Day 1 - Reykjavik to Stokkseyri
I was not convinced visiting Iceland would be a great idea. It was a lot of action near the end of our trip. We were simply afraid we wouldn’t appreciate it all. Iceland has become a very popular destination over the last decade and I was also concerned it would be overrun by tourists. On photography forums and in blog posts I had seen too many photos and it felt as if I had already been there. This pre notion was dead wrong. Although I will bombard you with more photos from Iceland in three different blog posts, it became less about the photos and more about just being there, surrounded by breath taking landscapes where ever you go.
We picked up a rental car near the airport, a compact Kia. It was the longest we had ever waited to get a car, probably an hour and a half. It was quickly forgotten as we aimed for the south coast. We stocked up on groceries as we headed out of Reykjavik and prices were not as high as feared. The first night’s accommodation was at Ocean Beach Apartments in Stokkseyri. We found the drive perfectly manageable after our three and a half hour flight from Copenhagen and checked ourselves in.
Continued below the photos…
Day 2 - Stokkseyri - Kirkjubæjarklaustu
Today’s destination was a bit of a tongue twister to pronounce. Even with my native language being Danish, which sometimes can resemble Icelandic words, this one was tricky. Not only was the destination a challenge to pronounce but it proved even harder to find. More about this later.
It was awesome to wake up to blue skies and to see the sun, low over the southern skies. We drove through farm land and Di suggested we make a detour on a gravel road, which was an awesome idea, as it let us straight to our first non planned stop at the Urriðafoss falls near Hwy 1. (above photos).
Once on Hwy 1 we quickly found one of the more popular stops along the south coast, Seljalandsfoss. We were there fairly early but the tour busses beat us and it was indeed crowded. At first glance the falls look underwhelming, but once you get closer and hear the roar of the 60 meter drop, the falls win you over. The crowds weren’t too bad once you got near the falls. The thing about crowds, you can always get rid of them in Photoshop :) Case in point, the first photo below. Seljalandsfoss is also the feature photo in this post.
Iceland is like an amusement park for landscape photographers. It only felt like a few kilometres in the car and we were ready for the next ride, Skógafoss, another waterfall. The sun was out when we arrived, so I jumped out of the car and managed to get a few shots before it clouded over. The weather lived up to Iceland’s reputation and changed very quickly. The drop at Skógafoss is coincidentally also 60 meters and we climbed the 370 steps up along the side of the falls and enjoyed the view from above. Although we were on the major tourist route, this made for a rewarding stop. The crowds magically disappeared again in the first shot below.
Some of the most spectacular scenes unfold as you drive thought the landscape. Our plan was a three and a half day round trip from Reykjavik to Stokksnes, approximately 1250 kilometres in total. Due to the fact Hwy 1 is a two lane highway, and most often does not have a shoulder, pulling over at the exact spot you envision isn’t always possible, and at times prohibited. There are however plenty of opportunities to take photos from designated pull outs, side roads and parking lots along the route. The next four photos are captured from the road between Skógafass and the Black Sand Beach at Reynisfjara near Vik.
We made a couple of stops at Reynisfjara. First stop was at a distance to get an overview of the beach and, later right at the Black Sand Beach. It was extremely windy. I attempted a few long exposures from the view point but it was impossible to keep the camera still on my mini tripod. The Black Sand Beach was insanely busy and initially, I felt like a fool for stopping. Countless tour busses make a stop here and it immediately shows. There is usually a solution to this problem and, in this case it was merely to walk another 100 meters further down the beach and away from the crowds. A good stop after all.
We made a quick stop at a shopping mall in Vik, where we warmed up with a coffee and picked up a few groceries. The mall was super modern and resembled any other mall you would find in North America or Copenhagen or anywhere in the world for that matter. Convenient but slightly disappointing. Vik, being one of the only towns you drive through, I had expected something more quaint.
Our final destination of the day, Kirkjubæjarklaustu, was about an hour away. Tiredness was starting to set it so we decided to go straight there and call it a day. We followed the GPS link from our Airbnb app, which was an unfortunate bad move. It sent us about half an our too far along our route and when we finally realized, we had to turn around and back track. Slightly annoyed with our host, who didn’t seem too eager to help us, we arrived at our destination just fine but about an hour later than anticipated. The place was in the middle of nowhere but was decent and clean. We had a small room and shared a kitchen and bath with two or three other rooms. Accommodation cost is about or more than double of what we would usually pay around Europe. We had a home cooked meal, made plans for the following day and had an early night.