The Land of Fire and Ice

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On our first day in Iceland, we battled jet lag and sleep deprivation to troll the streets of Reykjavik. With pastries and coffee in hand, we visited the sights and simply admired the rather quaint northernmost capital in the world. Although we enjoyed Reykjavik, we spent the day in anticipation, waiting for the following morning to begin our tour of “true” Iceland: waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, and pure natural beauty. The next day we drove the classic Golden Circle drive, including Pingvellir National Park, Haukadalur geysers, and Gullfoss waterfall.

Iceland in the summer equals mossy greens and lots of water. Waterfalls, lakes, springs, babbling brooks, and oceans. The icy glacial water as above is crystal clear, allowing visitors to peer into the depths to admire the thousands of coins thrown in for luck and wishes.
Natural beauty hearkened at every turn along the Golden Circle route.
Pingvallavatn: a rift valley lake in Pingvellir National Park
Tectonic rift in Pingvellir National Park
Geysers at Haukadalur
Gullfoss Waterfall
These purple beauties are actually an invasive species, the North American or Alaskan Lupine. Though invasive, they seem to be classic Icelandic landscaping.

Whitney and I occupied the hours driving the Ring Road with insightful conversations, admiring the ever present alluring landscape, and searches for classic Icelandic creatures. Icelandic horses and big horn sheep frequented our roadside views regularly, but the reindeer and puffins provided a little more difficulty.

The world famous shaggy Icelandic horses.
Big horn sheep dot nearly every roadside and mountain along the Ring Road.
And yes! I spotted my first reindeer through the trees on our drive in Eastern Iceland.
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Iceland is also known for one of the world’s largest colonies of Atlantic puffins. These cute and rather small birds can hold up to 60 fish in their mouth at once.
We took a boat tour out to a few islands off the coast of Reykjavik to catch a fleeting glimpse of these adorable creatures. These pictures were incredibly difficult to capture as our boat was constantly rocking up and down over the waves and the puffins tended to fly away right as I clicked for a photo.


After the Golden Circle, we continued along Route 1, better known as the Ring Road. A good portion of the pit stops along the road are majestic waterfalls that carry the melted glacial water down the cliffs and mountains to the ocean below.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Skogafoss waterfall


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We stopped at a few unmarked cascading waterfalls along the way, as well.
Godafoss waterfall: unfortunately the rainy weather drowned our hopes of a decent picture of this incredible sight
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Hraunfossar waterfalls: the glacial blue color of these falls was beyond beautiful

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The icy blue base of Barnafoss waterfall

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