TLC once said “don’t go chasing waterfalls”
Maybe we should have taken some of that advice literally, within 2 hours of picking up our camper van we had managed to get stuck in a ditch looking for Skógafoss Falls.
After a helpful tow from a reasonably confused Icelandic Farmer, we managed to find our way to the falls where we could camp for the night, it was dark when we arrived but we could hear the booming rush of water as we chowed down on some cardboard flavoured macaroni.
We rose with the sun the next morning. The mist from the falls blending into the clouds overhead as we got our first introduction to the sheer power of the land.
Skógafoss would set the tone for rest of our long drive around this cold and windy island.
A tone of everyday awesome. It’s tempting to stop and photograph every amazing sight you see along the ring road, and you could certainly try. Provided you had months of time and piles of memory cards. Icelandic driving speed should be measured in WPH (Waterfalls per hour) it’s honestly a new waterfall every ten minutes over there.
Waterfalls were so common that it was fairly normal to pull up to a landmark of note, only for it to be fronted by a magnificently tall stream of water cascading down the mountainside. In the case of Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, the waterfall was like the entree to something even more mind-blowing.
It was even more common for farmers to have their homes built in front falls, effectively granting them the title of ‘waterfall farmer’ alongside the usual sheep or horse part of the job.
Vatnajökull is a Glacier that covers 8% of Iceland's landmass. Think about that for a second, nearly 10% of an entire country covered in one mass of Ice.
We felt extremely small as we climbed up the mountainside next to the colossal blanket of ice that stretched further than we could see. Even with a drone, it’s difficult to articulate that sheer size of the blue & black structure carving its the way between the mountains.
And from frozen mountain passages along rainbow pathways, we were led to the opposite end of the world, with fire and steam rising from the ground below. The Mývatn geothermal fields have a faint smell of eggs and a strong sense of power. Steam rises from cracks in the ground warming the water and providing energy for much of the country’s population. Looks pretty cool in photographs as well.
Not far from the geothermal fields are the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. Dettifoss or ‘The Collapsing Waterfall’ is the thunderous result of muddy water flowing quickly from the Selfoss falls upstream being squeezed into the tighter part of Jökulsá Fjollum river before falling nearly 50 metres and exploding into a misty spray that had us soaked in minutes.
As the kilometres ticked over behind the steering wheel of our little camper van, it became more apparent to us how vast and varied the land was and how suddenly the wilderness could swallow you up if you didn’t take each step with respect.
Photos and words provided by Storm & Xavier from @oddsocksociety