Six Key Stops For A Bucket List Adventure
Growing up in the mountains, tall peaks and dramatic landscapes have always called to me, but none beckoned louder than Patagonia. Stretching across the southern reaches of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia covers a land mass over twice the size of France while playing home to a lower population density than the Western Sahara. Undoubtedly, this region represents one of the largest undeveloped wilderness areas remaining in the world complete with towering (literally) peaks, expansive glaciers, deep fjords, ancient volcanoes, and jagged coastlines.
As you can gather, there is plenty to see and do in the land of fire and ice. So, what's the kicker? How much time you leave yourself to enjoy this beautiful country. While quick stopovers are popular, I can guarantee that the longer you can afford to stay the better your trip will be (read: stay as long as you can!). With that said, you want to maximize your vacation even if time is in short supply so here is my attempt to guide you in the right direction with sample itineraries based on your time restrictions. Based on the time of year, the weather at hand, and what you are particularly passionate about, please read, react and adjust accordingly. Enjoy your trip and don't forget your camera!
The West Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula
I'm not going to say we saved the best for last, but it might be true. The magic that awaits on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is truly remarkable, and your visit here is the perfect way to cap off your circumnavigation of the Ring Road. Believed to be one of the seven chakras, or energy centers, in the world, this area has a very spiritual presence. Centered around the Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano, drama rules a landscape filled with striking mountains, intricate lava fields, waterfalls, mineral springs and quaint fishing villages. If this sounds familiar, this Western peninsula is often referred to as a "mini Iceland" as you will find many of the country's characteristics and sights packed into this 90km stretch of land. Let's dive in.
The North Coast, Mývatn and Beyond
I know I've said this before, but the landscape is about change again in a big way as you round the NE corner of the country to head back West along the northern coast. After exploring the coastal fjordland, the Ring Road will now take you through what feels like J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. The main hub in this region is the volcanic lake of Mývatn, an alien landscape home to NASA training missions, powerful geothermal activity and extensive elvish folklore. Let's get started.
The East Coast, Höfn to Egilsstaðir
With a belly full of fresh, Icelandic lobster, it's finally time to bid adieu to the southern coast. As you head North from Höfn, the landscape quickly transforms from coastal countryside to jagged mountain fjords. Prepare for picturesque villages, arctic mountain vistas, Iceland's largest forest, caribou sightings, and, yes, more stunning waterfalls. Another huge advantage to exploring the Eastern Region is the noticeably smaller crowds as the waves of hit-it-and-quit-it tourists subside the further you venture from Reykjavík. Let's dive in.
The South Coast, Vík to Höfn
The southern coast isn't done with you yet. Stuff your sleeping bags, break down your tent, and pack your car to keep heading East. Vík is one of the most southern points in Iceland, so even though you are still navigating the southern coast, you will be traveling northeast towards Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier that covers almost 10% of Iceland. As you depart the black sands of Vík, you will notice the vast green pastures shift into a tangled mess of mossy lava fields and glacier runouts. Get excited, these are just the precursors of even more dramatic changes in the landscape ahead.
The South Coast, Reykjavík to Vík
After walking the rim of the Kerið Crater, you’ll continue heading south on Route 35 to reunite with the Ring Road. You’ll quickly cross the Ölfusá river and bank a left through the quiet town of Selfoss. This is a great pit stop to fuel up, stock some groceries, and grab a quick bite before venturing down the South Coast. Buckle up, this is where your road trip really heats up.
The Capital Region, Arriving in Reykjavík
Only a short 5 hour flight from North America’s east coast hubs and 3 hours from London, Iceland is closer than you might think. Once you arrive in Keflavík International Airport, the clean design and modern feel of Scandinavia will be readily apparent. Multiple dining options, and more importantly a hot cup of coffee, await after passing through customs. Breathe it in, you’re in Iceland! Now, proper preparation can make or break a road trip into these remote landscapes so let’s quickly review the easiest way to get you on your way.
A Photo Guide to Exploring the Midnight Sun
Iceland is one of my favorite destinations in the world. Chock-full of unique landscapes, raw beauty, delicious food, and great people – what more could you ask for? Last summer, my now fiancée and I set out on a 15-day adventure to drive Iceland’s famed Ring Road that wraps around the entire island. In this eight-part guide, we will detail what we saw, what we loved, what was overrated (and worth skipping on a tight timeline), and what we missed out on and are sure to hit next time (so you don’t). Outlined below, each article details a particular geographical region, navigating the country counterclockwise, so you can get the most out of your adventure no matter how many days you plan on staying. Let’s get started.
Passports, Visas and In Flight Comfort Oh My!
Whether it's your first overseas adventure or the dreaded leg of your international commute, here are 25 survival tips for long flights. Here's to smooth sailing.