My first trip with Wilderness Travel was to Nepal on the “Everest Lodge to Lodge” trek. At the time I thought, “how could any place in the world compare to the beauty of the Himalayas?” A year later my wife and I went to Argentina and Chile, spending 16 days hiking on the “In Patagonia” trip. Once again I was sure there was no way the area’s physical beauty could be surpassed anywhere else on Earth. Once again I was proven wrong: I had not yet been to Iceland.
Iceland’s natural beauty is unimaginable. The many shades of green invigorate your sense of sight, and it seems everywhere you look there are luminous waterfalls or beautiful blue-and-white icebergs floating on a lake skirting the North Atlantic. Simply put, it is a photographer’s paradise.
We flew into Reykjavik, the capital city on the southwestern coast. Founded by Vikings more than a thousand years ago, Reykjavik is unique in that there is no pollution, no litter, and no traffic problems to speak of. From what I’ve heard, there is virtually no crime either, which is true for the rest of the country as well.
From Reykjavik, we took a short flight to the east coast harbor-town of Hofn, a large town by Icelandic standards with a population of about 1,700 people. From Hofn we began a most memorable nine days of hiking, following a route along the curve of the southern shores as we made our way back to the capital.
Each day’s hike was different: in length (from 3 to 14 miles) and also in environment. One day we’d hike across a lava field, the next on a glacier, another day on snow. One hike brought us past fields of steam rising eerily from the ground. The juxtaposition of the environments, the bubbling steam and icy glaciers next to lush waterfalls, was incredible. It’s easy to understand why Iceland is called “the land of fire and ice.”
For the last seven years my wife and I have taken two to four overseas trips a year. Our “Iceland Expedition” remains one of the most memorable.
-Photos and text by 3-time WT Adventurer Paul Kaplan, Iceland Expedition