The Southern region of Iceland left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand I hiked most of the places I had seen photos of and read so much about, some of which were quite spectacular. However, on the other hand the South was so crowded, there was less in the way of authentic outdoor experiences. The influx of tourists over the last couple of years has taken its toll on the landscape, and although the Icelandic tourism board has made efforts to slow the effects (such as barriers and board walks on main attraction hikes and waterfalls), the ecological damage is obvious.
Not only has the sheer amount of people presented a huge problem in terms of quality of experience, but a major theme arose from our Southern leg. People are not treating the landscape or the heritage sites with the same respect one would assume they would treat their own country’s natural beauty.
This was apparent at Seljavallalaug, one of Iceland’s oldest public swimming pools and a beautiful spot for a swim. Despite numerous ‘No Camping’ signs, our pre-dawn swim and photo adventure was spoiled by a big blue tent and garbage all over the site.
3 am wake up calls, just me and the reindeer
It’s the little things like that that really got my goat traveling around the South. I personally do my best to abide by a ‘leave no trace’ mandate. I think it paramount to not damage amazing places for the sake of a photo. Despite the incredible beauty around me, I found myself frustrated by irresponsibility of these visitors.
making friends with the locals
Iceland bucket list.
This is not to say that the South didn’t present opportunities for amazing photos and unique experiences, it was just a huge adjustment from being in the North and the Solitude I was able to find.
10 days in Iceland barely scratched the surface what this gorgeous country had to offer. I am beyond grateful that I was able to see and do so much (I know I sound like a broken record here). So I’ll be going back in August to explore and photograph more.
I became a huge fan of geothermal pools
In the short time I was there I became an expert at making car sandwiches; woke up way too early way too many days in a row just to chase perfect golden light that lasted for hours; tried to have a soak in every hot pool I came across; powered through a couple of books; and despite seeing a waterfall every 10 minutes, I never got sick of the view.
The stillness of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is complete. Birds cease to sing, the wind dies down, and nothing but the creaks and pops of underwater ice breaking apart can be heard. The peace is however occasionally broken by the low him of zodiac tours zipping past laden with tourists on their way to get a closer look at the enormous icebergs a drift in the lagoon.
The icebergs are awe inspiring. The abstracted form in the Icelandic landscape is other worldly alone, but the form, line, and colour of these icebergs is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. I spent a couple hours walking around a portion of this enormous lagoon getting my socks wet trying to capture the beauty of this place.
Next week I’ll be posting the final images from Iceland’s south. To see more photos from this trip check my instagram. This summer promises to be filled with beautiful landscapes from my return to Iceland and other travels.
On the plane to Iceland I had a butterflies in my stomach not just because I was excited, but because I was nervous…. How could Iceland possibly live up to all the expectations I had for it. I was worried I was going to leave disappointed. Within hours of landing all that fear was blown away, this was by far the most beautiful place I have ever been.
In 10 days my wife and I managed to put 3559 km on our little camper van, sometimes on dirt roads we had no business being on. It takes a long time to get from point A to point B, narrow winding mountain roads, gravel roads with potholes threatening to swallow the car, and having to stop every 15 minutes to jump out and shoot, hike, stretch, or very quietly follow reindeer.
When people tell you that Iceland looks like the moon, they are not exaggerating, and this is especially true in the north. There are so few people that live there a lot of the time we felt completely alone, maybe seeing another car every 20 minutes.
Couple that with a vast landscape with almost no trees to spoil the view, and it makes for the interesting problem of scale. I found it incredibly tricky to convey how huge everything is.
Game of Thrones fans will recognise this as Jon Snow’s sex cave!
If you haven’t been following along in instagram, you probably should be there is a lot more I would love to share from this trip. In addition, I am heading to the Faroe Islands and back to Iceland in August, there will be a lot more adventures in store!
Last week Ontario was hit with a winter storm that resulted in parts of the province getting over 25cm of snow. I was in need of a break and some time in nature so I hopped in the car a made my way to Algonquin Park.
Last week we were graced with unseasonably nice weather, so I wrangled up my friend Jen for a quick photoshoot.