The last leg of our journey around Iceland that would take us back around to Reykjavik is the most popular part of the country. The majority of the sights are reachable within a day and quite often, viewable from the road. For some that’s the ideal way to explore nature and snap their selfies.
It was still an incredible experience and the sights are just as breathtaking as anywhere else on the island but when you have to queue to see a piece of the natural world, there’s something not quite right. Every epic spot had an expansive carpark and all of those carparks were full. It wasn’t even the height of Summer! The campsites were full to the brim with people having to wait to get a spot to cook their food or use the facilities.
We started at a spot I was super keen to see, Hvalnes. It’s a stunning rocky outcrop right next to the sea that has an amazing form and colours and is just a damn beautiful hunk of rock. It will always have a special place in my heart as it’s where I left my hiking boots under the car AGAIN as we drove off. Cue another ten minutes before I realised my brain had once again failed to set a reminder. Doh!
From there we continued along Route 1, edging the coastline and taking in the ever changing scenery on our way to the next “major” sight. We passed Vestrahorn, famed for its stunning reflections and grassy black sand dunes but didn’t quite feel like paying the fee so I just got a quick snap from the carpark.
Our next location was quite special indeed, Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon. Nothing quite prepares you for the sight of massive blocks of ice gently floating out to see after calving of a glacier that is so humongous it beggars belief. I remember learning about glaciers in school and thinking they sounded pretty cool but being from Ireland, they’re long since melted. To see one up close….ish was an amazing experience. On this same island, icebergs float out to see just down the road from where lava erupts out of the earth.
There’s two parts to Jokulsarlon if you’re paying a visit. The lagoon itself on the glacier side of the bridge is where the main carpark is and is of course a must visit. There’s also an amazing fish and chips truck there if you’re peckish!
The second aspect of Jokulsarlon is the beach where the icebergs get broken up and pounded into the very sea they’ve joined. It’s a fascinating process and the sight of huge blocks of crystal clear and white ice in stark contrast to the black sand beach they wash up on is one of my favourite memories from the trip.
I could have stayed at Jokulsarlon for at least another ooooh…..month or so, playing with the icebergs on the beach and watching them float on by in the lagoon. Alas we were on a schedule and had to make it to the next campsite so we hit the road again and witnessed plenty more scenery that involved a lot of ooohing and aahing and picking our jaws up off the floor. I’ve said it many times in these posts about Iceland but this place is just insanely, incredibly scenic and atmospheric and almost every corner you turn reveals another epic sight.
I’ll stop waffling on now and just use the captions on the photos to tell the rest of the story of the trip.
Just the other morning in Tasmania, I had the whole Southwest National Park to myself, not one car passed me on the drive in and I didn’t pass one until I was back in civilisation and the sun was high in the sky. In the four years I’ve been in Tasmania that has become something of a rarity however and visiting this part of Iceland concerned me greatly about where Tasmania is headed.
What makes Tasmania so special is that you can have a little slice of it all to yourself. You most certainly still can but it is taking more and more effort these days to get away from people and be truly by yourself in nature. Walks that were quiet when I first arrived are now quite bustling. It’s nowhere near the crazy level of Iceland but Iceland was like Tassie is now just a few short years ago. Of course there’s no solution really. Tourist dollars are needed and we can’t stop people coming just to keep the crowds away, that’s just not feasible.
So I guess we should just enjoy it now as much as we can, like so many beautiful places on this planet that are slowly losing their magic and uniqueness that made them so popular in the first place.