Iceland – the land of falls and glaciers

Iceland (Island), a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic and the most expensive European country should be on the bucket list of every adventurer and nature lover.

In this post I will be briefly sharing my week-long travel experiences in Iceland. This post will also give you an inkling of my travel plans.

About Iceland

Iceland has been very popular since the past few years and the pictures of its astounding landscapes have been flooding the internet, thanks to Instagram. But the day I decided to make a trip to Iceland was when I saw pictures of few places in Iceland in November, 2017 at the Delhi International airport, which included pictures of places such as Seljalandsfoss – one of the beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and Mt. Kirkjufell – the most photographed mountain of Iceland because of its unique shape. I decided to take the trip in October, 2018 so I had ample time at hand to decide the itinerary and do the requisite bookings.

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The country is sparsely populated with a total population of only 3.5 lakhs out of which almost 2 lakhs are residents of Reykjavik. The locals mostly thrive on tourism and fishing, which are the two big industries there.

The Trip

Since I decided to do a solo trip to Iceland, I knew I had a big task ahead of me. Going to an expensive country alone would require meticulous planning as well as budgeting.

Being an avid traveller, I have always noticed that time just flies when a trip is approaching. It was soon 14th of October, 2018 when I few to Reykjavik, Iceland (Keflavik International Airport) with a layover each at Finland and Copenhagen (Finn Air and Iceland Air). I landed at Reykjavik at around 9 pm (local time) and headed to Kex Hostel, located by the coast in downtown Reykjavik.

Kex is definitely the best bet when it comes to Hostels in Iceland. It also had a decent kitchen with pretty much all amenities and essentials. I carried a good amount of pre-packed, ready-to-eat foods given the fact that Iceland is pretty expensive.

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Outside Kex Hostel by the coast

Transportation in Iceland – One can hire a car and drive around the country via the ring road (Route 1) or book individual (mostly daily) trips via various travel agencies or bus operators. After a lot of research, I had chosen Gray Line tours for most of my trips.

Weather in Iceland – The month of October is the onset of winters in Iceland but the weather is still highly unpredictable! It rained almost 15 hours a day during my week long trip. And this was despite predictions to the contrary. The Icelandic weather changes almost every 10 minutes and unfortunately, even the MET department predictions are not fully accurate.

15th October, 2018 – Day 1

This day was dedicated to locals tours in Reykjavik. I had booked a short local sight-seeing tour which covered several places in the city including the Presidential House, Perlan Observatory, Harpa Concert Hall, Old Harbour neighbourhood and Hallgrimskirkja (Kirkja’ in Icelandic means ‘Church’).

16th October, 2018 – Day 2

I made a trip to South Iceland and reached Vik, the southernmost village with a population of only 200 people. On the way, I came across hundreds of waterfalls including the mighty Skogafoss and picturesque Seljalandsfoss (‘Foss’ in Icelandic means ‘waterfall’). Vik is particularly famous for its wool factories and its black sand beaches at Reynisjfara.

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Black sand beach, Vik

17th October, 2018 – Day 3

I took the ‘Golden Circle’ tour – the most popular and most taken tour in Iceland. It included a trip to Thingvellir National Park where the two continental plates (Eurasian and North American) are splitting apart and Lake of Parliamentary Fields, where the Vikings had first met to discuss parliamentary affairs. It also included the mighty Gulfoss and the Geothermal area near River Hvita, which has the famous Strokkur Geyser. On the way back, I saw quaint churches and small waterfalls.  For the night, I had booked a Northern Lights Tour by Boat, where you’re taken deep into the Sea to sight Aurora Borealis. The weather, however, played havoc that night (rains and clouds) and I had no sightings.

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Strokkur geyser

18th October, 2018 – Day 4

The day was relatively relaxed as I had only booked a Whale watching tour. Unfortunately, the rough seas accompanied by incessant rains made the sightings impossible, although, I did sight a few birds while getting completely drenched. I spent the rest of the day touring the city of Reykjavik and shopping for souvenirs.

19th October, 2018 – Day 5

I took off to the western part of Iceland, popularly known as Snaefellsness peninsula. I visited the Ytri Tunga Beach which is typically a Seal colony, but you can spot the Seals only in the summer months of May-August. The next stop was Arnarstapi, a small fishing village where I had lunch and could also see Mt. Stapafell (‘fell’ in Icelandic means ‘mountain’)– half of which was covered in the clouds. I then went into the Vatnshellir Lava tube where we saw Stalagmites and drop stones formed out of Lava. The next stop was Black Pebble Beach of Djupallonsandur. The last stop of the day was the most picturesque mountain – Mt. Kirkjufell !

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Mt. Kirkjufell

20th October, 2018 – Day 6

On this day I took another trip to South Iceland but travelled further to see the massive and the biggest glacier of Iceland – Vatnajokull Glacier (‘jokull’ in Icelandic means ‘glacier’). I spent some time at the famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon where I saw huge blocks of blue ice floating away to Diamond Beach. After watching the sun set at the Diamond Beach, I headed back to Reykjavik. On the way back when it was completely dark, we halted at Seljalandsfoss which was beautifully lit up.

21st October, 2018 – Day 7

My last day in Iceland was marked by a trip to the popular Blue Lagoon! Although, I did make another attempt at Northern Lights, but the weather was still not conducive.

Stay tuned for further posts on Iceland where I will be writing in detail on each of the days/tours and also putting up the pictures!

Visit my instagram page (jpsahu_1991) for more photos !!!

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