Travellers are often searching for an escape. Sometimes this can be found by a local crag or nearby coastline, maybe it's found just steps from our front door. But sometimes we need something further from the comfort of home. Sometimes we feel the need to travel to a wild North Atlantic island - this is one of those times.
Words & Photography by Tommy Moore | @tommymoorestudio
After a night full of travel we landed in Keflavik. Our itinerary for the trip was rough at best, but the basis was simply to camp our way around the island in ten days. As I stepped off the plane, I was immediately greeted by a heavy mist, not uncommon in the Southwestern region of the island. Warm hues of golden plantlife showed through the thick fog, waving in the forceful, coastal winds. We drove through a sea of rolling hills covered in dune grass as we left the peninsula for Reykjavik, where we spent the night to get our bearings.
In the city, we walked the streets, twisting and turning through downtown. Even as the most populated city in the country, it was refreshingly intimate and approachable. Holding a charm similar to that of Amsterdam, or other aged European cities, Reykjavik found balance in the juxtaposition of new and old. Vibrant colours hugged the facades of every other building, softened by the dreary, yet comforting, overcast sky.
We got off to an early start as we left Reykjavik for camp in Kirkjubaejarklaustur. The drive ran through the middle of a small mountain range, giving us our first glimpse of what Iceland’s landscape truly had to offer. The views along the coast were unlike anything I had ever seen, flat plains of bubblegum looking moss morphed into plains of black pebbles and sand. There were no foothills, just flat, mossy plains stretching up rocky cliffs, similar to that of crashing waves reaching for the top of an oceanside bluff.
Streams are the veins of any ecosystem, but nowhere is it more apparent than in Iceland. Glacial waters spread their roots over the land in their search for the ocean, splitting cliff sides and descending hundreds of feet in the process.
Up to this point, we had endured the bipolar weather of Iceland’s South, but yet to face a wild Icelandic storm that we had heard so much about. This all changed on the last leg of our drive into the Holm Peninsula. Snarling clouds crowned the nearby mountains to the east while the sky glowed purple from the setting sun to the west and heavy darkness from the clouds raced towards us. First, we were greeted by the forceful rain, crashing on our windshield like liquid rocks, followed then by illustrious winds and sporadic hail.
As we travelled through the Eastern Fjords, the owner of a cafe recommended that we stay in Seyoisfjorour, a small village off the ring road towards the coast. This advice resulted in the collective highpoint of our entire trip. As we crested the mountain range separating the fjords from the Ring Road, the beautiful village appeared below. Nestled between high cliffs and the water, the village glowed below the snowy peaks. After setting up camp on the edge of town, we grabbed our first real meal of the trip at the local grill. Our laughter filled the air as our stomachs were finally filled with quality food and drink. As the sun had already set over the peaks encompassing the village, we decided to go back up to the initial viewpoint to squeeze as much out of blue hour as possible. Though the wind was brutal, the scene was set perfectly as we all gazed out into the fjord.
Days later made our way to Reykjadiskur on Iceland’s Northern Coast. I had heard about a small hot spring tucked into some rocks along the coast, but was unsure of the credibility of the information. It was a bit a jog to get to, as it was a ways off the main road. We had been driving for 15 or 20 minutes down a dirt road when I could tell everyone was starting to question if I knew where I was going. To be completely honest I didn’t. But the moment one of the guys asked was just the moment we reached the top of a small hill, and the springs presented themselves.
The spring was maintained by the sweetest of families. With farm fields to camp in we were surrounded by an oceanside bluff at the peninsula’s tip and a black sand beach. We were in heaven. What was originally expected to be a short visit turned into an entire day and night. Throughout the day we chatted with the daughter of the founder, who is now in charge of the site, and were entertained by her sweet little baby. Later that night, as we were fixing dinner we met her husband, Benny (who’s Icelandic name we couldn’t pronounce). He stayed with us while we finished eating, joyfully chatting and engaging in friendly banter.
In the coming days, we wrapped up our tour of the island. Along the way, some plans went exceedingly well, while many others crashed and burned. This trip frequently begged for the ability to roll with the punches, which can also be said about Iceland in general. Iceland is alluring and stunning, but it’s also dreary and lonely. The island is not for the faint of heart, and we saw that in the eyes of all the wonderful people we met.