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Iceland is one of the least populated places on the planet and is officially the most sparsely populated country in Europe. That means there is PLENTY of space and wilderness to explore, making it perfect for the adventurer and lover of the great outdoors. Hmm, who does that sound like? Oh right, ME!
The combination of jaw-dropping landscapes and extreme weather conditions makes Iceland the perfect place for travellers to immerse themselves in the peace and quiet of nature. Just read on to find out where you should head first to get away from it all. Iceland’s wilderness is vast but I’ll take you through the highlights.
The Best of Iceland’s Wilderness
South Coast of Iceland
The first location you should consider visiting on your trip to Iceland is the South coast. There you will find all sorts of stunning spots to explore including the Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon. The lagoon is an otherworldly place, its dark waters spotted with bright blue ice from the nearby glacier.
If you can, go during the winter season when the seals come inland through the small waterway that links the lagoon to the sea. Diamond Beach is nearby and also worth a visit. There you’ll find smooth, glossy glacier ice which has been polished up by the sea.
There’s plenty more to see on the South Coast such as Reynisfjara beach, Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Skógafoss waterfall. If you’d like more info make sure to check on this site.
The perfect place to experience the sense of true wilderness in Iceland is the Laugavegur trail. The trail runs through highland country and is popular with trekkers that get their kicks from stomping up mountains and wading through unbridged streams up to their thighs.
If the weather is kind then this trail affords those brave enough some incomparable views of volcanoes, glaciers, forests, waterfalls and more. It can be done in around 6 days but you can take as long as you like, camping or renting huts along the way. Some of the huts even have hot water showers which you can pay to use.
You can choose to walk the trail from North to South (most popular) or vice versa. You’re fairly unlikely to bump into any big groups of tourists. At 55km long, only the dedicated walk this path! With this in mind, it’s always best to walk the trail as part of one of the organised multi-day adventure tours . With an organised tour you will have an experienced guide and won’t risk getting lost or worse.
Vatnajökull Glacier or the Water Glacier is the essence of wilderness. This is one of the largest glaciers in Europe and is THE largest in Iceland. It covers 8% of the island’s land mass, which is crazy! Beneath the glacier are hidden volcanoes that can sometimes lead to pockets of ice melting.
Perhaps most popular are the ice caves in Vatnajökull National Park. These caves glow blue from the light being diffused through the ice and the contrast between black and blue make it look like some sort of beautiful bruising on the walls. It’s pretty cold and desolate down there so remember to wrap up warm!
You can also walk on the glacier (as part of a tour). When you are up there, look out for the different patterns in the ice that show how the glacier is moving and being compressed. Also don’t forget to get the right equipment (provided by your tour company) before you head up, as, without it, the glacier can be a treacherous and dangerous place.
I’m not trying to put you off, I just want everyone to be safe! I mean, if something happens to you, who would read my blog?! 😉
Iceland’s wilderness is not just on land. It can also be found beneath the waters of the island. At Silfra you can dive or snorkel between two continental plates (Eurasia and North America). The water is spectacularly clear with visibility of over 100m and extremely cold (2-4 Celsius). You won’t see any exciting species of fish, it’s all about the one of a kind experience of diving in a crack between continental plates. This is one of Iceland’s most unique experiences.
Iceland is a stunning country with some many incredible spots to explore, but the weather can often be treacherous and storm fronts can come in fast. You need to make sure that you are dressed properly and have checked the weather before you head off on any long journeys. I know a fellow blogger who was caught out by this and had a very close call with Mother Nature. So be safe! And make sure to take an extra SD card, you’ll be taking A LOT of photos.
Have you been to Iceland?
What’s your favourite part and time of year to visit?
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