ICELAND: Golden circle vs wild nature of the long Icelandic perimeter.
It was the year 2011 when I and my Italian friend Walter made the decision to go for the amazing wild nature challenge in Iceland, even though my friend had in mind to travel somewhere in Asia, I felt I wanted to complete my geographical overview of the Scandinavian Europe, so as soon as I proposed him such an amazing Country he got soon convinced and excited without thinking twice since neither him nor me had never explored Iceland.
After doing some research, we first figured out that the most comfortable as well as not-so-touristy month would have been June, so we didn’t hesitate to book our flight tickets; as a second thing, we decided to rent a car with which we benefited a lot since we wanted to explore the nature along all the entire perimeter of Iceland by starting from Reykjavik and by heading first through the south and then to the north like a counterclockwise. When our journey time came close we found by a Couchsurfing group that an Indian traveler was by coincidence flying by the same air-line from Oslo as we did, so we met with him at Oslo airport and we all gave the chance to share our Icelandic experience all together, Yes, three is better than two!
Although the Golden Circle is well-known for its tourist attendance, it is still 100% worthy to be checked as a first approach to the wild Icelandic nature, it basically consists of six key-spots:
1. Thingvellir 2. Laugarvatn 3. Geysir 4. Gullfoss (waterfall) 5. Secret lagoon 6. Selfoss
As most of us know, Iceland is famous for the Geysers, Waterfalls, Lagoon and Hot Springs, like many people we couldn’t resist to the emotion of lively enjoy the eruption of a geyser, it was told us that these HOT spots regularly erupt approximately every four minutes: (a live video is available below)
Further to that, we hiked to the Gullfoss waterfalls: the scenery itself is breathtaking, just be aware that it is often hellish windy so be equipped with a proper wind-jacket or even better with a waterproof one (with cap), the wind is such strong that you’ll get pretty watered soon by the huge splashes of the waterfalls hitting the hiking path. Apart from that, all the way through was a great scenario just a pity that on that time I wasn’t yet provided with a proper camera, next time definitely it will!
Moving on the next day, here the greatest of Iceland comes: we planned out the route along all the perimeter by driving through the south first, we weren’t sure how far we’d have been able to go at the end of the day, however we managed to arrive in Egillstadir around 10pm so we decided to sleep out overnight and the day after drive further through the north side. Here below there’s a summary of the key-stops we took through the south way:
- Skogafoss (waterfalls)
- Anonymous spot with cliffs and high-waves sea with grey sand
- Jökulsárlón (Icebergs)
We started our trip at 10am, considering that the 3rd spot is pretty hidden and so we had to look for it, I’d say we had checked enough spots over the day 🙂
I will be focused from the 3rd place on: the purpose behind such an anonymous place was that we wanted to record some Puffins as we were told that there are many of them on the part of the coast which faces the small Vestmannaeyjar island, unfortunately we had no luck in catching one, probably wrong spot or wrong moment, who knows? 🙂 The only sure thing was that the wind was such overwhelming that we had to open the car doors by strongly holding those by hand! We did struggle a lot in hiking through a cobbled path to the cliffs but we made it and we survived!
Of course we weren’t enough satisfied so we kept driving further to Jökulsárlón by stopping in Vik for a re-cognitive pause, the first signs of tiredness were coming up but nevertheless I kept the lead of the steering wheel and even slowly we arrived at our 4th stop 🙂 If the average temperature in the Icelandic country-side is +12°C over June, at Jökulsárlón is +2°C or less, so don’t be surprised!
After that, despite getting more and more tired we could never resist to stop by at some particular spots and moreover the roads in Iceland have narrow lanes and any wandering wild animal can suddenly cross the road at any moment, as a result of that, we didn’t manage to make more than 70km per hour, here the explanation why we arrived at Egillstadir around 10:30pm which actually was the worst time since every food bazar even the ones at the petrol stations were closed but still we had some food and drinks and we could re-fill the tank of the car by self-service. Our questionable point was: where to sleep? Here our possible choices:
- Just in the car
- Outside with the sleeping bags
- By randomly asking somebody to be accommodated
Apart from us, nobody was around, so we felt like all we could do was either to ring some bells at the Icelandic people houses or just sleep in the car which we actually did! Our next day started very early, since we could not sleep properly we took up driving at 2:00am and we checked out the following itineraries of the Northern Iceland:
3. Glaumbauer museum
I can say that Myvatn is the least touched natural attraction, it was just a pity that by the time we checked it we were still not recovered by our tiredness but instead we had to stop again and keep sleeping what actually we did.
Finally, after three more hours of sleeping we were in a shape to enjoy the next, we drove to Akureyri where we stop for having a pleasant coffee with some sweets and walk around. I’m not going to drill down into many details about this small nice town, all I recommend you is to have a chilling visit at the Botanic park which is worthy.
At the final stage of our perimeter tour on the way to the North-west we realized a farm house with turf houses in which there is the Glaumbauer museum, the main characteristic of this place is that over the summer you can sleep in one these houses and as for the museum itself it is just representation about the rusty style how the farm houses are equipped, just visit it!
Before getting close to Reykjavik our attention get caught by Kattarhryggur, here there’s hiking path to the crater a volcano, yes that’s right Iceland is a volcanic island, don’t forget that! Of course we hiked till the top of the crater which was impressing the contrasting panorama between it and the rest of fabulous surrounding nature!
In conclusion, the total perimeter of the Iceland is about 1300km assuming you mostly follow the road no.1, but of course you can make it even longer and juicier! So unless you are in a rush with the time and you have the freedom to escape for a while from the ordinary city-life, I’d strongly recommend to plan your journey to Iceland much longer than just one week (as we did), two weeks at least, but ideally one month! Both Southern and Northern Iceland are very demanding, we just regretted of not having had much time to be dedicated.
Naturally, if you’re going there for a travel expedition then that’s another brilliant story!
Enjoy your future Icelandic trip!
Every comment and remark is warmly welcomed!