Journey to another planet...

Castle-like cliff face

...well almost. Its just that there are scenes that have made Iceland the flavour of the month for an exotic movie location. If you've seen Prometheus you'll recognise this landscape from the opening scenes. You can see why after traveling just a short time around this amazing island. The distinct lack of trees for a start makes for an unearthly looking terrain. It seems that original settlers from the 9th century did their bit to rid the land of anything above head height. An amazing feat in itself given the current population of Iceland stands at around 320,000. Then you have the massive sloping mountains that envelop you from all directions – there is not much of anything man-made.

That's one of the beautiful aspects of this country. Even at the site of famous landmarks. Detifoss (one of the many famous waterfalls) is one example. If it were located in Australia or the US you can be sure there would be wire fences and signage everywhere together with perhaps a hot dog stand and souvenir kiosk right next door. Not here. People who visit this place and many others like it seem to have common sense and don't need to be told they shouldn't walk of the ledge.

Það er löng leið frá Íslandi til Himnaríkis.
It is a long road from Iceland to Heaven.
Gullna hliðið (The Pearly Gates), Davíð Stefánsson

Omar Ragnarsson (pilot) makes a quick call to the tower before take-off. The plane is an old Cessna affectionately known as  "Missus". Omar has clocked up thousands of hours and knows the landscape of Iceland better than anyone.

The trip

I spent just over three weeks in Iceland. The first few days went in waiting for weather conditions to improve for a flight over the Vatnajøkull glacier. It didn't improve. So after a few days I continued with the trip around the country by land. Traveling around Iceland on Hwy 1 with no stops will take around 15 hours. If you are a photographer, allow a few weeks. The speed limit on the open road is 90kmph. A reasonable limit given the nature of the road which for the most part, isn't in bad condition. However, you can't stop everywhere as often (more often than not), the road lacks a shoulder where you can just pull over and take photos.
Most of the roads also don't have a barrier. If you fall asleep while driving it could be a long roll down a steep embankment.