Aldeyjarfoss, Iceland by Michael Thomas

Picture Story

Iceland is a magical place, especially in winter. Having read many accounts of hazardous driving conditions and fierce storms, I decided on my first trip to go on a photo tour of north Iceland and leave the driving to someone else. For most of the trip we visited all the usual places in our tour bus. However to get to Aldeyjarfoss and Hrafnabjargafoss, we went in two super jeeps driven by a pair of bearded jovial guides who would have looked at home on a Viking ship.

Anyone who has visited Aldeyjarfoss knows it is a steep descent from the parking area to the plateau above the splash pool. Hiking in knee deep snow, especially on the return, was difficult but well worth the effort. The blue waterfall’s basalt columns were caked in thick ice. Maneuvering around between shots, two words kept popping up in my head: winter and cold. It was a totally different experience from shooting this waterfall in summer.

If you visit Iceland in winter on your own, you should be experienced in severe winter driving. Two years after this trip, my wife and I returned on our own to tour the south coast and visit some ice caves. We drove through a couple of moderate snow storms early in the trip with no problem. But on our last morning, trying to beat a Ring Road closure, we encountered a whiteout that lasted 5-10 minutes, the scariest thing we have ever encountered in our travels. Winds here can be ferocious. The day before our arrival, a 757 was spun around at the airport! Attention to weather and road condition reports is critical to a safe trip in Iceland in winter. Fortunately Icelandic rental cars are equipped with studded tires in winter, which along with AWD help immensely.

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