Photo Essay: Snæfellsnes Peninsula and The Golden Circle, Iceland

“If you know one landscape well, you will look at all other landscapes differently. And if you learn to love one place, sometimes you can learn to love another” 

Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels

 

Iceland is like something out of a storybook.

Try to recall how excited you would get about reading your favourite storybook as a child and how much you wished the world in that book was your own.

The series of books I read time and time again was Enid Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’. A timeless series that my friend’s children are now reading…

For me, to travel through Iceland is akin to getting lost in one of those fabulous, mystical – if not slightly strange – worlds that pass through the clouds at the top of The Magic Faraway Tree: except this world was real.

 

Thingvellir  (Þingvellir in Icelandic) National Park

Thingvellir (Þingvellir in Icelandic) National Park

 

 

Icelandic horses grazing on the Golden Circle circuit

Icelandic horses grazing along the Golden Circle circuit

 

 

In Iceland, Tolkienesque landscapes of lava fields span for miles in all directions, there are more waterfalls than there are names for them, and you can drive for hours alongside Europe’s largest glacier.

Iceland has a population of only 320, 000 people most of whom live in the capital city of Reykjavik – many of the rest reside in villages along the coastline.

 

This leaves much of the island uninhabited, particularly the central highlands where astronauts have trained in preparation for lunar landings. Seriously.

 

 

Geyser Golden Circle Iceland

Geysir Geothermal Area – Golden Circle

 

 

Gulfoss Falls - Golden Circle

Gulfoss Falls – Golden Circle

 

 

As you leave Reykjavik you fall head-first into Iceland’s beauty.

Our journey takes us towards the area near central Iceland known as the Golden Circle: the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, the magnificent Gulfoss Falls and Thingvellir National Park.

We drive past solitary farm houses, fields of Icelandic horses and lone churches but the brilliantly coloured rainbow that appears in the spray at Gulfoss is a highlight.

 

 

Gulfoss Falls - Golden Circle

Gulfoss Falls – Golden Circle

 

 

Gulfoss Falls - Golden Circle

Gulfoss Falls – Golden Circle

 

 

As we travel further toward the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the West coast of Iceland, the blue skies of the Golden Circle transform into dramatic cloud formations, and eventually thick fog and rain.

Low-lying fog on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Low-lying fog on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

Dramatic cloud formations: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

Mountains in the fog: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

Lava Field: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Lava Field: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

The rugged and mountainous 100km-long Snæfellsnes juts out into the North Atlantic Ocean. A lingering heavy fog hangs only a couple of metres above the ground and conceals the tops of the mountains.

Visibility is minimal but the mystical atmosphere of exploring under this blanket of fog is wonderful.

 

 

Lava field and mountains - Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

Lava fields - Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

We hike along the sea cliffs of the popular seaside trail between the villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar and thanks to the long daylight hours of the midnight sun it is 1030pm before we begin the long drive back south.

 

 

Sea cliffs at Arnarstapi: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Sea cliffs at Arnarstapi: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

 

 

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