At the end of February (2014), I took a solo trip through Iceland to decompress from work and stretch my eyes outside of Washington, DC. Why Iceland? Well, I’m somewhat drawn to extreme climes, had a yearning to see the northern lights, and I love learning about science and history. Iceland has plenty to offer on all those fronts. There is a huge viking influence on the culture and tradition, even the architecture and design. And it’s no secret the country is also known as “the land of fire and ice,” volcanoes drove the evolution of the island’s topography and resources. Contrast that with the near arctic conditions that the country can experience in the winter and it’s a really stunning place to experience.
Here is a collection of 35 images that made during my trip. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did shooting them.
Reynisdrangar rock formations off the coast of Vík, South Iceland. Legend is that trolls tried to drag a ship to land, and when the sun rose over them everything froze to stone. The basalt formations are actually a result of normal erosion processes, and serve as a nesting place for seabirds.
A tourist photographs Seljalandsfoss waterfall in South Iceland.
A Less Black-Backed Gull dives from its perch next to Skógafoss waterfall in Skógar, South Iceland.
An Icelandic horse with a windswept mane. Icelandic horses closely resemble Shetland Ponies, and are similar genetically as well. However, they are strictly referred to as a breed of horse, and were originally brought to the Island nation by Norwegian Vikings.
Thermophilic algae (the bright, cooler colors) thrive in the near boiling water in silica flats next to Geysir, the worlds first discovered geyser (and the namesake of that geologic feature). Golden Circle, Iceland.
Snowflakes rest in a blue mussel shell on the shore of Grundarfjörður in West Iceland on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Strokkur, the smaller brother of Geysir, erupts every 4-8 minutes with a variable height spout. Golden Circle, Iceland.
On the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, pure blue glacial ice contrasted with volcanic silt, likely from the 2010 eruption of nearby Eyjafjallajökull.
Mosses grow on rocks in a lava field at the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Western Iceland.
The Aurora Borealis (northern lights) appear in the northwest sky over Vík, South Iceland.
Winds sweeps snow across the “Ring Road,” (or Hringvegur) Iceland’s main highway which circles the island country.
Despite boiling temperatures in the water mere feet away, the chilling winds in Iceland’s Golden Circle allow icicles to form from steam condensing and dripping off of a guide rope next to Strokkur geyser.
A basalt formation near Reynisdrangar displaying columnar jointing—that geometric order to the rock—which occurs when magma cools very quickly under under extraordinarily high pressure. Shoreside outside of Vík, South Iceland.
The Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago (or, The Westman Islands), a volcanically formed island chain off the south coast of Iceland.
Even a winter freeze can’t stop the powerful waterfall Gulfoss, in Iceland’s Golden Circle. Though the multi-tiered falls were largely frozen, torrents of determined water continued to course through the ice in late February.
Moss, lichen, mineral and frost. Detail of a cave wall behind Seljalandfoss waterfall.
Hiking on Mýrdalsjökull glacier, with ice axes and helmets.
A small group of hikers traversing south, back to camp, off of Mýrdalsjökull.
Tourists at the foot of Mýrdalsjökull, a smaller glacial offshoot of Sólheimajökull, one of Iceland’s largest ice caps. Both glaciers lie east of Eyjafjallajökull, arguable Iceland’s most famous geologic formation. The name refers to both the ice cap and the volcano underneath, which erupted in 2010, delaying and canceling transatlantic flights for days. The silt resting on the ice is likely from that eruption, though the entire area has been shaped by volcanic forces over the years. The ridge just behind the small group marks the distinction between the mountainside and the glacier.
Several groups hike on Mýrdalsjökull.
On the road towards Stykkishólmur in West Iceland, seabirds fly over the fjord and to the mountains in the distance.
Jökulsárlón, the “Glacier Lagoon” in South East Iceland, right before sundown.
Early morning, boats in port in Grundarfjörður, west Iceland.
White beaked dolphins breach over rough seas off the coast of Grundarfjörður, West Iceland.
View of the bow of a Láki whale touring boat, off the coast of Grundarfjörður, West Iceland.
Hopeful whale watchers keep eyes peeled for orcas or “killer whales” on a Láki whale watching tour off the coast of Grundarfjörður, West Iceland.
A lone seal in a small tidal basin outside of Grundarfjörður, West Iceland.
Looking east from the ruins of the old church atop Helgafell. Legend holds that if you climb Helgafell, starting at the grave of a Saga-era woman and ending at the top, in the ruins of the old church, you are granted three wishes. But there are rules: you must not look back your entire climb, you cannot say a single word on your hike, and you must make your wish after turning east.
Part of a small farmstead in South Iceland, built directly into a rock formation.
Steam rises behind a warning sign at Geysir, in Iceland’s Golden Circle.
Tourists stand at the foot of Seljalandfoss waterfall.
The small coastal town of Vík in South Iceland, with the Reynisdrangar rock formation visible off the coast.
The church in Vík, South Iceland. Many Icelandic churches found in the countryside follow similar design cues.
A boat in the small port of Stykkishólmur, West Iceland.
Iceland’s most famous tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon. Contrary to popular belief, the Blue Lagoon is NOT a natural formation, though all of it’s parts are. The mineral rich, naturally hot geothermic water is runoff from a nearby geothermic power plant. Water is vented from a natural spring, with powers the plant’s turbines. The water then continues unaltered into the Blue Lagoon. The popular volcanic and algae scrubs available “poolside” are also all natural, as is the lava field that was flooded for the resort. Located in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula.
Thanks for looking! Please respect that these photos are all my property ©AJ Chavar 2014 yadda yadda yadda. I’ve tried my absolute best to make sure all the scientific, geographic, and all other information here is 100% accurate, but PLEASE contact me if you see an error in any of the caption information or place names so that I can verify and rectify. All the best, AJ.
We met in D.C. —
And some people think D.C. isn’t a city for love…
Outside Whole Foods.
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I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
Happy 85th, Martin Luther King Jr.
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