore supposedly live in tiny buildings the size of bird houses which the Icelandics erect at the bottom of their gardens.
All in all, Iceland is one of the most spectacular places I have visited. Coupled with an excellent cuisine of lamb and seafood, and the heart-warming friendliness of the local people, this nearby country is a must to visit.
Sadly the Northern Lights eluded us on this trip, but it’s a great excuse not to leave it so long to return next time.