Photograph by Eric Scott

  • where:

    Vatnajökull, Iceland

  • what:

    Unspoiled nature, Beauty

  • why:

    Hiking, Nature, Contemplation

  • when:

    Year Round

  • Geotag Icon Show on map

Iceland earns its handle, “the land of fire and ice”, nowhere better than Vatnajökull Glacier. Every inch of landscape on this stretch of Iceland’s southern coast shows signs of millions of years of abuse and upheaval. The glacier seems to be sitting quietly, revealing itself through the massive fissures it has created in the volcanic mountains. Vast fields of black sand, caused by volcanoes erupting underneath the glacier are a reminder of floods rivaling the flow of the Amazon that have laid waste to lichen covered plains. Around the base of the glacier large inland lakes form floating icebergs thousands of years old.

Photograph by Eric ScottThe great thing about traveling around Iceland by car is there is only one road and therefore hard to miss anything. You always have an unobstructed view of the violence, because the eruptions and early Icelandic peoples got rid of all the trees. There are almost no other cars on the road so you can concentrate fully on being a stranger in a strange land. This grotesquely beautiful landscape seems to be reflected in the people of Iceland. I have never met a people so opposite of the American culture. Contemplative and still, but always with a sense of tension lying below the surface, which seems to come out either in a short burst of friendliness or some other expression totally foreign to me.

Photograph by Eric ScottBe sure to get off the main highway and set foot on the glacier. If you plan to hike the glacier I would recommend going on a guided tour, but if you have mountaineering skills remember to bring crampons, ice axes, a length of rope, and some sort of walking pole. You can stop at Skaftafell Visitor Centre, which has maps of the numerous hiking trails in the area or you can arrange to take a tour of the glacier in a snow cat.

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric ScottAnother thing you can’t miss is, Jökulsárlón Lagoon. I recommend taking a ride through the icebergs on one of the amphibious vehicles located in the parking lot. For $50.00 US, you get a hour tour with a English speaking guide. The tour is very informative and also allows you to get some great photos you can’t get from the shore.

It’s hard to name every place you should stop in this region of Iceland, but like I said before it is hard to miss anything. Attractions are clearly marked, but everything along the road that circumnavigates Iceland is an attraction.

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Skaftafell National Park

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Skaftafell National Park

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland

Photography by Marcy Milks and Eric Scott

Iceland