Iceland

Sunset at Reynisfjara / Dyrhólaey

The Landscapes of Iceland - Winter Edition (II)

Iceland won’t lives up to your dreams you have before the trip. It is often not the frozen winterish wonderly landscape you might expect – it is the all changing landscape that constantly redresses itself. Every time it changes, it does so with a huge cocktail of snow and ice and storm and sun and clouds and pink and blue and yellow and black and white.

Iceland in Winter: Different to your expectations

Although it’s hard to pinpoint what to expect exactly from a volcano in the far Northern Hemisphere, I was surprised of the different moods it finally presented. Snowstorms, ice and frozen waterfalls on Snæfellsnes. A smiling Kirkjufell hiding under the snow. Massive greyness accompanied by vastly illuminated cloudscapes during sunset in Southern Iceland (Þórsmörk, Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey). Hardly any ice at Jökulsárlón and the glaciers and Diamond Beach due to massive rain and higher temperatures. Silent fields of pure emptiness. And in between: overwhelming beauty. Colors and impressions you will never forget.
Iceland does not live to the sterotype of a northern country in winter. It’s different, it’s surprising and it is worth every single step you make. Every mile you drive on oh those roads, those endless roads.


Sunset in Þórsmörk

The Landscapes of Iceland - Winter Edition (I)

On the one hand, winter obviously changes the look of Iceland. An island of color temporarily hides under a blanket and turns into a monochromatic dream of colors and tones. But on the other, it also changes the country’s acoustic appearance – and therefore creates an opera of light and change.

Iceland in Winter: snow, rough storms and Aurora Borealis

The desaturated country becomes a silent desert of snow and loneliness. The only sound that reaches for your ears is the roaring of the waves – and the scissoring blow of the storm that just appeared out of nowhere. But within a minute, the view and color and light and mood changed instantly. At Dyrhólaey and Reynisfjara, nature reinvented itself about a dozen times. From light to darkness, from eternal warmth to cutting coldness. The elements shapes the landscape and creates stunning vistas. The landscape around Þórsmörk is the perfect example. Volcanic rock and ice create strong contrasts – a bit like you might think about the moon Europa. Especially around Snæfellsnes (Arnastapi & Gatklettur) the effects become omnipresent. You cannot run away from its beauty – not even while trying to hide behind the waterfall Kvernufoss (Seljalandsfoss’ less visited brother). In the end, the Northern Lights will get you anyway. Hopefully.
Thank god you can take a rest and breath from the visual bombardement in the capital Reykjavik – especially at the amazing Hallgrimskirkja or the sculpture Sólfar by Jón Gunnar Árnason. Just for a moment though. You know you want to return. As soon as possible.


Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Harmony and Contradiction - Color and the Shape of Iceland

Iceland is a country of many faces. Experience vast impressions of the planet’s shapes and colors. You’ll be frozen by glaciers, get soaked to the skin by rivers or burned by sulfur mines. Be ready to get lost in the sheer infinity of the countryside.

Iceland’s Color and its Shape. A story of harmony and contradiction.

Most of all, join the tour to the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It is a large glacial lake at the head of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Feel the cold of the icebergs getting dragged into the ocean. Occasionally, the pieces are running ashore at the black beach creating a sensational contrast. But maybe you might want to listen to the power of the river running through Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. Smell the sulfour at the geothermal fields of Hverir around Mývatn, one of the most bizarre and colorful landscapes of Iceland. It is an area of active volcanism.

 

The country of harmony and contradiction. Even when you get lost in the middle of nowhere, between anywhere and anytime: You can not stop standing in awe-stricken silence. Then you turn around, and it has suddenly changed again. You have to keep up. Keep on exploring.

 


Dettifoss, Iceland

The Waterfalls of Iceland

Some say it’s one of the most obvious reasons to visit the country: The Waterfalls of Iceland.

You have to see for yourself. And hear.

There is an endless number of waterfalls waiting to be discovered. You have for sure seen plenty of them on photographs before. However, you still have to experience them for yourself: Get an impression of scale. Of power. And beauty.
The massive amount of people around Gullfoss. The hidden paths and ridiciulously blue glacial water of Bruarfoss. The spectacular light of Kirkjufellfoss in front of the amazing mountain during sunrise. The waterfall of the Gods: Godafoss, probably the most beautifull waterfall of the island.  The pitifull Geitafoss right next to it, which is pretty often ignored. The waterfalls around the river Skjálfandafljót, especially Aldeyjarfoss (which looks like Darth Vader). The twin waterfalls of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus: Dettifoss and Sellfoss. The overwhelming moment when you realize how large Europe’s most powerful waterfall – Dettifoss – actually is. The brutal sound of the water. The incredible landscape of Hallormsstadhur which houses the famous Hengifoss. Skogafoss in the south of Iceland. You have to walk behind the sensational Seljalandsfoss and get soaked. Gljúfrafoss, which is hidden in a small cave.

 

And there are so many waterfalls of Iceland left to explore. Because it’s a country built of fire, ice and water.

 


Sunset at Hallormsstadhur, Iceland

Chasing Light - the Landscape of Iceland

These days, you probably won’t be the first person to visit this part of Iceland. You won’t be the first to photograph that landscape in this part of the world. You won’t be the first to drive down that road. But it is still the first time you see it with your own eyes. It is still the first time to encounter the landscape on your own. You, the landscape and the light. And your camera.

Iceland constantly changes. Light constantly changes. Time for a hunt.

There is no reason to stay at home.

 


Sunrise at Stokksnes, Iceland

The Golden Hour at Vestrahorn and Stokksnes, Iceland

Stokksnes is a headland north of Höfn í Hornafirði, mostly famous for its amazing beach in front of the mountains of Klifatindur.

The Golden Hour paints Stokksnes in pink and blue.

Getting up at around 2.30am during summer is a tough task. But those few moments during the Golden Hour blows away the tiredness. The clouds around the well-known Vestrahorn, the most popular mountain of Klifatindur, are painted in pink and blue. The grains of sand seem to adopt the color tone.
The large vistas, together with the stunning contrast of a black sandy beach, the green plants and the rough moutains, make it the most popular photographic spot in south-east Iceland.

 

Getting to and away from the landscape around  is a truly remarkable experience as well. The road along is worth the hike to the old and (hopefully) abandoned NATO radio station. Hiking towards Vestrahorn along the coastal line will lead you to an early (and reconstructed) Viking settlement.

 

You can (legally) stay the short night at the Viking Cafe, as its parking lot is a camping ground as well.

 


Sunrise at Kirkjufell, Snæfellsnes, Iceland

The Light and Change of Kirkjufell, Iceland

Kirkjufell is located on the Northern coast of Snæfellsnes and is considered Iceland’s most popular and most photographed mountain.

Kirkjufell – the church mountain. Iceland’s Sugarloaf.

There is a simple reason for this popularity: First, glaciers shaped the 463m Kirkjufell, creating an almost iconic shape. Besides its astonishing visual look, the area around the tiny village of Grundarfjörður is also famous for the several cascades of the waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss. Plenty of tiny waterfalls create a landscape worth being shown in any fantasy movie. The river winds itself towards the fjord, guiding us towards the summit.

 

Be patient.

Light changes anything. The mountain recieves a totally different aura during the several times of the day. Sit down and breath during those few hours between twilight and dawn. Wait for the mountain to change during Golden Hour and during Blue Hour.

 

 

 


Gullfoss, Iceland

Exploring South-West of Iceland - The Golden Circle, Hvalfjörður and more waterfalls

The Golden Circle: Þingvellir, Haukaladur and Gullfoss

One of the most popular routes of Iceland is the so called Golden Circle: Starting in the capital of Reykjavík, on this 300km route the most popular stops are the Þingvellir National Park with its historical, cultural and geological sites, the geothermal area of Haukadalur and the famous Gullfoss.

 

However, there are plenty of other places to visit along the route. Above, there is an impression of Bruarfoss. This hidden gem of a waterfall can be found after some hiking, starting at the crossroad of roads 37/355.

Hvalfjörður and Glymur Waterfall

West of Akranes, the fjord of Hvalfjördur presents its stunning and diverse volcanic landscape. The hike to Glymur, the second-highest waterfall of Iceland, should be made on the river’s right hand side to get a better view of its cascades.

 

Hraunfossar and Barnafoss

If you keep on driving route 1 (and 50), you will eventually arrive at one of the most bizarre waterfalls of Iceland. Actually, Hraunfossar is an entire series of waterfalls over a distance of appr. 900 meters of the river Hvítá. A few meters above Hraunfossar, Barnafoss bursts out of the volcanic rocks.

 

The waterfall is named after an Icelandic folk tale: Two boys decided to follow their parents to church although they should have stayed at home. To cross the river, they walked over a natural stone-bridge. But as they’ve become very tired, they fell into the water and drowned. An earthquake destroyed the natural arc.

 


Sunrise at Gatklettur near Arnarstapi, Iceland

The peninsula of Snæfellsnes, Iceland

Snæfellsnes – Iceland en Miniature

Snaefellsnes, the peninsula in the western part of Iceland: Some of the island’s most beautiful landmarks create a stunning landscape.
Because of the remote location of Snaefellsnes, travelling on road 54 and 574 is the best way to get around. The Snæfellsjökull, a volcano whose summit is covered by a huge glacier, dominates the entire peninsula. Due to its almost mystic aura, this place is well known: According to Jules Verne, descending into the jökull of Snaefell marks the beginning of the Journey of the Center of the Earth.

 

Búðir, Arnarstapi and Gatklettur

We do breath some fresh air at the tiny village of Búðir with its few houses and one of the oldest (wooden) churches of Iceland: Búðakirkja.
In Arnarstapi, Jules Vernes last stop before the caves of Snaefellsjökull, the ocean created stunning views at the cliff of Gatklettur and its stone archs. Again, the sunrise paints a wonderful pink into the sky. But you probably want to continue: A couple of miles ahead, the basalt rock pinnacles of Lóndranger arise.

 

Be aware though: During all the hiking around the area of Snaefell, one should keep an eye on attacking birds – in the Alfred Hitchcock way. You constantly seem to come way to close to their breeding grounds. Better don’t be surprised if you see people carrying posts above their head. Or even tripods. It really helps.

Kirkjufell – how mother nature shows off at Snæfellsnes

Our tour continues to the famous mountain Kirkjufell and its attendant waterfalls: Kirkjufellfoss. It somehow feels like it is nature’s way to show mankind how to pause for a moment and simply accept its sheer beauty. The mountain constantly changes its significant shape. The light of those ridiculous short nights during the summer of July offers hours of magical moments.

 

For a moment, we need to rest here.