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Traverse of Iceland—the Executive Summary

A recap of my 16-day 500-mile traverse of Iceland from Hofn to Arnarstapi.

 

Classic Sights: Gullfoss, Geysir, and Glacier Lagoon

A few of the most popular spots in Iceland: Gullfoss, Geysir, and Glacier Lagoon

Scary Rivers, Scary Fords, Waterfalls, and Glaciers

Iceland’s glacier-fed rivers are downright scary—they are extremely silty, swift, and freezing cold. The combination of Iceland’s bedrock—primarily old basaltic flows – and the abundance of water create amazing and numerous waterfalls.

Wildlife

The most dangerous predator in Iceland is the Arctic fox, though recently polar bears have started swimming ashore from Greenland (only to get shot immediately upon landfall). The bird population is very healthy, and there are caribou in the eastern Highlands. Expect to see lots of sheep and a few cows.

Thermal Activity

Iceland sits right on the mid-Atlantic rift, the fracture point between the North American and European plates. A steady flow of lava rising from deep in the earth fills in the gap as these plates spread apart. The geology in Iceland is therefore very active, with lots of volcanoes, lava flows, thermal vents, geysers, and hot springs.

Wind and Weather

It rains a lot—not as a downpour, but in continuous waves of horizontal-blowing rain pellets. Often there is a thick overcast of low-hanging clouds. There was almost always a wind, frequently strong enough to knock me around for hours at a time.

Terrain Types

Most of Iceland is covered in grass, moss, gravel, sand, or ice—or some combination thereof. Trees are virtually non-existent.

Landscapes

Highlights of Iceland: Lonsoraefi, Vetnajokull, Highlands, Tvidaegra, and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Big glaciers, raging rivers, bleak moonscapes, neon mosses and thick grasses, etc.

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