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Old 12th October 2019, 18:48   #1
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Default Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

Iceland is hands down the most beautiful country in the world. We did a road trip of the country in 2015 and stayed at campsites throughout. My only regret about visiting Iceland in the Summer of 2015 is that every subsequent vacation my wife and I have taken just pales in comparison. However beautiful a place is, we find ourselves saying to each other, "Beautiful, but not Iceland level!"

Iceland basically has one main highway called the Ring Road. It does a circuit of the entire country. Its over 3000 kms long IIRC. Our plan was to start from the capital, Reykjavik, go down South through area called the Golden circle because of its scenic beauty, the eastern fjords, the whale watching area called Husavik and the Myvatn area famous for its geothermal activity, followed by a drive through the Western Fjords area ( the most isolated and beautiful place I have ever been to), followed by the Snaefellsnes peninsula in the West, before coming down back to Reykjavik, where we started. It was a 7 day trip, which is not much time to drive close 4000 kms along with sightseeing. But the 24 hour summer sun of Iceland and our idea of camping instead of airbnbs or hotels meant that there was no reason to end our day by early evening like we would do on trips elsewhere.

With that said, l will mostly let the pics do most of the talking on this one with a brief day by day overview. However, be warned that at this time, we had an ageing iphone and a low end Windows phone as our only cameras. So forgive the potato quality of some of the pics and the pics just don't capture the beauty of the Icelandic landscape. If anybody is interested in more details of the trip, do let me know and I will be happy to provide it.

Day 1, June 21st: Our flight from Amsterdam to the Keflavik airport in Reykjavik landed close to midnight in bright sunlight. We were picked up at the exit by the Blue car rental courtesy van. We had booked a 4x4 Duster and we got a pleasant surprise when we scored a Petrol Suzuki Grand Vitara, a much bigger and a more powerful car. Since light was not a problem with the 24x7 summer light and we were far too excited to sleep, we set off to start our trip immediately.


Our itinerary consisted of visiting the Southern part of the country which contains a truckload of incredible sights also known as the Golden circle. All of them can be done in 2-3 days, but as usual with our packed schedule, our plan was to complete it in about 30 hrs.

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The blazing sky at around 2 AM

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Another one a little later

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The tranquil lake in Pingvellir national park

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The sun was blazing down early in the morning!

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There is geothermal activity close to this tranquil lake which is used to generate electricity. You can see the steam blowing up in the distance.



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The Gulfoss waterfall was our next destination

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The famous Geysir in Pingvellir which erupts every 5 mns or so. Here its gathering steam

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And it erupts for a full minute reaching about a 100 feet by my estimation

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The Haifoss waterfall. Took us quite some time to find this, but so totally worth it.

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A Panorama of the Haifoss!

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Need some water in Iceland? Just stop your car, and refill from the gazillion lakes or waterfalls by the road.

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Refill complete in scenic surroundings.

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Now I am going to bore you with my favourite waterfall in all of Iceland, Selijandsfoss!

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Selijandsfoss with rainbows was probably my favourite scene in Iceland!

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Rainbow right across the falls.

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Couldn't get enough of the falls!

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Behind the waterfall, blocking the sun!

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Another one from behind the fall!

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Final one, I promise! It was already 9 PM by now and my wife had to drag me away from the waterfall!

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This is a different, but similar looking waterfall called Skogafoss!

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A panorama of the Skogafoss!

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Ok, this is close to midnight. I am not lying.

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Our campsite for the night at the popular village of Vik! It has a couple of hundred permanent residents and an equal number camp out here in the Summer months!

Last edited by sup? : 13th October 2019 at 00:27. Reason: Some more information
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Old 12th October 2019, 19:09   #2
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Day 2, 22nd June: Despite only going to sleep well past midnight, we were up at 5 in the morning. The sun was shining brightly at 5 AM and we decided to explore the quite famous little church at the top of a hill in the town from which there were spectacular views. This day, we were going to finish the Golden circle including the black volcanic sand Vik beach, the Skaftafell national park, the Jokursarlon glacier and end the day in the South easter village of Hofn! Some pics from our day.

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The view of the Vik beach from the Vik Kirkja (church in Icelandic)

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Another one!

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When we came down to the beach, the weather took a turn for the worse. The clouds started rolling in!

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The volcanic sand on the beach.

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The natural basalt column caves on the Vik beach!

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The trolls on the beach.

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The name of this canyon is fjašrįrgljśfur. Don't ask me how to pronounce that!

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fjašrįrgljśfur is just unbelievable!

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The Svartifoss waterfall in the Skaftafell national park!

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The less well known Fjallsarlon glacier!

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Finally, the Jokursarlon glacier. Unbelievable that something like this just lies along the main road!

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Thats me at the glacier!
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Old 12th October 2019, 19:28   #3
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Day 3, 23rd June:: The next morning started out cloudy and rainy, but for the stark beauty of the surroundings, it seemed like the perfect weather. With the South of Iceland done, this was a day when we would drive through the famous Eastern fjords of Iceland. Relatively few tourists come this far in Iceland and the time between seeing other human beings was slowly increasing from a few minutes to even an hour. Another breathtaking day captured with our potato quality phone cameras!

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These mountains looked even more forbidding in this weather

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Some breathtaking drives!

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Even brown is beautiful!

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Some green mixed with the brown!

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And, the weather turns. What a sight it was!

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An absolutely gorgeous beach in the wild, totally desolate. We were here for an hour without seeing another person.

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Our car, the Suzuki Grand Vitara!

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A close up!

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The fjords were just gorgeous!

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Just perfect!
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Old 12th October 2019, 19:51   #4
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Day 4, 24th June: We were quite excited about this day because it was the first time we were going whale watching. The whale watching trips were organised from a North Icelandic town called Husavik! It was an unforgettable trip for us. The whales were about 16-18 feet, almost as long as our little ship. The whales breached every few minutes but with the cold arctic winds we barely took our hands out of our pockets to capture the beautiful sight. After this, we visited a wonderful waterfall called Godafoss, and another natural Dinosaur like formation on a north Icelandic beach. Some pics from this day follow.

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The Whale is going back in.

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The photos don't show how big it really was!

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The Godafoss, probably my second favourite waterfall in Iceland!

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Couldn't resist a few more!

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And a Pano!

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A drive with a view!

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These Icelandic Horses were everywhere!

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Our picnic lunch spot!

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This is a dinosaur like rock formation

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The midnight sun in all its glory!
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Old 12th October 2019, 20:07   #5
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Day 5, 25th June:: This was a major driving day for us. We had to get from North central Iceland to the Western Fjords area. It was a 500 km plus drive and we were aiming to do it in under a day. We were barely seeing any people now. May be a couple of cars every hour. The only place we found some tourists were in the popular Myvatn area in the North. We saw almost every kind of scenery this day. From snowy patches in the highland areas to Mars like scenery with red/brown/maroon mountains. We managed to visit a geothermal area with sulphur springs and steam oozing out of the earth near the Myvatn area. But apart from that it was mainly a driving day!

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Steam oozing out of the geothermal area!

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Boiling Sulphur springs!

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Another one!

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some snowy patches!

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Brilliant fjords again!

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Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Iceland but not all that beautiful!

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Campsite!

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Hello, Icelandic Horse!
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Old 12th October 2019, 20:18   #6
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Day 6, 26th June:: This was our day of driving through the Western fjords. These are the most isolated areas of Iceland. In the winter, they are mostly cut off from the rest of the country. They are the most pristine areas you will ever find. Most people who visit Iceland don't bother going through these fjords because of how isolated they are. But Iceland is a developed country and they maintain relatively great infra even in these areas. You just need to make sure that you have enough fuel in your tank when you are a little far away from villages. You don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no fuel. Some of the mountain passes here are great fun to navigate. There are steep falls on both sides but they are relatively wide roads. The only problem would be if you come across another car in the opposite direction, but the chances of that happening are relatively low. It is probably the best day of driving I will ever do in my life.

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Fjords everywhere!

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Almost the Northwest border of Iceland!

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Just keep driving with these views!

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And another one!

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The view that rewards you when you finally finish navigating a mountain pass.


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The Hundafoss waterfall, a cute little waterfall compared to the other monster watefalls!

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Just so pretty!

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The Dynjandi waterfall! If you look closely, you can see me almost at the top of the waterfall! It was quite a hike.

Last edited by sup? : 12th October 2019 at 22:04.
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Old 12th October 2019, 20:26   #7
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Day 7, 27th June: We were finally finishing the circular trip around Iceland. The last major area we were visiting before going the full circle back to Reykjavik was the Snaefellsnes peninsula. This was another spectacular area that had relatively good number of tourists because of its easy access from the capital. We did a hike in the Snaefellsnes peninsula between two villages, Arnarstrapi to Hellnar, along the mountains overlooking the Ocean. One of the best hikes we had ever done. There was also another blacksand beach called Djupallosandur. Unbelievable scenery all round.

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The Djupallosandur beach

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A sea cave on our hike!

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Various views on our hike!

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Views!

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And more views!

Last edited by sup? : 12th October 2019 at 21:52.
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Old 13th October 2019, 00:33   #8
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Default re: Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

Moving thread from Assembly Line to Travelogues forum. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th October 2019, 11:47   #9
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Default re: Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

Simply breathtaking pictures. Definitely will be adding the country to my to visit list, however I prefer 4/5 star accommodation to pamper myself, but it seems most of these locations would be accessible only if you are camping??
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Old 13th October 2019, 12:25   #10
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Originally Posted by sandhyab View Post
Simply breathtaking pictures. Definitely will be adding the country to my to visit list, however I prefer 4/5 star accommodation to pamper myself, but it seems most of these locations would be accessible only if you are camping??
Not really, even in the remote Western fjords, you have hotels where you can pamper yourself. In fact, we stopped at one of these hotels when we needed to do our laundry. Turns out they had a geothermally heated swimming pool. This hotel was nestled between snow capped mountains and a bright blue fjord. We spent an unscheduled 2 hours in the pool while our laundry was getting done. They charged us 500 krona for this, which translates to 250 INR. It was crazy that something like this was so cheap. However, if you want to book accommodations in these places, it will cost you at least 10k INR a night. We did our entire trip in 2.4 lakhs. If you want good accommodation, you might have to shell out another 1-1.2 lakhs at least.

Our view from the geothermal pool:

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Another one close to the hotel in this absolutely remote location:

Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!-img_5331.jpg

Last edited by sup? : 13th October 2019 at 12:36. Reason: More information
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Old 14th October 2019, 13:23   #11
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

I indeed have to thank you for this! These are some of the most beautiful pictures of the most beautiful place on Earth! Certainly on my travel wish-list!
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Old 14th October 2019, 13:40   #12
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

Hey Sup?

Iceland is truly paradise on earth.
The pictures are breathtaking and truly speak for themselves.
Can you share your itenarary and the car rental service details.
Thanks
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Old 14th October 2019, 14:19   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruzbehxyz View Post
Hey Sup?

Iceland is truly paradise on earth.
The pictures are breathtaking and truly speak for themselves.
Can you share your itenarary and the car rental service details.
Thanks
The car rental we used was Blue car rental whose service was pretty good. They have a pretty good website. Car rental in Iceland will be one of your biggest expenses unlike the rest of Europe where its relatively cheap to rent one. One bit of cost saving advice is that unless you are planning to go into the highlands of Iceland, there is absolutely no need to rent a 4x4. We rented a 4x4 but couldn't venture too deep into the highlands because the snow hadn't melted and the interior roads hadn't opened. If you do venture into the highlands (basically any road marked an F-road), it is compulsory to use a 4x4.

Our itinerary was as follows:

Day 1:
Pingvallavatn- a lake, 50km away from airport
Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station- 27km from the lake, drive is along the lake (to the south)
Pingvellier national park- 30km from the power station, where the two plates meet, basically going back to the lake and then 3 kms from there
Geysir- the hot springs area, 50km from the national park. Most famous hot spring is called Stokkur which erupts frequently
Gulfoss- a massive waterfall, just 10km from Geysir
Seljandsfoss waterfall
Skogafoss waterfall
Dyrholaey lighthouse (The approach road is closed from 8 PM to 6 AM)

Day 2:
Vik-Kirkjubęjarklaustur (Visit systrafoss waterfall) (75 kms, 1.5 hrs approx)
Kirkjubęjarklaustur-Skaftafell (Svartifoss black waterfall is a 90 min hike from the road, you will also see lambhagi lamb pasture spot with a lake beside it, hundafoss waterfall on the way back, 2kms from the ring road is the Skaftafellsjökull glacier..take the bumpy gravel road to the small car park, check for ice caves and do it if it is there ) (71 kms, 1.5 hrs approx)
Skaftafell-Fjallsarlon (48 kms, 45 mns approx)
Fjallsarlon-Jokursarlon (Watch sunset at Jokursarlon and drive to Hofn for the night) (11 kms, 10 mns approx)
Jokursarlon-Hofn (80 kms, 1.5 hrs approx)

Day 3:
Hofn (Hornsfjordur fjord, Skeišarįrsandur and views of Vatnajokull from Hofn)
Hofn-Djupivogur -Bulandstindur mountain on the ring road, (104 kms, 2 hrs approx)
Bulanstindur- Hengifoss -Hallormsstadhur forest on the way to hengifoss, Walk from Hengifoss to Litlanefoss (90 kms, 2 hrs approx)
Hengifoss - Detifoss -Visit the west side of the falls to get wet, (188 kms, 4 hrs approx)
Detifoss-Myvatn -Dimmuborgir lava fields, Lake Myvatn, Hverfjall

Day 4:
Myvatn-Husavik -Whale watching starts at 9 AM (56 kms, 1 hr approx)
Husavik-Godafoss (47 kms, 50 mns approx)
Godafoss- Akureyri (52 kms, 1 hour approx)
Akureyri-Skagafjordur (118 kms, 2 hours approx)
Skagafjordur- Hvitserkur (dinosaur rock)- 109kms (2 hours approx)
Hvitserkur-Isafjordur - 400kms (8 hours approx)

Day 5:
Driving through the western fjords basically. We bought physical maps and followed the fjords till we hit a point behind Isafjordur, one of the northernmost towns in the Western Fjords. Some highlights were Arnarfjordur, the village of Flateyri, the roads to Isafjordur itself.

Day 6:
Snaefellsnes peninsula. We did a hike from Arnarstrap to Hellnar, Kirkujfell mountain, and Djupallosandur black sand beach.
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Old 14th October 2019, 18:08   #14
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

Hello Sup?,

Nice travelogue. Thank you.

After reading your travelogue, I immediately check flights from Frankfurt to Reykjavķk for next Summer.

Can you provide some estimate of this round trip around Iceland?

You mentioned you chose Camping option at most places, did you carried your camping gear with you or managed to rent it locally?
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Old 14th October 2019, 18:18   #15
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Default Re: Iceland: A song of Fire & Ice!

Oh man...Iceland, you beauty!!! We had been there twice. Once in September and once during the Christmas break couple of years ago. The latter trip was to just catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. What a sight it was. Totally worth camping in bitter cold.

Your pics make me want to visit that place once again. Its on another level seriously.
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