The first installment of our seven day excursion on the Ring Road in Iceland.
If you’re all caught up, read the conclusion of our adventure here.
Honestly, our road trip started out abysmally. My husband, Nic, and I picked up our dorky little rental car and set off, unable to point out much of our surroundings through the sheets of rain. I was at the wheel and trying to get accustomed to the stick shift and Iceland traffic. It was still pretty flat at that time so we trudged on, hoping for a break in the clouds at some point. Once we were a little further out from the main cities we could see much more, and decided to head south to pursue a counter-clockwise direction of the country.
The fields of volcanic rock that stretched out before us were awesome! I was immediately reminded of Middle Earth, as it felt vaguely like we were exploring the vast fields of Rohan on our way eastward. At the same time I was aware that a good number of scenes were filmed here from Game of Thrones and I could totally see that too! The “wildlings” could’ve popped out at any second.
We quickly realized that with the erratic changes in the weather came equal variety in scenery. Around each bend our surroundings were drastically different than the one before — at one minute mountains, which gave way to volcanic rock fields, then coastlines, followed by fields with huge piles of boulders and moss, the next minute prairie grasses, the next giant waterfalls, and so on.
There was never a dull moment!
Since we were still pretty close to Reykjavik on the first day, there were a lot more tourists than any other day. Driving through the winding roads of Þingvellir National Park, we saw gorgeous Autumn colors and snow-capped mountains. We also stumbled upon an enormous crater filled with a lake that was close to the Golden Circle.
We moved on, on Route 1, and stopped at the iconic Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which we could walk all the way behind, and the famous Skógafoss, each 200 feet high!
The first night was spent in the southern town of Vik. On the way down the hill, the wind and rain picked up and were so strong I thought we’d be pushed off the road! We made it safely and Nic suggested we just sleep in the car rather than pay for a campsite. Since you’re allowed to pull over and camp anywhere in Iceland, we did so and I’m very thankful. We stayed dry but during the night I thought the car would topple over from all the wind. Needless to say, I slept like a baby 😉
It was an early morning; we meant to check out the black sand beaches but it was still too stormy so we set off. Höfn was our next stop, which was a tiny fishing town in the south. On the way there we passed by glaciers in Skaftafell National Park and gasped from all the incredible landscapes finally visible now that the rain had eased up.
There was a really cool place to camp on the side of the road past Höfn, but unfortunately people had decided to use the area as a toilet, leaving toilet paper, trash, and unburied piles of you-know-what. We kept our distance from that and tried to stay optimistic as we lay shivering in our tent, which longed to blow away like Dorothy in her Kansas tornado.
We woke up soggy and waterlogged and kept going, finding a manmade hotspring overlooking the mountains with free showers. I checked the day off as a win.
The fall colors and changing scenery continued to dazzle us; Iceland is the most diverse and unique land I have ever seen. We were thankful the weather was improving every hour and the rain hadn’t washed away our high spirits. How does anyone get used to this?!
Your turn – what was your road trip around the Ring Road like? Do you camp well in the rain? (We don’t) Where is next on your list to travel?