Originally, we planned to spend one week visiting Iceland. But the more we studied
the guide books, the longer our trip plans became - there is simply so much to see on the island that we kept lengthening
the vacation until we had seventeen days of sight-seeing mapped out. And we still didn't see all of the island! (We completely
skipped the West Fjords and much of the northern coastline.) We did, however, take advantage of the long summer daylight hours
to visit as many places as possible. Even in early August, it never got completely dark.
Iceland is much bigger than expected. Just driving the road that circles the
perimeter of the island - Route 1 - "The Ring Road" is a 1500 km journey. But many of the best
sites are off the Ring Road, so we drove a total of 3545 km in our two and a half week visit.
The weather was quite good. We brought plenty of warm layers of clothing, but
many of the days I wore just short sleeve shirts. The first half of the trip, we often wore windbreakers
as the wind - though not cold - was relentless. They could put up windmills pretty much any where on the
island to meet their energy needs.
I don't know if Iceland summers are typically as warm as the one we had during our visit or if we were just fortunate to get
good weather. We gave rides to a few hitch-hikers along the way and some of them grumbled about the
poor weather that they had experienced. We talked to a native Icelander and he told us that last winter
Reykjavik saw only one snowfall - all the other precipitation was rain. Another native told us the Ok glacier
had melted so much that last year it lost its designation as an official glacier. Each year the glaciers
recede another 30 meters or so. At the moment, nearly a quarter of Iceland is beneath glacial ice.
All the melting ice yields some amazing waterfalls. Iceland has plenty of towering, picturesque
peaks due its violent volcanic origins, and waterfalls spill off these cliffs all over the island. Plenty of
times we would stop our car on the Ring Road (there isn't much traffic, despite it being the major thoroughfare
for the entire island) and take a picture of some unnamed, yet spectacular, waterfall.
We visited all four national parks: Snæfellsjökull, Jökulsárgljúfur, Skaftafell
and Þingvellir. On June 7th of 2008, Jökulsárgljúfur and Skaftafell were merged (and more land added)
to create Europe's largest national park, the National Park VATNAJÖKULL.
Fortunately, everyone in Iceland speaks English, because I never did learn to pronounce
any of these place names. We did learn a few words of Icelandic though:
Foss = Waterfall, Hellir = Cave, Vatn = Lake, Vik = Bay, Fjall or Fell = Mountain, Hol = Hill, Jökull = glacier,
and Snæ = Snowy. Thus, Snæfellsjökull = Snowy Mountain Glacier.
We did a lot of hiking, especially in the national parks. I have not yet calculated how many
kilometers we hiked, but we managed to see a lot of the sights described in the guidebooks. Only once were
we rained out.
We signed up for two adventures - the first was a snowmobile ride to the pinnacle of
Snæfellsjökull. This was great fun. I had never driven a snowmobile before. A guide led us up a track to
the top of the mountain, and fortunately the clouds had dispersed enough to give us some views of the
surrounding area. We thought some distant land on the horizon might be Greenland, but it turned out to
merely be the Western Fjords of Iceland - distances in real life look much further than they appear on the
Our other adventure was a four-hour guided walk on the Svínafellsjökull glacier. This was a fun
trip. We got close enough to peer down into some bright blue crevasses and tromped around with crampons
strapped on to our feet.
Our accommodations included guesthouses and hotels. The guesthouses had shared kitchens and shared bathrooms.
All but one of the hotels we stayed at had shared bathrooms. Rooms with private bathrooms are very expensive.
A number of the hotels included breakfast in the room price. We thought this meant a skimpy pastry or toast. Well, we were
very impressed. Breakfast was buffet style with meats and cheeses, bacon, eggs, sausage, breads, fruit, juice, cereal, yogurt, coffee, and pastries.
The map below shows the route we followed (clockwise) along the Ring Road. The numbers in black
circles indicate the number of days spent in the area.
The pictures here are arranged in chronological order. I have many more pictures which I hope
to some day post, along with maps and details of our vacation. I hope you enjoy these photos.
Click here for Main Menu
To display the photo images on this webpage, I am using a freely distributed java script called Lightbox v2.7.1 written by Lokesh Dhakar.
You can download this program by clicking on this link.
All the text and photographs on this webpage are my own creation, but the textured background is taken from a site, EOS development, that offers non-profit
users free use of their graphics. Click the icon below to visit their site.