Part of the adventure of any Icelandic road trip is the journey itself.
The extremity of Iceland’s landscape and weather make passing through the wilderness an immersive, visceral experience – particularly in winter. A blue sky reflecting in plains of fresh snow can turn within minutes into a white-knuckle drive through zero-visibility fog and driving rain; a smoothly curving stretch of coastal road can suddenly be hit by car-rocking sea gales. Everywhere, there are vast open plains of frosted moss, violent waves crashing into black shores, or jagged, snowed-in lava fields.
The mountains are a constant backdrop, sometimes a distant counterpoint to the wide-open space, sometimes hulking ominously over the road, dominating the field of vision completely. Human constructions, such as the manifold farms and colourful houses all seem tiny. The natural environment reveals its all-encompassing power in Iceland, and the road through it sets the senses tingling.
We (photographer Axel Sigurðarson and I) drove the southern Ring Road recently on the way to check out Vatnajökull’s glacier caves. We stopped frequently to explore, with plenty of small detours to take in the scenery, be it a frozen beach or a glacier tongue.
Here are a few highlights from the journey.
Take Route One South From Reykjavík and drive all the way to the Jökulsárlón visitor centre for pickup. Trip provided by Ice Guide, book online or or call +354-6610900.
Distance from Reykjavík: Around 379 km
Accommodation at Skaftafell provided by Hótel Skaftafell, email or call +354-4781945.