On a high school trip focusing on literature, history and the art of knitting, ten classmates and I traverse the southern coast of Iceland with two teachers.
Iceland, 2014 – Reykjavik marina. The Icelandic coast guard watches over the harbor and regularly monitors sea ice. The ice found in Icelandic waters comes from the Denmark strait, which connects the Atlantic and Arctic oceans between Iceland and Greenland. The Landhelgisgæslan and other vessels help authorities issue warnings when necessary.
Iceland, 2014 – Gullfoss waterfall, the Golden Circle. Two brothers overlook the ‘Golden Falls,’ one of Iceland’s most popular attractions. This famous, tiered waterfall is one of three stops along the popular Golden Circle day tour from the city.
Iceland, 2014 – Skógafoss waterfall, south coast. People stop to photograph the waterfall while sheep from nearby farms graze in the fields below. About 400 steps take you to a viewing deck above Skógafoss and legend states that a viking once hid his gold in a cave behind the falls. While it is one of Iceland’s most visited waterfalls, the country is home to more than 10,000.
Iceland, 2014 – Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Icebergs calving into the lake are swept out to sea while seals swim by lazily in the water. This glacial lake is currently the deepest lake in Iceland due to the receding glacier. The lake has become a popular destination not only for its beauty but its fame, having been featured in several Hollywood films including Batman Begins.
Iceland, 2014 – Ingolfshofdi, south coast. After a brief but steep hike up from the beach, the birds are merely feet away from us. Puffins and Great Skua nest in the cliffs of this private nature reserve. The headland is home to thousands of birds and is popular for hiking trips during the summer. The area is also part of the largest breeding ground for the northern family of Great Skua.
Iceland, 2014 – Thorvaldseyri, family farm at the base of Eyjafjallajokull. After a stop at the visitor center we headed over to tour the farm which is home to over 150 cattle and dairy cows. Large amounts of volcanic ash were deposited here from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. In some areas, it was up to four inches deep and major flooding inundated the fields. The family was forced to leave the farm for several days due to the extreme conditions.
On our annual summer trip, my family of four explores the southern coast of Iceland, learning about volcanism, Icelandic elves, and whales.
Iceland, 2015 – Kvosin Hotel, downtown Reykjavik. A street view of the city center hotel and crowds from the parade on Iceland’s national holiday. Both photos were taken during Iceland’s summer solstice weekend, meaning 72 hours of straight daylight. The Kvosin opened as a hotel in 2013 after the historic building was remodeled to accommodate guests due to the spike in Iceland’s tourism. Most visitors arrive in the summer months, the peak of the season being during the months of July and August.
Iceland, 2015 – Reykjavik marina. Dad eats grilled ling fish with barley. Seafood is very popular in Iceland due to their heavy involvement in the fishing industry, which was only recently surpassed by tourism. Though there are quotas, whaling is also permitted in Icelandic waters. The most popular fish is Cod and general fish products constitute over 70% of the country’s exports.
Iceland, 2015 – Reykjavik marina. Fishing boats and coast guard vessels watch over the marina. The coast guard acts alone, as the country has no army, air force, or navy. Metropolitan police officers do not carry handguns. Though they are trained, only special operations and policemen in remote areas of the country carry weapons other than batons and pepper spray.
Iceland, 2015 – Gullfoss waterfall, the Golden Circle. My father and brother pose for a photograph overlooking the steep wall of plummeting water. Investors had planned to use the falls for generating electricity, but plans failed and the area is now protected by the state.
Iceland, 2015 – Thórsmörk, south coast. After finishing our lunch, we continued on through the valley at Thórsmörk, passing through several rivers. This valley region sits between two of Iceland’s glaciers, Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull. The Eyjafjallajökull ice cap sits on top of an active caldera. Its 2010 eruption was considered small but had large impacts on air travel worldwide. Massive plumes of ash and glass were ejected several miles into the atmosphere, halting air traffic for several days.
Iceland, 2015 – Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Thousand year old ice calves into the glacial lake. Black striping in the icebergs indicate various sediments (sand and dirt) picked up by the glacier, but it can also be collected volcanic ash. The Jökulsárlón lagoon did not exist until the 1930’s. It is constantly increasing in size as the glacier recedes.
Iceland, 2015 – Leiðarendi cave. We all gear up in the car before heading to the cave entrance on our final adventure. Just inside the entrance, my father crouches alongside us underground due to the low ceiling. Leiðarendi is a solidified lava tube which extends about 900 meters and is located within the lava field surrounding the Reykjavik area. The name Leiðarendi translates to ‘The End of the Road’ which was given when sheep remains were found at the end of the collapsed lava tube.