This Iceland post is turning into more of a book than anything.
We set up camp under Skogafoss and fell asleep to the roaring sound of falling water at 2:30am. Right at this moment – things were perfect.
The next day we planned to hike to the top of the waterfall and explore along the Skogar River before packing up camp and joining two other travellers we met on Couchsurfing.
As morning came and the clouds parted we awoke to a big day ahead of us. This waterfall looked spectacular at night and even better with the sunlight on it. We enjoyed bread and jam for breakfast while absorbing the freshness and beauty of this place, before setting out in the hot sun and climbing the unsatisfactory shallow steps to the top of Skogafoss. Pictures were taken and breaths were drawn – I still couldn’t believe I was witnessing this. At the top the rapids were strong and the views spectacular. The sheep minded themselves as we hiked upstream along the banks of the raging river. Every few hundred meters we came across another waterfall, smaller in size but never lacking in beauty. We drank from the freezing water, enjoyed the nature and awed at the rolling hills, cracking canyons and spectacular scenery. Because we woke up early we only shared this place with a few other wanderlusters, finishing up our hike before the busloads of tourists on their overpriced tours started rolling in.
After our adventures upstream we returned to camp where met the travellers from Couchsurfing and packed up camp. We were off on an Icelandic road trip! The car was cramped but the company was good and spirits were high. This was the first time we met up with travellers to do anything of the kind, but I think it’s a pretty unbeatable start! These girls planned to do the Golden Circle, the route that most people come to Iceland to do, taking us past another massive waterfall, geysers and through beautiful national parks. But before any of that happened, a dip in another hot spring was in order. A short hike up a river and deep into a valley took us to the oldest pool built in Iceland. Here we bathed in the warm water, gazing up at the snow capped mountains in front of us. This snow was actually one of Iceland’s smaller glaciers. This place must be what heaven looks like. And if I am right, then I wouldn’t mind getting there a bit sooner. Really, this place was indescribable.
Moving on, we took the ring road back to the Golden Circle, passing more waterfalls, glaciers, cliff faces and spectacular coastlines. Henni, our new Finnish friend, asked us what we missed most about home. I said I missed driving, and the freedom to go wherever and whenever, without being limited to public transport timetables. So she stopped the car, got out of the driver’s seat and told me to get in. Legal? Illegal? Who knows, but I do know that driving on the right side of the road feels so unnatural and made me second guess everything I was doing. But it was fun. We arrived at the geyirs, watched the earth shoot boiling water 20 meters into the air and saw some insanely beautiful pools. Trying to chase time before Henni had to be back in the city to catch her flight home, we raced on to Gullfoss, a waterfall split into two, sending mega litres of melted snow crashing into a narrow canyon. Another freak of nature. Another stunner. Another heaven. I couldn’t get enough of Iceland.
Finally, at 6pm we began our journey back to Reykjavik. We passed through more indescribable beauty. The road cuts through the national park where unique flora is protected and stunning backdrops of mountains capped with snow create some of the most magnificent scenes. This time, no photos were taken. The beauty of this place could never, ever be translated into a photo. No camera could ever capture the raw beauty of this place. That is something only the human eye is capable of. And to be there witnessing it for myself. I am truly blessed.
We said our goodbyes to Henni, swapped contacts and made our way to our second campsite. We pitched our tent in the Summer Solstice Festival’s campgrounds, so close to the stages that we basically got a free concert for the night. I guess that’s another free thing we can add to the list? Here, we witnessed a spectacular sunset at 12am. I’m a sucker for sunsets, and this one was no exception. I watched as the sky burned up, the music in the background and the tents glowing under the sun. What a way to end our last day in Iceland.
Our fourth day was not much more than packing up camp and heading to the airport. We said our goodbyes and left with a heavy heart. Iceland was like nothing else. A bitch at one point, but nothing to hold grudges to. Especially when it flaunts its beauty in every single meter of highway, through every single waterfall, mountain, glacier and stretch of coastline. If I can finish this post with one urge for anyone, it would be to go to Iceland. Because you won’t have a single regret, and I can promise that.
Iceland, thank you. I’ll be back.