Skaftafell Glacier

On the second day, we drove to Skaftafell Glacier where we had booked a glacier hike/ice climb with Icelandic Mountain Guides. Our guide, Maya, was a local and not only knew a ton about the glacier and ice climbing, but also just geology in general. We were in a 6-person group so it was nice to be able to interact more personally with the guide. She explained how glaciers worked to us and then taught us how to use crampons with our ice climbing boots. Ice climbing boots, by the way, are just like hiking boots but 3x as stiff. It turns out ice climbing is mostly about being good at kicking a wall. You have to kick in straight so your foot isn’t angled too high or low and you can actually put your whole weight on your boot. She also taught us to use ice picks which go in pretty easy with a flick of a wrist.

Once we had practiced the basics, Maya lowered each of us over a wall in the glacier in which we would all climb back up. Of course she chose an easy wall for us but I still felt super strong and adventurous just for climbing maybe a few dozen feet. It didn’t feel like it took much time and honestly I wished that she had lowered me more. Ice climbing is fun guys. Especially when it’s easy because you have a guide at the top who won’t let you fall.

After our glacial adventure, we hiked 2 hours to Svartifoss waterfall. The waterfall goes right off an almost cave with overhanging basalt columns. There were also plenty of amazing views of the glaciers, mountains, and black plains all around.

Finally, we drove out to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach. Both are absolutely amazing sites, definitely the prettiest and most unique I’ve seen in Iceland yet! The glacier lagoon looks like a large lake with large icebergs floating in it of all colors: white, blue, and clear. They’re framed gorgeously by the glacier and mountains behind. Right across from the lagoon, the Diamond Beach is a black sand beach with piece of ice sitting all along the coast making it seem that diamonds are glittering all along the water. So beautiful!

Skaftafell Glacier

The Golden Circle

Iceland has been one of my top destinations for a while now so I may or may not have gone overboard in planning all the things I wanted to see!

We landed in Keflavik Airport around 6am and stopped by the first obvious coffee shop we could find — Dunkin Donuts. One thing that I need to stop being surprised at is how far reaching American companies are. Quizno’s, Domino’s, CostCo (apparently) are all here! Next we picked up our campervan, Mr. Puffin, from SadCars and were on our way to Reykjavík!

Unfortunately almost everything in the city was closed at 9am maybe due to the Pentecost holiday or maybe because it was just too early. So we hung around until a restaurant (Saffran) opened up at 11am.

As soon as we finished our chicken, we were on our way to the Golden Circle. We stopped by Þingvellir National Park and walked through a rocky chasm that led to a beautiful waterfall. Next we drove to Geysir. This geothermal area has a handful of geysers and little hot spring pools. While Geysir is the largest geyser, Strokkur was the most active one and would shoot up almost 30 feet into the air every few minutes. Our last stop on the Golden Circle was Gullfoss Waterfall. A gigantic waterfall almost as wide as it is tall, it was thundering and falling and beautiful. The only downside was that it was also hailing, raining, and the wind was blowing without mercy so it felt like I was under the waterfall — and by the time I got to the gift shop, I definitely looked it as I walked in drenched and wiping water away from my face as if my hands were windshield wipers.

But totally worth it.

The Golden Circle