I just spent 3 days in Iceland and saw ice caves, glaciers, caribou, northern lights, and stomped through an active movie set! WHEW!
I apologize for breaking this short trip into two posts, but I have a lot of photos, y’all, and I didn’t want to break anyone’s computer by having it trying to upload 30 pictures in one post 🙂
This trip was the fault of theflightdeal, as many of our trips are. WOW air was having a sale from Boston, so David and I pounced on the opportunity because #YOLO and who needs to have savings for retirement or medical emergencies or groceries?
Our trip began with a Friday night flight arriving at 4am on Saturday. After a 4-hour nap at a cheap hostel in Reykjavik we were off to the southern part of Iceland, where we would remain for the next 3 days.
The drive in and of itself was pretty awesome, with imposing-looking mountains multiplying as we got closer to our destination near Höfn. We did not have time to do this drive real justice, as you could spend days driving between Reykjavik and Höfn, stopping at the towns in between to take in the sights. We somewhat arbitrarily decided that we had time to stop at the two biggest waterfalls along the way, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Both waterfalls are visible from the highway and require minimal walking to get up close and personal. It’s the lazy man’s nature viewing extravaganza! And there were many a lazy person taking advantage. Apparently the secret is out on visiting Iceland in winter.
By the time we got to our hostel after sunset, the sky was in thick clouds and night 1 of 3 was a dud for northern lights viewing possibilities.
The next morning was our much-anticipated ice cave tour, which cost ALL THE MONIES. We were informed that we would be intruding on an active movie set, as apparently there aren’t enough ice caves to go around. We arrived at the movie/set ice cave and ventured inside. There were many lights, cables, shovels, and very bored/cold looking production staff. Also a guy dressed as a Buddhist monk. Tibet, Iceland, same diff. We made our way past the movie fiasco and began wedging ourselves through smaller and smaller spaces, until we had to crawl on hands and knees to enter the main chamber of the ice cave, where you could stand again.
Everyone proceeded to whip our their tripods and mill about trying to get cool ice cave pictures (I admit I did this too 🙂 ). The chamber itself was a bit smaller than I anticipated. I don’t think the ice cave companies do themselves any favors by showcasing images of cathedral-like ice caves that they don’t take the majority of customers to ::cough::. My Negative Nancy comments aside, it was still a unique experience (though perhaps not one worth LITERALLY ALL THE MONIES).
On our way out of the caves we discovered that the movie was a Jackie Chan movie by spotting Mr. Chan himself. He wasn’t doing any awesome martial arts moves, though, but was simply trying to wedge past our big group in the narrow tunnel leading in and out of the caves. Sorry, Mr. Chan! #SORRYNOTSORRY
After our very expensive and very random ice cave experience, we drove to Skaftafell, part of Vatnajökull national park. On the way there we got distracted by an awesome viewpoint looking at two impressive glacier tongues and lots of mountains. We noticed there was an icy but seemingly passable road right next to said viewpoint, which appeared to drive right up to one of the glacier tongues!
Following the mystery ice road (thank you, studded tires and 4WD!) we DID pop out right next to a glacier! Because in Iceland, all roads lead to cramazing.
We had apparently driven ourselves to Svinafellsjökull (say that three times fast… or once). The parking lot was essentially on top of the glacier tongue and, again, with minimal effort, one could stroll on over to an AMAZING viewpoint. Taking lots of photos and watching many tourists perform acts of questionable safety, we remembered our original plan to head on over to Skaftafell. We were both feeling odd about being rewarded with such amazing views without having to hike to them, and thought it was time to be slightly less lazy (but only slightly).
Skaftafell is home to the famous Svartifoss waterfall and has many hiking trails to mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, or mountains with glaciers and waterfalls. It was late in the day by the time we arrived and the weather was looking iffy so we decided the short trek to Svartifoss would have to do for the day. Svartifoss was suffering from a bit of winter reduction in water volume, but the columnar basalt surrounding it was SUPER cool and probably very exciting to a geologist (any geologists care to weigh in?).
On our way out, the weather came in and it was steadily raining as the sun went down. Night 2 of 3 was another dud in #northernlightssearch2016. Thus ended day #2. Would we see northern lights? Would we traipse through another movie set? Were there any glaciers left to view? STAY TUNED for part 2 to find out!