Going it Alone in Iceland


Even the name excites me. Iceland. A land of Ice.


I am told Iceland is a place that you fall blissfully in love with and keep returning to, again and again.
This tiny island that floats on the edge of the Arctic has intrigued me for years. Its vast open spaces; the rugged natural beauty; iceberg choked lakes; thundering waterfalls; the largest ice cap outside the north and south poles; the elusive northern lights…who wouldn’t be intrigued by Iceland?

But I never imagined going there alone.


Seyðisfjörður - Iceland

Seyðisfjörður, Iceland. Photo: Flickr creative commons


That wasn’t the plan. But I have learned time and again that changing your travel plans can often bring the most unexpected surprises. So after a little hesitation, I have decided to still go to Iceland.


I will be travelling solo. Something I love to do.


But my ideal trip to Iceland had included hiring a car and circumnavigating the country over several weeks, pausing to hike and camp at will.

I won’t be doing this on my own.


Atlantic puffins

Atlantic puffins. Photo: Flickr creative commons


It’s too expensive for a start and, call me cautious, but with the dodgy weather I wouldn’t feel safe driving on my own.


So I have to think about this trip to Iceland in a different way: as more of taster…a warm-up for bigger and better trips to come.


Lake Jökulsárlón

Lake Jökulsárlón. Photo: Flickr creative commons

Here is a sample of what I hope to do/see on my trip to Iceland in May:


  • Horse riding trek on an Icelandic horse,
  • Boat trip amongst the icebergs in Lake Jökulsárlón.
  • Hike in Skaftafell National Park.
  • Tour the Golden Circle – waterfalls and geysers galore.
  • Visit the hot spring ice caves at Kverkfjoll.
  • Go to the Icelandic opera in Reykjavik.
  • Photograph puffins and hike at the Látrabjarg bird cliffs in the Westfjords. (unlikely without a car…but you never know!!)
  • And…hopefully see the northern lights again.


Not much to ask for really…


Icelandic horse

Icelandic horse. Photo: Flickr creative commons


I may be being a little optimistic, and which of these things I actually get to fit into my 10 days in Iceland will be very much dependent on the weather.


There’s no getting around the fact that Iceland is a little chilly.


By early May when I arrive, the weather should be getting a little better heading into the northern summer but being so far north Iceland’s weather can be hugely unpredictable. Much of the winter snow hasn’t cleared, roads can be closed and hiking in the more remote areas can be difficult.



Svartifoss Waterfall

Svartifoss Waterfall. Photo: Flickr creative commons


Even in August, at the height of summer, the temperatures rarely max out at more than about 15 degrees Celsius.


I could be in for any kind of weather.  So as I drag out all my trusty merino thermals and rain gear that haven’t seen the light of day since I was in Alaska last fall, I can’t help getting excited about layering up and heading to this cold place.


Because you all know how much I love cold places.


Ice caves

Ice caves. Photo: Flickr creative commons



If you are still not sold on the idea of Iceland, check out this inspiring video by Klara Harden of her 25 day hike alone through Iceland.

(Klara also has a new project in the making: a film of a cycling trip through Madagascar. Find out more about With Love From Madagascar)


MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo.



Have you been to Iceland? Is it on you bucket list?

What was the best experience you had there?

Where are your favourite ‘cold places’?




Are you visiting Quiet Wanderings for the first time?

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