Halló! One of my dreams for many years have been to see the Northern Lights, having seen and heard many awesome things about Iceland over the years, it was just a matter of time to merge both ideas into one. This short trip backpacking in Iceland was an incredible taster of this wonderful country!
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My solo trip backpacking in Iceland was in mid November taking a late night flight from London to Reykjavik, upon arrival I took a 45-min bus towards the city and made my very late check-in in Guesthouse Andrea.
Having such a brief time to spend in the country, I had to plan everyday in advance to maximise my time there, which is something I don’t tend to do (the planning bit!).
This was the schedule:
Day -1 Arriving at midnight
Day 1 Glacier Walk and Northern Lights tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides
Day 2 The Golden Circle Tour with I Heart Reykjavik
Day 3 Walk around Reykjavik and flight back in the evening
This was going to be my first time hiking on a glacier so I was pretty excited, we headed early towards Sólheimajökull glacier, the guides from IMG were not only friendly but very informative, and after a short training on how to walk with the crampons we headed off towards the glacier itself.
This place reminded me of the wonderful glaciers I saw when backpacking in Patagonia.
From the parking area to the ice there was a walk of about 15min, what is really sad, is that around the year 2000, the glacier started right on the parking lot, which says a lot on the speed at how it’s melting.
If you’re sensitive about our planet, have a look at the “Chasing Ice” documentary, it’s worthwhile and hopefully will help some of the thinking heads in the planet to act more decisively on climate change.
The trip also includes a couple of waterfalls seeings and a stop in the incredible Reynisfjara Black Lava Beach, which has some awesome rock formations.
Finally in the evening you go hunting for the Northern Lights. To my disappointment, for the two nights that I spent in Iceland the activity was too low and I didn’t manage to see them. It was still cool to be in such a remote place, almost in the middle of nowhere (still close to the capital though) hoping to see the magical moment.
Perhaps the most famous “attraction” in Iceland is the Golden Circle as you get to see quite a few gems in a very short amount of time. Waterfalls, geysers, national parks of exceptional beauty, and beautiful landscapes which make the hours on the bus not too boring. The powerful Gullfoss waterfall was my favourite spot but the geysers were also a cool place.
For two days I got a lot of information from the tour guides, it was very interesting to discover about the local customs, geology and random stories but after two days on organised tours I was looking forward for a day on my own walking around town to finish my trip backpacking in Iceland.
On my second evening I had dinner at the Cafe Loki, which serves traditional Icelandic food. I love to try everything at least once, except endangered species (which are sadly a touristy thing in Iceland) and I had the Icelandic Braveheart plate, I warn you! if you’re picky with your food do not get this! as it was not an easy deal to eat the fermented shark! but I definitely loved the experience!
Reykjavik is a relatively small town which is very easy to walk, I didn’t have time to squeeze a visit to the local swimming pool that an Icelandic friend told me is a common thing to do over there, instead I visited the Hallgrimskirkja church which is quite striking, the Harpa Concert Hall, the Sun Voyager and just a general stroll around town.
Iceland is full of natural wonders and I’d definitely go back at some point for a longer trip as I only saw a tiny bit of its beauty. It’s definitely not an easy place to go on a budget as everything is pretty expensive, if you have been in London, you can think of Iceland as x3 more expensive…still, it has a lot to show!