Favorite Photos from our Iceland trip

July 28th - August 15th 2009


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 map.

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.

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Reykjavik Iceland Bjarnarfoss Basalt sea cliffs at Arnastapi Sea arch at Arnastapi Sea Cave near Arnastapi Iceland Bird cliffs near Arnastapi, Iceland Arctic tern Arnastapi Church in Iceland Snowmobile Iceland Snaefellness peninsula seen from the glacier Snaefellsjokull Snaefellnesjokull glacier Iceland Snaefellnesjokull glacier Iceland View of Snaefellnes through the Key Hole ArchIceland Black sand beach at Djupalon, Iceland Rental car, Yaris, Iceland Lava Field Iceland Puffin photo Iceland Kirkjufell in Iceland Steep green volcanic cliffs in Iceland Eldborg Crater in Iceland Reykholt geothermal plant Hraunfossar waterfall in Iceland Surtshellir Iceland Surtshellir Iceland Langjokull glacier in Iceland Grabrok Crater in Iceland Akureyri Botantical Gardens Cruise ship at Iceland Godafoss waterfall in Iceland Godafoss waterfall Iceland Vesturland in Jokulsargljufur National Park Basalt columns at Jökulsárgljúfur National Park Raudholar, the Red Hills Iceland Holmafoss Holmafossar waterfall Iceland Rettarfoss waterfall Iceland Sunset in Iceland Asbyrgi Canyon Rainbow in Iceland Summit of Vindbelgjarfell Kirkjan, the church formation at Dimmborgir, Iceland Pseudo craters at Myvatn Iceland Volcanic rocks at Hofdi, near Myvatn, Iceland Hverfjall volcanic crater in Iceland Myvatn Iceland Summit of Hlidarfjall in Iceland Namafjall Iceland Mudpots at Namafjall Iceland Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland Selfoss waterfall Iceland Hafragilsfoss waterfall in Iceland Fardagafoss waterfall in Iceland Gufusfoss waterfall in Iceland Seydisfjord fjord Iceland Litlanesfoss waterfall in Iceland Hengifoss waterfall in Iceland Jokulsarlon glacier ice lagoon in Iceland Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon Blue iceberg at Jokulsarlon, Iceland Rope descent Iceland Glacier Walk in Iceland Glacier crevass in Iceland Foss a siou waterfall in Iceland Systrafoss waterfall Iceland Purple flowers in Iceland Pseudo craters at Efrivik Sunrise over Skaftafell Iceland Glacier reflection Iceland Single lane bridge Iceland Glacial flood plain near Skaftafell, Iceland Skaftafell glacier Iceland Svartifoss waterfall Iceland Svartifoss waterfall Iceland Sjonarnipa overlook of Skaftafelljokull Sjonarnipa at Skaftafell Iceland Morsarjokull Iceland Morsarjokull glacier Iceland Skaftafellsjokull glacier in Skaftafell National Park Svinafellsjokull glacier Iceland Fjadrargljufur gorge or canyon in Iceland Fjadrargljufur canyon in Iceland Basalt columns at Reyhir beach in Iceland Myrdalsjokull glacier in Iceland Dyrholaey Sea Arch Black sand beach at Dyrholaey Iceland Dyrholaey sea arch Iceland Puffins at Dyrholaey Iceland Puffin photo Iceland Solheimajokull Iceland Skogafoss Skogafoss waterfall Iceland Seljalandsfoss Seljalandfoss waterfall Iceland Glufurarfoss Iceland Urrigafoss waterfall Iceland Stong farmhouse excavation Iceland Red grass and colorful landscape Iceland Funnel Cloud in Iceland Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland Gullfoss waterfall and rainbow in Iceland Gullfoss waterfall and rainbow Iceland Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland Langjokull Iceland Strokkur geysir Iceland Strokkur geyser Iceland Earthquake fault, rift, in Iceland Law Rock Oxararfoss waterfall Iceland Earthquake fault rift in Iceland Almannagja Everymans Chasm Mount Esja Iceland Reykjavik seen from Esja Iceland Blue Lagoon, Iceland Blue Lagoon, Iceland Reykjanesta bird cliffs Iceland Bridge between two continents Bird cliffs at Hafnaberg Iceland Krysuvik Iceland Krysuvik Iceland Krysuvik Iceland Kleifarvatn Lake Iceland Kleifarvatn Lake Iceland Fish drying racks in Iceland