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Winding Through Iceland

Lone Tree Photographer Explores Majesty of Iceland's Waterfalls, Glaciers, Mountain Peaks in Rusty Rented Van For Trip of a Lifetime

Roughly the size of Maine, boasting a population of 340,000 people, 800,000 sheep, 80,000 horses, 10,000 waterfalls and 32 volcanic systems, Iceland is a busy place.

The island is a geological roper room, straddling two continental tectonic plates, Iceland sits on the North American continent and the Eurasian Continent. See for yourself at Thingvellir National Park, 26 miles east from Reykjavik where you can stand on them at the same time.

From Denver it’s a direct flight on Iceland Air to Reykjavík, (7 hours, basically a two-movie flight). From there the journey began. Traveling tip: Rent your car away from the airport, it will save you money, also, consider a camper van.

We logged 1,500 miles in our much dented, rusty, rented car (which we came to adore) circumnavigating the island on the Ring Road. Given our perpetual state of wanderlust, we veered off the main route to do some additional exploring.

Here’s what we discovered: the word “wow” was used to a level of ridiculousness. Each turn on the single lane roads — with one lane bridges — evoked a “Wow . . . Look at this!” There were literally thousands of waterfalls, mist-shrouded mountains, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, ice caps, verdant hillsides, strange moonscapes from volcanic activity, idyllic farms and the ever-present blue-green ocean.

What can you can expect? Iceland is very expensive, I shudder to think of my credit card bill. They’re a cashless society, we had no currency in our 10 days. That said, there are some restrooms that require coins. Masks were required indoors.

Icelanders are fluent in English, (American English) and learn English and Danish early on. They’re not the friendliest people you may come across. That’s not a criticism, just be prepared. The country is clean, you won’t find roadsides packed with plastic items or assorted trash. Take a water bottle, and fill it from the sink, yes, it’s that clean.

When traveling, quadruple drive time. Our 2.5-hour drive from Reykjavik to Vik, (116 miles) turned into 10 hours. Remember single lane bridges, and the waterfalls that required several pictures, the Icelandic ponies that needed petting, or the glacier fields that needed exploring.

I recommend two days in Reykjavik, one day to explore the city, which is much larger than I anticipated and feels like Seattle. Day two, drive the Golden Circle, it’s a snowball throw from the capital.

Then find yourself on the Ring Road. Our tour guide was “Rick Steves Iceland Guide Book”, it was terrific and his research saved us money.

Steve Sorensen is an award-winning professional photographer, living in Lone Tree with his wife, Carol, and dog, Joe, AKA, Joe Boy, Buddy, and bad dog. Carol and Steve are Colorado Natives, rabid travelers, and marathon runners. Find me, or IG: @EarthReflected.

Editors Note:  Be sure to check local travel advisories before traveling.