„The thing about a ‚comfort zone‘ is that it sounds, well, too comfortable. I call it a comfort pit, because a pit is somewhere you want to get out of as fast as possible.“
„Again?“. That question we heard a lot after we announced that we will go to Iceland again. Well, if you have visited Iceland once for real, you might be inclined to do the same. To us, the question never really occurred as the plan from the beginning on involved going to Iceland several times. And the plan includes some more places. But this time, it really was about lessons learned also. Preparing for a trip I consider half of the fun, it makes you think about what you encountered before, what you might encounter in the future, what part of your equipment turned out to be useless, what part is just unused, what is necessary and what is luxury and especially what you really missed before.
I will not go for the details of our camera equipment. The rule is simple for cameras, you can never bring enough, but the best camera is the one you have with you. Outdoor gear really makes a difference, especially with weather conditions changing this fast. In Iceland, you might encounter beautiful sunshine or snow, heavy, light or some other sort of rain and the wind can be bone chilling. So priority number one should be adequate clothing. During the previous trip, I felt rather cold several times sitting in our chairs outdoors waiting for the noodles to be boiled. So a real good jacket is important, one with a thick removable lining I found to be best. Most of our camping equipment turned out to be fitting, as we intentionally shopped for cold climates (Iceland’s summer nights can go well below freezing temperatures easily). But what we really missed was a table. Preparing and eating food without was rather uncomfortable. This time we brought one. And instead of having our equipment unprotected in the back of the truck, we brought four Zarges aluminum boxes, all secured according to IP65 because of the tremendous amount of dust you encounter. We keep track of all of our equipment in detail using long lists.
And every day you spend on planning and preparing is a day you invest thinking about your next adventure. Up until the day you load the vehicle and set course to that fascinating part of your world you have not fully discovered yet.
Again, driving through Germany, Denmark and then taking the ferry brought us to the Faroe Islands fist. Another lesson learned, if you have the choice using a web service for booking a hotel or doing it for yourself, e.g. on the website of the hotel, leave out the middle man. We did not this time and had a room which definitely wasn’t so nice as the one we had before. Which is understandable if you think about how much money the hotel has to give to the in-betweener.
This time we concentrated on the coastline. Being of vulcanic origin with multiple layers of basalt building a formation 6 kilometers thick and with just 900m above sea level, the islands are pretty spectacular.
It was also an opportunity to check all material before putting it to use on Iceland. Then, we finally set course for the last leg, going with the Norrøna to Iceland.
Not only did we work on our equipment, the Amazebra received lots of attention as well. There have been some complicated passages before and a few times we had to opt for the easy road instead of going for the challenge. This was to be changed this year. We invested heavily, the Amarok was equipped with proper, heavy-duty rocksliders, custom underbody plating, additional recovery points with strong shackles, a snorkel, new dampeners, new wheels with good AT tires, lashing rails to properly secure all load, a mounting point for an iPad Mini serving as an on-board navigation computer with some good topography apps (select at least one with offline capabilities and allow for sufficient time before of your trip to download the maps – that might take months). Also, a GoPro camera mounted right behind the rear view mirror. Plus we rewired part of the electrics so that we have power with the ignition turned off.
Did we use this stuff? Oh yeah! And we got stuck properly as well.
Luckily our equipment included a folding shovel. Resulting in some good and healthy exercise for me. And everyone else was very supportive by taking lots of pictures of me digging and building some proper foundation. We met two Defenders and joined forces which was welcome because they kindly pulled the Amazebra out of this awkward place.
But the small little valley we selected for this exploration turned out to be well worth some sweat.
Again, just like the last time, I put some effort into checking the rivers before crossing.This one might not look big, but the strong current had pushed some nasty boulders into the track which I either removed or marked so to avoid them. Great hydrotherapy.
Jökulsárlón was beautiful again, but having better off road capabilities allowed for some more exploration.
After searching for some time, we found a concealed road going right in front of the glacier. As it was turning late, we set up our tent for the night. Don’t bother checking the pictures for the GPS coordinates, all of them have been removed, sorry.
The next day, we went onto the glacier. Not taking risks, as we were well aware of the dangers of a hidden crevasse. Still we found a huge moulin which led to the bed of the glacier and a river.
Down at the bottom, several caves opened and showed a marvelous beauty. Still I was too afraid to enter them, fearing a cave in as the melting water showed how much stress is put on the ice.
The color of the glacial ice was really incredible.
As some of the rivers are crossing roads which are traveled more often than others, going through them allows for some fun. Still it takes up to an hour until all water ran out from the car.
Some more time at Landmannalaugar, we climbed up a mountain path showing us a great view to the spectacular scenery. Plus there was quite some geothermal activity.
Waterfalls. From all sides. Photographed with filters. Not only the outdoor gear and the Amazebra was updated…
This time we actually traveled all the way to the westfjords. Well worth the effort, this coastal region has less tourists and great wildlife. And in one place, the puffins turned out to be quite easy-going and allowed us to approach them very closely for the photos.
Resulting in some great pictures showing how much human emotions those birds seem to mimic.
It is pretty obvious this guy came home late and is now getting some heat from the female complaining why it has to do all the breeding for itself.
The place to take the pictures is not exactly well secured and you have to be very careful. This is still wilderness and not some amusement park.
Still, the resulting pictures I like a lot.
You also find one of the largest waterfalls of Iceland in the westfjords – Dynjandi.
One very remote road is the 622. Sometimes tricky to drive or even outright dangerous, but like so many places in Iceland it is a spectacular one.
These sheep are of the kind that just ignores you. You want to continue driving this road? You have to wait. Period.
There is also the Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík. There is an exhibition and they take care of pubs which lost their parents.
This year’s ambassador was called Freddy and highly interested in how I taste.
Driving along the northern part of the westfjords on the 61 was giving us sightings of lots of sea lions, too.
Plus the usual change of weather.
First of August. Swiss National Day. Like the last time, we celebrated this day properly, although with a bit more comfort. While enjoying ourselves tremendously, several other Swiss people on the camping ground approached us. And because Icelandic people seemingly cannot resist a crowd forming in such a place, especially when there might be alcohol involved, we suddenly had more than 12 people happily chatting. Some of them were hunters and the insights they gave us in regards to where we would be able to find animals turned out to be very helpful.
The tracks for this road were barely visible, but every once in a while I really feel the urge to leave the main road just because.
You never know what you might encounter. We actually took the piece of driftwood on the bottom left corner of the first picture back home and it is now part of the decoration in our living room.
Sometimes I have the impression that you can pickup a stone wherever on Iceland, throw it in a random direction and hit a waterfall (be careful not to hit a sheep, though).
A rock formation close to the Ásbyrgi canyon, close to sunset. So, really in the middle of the night.
Having a sunset like this always is a great sight. Good thing is, you usually have a lot of time taking a picture.
Close to the end of our trip, our equipment is showing how much dust is accumulating in the truck bed. Although there is a cover and I invested some time to seal all openings with a professional Sika sealant.
Changing weather conditions and potholes in the streets – large ones and small ones. Don’t expect a smooth ride.
On this trip, we had a new crew member. The Small Zebra. Came in all the way from the United States to join the party.
And it took most of the photos as well.