By Dean Chytraus
This blog post started after beginning to plan for my Icelandic adventure and not really knowing where to start. Iceland posts are everywhere on social media, but they don't seem to provide much info.
Here is how I clocked Iceland.
1) Rent a Car
One of the things I went back and forth on was whether or not I would rent a car. With no idea on what the roads would be like, how far transit would take me, or even how much it would cost, but knowing the freedom and flexibility a car would provided it was time to research. Finally opting for a 4x4 to allow us to venture out off the standard tourist circuit.
Unfortunately, we got a very small Suzuki.
What it lacked in size, it made up for in heart. This little wonder gallantly escorted us over pretty much all of the Icelandic terrain with ease, apart from the wild rivers (believe me, I tried and it was terrifying!).
Sure it was expensive for the 16 days trip, but renting a vehicle is HIGHLY recommended.
Avoiding tour groups, having the freedom to roam at will, and providing a safe place for your gear is priceless in a country with so much natural beauty.
2) Bring your tent and camp
So you have dropped a packet on renting the car, camping is one way to bring your costs back down. Thankfully for me, camping was always at the top of my list for accommodation. Locally ran campsites are easy to find just about anywhere (thanks to the freedom of the car, we could go anywhere). Clean toilets, hot showers and laundry facilities were in most that we visited.
We had hoped for more 'wild' camping, but it was surprisingly harder to find than we thought.
3) Treat yourself every now and then
Recharge the batteries in a couple of nice indoor places during your time there. Believe me, It will feel amazing to be indoor and dry after 2 weeks of rain and waterfalls.
Another thing to look out for are these amazing treasures called huts. For less than a hostel stay, you can invest a few Krona in a roof over your head for the night. The hut pictured above was a difficult task to find, so I won't be able to provide the location. However, it was a very long and rocky road and we were very close to giving up and turning away. It was worth it. The valley and nearby glacier with a large glacial river were something from a dream. The hut was ours alone for the night. This is why I stress renting a 4x4. You will constantly find yourselves alone and away from the crowds.
4) The Icelandic churches
Iceland is known for it's many churches. Sailors would build them as a place to pray before and after heading out into the treacherous Icelandic waters. Each one is so different that you will feel like exploring each and every one.
To see them all, you would need a lot longer than 3 weeks.
5) Do as many waterfalls as you can
Waterfalls are another amazing wonder of this beautiful place! Sure there are the popular ones that will blow your mind.
But there are also endless hidden falls that would be major tourist destinations anywhere else in the world, but are rarely visited here because of the well trodden tourist trail.
Above is my favourite waterfall in all of Iceland, Dynjandi in the West Fjords. I had never seen anything like it before.
6) Don't you dare miss West Fjords
West Fjords is a large peninsula that faces Greenland on the north west edge of the island. You should take an absolute minimum of 3 days to cover the incredibly coastal roads of this unique part of the country. Tunnels, steep cliffs, breathtaking views and charming towns will be a constant.
An interesting fact; in 1965, 32 shipwrecked Basque whalers were killed by locals here. It was law until May 2015 that any Basque person seen in the region should be instantly killed.
Dean Chytraus is a thisworldexists adventure ambassador based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. For more of his incredible photos from around the world, follow him on Instagram @chytrausphoto