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Want to really mess with your internal clock? Take a trip to Iceland in the summertime. The sun never sets. Ever. The past four days I admit are a bit of blur but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
We got in this past Friday night at midnight Iceland time and had plenty of energy to burn. We took a 45 minute drive South East to the small village of Hveragerdi where we attempted to camp and fall asleep. After it became apparent we would not be able to sleep, our adventure took flight.
We had previously researched the mountains of Reykjadalur which were minutes away and decided to embark on a 2 AM hike. Although the sun never sets completely, it rises typically around 3:30 AM. We knew the hike would likely posture us for a beautiful sunrise but couldn’t imagine the incredible sights we were about to behold.
The steam coming out of the hills is from natural hot springs that flow all throughout the mountains in this region. I was in awe at God’s creation as I came face-to-face with wildlife and the breathtaking terrain as we climbed higher and further into the mountains.
The hike to the hot springs itself took about an hour. We saw some incredible sights, including some beautiful waterfalls along the way.
We made it to our destination right as the sun was rising. We jumped in the water, naturally warm at 95 degrees, warmer than the air. It was absolutely incredible. With the exception of a handful of people, we were the only ones there. How amazing it was to sit in the middle of the mountains enjoying a natural hot tub created by the Almighty himself. What a way to watch the sun rise!
Upon our return, the same sights we admired hiking up took on another perspective as the morning sun dawned upon them.
Our second day we drove about four hours South East to visit some waterfalls and hike to a glacier. At this point we we’d be going straight for 36 hours without any rest and it was slowly catching up with us. However, we later realized that by doing these excursions in the early hours of the morning it was working to our advantage and allowing us to visit sites when they were less busy.
Aside from its breathtaking waterfalls, hot springs and terrain, Iceland is also known for its rapidly changing climate. I was amazed at how cold (nearly 1-2 degrees celsius) it became as we approached the glacier. The transcendence of God was extremely apparent as our smallness became evident amongst the grandeur around us.
We slowly made our way back West but not without stopping at a few waterfall sites along the way. This was one of my favourite ones although we weren’t the first ones to get there that day.
After stopping and trying to sleep again (we were in a small camping van) with varying success, we decided to make our way to Vik, a small village known for its black sand beaches. Sleep deprived but awake with awe, we took a midnight stroll and read Scripture (Psalms 8 and 29 – look them up!) aloud to the crashing waves as the sun slowly rose on the sabbath. What a powerful moment of worship!
Upon leaving Vik, we stopped at another waterfall. Somehow my travelling partners, Kyle and Richard still had adequate energy to make the trek up a an adjacent path beside this waterfall. My tank, however was empty and after snapping this picture, I retreated to the van to catch a much needed 1.5 hour nap!
Our next stop took us to Geyser, Iceland where all geysers get their name. Here we observed an active geyser that spews 80-100 degree water every four to five minutes.
Across from Geyser was my favourite waterfall in Iceland, Gullfoss which means “Golden Falls” in Icelandic. This was by far the largest and most powerful waterfall we saw during our time in Iceland.
Having loved our original campsite to much we decided to finish our time there camping to catch up on some much needed rest. I finally slept through the night (6 hours) before waking up and going to a local bakery where I enjoyed some “Lava Bread”, an Icelandic bun that’s black in colour but tastes delicious. We then made the trek to the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik where we toured the city before sleeping one final night in the van.
Next stop: Brussels and Bruges, Belgium.