“There is no more sagacious animal than the Icelandic horse. He is stopped by neither snow, nor storm, nor impassable roads, nor rocks, glaciers, or anything. He is courageous, sober, and surefooted. He never makes a false step, never shies. If there is a river or fjord to cross (and we shall meet with many) you will see him plunge in at once, just as if he were amphibious, and gain the opposite bank.” 

― Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Jules Verne is the reason why I want to visit Iceland. His evocative words shaped an image in my mind, Iceland; land of fire and ice. 

So my logical starting place is, in fact, the start of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsjökull is a super volcano, estimated to be 700,000 years old. Its name literally translates as ‘snow-fell glacier’, an apt moniker for a volcano encrusted in ice. This is the true definition of ice meeting fire. 

While descending to the centre of the earth is out of the question, visitors to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula will be able to see other incredible natural sights such as Gerðuberg, a collection of basalt columns. There is even something for the beach lover, as the peninsula is one of the few places in Iceland to have golden beaches; the majority of Icelandic beaches are black. 

hedinsfjordur-auroraborealis-why-i-want-to-visit-iceland

Credit: Iceland 

Moving on from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, another reason I want to visit Iceland is the opportunity to see the majestic Northern Lights. Iceland in the depth of winter may not sound that appealing. The ice-cold temperatures, the hours of darkness, howling winds. However, the darkness which covers Iceland during the winter has one very special perk; the Aurora Borealis aka the Northern Lights. From September to April Iceland often experiences this colourful light show, nominal green hues clash with blue, red and violent. The Northern Lights occur when particles are emitted by the sun after solar explosions, the Aurora Borealis are usually at their best in the polar regions.

The landscape shapes much of Iceland’s allure for this keen photographer. This wild and remote country only has a population of 300,000, with the majority living in the capital, Reykjavik. Iceland is one of the least densely populated places in the world. The landscape is wild and unforgiving, with many areas essentially uninhabitable; thanks to a combination of cold and hostile terrain. Yet, this is what attracts to Iceland, the unique landscape, shaped by fjords, lava field, mountains and icy rivers. Iceland can claim to be one of the last frontiers, untouched, and only recently expanding its tourism industry. My dream trip to Iceland would include hiring a 4×4 and exploring the island by dirt roads, before hiking and staying in a backcountry cottage. 

The Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon translates, quite literally, as glacial river lagoon. This large glacial lake is found in the South East of Iceland, and it is the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Famous for the luminous blue icebergs which dot the lake, best seen from the road (route 1) between Hofn and Skaftafell. This place is incredibly popular with photographers, who descend to capture the ghostly icebergs as they make a break for the Atlantic Ocean. 

Skaftafel is an ideal stop after leaving the Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon, as it is home to one of Iceland’s best waterfalls; Svartifoss. The imposing basalt column walls flank the waterfall, which flows over a 20-metre step. 

svartifoss-why-i-want-to-visit-iceland

Credit: Iceland 

On the topic of waterfalls, Iceland is particularly blessed with them. On my waterfall photography wish list are the following;

Bruafoss – located in Southwest Iceland on the Bruafoss River. This series of small waterfalls running into the thousands is remarkable, for several reasons but the standout one is the blue hue in the water as the river meanders its way down to the ocean.

In the north of Iceland is Hrafnabjargafoss, a stunning glacier-fed waterfall. 

Aldeyjarfoss is located on the Skjalfandafljot River and is similar to the aforementioned Svartifoss, with the contrast between the white water and the dark basalt columns, a stunning combination which gets my photography stoked dialled in. 

Seljalandsfoss is an immensely popular waterfall in the south of the country. This tall and narrow waterfall, dropping 63 metres, has the novelty of being able to walk behind it. This enables photographers to get a unique angle. This waterfall is regarded as one of the most photogenic in Iceland and a ‘must-visit’ attraction when visiting Iceland. 

seljalandsfoss_sudurland_islandiaPhoto Credit: Diego Delso.

The final stop on my Iceland wish list is Ásbyrgi Canyon. This horseshoe-shaped rock formation acts as the northern entrance to Jokulsa Canyon. The 3.5km long Jokulsa Canyon is renowned as one of Iceland’s premier hiking destinations. Inside Asbyrgi Canyon itself, there are numerous trails ranging from 30-minute family friendly walks to seven-hour arduous hikes. The canyon floor is littered with honeycombed basalt rocks, the traversing the cliffs offers the chance to really take in the scale of the rock formation. Asbyrgi Canyon lies to the east of Husavik on the Diamond Circle road. 

Have you ever been to Iceland? Let me know in the comments.


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