'I pondered about how crazy a place like Iceland is, a country so beautiful and magnificent yet it could easily take your life in a heartbeat. It’s a risk you take to be able to experience life as far removed from anything you have ever imagined. It leaves you speechless and numb.'
Words & Photography by Gavin Richmond | @gvnrchmnd
Having landed at Keflavik airport the team were welcomed by the woman who was to be our guide for the next few days who, at the time, seemed to be as warm at greeting us as the temperature outside the truck (read sub-zero). Ahead of us was a short 7-hour drive east to Smyrlabjörg, Skálafell, where we would find our first bed for the night. The dated interior of the hotel was quickly forgotten as the skies cleared to wow and astound a cold and tired team of Mancunians and Lancastrians, staring for what felt like hours at the famous Aurora Borealis, which danced in the skies above us.
The following morning we headed out early doors to our first shoot location Jökulsárlón, home to Diamond Beach and Glacier Lagoon. Small icebergs wash ashore like stranded fishing boats here. Eventually, the tide break’s the ice down and scatters the black velvety sands with crystal-like ice sculptures. Over at the Glacier Lagoon, the heavy rain had turned the icebergs a vivid blue. They floated on a sea of still water, blending seamlessly into the overcast sky above. A small ripple appeared in the glass like water, a lonesome seal broke the surface to reveal itself to us, before swiftly and quietly diving back down into Iceland's deepest lake.
Day three of our adventure found us venturing westwards towards Sveitarfélagið Hornafjörðu Glacier, an outlet glacier that flows from the ice cap of Vatnajökull. It is at this point of the trip that Iceland’s prolific and deserved status opened my eyes to the wonders of our little planet. I’ve visited the Coliseum, the Eiffel Tower and stood at the top of the Rockefeller but none come anywhere close to the sheer magnitude and raw nature of Iceland’s landscape in these parts. There are no words to describe it and no photograph powerful enough to capture it or do it justice.
Mýrdalshreppur located close to the small remote village of Vik was the final leg of our journey and one which tested the expert driving ability of our guide Thora. A single track led us up the glacier deep in snow; any deviation from the rocky route would see us meet our peril. Lucky for us, Thora had taken this route many times so thankfully we were in safe hands.
At the top of the glacier, four beautiful huskies and their owners greeted us. The dog’s soft silver coats and striking ice blues eyes stood out amongst the pure white landscape. I tried my best to resist a selfie with one of the huskies, but in the end they were just too adorable. In the distance we could see a snowstorm gathering pace, worried for our safety, our guide talked us all into heading back down the glacier before the sunset and the snow left us stranded.
On the drive back to the hotel, I pondered about how crazy a place like Iceland is, a country so beautiful and magnificent yet it could easily take your life in a heartbeat. It’s a risk you take to be able to experience life as far removed from anything you have ever imagined. It leaves you speechless and numb. Days after the trip I wondered if I did actually see the things I saw or do the things I had done. Even now when I reminisce about the trip, it still feels quite surreal. It’s an adventure I will never forget and as for my bucket list, this is one place I can finally, after 20 years of wanting, tick off.