High mountains, a rough landscape with steep cliffs and thousands of magical waterfalls – such a unique nature can only be found in Iceland. The island far north in the Atlantic ocean is an amazingly beautiful place to be and special in many ways. Having the area of Portugal, but only about 3% of its population (330.000), Iceland is by far the least densely populated country in Europe with every square kilometre shared by only 3 inhabitants. But this makes it even more exciting to discover the nature of Iceland.
During a six day road trip, we filled a car with five people, good food and lots of curiosity. Our mission was to discover the southern part of Iceland ranging from the capital Reykjavík in the west up to the glacier lagoon Fjallsárlón in the east. We passed the Golden Circle, drove by the famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull and saw many impressive waterfalls, such as Skógafoss.
The magic of Iceland intensely revealed itself during the first ten minutes we could spot land from the plane. During the approach for landing we passed by the southern coast and could see a summary of what we were about to see. Impressed by high waves and huge waterfalls, that still appeared tiny from above, we were excited to start.
A Relaxed Start
After arriving at Keflavík airport we directly headed to the Blue Lagoon Bláa Lónið. The lagoon is fed by water coming from a nearby geothermal power-plant. Minerals from the ground such as sulfur and silica cause the lagoons milky blue shade. The 38°C hot water is solely heated by Iceland’s lava-made basement.
The country is located on top of the mid-atlantic ridge, an under-water mountain range where the Eurasian and the North-American tectonic plate diverge. A thin outer crust layer there allows magma to come close to the surface, giving rise to volcanos, geysers – and geothermal heat, all of which are present everywhere around Iceland.
After relaxing in the warm water of the Blue Lagoon, we continued our journey heading towards the capital Reykjavík and passing through a surreal landscape. The land is covered by small plants such as moss or lichen and there are almost no trees on the island. The latter is less a fact of arctic climate, but rather caused by clearing. Before human settlement, 20% of the island were covered by forest. One should consider this, when talking about Iceland as a piece of “untouched land”.
Passing by lakes like Grænavatn (featured image) and spots of geothermal activity, where mud was boiling on the ground and sulfur made the air become acid, we eventually arrived in the capital Reykjavík, where we stayed one night. The city is located on bay at the west coast of Iceland and the world’s northernmost capital city. It accommodates two thirds of the island’s population.
Reykjavík was founded in the 9th century by the Norwegian Viking Ingólfur Arnarson, but until the 18th century it only consisted of a few farms. Today, the capital city is a modern city living from the fishing industry and tourism.
Most remarkable is the church Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran church and the highest building in the country, whose modern design is inspired by basalt columns that can be found in many places on the island. But that’s another story…
The Story Continues…
Stay tuned for five more days on the beautiful island Iceland.