Just like every other photographer, Iceland has been right at the top of my travelling destination list for years.
I spent the early part of this year sipping iced coffees on the beach in Vietnam, so as soon as I landed back in the UK, I jumped straight onto my laptop and booked the Airbnb listing that I’ve had bookmarked for over a year.
This probably sounds like plain ignorance, but I definitely didn’t anticipate just how big Iceland is. Not just physical size, but how small it makes you feel.
In my head, it was just an island somewhere above Scotland. Easy peasy – let’s just rent a car and drive to Akureyri. How hard can it be?
Including the 870km round trip from the airport to our accommodation, we ended up driving 1880km in 5 days through what felt like all four seasons.
Reykjavik to Hvítserkur
We wanted to make good progress, so we tried to limit the photography stops to only when nature called and a highly recommended detour to Hvítserkur.
Eventually abandoning Route 1 (Ring Road, Magic Circle etc.), we found Road 711 to Hvítserkur to be covered in rocks and loose gravel, meaning we couldn’t drive much faster than 50km/h the entire way. Well, we could have, although it did almost end our adventure before it had even started.
Iceland is a pretty windy place, and we happened to begin our Iceland adventure on one of the windiest days. Even normal sand hurts when it gets kicked up and hits your skin, but the sharp volcanic black sand at Hvítserkur was on all new levels as it hit us at 40mph. Ouchy.
Hvítserkur to Akureyri
We set off on what we thought would be the last 2 hour stretch to Akureyri, which ended up being more like 15 hours when we were treated to a nice little blizzard as we crossed the mountains into Akureyri – eventually turning back and staying the night in Varmahlíð before attempting the drive again in the morning with a bit more coffee in our systems.
Thankfully, there’s an awesome website called road.is which allowed us to keep an eye on the road conditions during the night and even watch the little snowplows drive back and forth.
Driving in convoy behind a Winnebago and in front of what seemed like the most impatient drivers in Iceland, we slowly but surely made our way over the mountains and back onto dry land.
Iceland is Pretty Cold
It was so bitterly cold that I had to shoot whilst wearing glove the entire time. This can usually be quite problematic, although the manual dials on my Fujifilm X-T2 made my life so much easier. No more miserably and blindly pressing every button on the camera and hoping for the best.
It’s safe to say that we didn’t do any more driving that day. We parked up, wandered in Akureyri and grabbed some much deserved food.
This article is Part 1 of 5, so make sure to check back to read more about our escapades as we explored the north of Iceland in what can only be described as the least suitable car for the job.