Though I have been several times before, I had never entered the interior of the country which is only open a few months of the year. Behind the southern volcanoes is a wilderness of glacial blue lakes and a Mars-like landscape that I wanted to see and photograph.
Not knowing the area, I booked on a wilderness camping trip which included a week of trekking, wild camping and being open to the elements.
When I arrived in Reykjavik, my bag weighed 25kgs and I was quickly told I had too much stuff but not enough food. I had spent the last 3 months trying to lighten my pack but certain items were quickly put into the “not essential” category like spare batteries, most toiletries and books. As for food, I had my rehydrated meals, gluten free wraps and snacks but that first evening was spent buying more (expensive) protein bars and nuts.
First night of camping in 15 years went relatively well and I learnt the tricks of how to set the tent and mattress up quickly. These tricks were needed when the weather turned on us during the trip. If you have never heard of one, google “windboiler” and you will find a small water boiler which was excellent. The meals needed hot water and coffee was a welcome addition on some mornings and this contraption was small and boiled the water so quickly.
After little sleep on the first night in a large campsite in Reykjavik we packed up and set off to the highlands. The distance there is 300 kms with some of it on the infamous Iceland “F roads” which only a 4×4 can use. Luckily for us the guide had booked a super Jeep which was great……..until it broke down in the middle of nowhere. Three hours of waiting until another picked us up and took us the rest of the way.
We arrived in the rain, we set up the tents and jumped in…….that would be that for the evening. Setting up a tent from the inside including blowing up a mattress is definitely a challenge.
On the first Morning at the Langisjór Lake we set off on the southern side walking along the various volcanic ridges and vents and for 3 days we were lucky with the weather. The sun sets at 11.30pm and rises 3 hours later so there was not much sleep and even though the it was dry, the wind is present.
To help us escape the wind, we slept one night in a volcanic crater which gave us much welcomed cover. To finish, we hiked 2 days back to a bus stop on the highland road (about 35 away). The scenery changed but was still spectacular. From a misty canyon to a large volcanic fissure, we captured the entire trek and after 5 days met the bus looking pretty tired.
Back at Reykjavik it was time for some food, a much needed shower and a beer…….not in that order. I have never wild camped before but will definitely do it again. Remember though, certain things we all take for granted in daily life become sorely missed ☺☺