Before I go ahead with this post, I am fully aware that I am inspiring people to travel here. By all means be inspired, but I feel in the action of doing this I have a responsibility to ensure this beautiful place is preserved. Conservation of these precious and delicate places should be a top priority when we travel. I was actually a little shocked at how tourists treated this incredible country. Please please please if you are going to visit Iceland, don’t leave your rubbish everywhere, don’t defecate in the middle of carparks and for the love of fuck don’t drive over shit you aren’t meant to. Iceland is home to very delicate rare moss that takes a very long time to repair if you damage it. Be mindful, be respectful & just use basic common sense.
So you know how people travel and come home and act all changed and profound. This is a country that will do that to you. I have never seen a landscape so diverse and felt so connected to nature (see, I’m profound/found myself). But I truthfully feel like Iceland owns a huge chunk of my soul now and I will try return as often as I can as long as I live.
I was massively inspired to travel here ever since I found the work of Chris Burkard and was on the brink of tears everywhere we went because it was so beautiful.
I attempted to put into words how I viewed this country through my eyes, but I think it’s just best I let the photo’s do the talking. I’ve chucked in my top tips for getting around this place too. This one is probably my longest blog post yet, so be mentally prepared and warm up ya thumb first.
In my eyes, no Iceland roadie is complete without a Land Rover Defender. We rented this one from the rad crew at Kuku Campers and it doubled as our little house for a week.
All over Iceland they have what are called “F Roads” that only 4 wheel drives are allowed to drive on (seriously don’t go up them if you don’t have a 4WD, you’ll get stuck). There are some really awesome things to see up some of these roads, so it’s worth the extra dollars to get rent a 4WD. This will also help if the roads are icy. So much to see so little time, so you really don’t want car troubles holding you back.
It’s widely known that you can go and sleep anywhere in Iceland (along with all the other Nordic countries), so having a bed in the back of your vehicle is the way to go. While it is true there is an age old law that allows anyone the freedom to roam/sleep where ever you wish, it’s best to suss your common sense to come into play here too. If you see a waterfall in the distance, you are technically allowed to walk through someones land to get to it. But given Icelandic people speak English really well, I think it pays just to ask if there is a house near by. Again, just about being respectful of the locals and to ensure you aren’t going to damage any precious plants.
#putsauthoritativefingeraway LOOK AT THIS DOUBLE RAINBOW WE GOT ON OUR FIRST DAY WOWEEEE. Such an epic welcome!
Weather in Iceland can bring rain, snow and crazy crazy strong winds. So definitely take layers layers layers. Merino socks, merino gloves, waterproof gloves, beanies, puffer jackets and waterproof jackets over the top! Don’t underestimate the elements here! I visited in September which is technically the tail end of their summer season and it was NIP-FRIPPLING COLD. If you don’t have proper outdoor/waterproof shoes, just go buy some gumboots from the local sports shop in Reykjavik. Excellent for getting all up in the natures. You’ll see other tourists struggling in their normal canvas sneakers. Once you get muddy, wet feet in a cold adventure playground, there is no going back. Take every measure possible to ensure you are prepped for any sudden weather changes. Being cold, wet and miserable with no way to get dry can really put a damper on your day.
I’d just like to take this moment between your frantic scrolling to talk about toilets. Mmmhmm that’s right, shitters. These are few and far between in Iceland and it’s not really set up for the number of tourists piling through in recent years. Around 2011 the increase of people visiting Iceland went super cray. Why? Instagram, that’s why. Numbers suggest they will be expecting around 2 MILLION visitors over the next year compared to an approximate 500,000 5 years ago. It’s literally doubled in the past year. Because of this do not be shocked to see rubbish, human waste and toilet paper in carparks and rest stops. As I touched on earlier, some tourists haven’t figured out that defecating where ever they stop the car isn’t appreciated by the locals or fuggen ANYONE REALLY. Use ya damn brain. This was a definite problem when I visited. Remember cold weather preserves things… #pooppopsicle
If you are going to visit any of the waterfalls in South Iceland, I recommend doing it FIRST THING in the morning to skip the crowds. We found that all of the waterfalls in the South of Iceland were always the busiest places we visited. They are an easy distance from the main city that means you get all the short stay stop-over travellers hitting them with their selfie stiixxxxx.
DAT PLANE. Ya, the Justin Bieber one. You can’t drive to this anymore, so if you’re guna hit it for sunset like we did, factor in that it’s about a 30-45min walk. We obvs fukt up and didn’t realise this, so we did heaps of joogggiinng. Excellent for burning off all the Pasteis de Nata we ate in Portugal.
FOOD. Stock up when you can. There is literally nothing between towns – which sometimes can be hours apart. We pre-bought a lot of snacks/packet soups/noodles in London before we left and loaded up our bag. As you have probably heard, Iceland is not the cheapest! But make sure you just take that in your stride and budget accordingly. No one wants to be distracted by the stress of money while exploring such an amazing place. Our staple diet was hotdogs. We made our own, but they are sold at nearly every petrol station and convenience store too!
This little hidden gem is hidden next to the super popular Skógafoss waterfall and we had it all to our itty bitty selves. Slide into my DM’s if you’re keen for instructions on how to find it!
The one website you will ever need in Iceland is this: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/elements/. It provides a very accurate forecast on all rain, wind and aurora conditions. Keep an eye on a combination of cloud cover forecast and the KP rating of the aurora. Anything above KP3 is going to blow your mind. This website also lists road condition updates. Check this a few times daily to ensure the roads you want to take are open. There can often be flash floods or land slips that make roads impassable.
I had been checking the aurora forecast about 20 times a day ever since we arrived and I was so confident that this night I would see the lights for the first time. It was about 11pm and I had been staring at the sky for about 2 hours just waiting and freezing my tits off. When the geomagnetic storm slowly started to creep across the sky, I legitimately thought I was just losing the plot and ‘seeing things.’ I even did that classic kids movie move by rubbing my eyes a couple of times and straining them as wide as I could. I couldn’t actually believe I was seeing them with my own eyes for the first time. #crylaughingensued.
This was the moment I had waited to dedicate to my late step father, Jeff. I had actually fallen really ill in Portugal before we were meant to head to Iceland and my dream to see the Northern Lights was looking pretty grim. All I could think was that I needed to get there to do this for him. So even after ending up in hospital in London a day before we were meant to depart, I was so determined to get on that plane to Iceland. And I’m sure as shit glad I did.
Congratulations, you made it to the end of my longest blog post ever. So stoked I finally got round to sharing these images with you. If you have any questions about the places we visited, holla at me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re travelling here soon, remember to not get to caught up in what other people are posting on Instagram and enjoy this incredible land through your own eyes. Iceland has so much more to offer than just the main attractions. And Mumma Lola may as well drill this into you one last time, but GUYS. Keep Iceland beautiful for everyone to enjoy. Or I’ll cut you.