I survived Iceland! Iceland trip during winter was challenging, I was quite worried about many things before I travel there; the weather, the trip, the price, etc. However, Iceland was one of the most beautiful country, especially for people who look for giant icy and snowy nature tourism. It was around -2 to -6 degrees celsius at that time, and sometimes could reach -16. The weather changes dramatically, it could be sunny in one hour, and the next hour you can get a snow storm.
The reason to come to Iceland in winter, it’s about Northern Lights and Ice caving. Some people said, “why the hell do you go to Iceland in winter? It’s gonna be freezing cold!” Well, yes it was, and there was only 4 to 5 hours daylight everyday. But, if you are lucky enough to pick the dates for traveling, you could get the chance to experience both of the bucket lists (Northern Lights and Ice caving), which you can’t get during summer time. And I can say that they both really worth to deal with the freeze. 😀
I stayed in Reykjavik (the capital city) for the whole week, however I am not gonna talk about the city. This article is all about the suburbs area of Iceland, where the true Icelandic beauty and miraculous experience occur. For you who are not used to drive in winter / snowing condition, I recommend to follow a tour or have a local driver. Again, the weather is unpredictable, and when it comes to a snow storm, it was very hard even to see the road and to have visibility in 1 meter long .
The first trip is to visit Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon Vatnajökull National Park in south east Iceland. The actual trip took about 5 hours drive from Reykjavik, however we managed to have sightseeing and make several stops in some charming places along the way. We traced along the southern edge of the Iceland, and made the first stop in Seljalandsfoss waterfall which is the part of the famous Ring Road in Iceland. Some photographers walked behind the waterfall to get great shot, however you should be careful with the slippery path and the splashing waterfall.
Along the way, you can also find some friendly Icelandic horses. 🙂 They also looks so fluffy and comes with many different colors.
The second stop was Skógafoss waterfall, the bigger and famous waterfall, dropped 60m high and 25m width. Here you can climb along the official path on the cliff beside the waterfall, to get to the top of it. Although there are 377 steps to climb, you can get so close to such a large waterfall that will give you a rare experience. You will see a charming hilly view on top of your journey, and if you are lucky enough you could have beautiful coloured sky and nice rainbow by the waterfall.
“Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach and features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a a rocky step pyramid, which is called Gardar.” – source: https://guidetoiceland.is/travel-iceland/drive/reynisfjara
The wave is unpredictable in winter and the wind could be so strong, so it is better to stay safe and not to close to the sea. The stacking black stones come together and form the wall art of nature.
The final stop is the most visited site in Iceland, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in Vatnajökull National Park. A day return trip from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón seems impossible, so I recommend to stay one night in some hotels around Jökulsárlón. By the next morning, the trip continued to explore the natural wonders of ice cave. In order to reach this extreme destination, you will need tour guides that can take you with a modified super jeep.
It was one of the most breath-taking place and memorable experience with blue ices of crystal caves surround you. Wait until the sunlight fully illuminate the ice cave, and the bright blue colour will spread throughout the cave.
“Glaciers are truly spectacular, but it is not possible to visit unless we have a specialized guide, and the necessary equipment.” source: Extreme Iceland
Some tours are available, however you need to book it in advance, since it was almost always fully booked. I recommend you to use waterproof hiking shoes and crampons, warm and layering winter clothing, warm and waterproof outerwear, and a helmet. You will probably do a bit of hike on a slippery and unpredictable terrain. For camera tips: use gopro! It will make your life easier! 😀 (next article: Tips to travel in Iceland)
Coming out from the ice cave, you can continue the trip to see Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Here you can see many large floating icebergs upon the river and play with as much snow as you want. You might able to see some seals, swimming and hanging around the icebergs. Boat tours are available to see this site in Jökulsárlón, but you can also choose to walk along the river.
At the end of the trip – along the way back to Reykjavik – you can see Vatna Glacier – the most voluminous and largest ice cap in Iceland, and the second largest area in Europe. If you are able to make a stop, you can see it from far away.
Last but not least, I was able to join another trip in another day to a man-made Langjökull ice tunnel for one day. It was located in Highlands of Iceland (middle part of Iceland). Langjökull is the second largest ice cap in Iceland after Vatnajökull. The ice tunnel tour ‘into the glacier’ was newly open in summer 2015 and can give you a unique experience of travel.
The tunnel is situated 30 meters below the surface and stretches 300 meters circular long, contains a mini ice chapel and other chambers. 8-wheel-drive monster truck will take you here in an extreme journey, and hopefully it won’t stuck in the thick snow. A modern scandinavian Husafell Hotel is located along the way, giving you an opportunity to view the northern light in the best spot.
Reykjavik – Jokulsarlon – Ice Caving (2 days tour)
Reykjavik – Jokulsarlon – Ice Caving – Golden Circle (3 days tour)
Langjökull ice tunnel (1 day tour)
A reliable Northern Light Forecast in Iceland: Northern Lights Iceland
Video of Iceland: Crystalapse – Frozen in Timelapse
Upcoming Articles: Reykjavik, Iceland
for more pictures check out : instagram.com/architravelust/