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Helen Betts | profile | all galleries >> Iceland Travelogue tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Iceland Travelogue

I have wanted to visit Iceland for a long time, and with friends currently posted there, now seemed like the perfect time to go.

The island is starkly beautiful, filled with waterfalls, lakes, geysers, venting steam, volcanoes, fantastically shaped volcanic mountains, lava fields, black sand beaches and deserts, glaciers, icebergs and more. The author of a book on Icelandic horses that I bought said about a particular phenomenon of the landscape that it's found in only two places: Iceland, and Mars. But from our admittedly brief experience I would say it’s not the easiest place to photograph.

Lying just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is a pretty cold place, even in summer, when it also rains and clouds up a lot, and is subject to fierce winds off the North Atlantic. I would also say Iceland is an “outdoor activity” paradise -- one magazine called it an “extreme destination” -- with numerous exciting activities available, such as hiking, cycling, backpacking, rafting, mountain climbing, camping and horseback riding, although of course less adventurous tourists can enjoy the island as well, but they need to be prepared for cold, rainy, windy (like gale force), cloudy weather, having to hike at least a little to see most of the sights, driving extremely long distances on sometimes gravel or dirt roads (meaning a 4x4, and a heavy vehicle, is best) and basically having to put out that extra bit of effort to do most anything. It was sometimes an effort even to get out of the car because the wind was so strong; the car rental company said the most frequent damage to their vehicles was doors getting blown off, so one has to be careful when exiting the car.

Iceland is aggressively promoting tourism, though, and has things set up quite well to accommodate visitors. Even the airport was amazing – we were able to walk right up to a ticket agent, tax refund took less than a minute (and we had a lot of receipts) and Iceland Air for some unknown reason put us in First Class. I’d fly them again, and I’d love to return to Iceland to see the many things in the north and east that we missed, but next time I think I’ll come more prepared, at least mentally (and with adequate cold weather clothing!).

One thing people have to be aware of is that this island has many active volcanoes and a lot of seismic activity. We learned this morning that there had been around 700 earthquakes in the past two days in the southeast, where we spent the past two days driving around, and that a volcanic eruption could occur in the next month. I’m glad we visited when we did.
Jökulsárlón, glacier lagoon
Jökulsárlón, glacier lagoon
Vatnajökull ice cap
Vatnajökull ice cap
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (1)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (1)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (2)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (2)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (3)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (3)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (4)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (4)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (5)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (5)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (6)
On the road to Snćfellsjökull (6)
Snćfellsnes Peninsula (1)
Snćfellsnes Peninsula (1)
Snćfellsnes Peninsula (2)
Snćfellsnes Peninsula (2)
Snćfellsnes Peninsula (3)
Snćfellsnes Peninsula (3)
Snćfellsjökull ice cap (4)
Snćfellsjökull ice cap (4)
North Atlantic coast (1/8)
North Atlantic coast (1/8)
North Atlantic coast (2/8)
North Atlantic coast (2/8)
North Atlantic coast (3/8)
North Atlantic coast (3/8)
North Atlantic coast (4/8)
North Atlantic coast (4/8)
North Atlantic coast (5/8)
North Atlantic coast (5/8)
North Atlantic coast (6/8)
North Atlantic coast (6/8)
North Atlantic coast (7/8)
North Atlantic coast (7/8)
North Atlantic coast (8/8)
North Atlantic coast (8/8)
Solitary
Solitary
Early world traveler
Early world traveler
Snćfellsjökull ice cap
Snćfellsjökull ice cap
Heading to Stykkishólmur
Heading to Stykkishólmur
Heading to Stykkishólmur
Heading to Stykkishólmur
Heading to Stykkishólmur
Heading to Stykkishólmur
Stykkishólmur
Stykkishólmur
Stykkishólmur
Stykkishólmur
Gentle friends
Gentle friends
Group portrait
Group portrait
Sidelong glance
Sidelong glance
Charming
Charming
Place for a break
Place for a break
Fearless
Fearless
You looking at me?
You looking at me?
Hvalfjörđur fjord
Hvalfjörđur fjord
Ţingvallavatn
Ţingvallavatn
Ţingvellir rift valley
Ţingvellir rift valley
Almannagjá fissure
Almannagjá fissure
UNESCO World Heritage Site Ţingvellir
UNESCO World Heritage Site Ţingvellir
Geysir and its geysers
Geysir and its geysers
Strokkur
Strokkur
Litli -- Geysir
Litli -- Geysir
Venting steam
Venting steam
Gullfoss (1/4)
Gullfoss (1/4)
Gullfoss (2/4)
Gullfoss (2/4)
Gullfoss (3/4)
Gullfoss (3/4)
Gullfoss (4/4)
Gullfoss (4/4)
National Treasure: The Icelandic Horse
:: National Treasure: The Icelandic Horse ::
Velvety lava field
Velvety lava field
Laufskálavarđa: field of cairns
Laufskálavarđa: field of cairns
Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss
Weather
Weather
Black volcanic landscape
Black volcanic landscape
Skógafoss
Skógafoss
Green land
Green land
Foss á Síđu
Foss á Síđu
A curious bunch
A curious bunch
Svínafellsjökull
Svínafellsjökull
Svínafellsjökull, glacier expedition
Svínafellsjökull, glacier expedition
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Svínafellsjökull, glacier lagoon
Fjallsárlón
Fjallsárlón
Fjallsárlón
Fjallsárlón
Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón
Trees!
Trees!
Diagonal living
Diagonal living
Exhaustion
Exhaustion
Welcome sight
Welcome sight
Glaciers (1/4)
Glaciers (1/4)
Glaciers (2/4)
Glaciers (2/4)
Glaciers (3/4)
Glaciers (3/4)
Glaciers (4/4)
Glaciers (4/4)
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Breiđamerkurjökull glacier
Breiđamerkurjökull glacier
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Jökulsárlón again
Iceberg beach
Iceberg beach
Iceberg
Iceberg
Fjallsárlón again
Fjallsárlón again
Glacier
Glacier
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (1)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (1)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (2)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (2)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (4)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (4)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (5)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (5)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (7)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (7)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (8)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (8)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (9)
Volcanic scenery, drive to Reykjavík (9)
Vatnajökull ice cap
Vatnajökull ice cap
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
The famous Blue Lagoon
Grindavik fishing port
Grindavik fishing port
Grindavik fishing port
Grindavik fishing port
Catch of the day
Catch of the day
Grindavik fishermen at work
Grindavik fishermen at work
Grindavik, fishing lesson
Grindavik, fishing lesson
Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík from Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík from Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja clock
Hallgrímskirkja clock
Reykjavík skyline, Lake Tjörnin
Reykjavík skyline, Lake Tjörnin
Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík
Reykjavík Cathedral
Reykjavík Cathedral
Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík
Geothermal!
Geothermal!
MS Lagerfoss
MS Lagerfoss
Wind power
Wind power
Harpa (1)
Harpa (1)
Harpa, facade (2)
Harpa, facade (2)
Harpa, looking up (3)
Harpa, looking up (3)
Harpa, ceiling (4)
Harpa, ceiling (4)
Harpa, abstract (5)
Harpa, abstract (5)
Harpa, harbor view (6)
Harpa, harbor view (6)
Harpa, ceiling (7)
Harpa, ceiling (7)
Harpa, stair-side cafe (8)
Harpa, stair-side cafe (8)
Harpa, view (9)
Harpa, view (9)
Harpa, view (10)
Harpa, view (10)
Harpa, abstract (11)
Harpa, abstract (11)
Harpa, reflections  (12)
Harpa, reflections (12)
Icelandic elves
Icelandic elves
Cold-weather gear
Cold-weather gear
Consolation prize
Consolation prize
Lights out on Iceland
Lights out on Iceland