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sagar

Exploring the Land of Fire & Ice - Road Trip in Iceland

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Roadtrippin' Iceland has been a dream and we did it!

 

 

 'Look deep into the nature and you will understand everything better.. The earth has it's own music for those who listen.. '

 

Inspiring sceneries, extra ordinary landscapes, astounding natural wonders such as Majestic glacier lagoons, cracked lava fields, gushing geysirs, glittering ice-caps, vibrant green fjords and the dancing Northern lights.  Only these can do a proper justice to the above statement. I have truly experienced this and I call it the trip of a lifetime!

 

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Iceland is raw, Iceland is real and Iceland is a land of extremes with a complete aloneness that reminded me that I'm a mere human in the palm of mother nature's hands.

The best way to see and explore Iceland is by driving around the country's famous 'Ring Road'. Seven days is the minimum what I suggest to at least see the main highlights of this magical land. I advice one to forget the tour groups and enjoy the country side by renting your own wheels. This story not only has all the driving of the whole 1330 km ring road but also a lot of exploration through the F-roads and the vast volcanic landscapes. And if this doesn't appeal to you, you can always shorten your trip and do a part of it. 

 

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It was during my road trip to the southern India in December 2016, a discussion about road trips to do abroad arose where we shared some interesting talks about various drives like The Atlantic road drive, The AUTOBAHN, The great ocean drive and The road trip in Iceland. All of these have been on our bucket-list for a while and for many reasons. A random surf on make my trip in March 2017 showed up a mere possibility to do one of the above road trips and that's when I had put my options open to my friends who were involved in this discussion a few months ago. And when they turned out to be tangential towards doing Iceland for its shear beauty, there was no looking back. The opportunity opened up and we didn't think twice which inched me a step closer in experiencing a dream. The Northern lights, Nature baths, F-roads, Magnificent waterfalls, Hot springs, Glacier Lagoons and Volcanic lands, All that I had dreamt of for a decade to experience.

 

We turned out to be 4 in number which seemed perfect to do this road trip. We booked our Air tickets through 'Brussels Air' in April - 2017 for the dates between September 28 to October 9, 2017. That's when the fun & excitement started to pace up overwhelmingly as there were countless things to see and do. One of the biggest challenges has been while planning an itinerary on how to see everything in limited time, what to bring and where to stay. After quite a bit of intensive research online, we had our own drive map planned for each day we are going to spend in Iceland and let me tell you this needed some real effort xD.

We booked our stays at some exotic locations on the country side, all thanks to 'AIRBNB' for having such fabulous and friendly hosts at every place we stayed.

 

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Having it all set, only pending thing was to get our SCHENGEN VISA processed.

 

There is no ICELAND EMBASSY in India. The Royal Danish Embassy (Embassy of Denmark) processes the VISA for us.

VFS GLOBAL is the franchisee which deals with SCHENGEN VISA.

 

VISA PROCESS:

 

Please go through the guidelines below for applying the VISA.

Hence, in all the letters that you produce for process, it should be addressed as, To VISA OFFICER, EMBASSY OF DENMARK…”

 

The list below is what is asked at the counter in the specific order (to the best of my knowledge)

 

  1. Appointment Letter (We receive after we book the appointment with VFS GLOBAL). 

 

    2. Consent FORM (Which is to be submitted for authorising our BIOMETRIC DATA USAGE by the VFS) Looks like the pic below can be downloaded from the VFS GLOBAL SITE:  http://dk.vfsglobal.co.in/

 

      image003.jpg

 

    3. Schengen VISA FORM  (Download from http://dk.vfsglobal.co.in/)

 

    4. Covering Letter : Explaining your REASON for VISIT along with the itinerary briefing Here is OURS.

 

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5. Trip Itinerary : Birds Eye View Should be like this

 

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  6. Flight Tickets (To & Fro) - MANDATORY

  7. All the Reservations made for the STAY for all the days of the trip - MANDATORY

  8. Rental Car Reservation, if any.

  9. 2 Colour Photos : Dont stick on the application- Let them do their job SEMI MATT FINISH accepted No border White Back ground 60% to 80% face coverage.

 10. NOC from Employer/Manager on COMPANY LETTER HEAD Please check the VFS GLOBAL site for other category persons.

 

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  11. Latest Payslips : 3 Months

  12. FORM 16 or- ITR : Last 3 Years

  13. FULL COLOUR PASSPORT XEROX (ALL PAGES) : If more than 1 Passport, the OLD passport first & last pages along with valid VISA Pages, if any.

  14. Bank Account Statement : 6 Months (Till 3 days before the VISA SLOT) Make sure you have sufficient amount in Bank (up to 1.5L). This proves that you have sufficient amount for your expenses. MANDATORY

  15. Credit card Account statement if bookings done from the credit card.

 

Also carry the below originals for any last minute requests (AADHAR, PAN, DRIVING LICENSE, CREDIT CARD).

 

The VISA FEE is INR 6000/- (4500 VISA FEE + 1500 PROCESSING FEE). If you opt the Courier for Passport Delivery, they charge and additional INR 425/- for it. You can also collect the passport in person (The applicant himself is not mandatory, you need send someone with a letter of authority to collect your PASSPORT along with your Identity/Address proof). The timings are from 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM during weekdays only.

 

Note :

For only DENMARK EMBASSY, the whole of VISA FEE & VFS GLOBAL Processing FEE will be collected in CASH ONLY. Please carry sufficient Cash.

Photocopy/printout charges @VFS : INR 20/- PER PAGE (B&W or COLOUR, same)

Photo - 8 Copies @ VFS   INR 200/-

 

Important Points to remember:

  1. After submitting the VISA, you will get a call from the embassy for validation. Please for the sake of god, stick to the reason you mentioned in the COVERING Letter. Be prepared for a Volley of questions on that. Avoid generic answers like “I LOVE TRAVEL” , “I LOVE GOT (Game of Thrones)”.

    For Example: When one of the member mentioned that he likes photography, following question were shot on him~

  1. What is the MAKE & MODEL of the CAMERA?

  2. What are lens you have?

  3. Which one do you use most?

  4. Why only ICE LAND? You can go HIMALAYAS right?

  5. Name two photographers you follow on Instagram?

  6.  What were their recent assignments in their travel photography? ( He mentioned that because of their inspiration, he chose Iceland over many countries)  

        One of the member told that they want to see Auroras, they went to extent of asking the process explaining what is the phenomenon that is causing it. Like in Detail

         (Sun’s gravitational field interacting with Earth’s magnetosphere… blah.. blah...)

 

      2. Never lie to them or boast. They can out-rightly reject you. They do a thorough back ground check, so please furnish on all the details correctly.

     3. They might ask some question about the documents you have submitted, the stays you have selected, the referred sites by which you planned the whole trip etc. and whole conception of this IDEA.

 

PLEASE DO YOUR HOME WORK! NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VISA OFFICER. ALL THE BEST

 

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Having it all set, Our journey to the land of Fire and Ice has then begun. We touched the land of extremes on 28th September -2017 around 3 PM. By 4 PM we had the Nissan Qashqai (4X4) - (Our drive for the next 10 days) in our hands which we had booked it in advance. Our squad of 4 seemed perfectly set for the drive with their duties assigned :D.

 

Let me introduce to you the crew before the drive begins :

 

 Satya - Driver

a) Focus on the road

b) Don't Kill us

 

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Viswa - Shotgun

a) Stay awake

b) Mad DJ skills

c) Navigate so hard

 

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Omkar - The EYE

a) Keep a watch on the best landscapes for pit-stops

b) Capture incredible memories to cherish

 

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Teju - Chief

a) Snack Distributor

b) Remind front seat people that bathrooms exist

c) Nap like a boss

 

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DAY - 0

Reykjavik - Pingvellir National park (Ljosafossskoli hostel) 

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The moment we checked out from the Reykjavik International airport terminal, we moved to the car rental service point to finish up all the necessary formalities. We had rented a less run Nissan Qashqai from the 'Blue Car Rental' services after a lot of survey after having the Dacia Duster as another option alongside. I had to submit a Xerox copy of my Driver's License and a booking copy.

Without any further ado, we left the airport terminal to take the ring road.

 

The landscape changed constantly providing perfect photo ops at every turn, like literally every single turn.

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We had stopped by a very next departmental store named 'Netto Discount Store' which we had come across in an immediate town en-route. We had bought all the required food and drink sufficient enough until the next re-fill.

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There's no right or wrong direction to head on the ring road. You can go North or South, we chose to go south first because we were chasing the clear skies for a chance to see the Northern Lights. A plan that paid-off. :D

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We had reached our first stay to rest after a long flight at the Pingvellir National Park on the Golden Circle and let me tell you that, the stay was fabulous which had a surprise view of the clear night skies from it's farm land. :)

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And what a start to our trip. No night could have ended up better than this. We had witnessed the most active Auroras and enjoyed every bit of it clicking pictures.

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The Northern lights in Iceland are a sight that I would never forget in this life. They have painted the night sky with some beautiful and surreal colours throwing joy to our eyes.

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The Northern lights in Iceland are usually visible during the darker months between September to March while the sky appear very clear.

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After all the excitement had seeped in, We elected to just watch and enjoy after a while :D

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The have danced for us for about 2 to 3 hours and we hit the sac to get ready for the next day's drive.

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DAY - 01 

 

Ljosafossskoli - Pingvellir national park - Geysir - Landmannalaugar - Hvolsvollur (Volcanic guest house)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Pingvellir National park

2) Geysir and Strokkur

3) Gulfoss

4) Landmannalaugar, Ljotpollur Crater, Lodmundarvatn, Laugavegur hike.

 

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We started our drive the next morning looping around the Golden Circle which incorporates three of the Iceland's most recognized landmarks: Pingvellir (pronounced as 'Thingvellir') National park, Geysir and Gulfoss. Our first stop was at the Pingvellir National park which is one of the two UNESCO world heritage sites in Iceland.

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A 60 kms drive from the Pingvellir National park, brought us to the second stop on our driving tour, the geo-thermally active region of Haukadalur and it's famous --- Geysir and Strokkur.

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I just couldn't believe the scenery could really look like that on earth. There were so many waterfalls and mountains en-route that we just kept pointing them out to each other as the landscapes changed so often that we never got bored.

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It didn't take long for the excitement to begin, as Strokkur went off just as were pulling into the parking area.

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As we walked towards these two larger geysers, we passed by pools of boiling water, sporting up from the underground and letting off a strong smell of sulphur.

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As we approached Strokkur, evident by the large circle of people surrounding it, all that was left to do was choose our vantage point, ready our camera and wait for it to go off.

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We didn't have to wait for long as it erupts regularly (every 5 -10 minutes)

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Hopping back into the car, we had one more stop on our Golden circle tour -- Gulfoss-- Iceland's most famous and dramatic waterfall. As we pulled up towards the visitor centre, we could visibly see the spray coming form the falls and hear the road of the rushing water, even though they were still a mile away.

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Cut into the rocky cliff, the waterfall cascades in a stair case motion before abruptly plunging 105 ft. to the river bed below, creating a dramatic roaring sound. We were mesmerized by the large amount of water gushing over the falls, as well as the lush green hill sides.

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Although it is not visible from the road, a short walk along the wooden pathways lead to both the top and bottom of the falls allowing the visitors a full Vantage point for pictures before getting up close to the roaring falls.

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Iceland's Golden circle is definitely worth another detour and a great way to start your ring road trip. We then got bound for Landmannalaugar drive in the highlands.

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DAY - 01  (Continued..)

 

The drive in the volcanic lands of Landmannalaugar has just begun after we took the F-208 road.

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The incredible landscapes that we had come across during the drive started questioning us if we had accidentally ended up on another planet. The picture above might look like a black and white photo but in reality, the landscape was black as far as the eye could see.

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The scenery and every mountain through out this volcanic landscape seemed very much like a painting to our naked eyes and pretty incredible.

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The wind and rain during this drive were so scarily strong that the road lead us to cross some madly flowing water streams.

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Another thought which started to haunt us during drive was the aloneness in this alien land as we couldn't spot any other car except us. A thought of reaching the road ways before it got darker pushed our limits to driver harder sometimes. But, one has to make sure that you watch your speed as the off road might grab in your wheels or cause a slip at times. Stay cautious. 

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This was so not fine given nobody which was crazy enough to drive that road in this weather in the dark.

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I've heard great things about the whole F-208 road, but unfortunate flooding and closures restricted us from doing the F-roads any further than Landmannalaugar.

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Landmannalaugar is a great place to hike for an hour or two, though one could do so for days or even weeks. We explored that a bit to see those painted hills and the heavy down pour amidst this pulled us back to our wheels to drive further and fall out before it got dark.

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Hiking around for about 2 hours while retracing our steps back to the car has been a short adventure in this adventure land.

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We spent half the day entirely in car driving through this alien landscape and enjoying every bit of it fighting between a lot of thoughts in our heads :D

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Landmannalaugar is truly a rare landscape both geothermally and aesthetically. It sweeps through a vast land of dried magma over the dazzling coloured mountainside.

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I am sure that this place of wilderness with the characteristics that it withholds doesn't resemble no place on planet earth.

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Under no circumstances one should attempt driving these F-roads to Landmannalaugar in a compact rental vehicle. A 4X4 is a must and make sure if the car rented is comfortable with river crossings. 

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The dreaded F-roads are defined windy, mountainous, gravel roads with no bridges and river crossings.

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They are not open all year round to the public. Depending on the water levels and snow fall they could be slightly opened. Just remember to check 'Road.is' before you start your drive to any such places to know the road status which provides time to time information about the current road conditions in the Icelandic highlands.

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I could hardly find any accommodation options like campsites or huts, supermarkets nor petrol stations during my drive through Landmannalaugar.

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We wanted to do some adventure and Landmannalaugar was the option we chose. The mix of unpredictable weather with highland roads comes into play which should be your serious consideration before you plan to do this drive. Usually the roads stay open between June to October but, even that is quite invariable.

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Landmannalaugar is undoubtedly a place where many Hollywood movies like Martian, Batman and other space science movies were shot. A look at it and you can relate them to many.

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We had come across many so water streams flowing across the roads where you need some good amount of skill and time to tackle and fall out safe while crossing the path. Especially, when you are driving alone or your car is the only one around the place.

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We spent the whole evening jumping over about two dozen freezing streams of water across the valley.

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The most terrific drive of the day came to an end safe and healthy as we got closer to meet the ring road.

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Getting on to the ring road has been a great sign of relief especially when we could do it before the night sky showed up.

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DAY - 02 

 

Hvolsvollur (Volcanic guest house) - Seljalandfoss - Skogafoss - Solheimasandur - Vik - Horgsland (Horgsland cottage)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Seljalandfoss

2) Thorvaldseyri (Mt. Eyjafallajokull)

3) Skogar Museum (Church place resembling the Hobbit house)

4) Skogafoss

5) Solheimasandur (Plane wreck site)

6) Reynisfjara beach

7) Halsanefshellir (Sea Cave)

8) Reynisdrangar (3 basalt columns)

9) Dyrholaey sunset point and Light house.

 

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We woke up to a beautiful view at the Volcano guest house at Hvolsvollur.

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Waking up to a view of this massive volcanic mountain has been one of the best moments of this trip.

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Post breakfast, our drive was set to a pace towards the next destination

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In no time, we got the first view of the Seljalandfoss which is most popular with the tourists. So, don't expect this place to get it all to yourself. :D

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And I hail my fella Omkar for capturing some brilliant pictures of the falls.

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There is a walkway to reach behind the falls and you will get wet if you want to get behind it for photos.

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Eyjafjallajokull or Porvaldseyri is a glacier topper volcano which sounds dead at the moment and has been the same since 1906. This picture is of a recent tourist centre which was opened in 2011 explaining all the 6 eruptions during that time.

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And our drive towards witnessing one of the massive waterfalls continued..

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Before we reached the Skogafoss, we stopped by a huge Glacier land where tourists are allowed to go on glacier treks or hikes for about a day :)

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First view of the beautiful Skogafoss in South Iceland which is just a few Kilometers from the shore.

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The Skogafoss waterfall has become my all time favourite waterfalls from the time I visited. This lies in the village of Skogar along the south of Iceland.

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Skogafoss is unique because the waterfalls comes directly from two glaciers Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull.

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Beautiful picture of the unique Skogar folk museum and church. This reminded me of the Hobbit house in New Zealand.

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Our drive towards the plane wreck site in Solheimasandur has begun.

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We reached Solheimasandur plane wreck site which one of the Iceland's famous tourist destination. A walk of about 2 to 3 kms from the parking arena, you reach this twisted crash site.

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The mystery behind the crash site remained unknown but a few say that the US  Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on to the black sand beach. Fortunately, everyone have survived and a few decades later, the crash site attracted a lot of tourist crowd since then.

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As opposed to salvage the wreckage, the plane was simply left to rot in this isolated spot.

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Solheimasandur and it's vast landscape is being shot flying a drone by one of the tourist. One of my favourite clicks by @Omik 

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We walked back to the parking arena after spending some good amount of time at the crash site. :)

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We have witnessed some beautiful landscapes during our walk back and how nature behaved blowing strong winds.

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We drove further towards the Reynisfjara to spend some quality time at the beach.

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Reynisfjara beach is one of the most famous black sand beach on the south coast of Iceland. It's beautiful back sand, powerful waves and sea stacks make Reynisfjara a truly a unique place to visit.

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Reynisfjara inherits some insane basalt rock columns on the towering cliffs which were once formed due to lava.

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Reynisfjara beach is hands down one of the coolest beaches with roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas.

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Reynisfjara is one of the most scenic spots in the country famed for it's natural beauty, innumerous pebbles and a moody temperature.

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View of the Dyrholaey light house from the Reynisfjara beach.

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Before the sun got set, we started from Reynisfjara towards Dyrholaey light house point to view the best of the sunsets in the country.

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When you are driving through the south coast of Iceland, there are so many places to explore and we tried to cover most of it. Dyrholaey is one such place I would recommend to visit.

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Dyrholaey is pretty close to Vik which was once a peninsula of Volcanic origin. The sunset is seen best from this cliff top giving a perfect end to your eventful day.

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Dyrholaey (door-hole) got it's name from this massive arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. Best view of it is from the lighthouse which was built in 1927.

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We had a perfect sunset view for the day and clicked some pictures for fun :D

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Giving an end to a perfect day, we drove down to Horgsland to retire for the night. 

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DAY - 03 

 

Horgsland cottage - Skaftafell - Hof - Jokulsarlon - Hofn - Djupivogur (Klif hostel)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Skaftafell park

2) Svartifoss hike to the falls

3) Fjallsarlon (Glacier Lagoon boat ride)

4) Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

5) Diamond beach

 

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View of the Horgsland cottage (our stay) nestled between the painted volcanic mountains.

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 Our drive for the 3rd day has begun as we moved further towards the South east of the country on the coastline. 

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 I am not exaggerating here when I say that we saw hundreds of waterfalls streaming from green cliff edges and volcanic basalt rock columns throughout the drive.

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 I kept wondering to myself how one waterfall could be more famous than another considering there must be thousands  all across Iceland. There are tons that you'll pass during the trip that would all be famous if they existed in other countries. But in Iceland, waterfalls are a dime a dozen.

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 Stopping along various scenic spots during the drive, we soon reached the Svartifoss adorned in gold.

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 This needed quite a bit of trek through the mountains. We tried not to act mad seeing this gorgeous waterfall and the fall leaves amidst the trek and held our excitement until we reached the end point of the Svartifoss. 

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Trek through the mountains inheriting the falls colours added more light to the scene not letting us know any effort during the trek up hill.

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After an hour hike through the Vatnajokull national park, we get to capture the first sight of the Svartifoss.

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The Svartifoss (Black falls) flows by the down from of the Ice-cold Svinafellsjopkull glacier feeds

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Breath-taking view of the Svartifoss tumbling down by 80 ft. over a cliff which is bordered on both sides by tall black basalt columns.

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We trekked down back to the base and raced towards the Jokulsarlon glacier point. The change in views along the drive gave us a feeling that we were moving closer to the glacier region of the country.

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All we could find from then on were just hardened snow, vast glacier lands and snow cliffs.

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 Before we reached Jokulsarlon, we stopped by a huge glacier lagoon named Fjallsarlon. We had no idea about the temperature outside but, we were just freezing down to the unusual.

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The scenery of Fjallsarlon is extremely unique and is the biggest glacier outside the arctic.

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We got set to take a boat tour in to the Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. We started to feel a little better after we got into the suits given by our Marshall before we set out to ride.

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The boat ride was so exciting as we got closer to the glaciers.

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At the edge of the glacier, icebergs break off into the lagoon and drift serenely around before melting down.

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The glaciers crawl down a steep slope until it reaches down to the water.

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We were guided through a 45 minutes to 1 hour boat ride as he briefed us about the massive glacier by its history and how it's melting down by time at the moment.

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We cheered on before we got off the amphibian boat post our ride. After all, we had conquered the most picturesque treasures of the country :D

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A drive down few kilometres ahead, we reached the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon which had more of the tourist crowd.

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This lagoon was filled with large chunks of ice on the edge of the waterline displaying immense beauty.

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Jumping on to the opposite side of the lagoon area on to the shore is the 'Diamond beach'.

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The diamond beach is a black volcanic sand beach where icebergs from the glacier lagoon drift ashore. This sight had left us gasping in wordless wonder.

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We had walked around this pristine shore of the Diamond beach with sparkling icebergs spread over acres of land.

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One last shot of the whole crew before we left the place to retire for the day. Cheers!

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DAY - 04

 

Klif hostel - Eglisstadir - Dettifoss (Dettifoss guesthouse)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Hvitserkur

2) Detifoss

3) Asbyrgi Canyon

 

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Our drive through the eastern fjords was in heavy rain and thick fog that we could hardly get down the car.

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We had spent most of the day in the car, it was still an awesome day as the sceneries were pretty incredible.

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We have entered the beautiful Bardardalur district in the Northeast region of Iceland.

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A snap of the Iceland National highway en-route Godafoss.

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We drove towards Godafoss enjoying all the scenic views the country showed us.

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We have reached the Sprengisandur highland road in the Northeast region where the Godafoss flows.

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The Godafoss waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland flowing from the Skjalfandafljot river.

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Godafoss is basically translated as 'The waterfall of the Gods' for its gorgeousness in its boundaries.

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The weather was turning harsh on us with heavy breeze & rain under cold temperature as it was getting darker hour by hour. We continued our drive towards witnessing the 'Death falls' - Dettifoss.

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We soon reached the Dettifoss falls parking area in the Vatnajokull National park and the weather was crazy and we couldn't understand if it was raining or the splash of the falls.

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A hike of about 2 - 3 kms was needed from the parking area in order to get the sight of the Dettifoss.

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We have completely covered ourselves with the rain wear while we hiked down tot he view point.

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First look at the Dettifoss seemed both terrific and horrific as well while the weather added more aura to the scene.

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Dettifoss as you can see is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. This monstrous behemoth of a waterfall is guaranteed to steal your heart :D We then hiked to the Selfoss falls which is another 2 kms hike from Dettifoss but, couldn't capture a clear picture due to heavy down pour. 

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And we drove down to the Dettifoss guest house for the night stay which was about 80 kms of off-road in the night.

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DAY - 05

 

 Dettifoss guest house -Asbyrgi Canyon - Husavik - Myvatn - Arbol guest house (Husavik)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Namaskard Namafjall

2) Hverir (Mud pots and Fumaroles)

3) Leirhnukur (Sulphur pools)

4) Krafla crater field

5) Viti Crater lake

6) Grjotagja caves (Game of thrones cave)

7) Hverfjall / Hverfell (Tephra cone Volcano)

8) Hofdi Park

9) Skutustadagigar

10) Myvatn Nature baths

 

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A zoomed-in view of the Myvatn region in the map above

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The next morning we fell out of the Dettifoss guesthouse post breakfast and moved in to the Asbyrgi Canyon. Now, we are in the Northern part of Iceland :)

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The Asbyrgi canyon which is otherwise known as the shelter of Gods is a horse shoe shaped Canyon in the Vatnajokull National park.

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There are many hiking trails for the tourists to reach the top of this gigantic and anomalous Canyon.

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The drive further towards Husavik was most enjoyable and super scenic. There was a lot planned to see in the north and the aurora forecast looked bleak due to cloud cover everywhere.

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We halted by a small view point besides the Norwegian sea in the Arctic Ocean.

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We finished our lunch at Husavik and moved in to Myvatn District. Myvatn is known as the Northern lights capital of Iceland and we haven't found ourselves so lucky to have spotted this in the region.

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Most of the roads in this active volcanic region were gravel roads where one needs to watch his speed during the drive and be cautious to avoid slip especially during rain.

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We drove through many volcanic lava fields of Krafla and finally reached the Hverfjall volcanic crater land.

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Hverfjall is a 1300 ft. high tephra explosion crater close by the Lake Myvatn resembling black ash cone of mammoth proportions. We need to walk up the steep slopes and around the rim which is about 1 kilometre.

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Hverfjall is a tuff ring volcano with an incredibly massive crater about 140 metres deep and 1000 metres in diameter which was created about 2500 years ago.

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We hiked around the crater land and walked back to continue the drive to our next destination.

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And our drive continued towards the Dimmuborgir lava formations.

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Dimmuborgir is a large area of unusually shaped lava fields in the east of Myvatn.

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This dark fortress at Myvatn are a true wonder of nature and can be seen nowhere else in the world.

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Twisted towers of coagulated rocks and huge lava rock formations make you feel as if you have stepped into another world.

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Giant pillars, Caves, Chimneys and Tubes scramble across the whole field to create a drama around you.

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We have taken a short photo break at the geo-thermal plant in Myvatn.

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The smell of sulphur that lake was spurting out was so immense and pungent that we could hardly bare it for a few seconds.

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We next stopped by a famous same cave called the Grjotagja cave which is other wise called as the 'Game of thrones cave'

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The Grjotagja cave also was once a popular bathing place between 1970's - 80's. Few Icelanders still do take a therapeutic bath in a this lava cave.

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This one down here is the Myvatn nature bath where we stopped by to end our day with a dip. There are many nature baths like the Blue lagoon which is more of a commercialised place.

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The Myvatn nature bath is one of the Iceland's biggest tourist attractions where you immerse yourself into these geothermal steam pools, swim around and have a mug of beer. A perfect place to chill around.

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Winding up for the day, we drove back to our guest house in Husavik to get ready for the Whale watching session the next morning :)

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DAY - 06

 

 Arbol guest house (Husavik) - Akuryeri - Vatnsdallur (Hvammur 2 guest house)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Husavik Harbour (Gentle Giants whale watching)

2) Godafoss

3) Akuryeri (shopping)

 

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We woke up to a bad news the next morning that our much awaited Whale Watching session had got cancelled because of the sudden storm in the Arctic ocean and all the boats and cruises have been called back to the dockyard.

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With a lot of disappointment on missing out the Whale watching session, we started our drive towards the Akuryeri, the next big town in Iceland after Reykjavik.

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On our way to Akuryeri, we encountered a massive snow storm. We have experienced the snow fall before but, this term called horizontal snow fall and horizontal rainfall were quite new to us until that moment.

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I have always read about the horizontal snowfall and rainfall in Iceland but ,we surely were lucky enough to experience this. All the disappointment towards missing the whale watching session jus vanished from everyone's faces.

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We just waited for a shoulder to pass by, parked the car and jumped out of joy. Well that hasn't lasted for long until we got frozen pretty soon. Strong wind currents really blew our senses off besides the snow striking our body at some real good pace. I must mention that it has been one heck of an experience. It was painful but joyous :D 

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The warmer in our car couldn't pep up to the amount of heat our body needed and we just drove down to a place away from the snowy region, looked up for a shoulder and took a break to stretch our bones and warm up a bit.

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Iceland is a place for some brilliant souvenirs and we chose Akuryeri as our pit-stop for some good shopping and lunch. We took a break for about 3 good hours and continued our drive.

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During our drive to Vatnsdalsvegur, our next stay which is located in a remote place on the country side, we have come across few Icelandic horses which are a unique breed developed in Iceland.

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Icelandic horse were brought to Iceland by the Vikings from Norway 1100 years ago. They have a spirited temperament, it's manners and gaits are different from others! We spent some good amount of time feeding the prettiest one this place carries. 

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We finally reached our Hvammur guesthouse which was totally isolated from the crowd. The best part is that the owner of this place has his own horse farm and conducts rides.

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Beautiful farm of our host besides his lawn. It has been a fabulous experience spending some quality time in such a place. Let me tell  you, this place also had an artificial hot bath in his arena where we had relaxed for some good amount of time. 

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Beautiful view from our window :)

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As the sky turned darker, the night sky had again surprised us with some dancing auroras. The location of the farm, surrounding snow cladded mountains and the northern lights in the sky was altogether an amazing scene to die for. It was truly a blissful feeling all of had carried at that moment.

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That night, the northern lights came out pretty light and started dancing. The sky slowly got clear and dark, giving us a dazzling display.

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We kept watching this beauty for hours together while they snaked across the sky dancing like lines of classical music across the pages of a hauntingly enchanting song.

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We retired for the night to get set for our next day's drive to Hvitserkur.

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DAY - 07

 

 Vatnsdallur (Hvammur 2 guest house) - Bildudalur - Patreksfjordur (guest house)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Hvitserkur

2) Illugastadir Seal view point

3) West fjords drive

 

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We had our breakfast at the guest house and started our drive towards Hvitserkur. We also had 2 of our friends joining in the middle of our trip at Hvitserkur.

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A diversion from the ring road towards Hvitserkur lead us on to this gravel road.

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A hours drive from the ring road we reach the parking arena to park our car and hiked down the hill on to the shore to reach this sea stack.

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Hvitserkur is basically a 15 metre high basalt stack along the eastern shore of the country.

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We had an amazing photo-shoot besides this majestic high monolith.

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After spending some good amount of time besides the stone monster, we continued our drive in union with our friends who joined us amidst the drive into the Western Fjords.

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Our drive through the Western Fjords was most fun. They being in a remote part of the country seemed stunningly beautiful and less crowded than other popular places in Iceland.  

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Western Iceland is something of an enigma. Here in this quiet region - home to only 3 % of the Iceland's population exists in small fishing villages.

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Illugastadir farm on the west shore of Vatnsnes Peninsula in the North Region in Iceland is probably best known tourist spots for its seal spotting.

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We parked our cars and walked for about 2 kms on the shore edge to reach the seal view point.

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We found a lot of seals in their natural environment here. Their quarrels and  their love for each other are a special mention at this place.

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We walked back to our parking area and continued our drive through the beautiful western fjords to reach Patreksfjordur - Our next guesthouse :)

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The Western Fjords offered us stunning views throughout the drive.

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Westfjords is basically a large peninsula in the northern Iceland which are most breathtakingly beautiful and least visited corners.

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The mountains are high and steep, the roads are narrow yet scenic offering a way too many natural colours to our naked eye.

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All that we missed until this day - A convoy of 2 cars :D

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Solitude on these roads is very common and I call it splendid isolation as I get connected close to nature.

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A small teaser of how the drive through the Fjords feels like. Majestic scenes all around and I swear you would enjoy every bit of your drive.

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We reached Patreksfjordur (Iceland's fishing Industry) just before it got dark.

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DAY - 08

 

Patreksfjordur - Breidavik - Latrabjarg - Stykkisholmur

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Latrabjarg

2) Baldur Ferry ride

3) Breidavik

 

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Patreksfjordur is the biggest town in the southern part of west fjords and the fishing capital of the country. Here is where we stayed the previous night and it has been one of our best stays

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View from our room :)

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We started from the guesthouse a little late that morning to explore the colourful west fjords in the country.

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We raced towards the Breidavik  to reach the Latrabjarg which is a very popular bird watching cliffs in the world. These fall under the category of Europe's largest bird cliffs.

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Drive through these fjords was most enjoyable. Every scenery that we had come across was so pleasing to our eyes that we couldn't just continue our drive without taking intermittent breaks in between throughout the day.

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Gardar is the oldest steel ship in Iceland that has been beached for years and is now a rusting ruin.

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The Gardar BA 64 was a hulking hybrid ship which was launched the same year that the Titanic met its final fate.

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We had a crazy time playing around this place while we captured some snaps for fun.

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Latrabjarg is Iceland's largest sea cliff stretching for about 14kms and peaking at a height of 500 meters.

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We were excited to see the Iceland puffins which are known to be found in thousands in number at this place.

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We drove through these dreamy landscapes to reach the hiking point at Latrabjarg.

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Finally, a picture of the convoy we did around the West fjords.

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 This cliff is usually a home to millions of birds including puffins, gannets and guillemots. We parked the car and started our hike up the hill.

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 We have explored the place walking for a few miles and searching for puffins but, we were later told that the puffins migrate from this place and get back after April. So finally missed to see the puffins :(

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But, that disappointment in us hasn't stayed for long until we found an Arctic fox wandering for food.

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 Few more pictures of the Europe's sea largest bird cliff.

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 By noon, we had left the place and reached Baldur for our ferry ride to reach Stykkisholmur. Yes, we sailed the Atlantic :D

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 Parking space in the ferry. We reached Stykkisholmur by 8 PM :)

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DAY - 09

 

Stykkisholmur (Guest house) - Grundarfjordur - Berserkjahraun - Kirkjufell - Arnarstapi - Reykjavik (Grettir guest house)

 

Places to visit:

 

1) Kirkjufell 

2) Buoakirkja (black church)

3) Hallgrimskirkja (church)

4) Sun Voyager (Steel Boat Sculpture)

 

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Our drive from this beautiful wood house in Stykkisholmur towards Reykjavik has begun after we had our breakfast.

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The weather was extreme on this day. It was raining heavily and there was dense fog covering all the road.

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We drove through the Berserkjahraun lava fields in the Snaefellsnes peninsula but could hardly view anything around because of the dense fog. We could hardly see the road during our drive.

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We drove through a stretch of gravel road passing through the lava fields which were about 3000 years old and the fog around slowly started to get clear but, the rain continued.

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We reached the Kirkjufell falls near Kirkjufell mountain but couldn't hike further to capture some good pictures because of the heave downpour during that time.

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A very hazy view of the most prominent and distinctly shaped Kirkjufell mountain in the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

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We drove towards Arnarstapi to view the extra-ordinary basalt columns and cliff formations but, the weather turned out to be unfavourable at the same time.

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We continued our drive towards the most famous church Buoakirkja which sits alone among a field of lave rock.

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This place which I earlier spoke about is a classic. This tiny black church is called the Buoakirkja. 

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Spending some good amount of time around the place, we started our drive towards the Reykjavik city.

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Hallgrimskirkja is a tower church which can be seen from almost everywhere in the Reykjavik city.

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We decided to take a stroll up to the Hallgrimskirkja church. We fell short of time to tour the Sun voyager and just explored the beautiful art street around the church.

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After this we headed back our Grettir guest house to retire for the day. Having only few hours left we packed all our luggage before we started towards the airport. Our drive to the airport took about 90 minutes and we said good bye in the Icelandic fashion before the sunrise. Throughout my drive to the airport, I was just having a reel over my past 10 magnificent days in this magic land. Dreamy landscapes, 100s of water falls, incredible short hikes, boiling mud-pots, glacier lagoons, the northern lights, designated geo thermal pools, unlimited vantage points and what not. This surreal experience has all zeroed down tonight. I literally found the best way to get connected with nature with no traffic jams, no waiting around, no huge crowds piling off the buses in tandem. It was just us, the open road and spectacular scenery of the 'Land of Fire and Ice'.

 

At this moment, I am suffering from post holiday depression after those awesome 10 days road trip around the most lovely island - ICELAND. I was thinking of a way to overcome this depression and Guess what! writing about all of these seemed like the best option for self help.

 

I hope all the information and travel guide what I have posted here helps the members who are planning a road trip in Iceland. And please do look up for more posts to come in relative to this if I get time to draft anything more in the near future. Cheers!

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@sagar

Excellent writeup, It is a perfect guide for the first timers.

One of the best so far.

 

@Omik

Those pictures are breath taking no words.

Very nicely executed.

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Guest Sruthi S

Looking at these pictures I feel this a life goal for now :) Super awesome Omkar and Sagar U guys are luckiest Teju :)

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Very very refreshing and Excellent Travelogue , wonderful and detailed pictures - each picture has a story in itself....Good Home Work for me ... this weekend to go through each capture in detail ....😊 

Once Again a Big Thanks and Awesome....

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1 hour ago, Ranger said:

@sagar

Excellent writeup, It is a perfect guide for the first timers.

One of the best so far.

 

@Omik

Those pictures are breath taking no words.

Very nicely executed.

 

Edited by Mady
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WOW..Great job @sagar
Perfect one stop shop with amazing clicks of the nature..reading through this write-up is an experience..can't appreciate enough..

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