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A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland

Reynisdrangar

Reynisdrangar   | Photo Credit: Prathap Ravishankar

Here’s how to take a solo road trip around Iceland, where every bend and turn reveals a breathtaking view

It was a great night out with a woman I had just met. Things went well, or so I thought. Yet we parted ways. Whisky has unpredictable effects. Rather than whiling away the night in futility, I flipped open my laptop.

By 1 am, I found myself casually scrolling through stunning pictures of Iceland. I thought about how I had been obsessing about visiting the country for years but never really done anything about it. I was broke — Iceland is expensive. I also had no clue about when to travel there. Or how.

Yet, by dawn I had booked a hostel and rented a car online (you only pay when you arrive). There were around 40 tabs (all for research) open on my laptop. I’ve always been an advocate of impulsiveness; but, this seemed a bit far fetched. Even for me.

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland
 

Travelling alone is underrated

The following days were spent trying to turn a tentative plan into an actual trip. It involved a lot of paperwork to get my documents in order. Thanks to my almost empty bank account I found out it was easy to get a personal loan within four days. With the money sorted, I booked my tickets and managed to snag a return ticket from Delhi to Reykjavik for ₹ 44,000.

After almost 22 hours of flying I reached Reykjavik, and explored the small city by foot for two days, crossing off touristy must-dos before heading to the famous Ring Road to explore its scenic views.

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland

Driving around the island makes you realise that it lives, breathes, shifts and changes with every turn. You see that in the majestic waterfalls, rugged canyons and diamond-like glaciers. In the fuming hot springs, hypnotising aurora and sparkling ice caves.

Sometimes you find yourself pulling over to the side just to gaze at the picturesque landscape and be humbled by the view.

The island has an ability to heal. It also instills an insatiable wanderlust. The Ring Road approximately takes around a week to cover, at a leisurely pace.

 

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland

I spent six days driving around the country, and discovering its highlights. Here they are, so you can do the same.

The golden circle

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland

The Golden Circle covers around 300 kilometres, looping from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. Walk along the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates at the Silfra fissure. Visit Geysir and Strokkur, the latter erupts every few minutes. Also look out for Gullfoss, a 100-foot massive waterfall, and Kerið, a strikingly vivid volcanic crater lake.

Vik and Reynisfjara

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland

Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland overlooks the beautiful cliffs of Reynisdrangar, two spectacularly shaped basalt rocks in the sea. Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach featuring a cliff that resembles a rocky step pyramid.

Mývatn Nature Reserve

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland

Located in the North of Iceland, this lake is in an area of active volcanism. Once here do check out Hverir geothermal area, Mývatn Nature baths, Grjótagjá, an underground hot spring cave, Hverfell a 420m tall volcanic crater, Dimmuborgir Lava formations and Skútustaðir Pseudo Craters.

Húsavík

This is the northernmost port and the whale-watching capital of the island. One can see up to three to four different species of whales out of the 23 recorded species spotted. You can book a whale and puffin watching tour every hour during summer.

Akureyri 

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland
 

Nicknamed the northern capital of Iceland, Akureyri is an important port and fishing centre. This is where cruise ships carrying wide-eyed tourists dock. It is also known for its robust cultural scene and whale-watching tours.

 

Snæfellsjökull National Park

A song of fire and ice: a solo trip to Iceland
 

Snæfellsjökull is a 7,00,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano in western Iceland. Also explore Kirkjufell, the ‘church mountain’ known for its symmetrical arrow-headed shape, and Hellnar, an ancient fishing village with myriad rock formations on the beach. Lóndrangar has massive rock structures out in the sea, and there’s Arnarstapi, a small local fishing village known for its peculiar rock formation that locals call the arch rock.

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Roadtrip 101

Since Iceland is an expensive country for tourists, here are ways to make your trip easier on the wallet.

  • Rent a smaller car
  • Stick to Route One (marked in red on the map) and smaller surfaced roads
  • Buy bread and other provisions in grocery stores and limit eating out
  • Stay in hostels. It's the cheapest option after couch surfing
  • Avoid packaged tours. There is so much information available on the Internet. Take your time to plan
  • The best time to do this drive is from mid April to the end of September

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 3:53:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/a-road-trip-around-iceland/article19796608.ece

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