After decades of living in the U.S., flying over this tiny, fiery nation several times a year, I’m almost embarrassed to say that this was my first visit. The truth is I never felt compelled to go — Iceland reminded me too much of Norway, I thought… But after reading countless travel stories, I decided to put the country on my map.
When I first planned my itinerary, I knew it would have to be a quick visit. But as luck would have it, I had only 24 hours to see what I wanted to see! Arriving at the crack of dawn, there was only 10 minutes margin of error to make it through immigration, baggage claim, bus to Reykjavik, luggage storage, get bus tickets, and board the bus to Landmannalaugar, one of the biggest natural wonders within reach of Reykjavik. As the photos attest, I did make it and got an incredible view of interior Iceland during the 2-3 hours ride to the national park.
The landscape, from the area around the famous Hekla volcano to the lava fields and geological deposits in Landmannalaugar, looks like something out of a Star Wars movie and is, in places, reminiscent of Death Valley. And despite being a major draw, the scale of the place, made me feel like I was the only person on a strange planet. Landmannalaugar is wonderfully uncurated; there’s no gift shop or cordoned-off areas, you can walk right up to the many geological features. For me, that meant almost getting my hand burnt in a geothermal vent and breathing in large amounts of sulfur.