From hellish snowstorm to heavenly landscape, all you need is an Icelandic road trip

If I had to nominate a place perfectly suited for a road trip, hands down it had to be Iceland and it had to be the Ring Road.

Route 1, or more affectionately known as the Ring Road, encircles Iceland in 1,300km. Most of the travel blogs and reviews out there would recommend a minimum stay of 7-10 days to sufficiently cover this epic route. As we had only 4 full days with quite a few regions made inaccessible to us due to harsh winter conditions, I decided to make do with covering just the the Golden Circle and venturing a little further east to Seljalandsfoss and Dyrholaey (try pronouncing those alien words!).

Here’s a summary of our trail: 

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Google map would tell you from Reykjavik to Dyrholaey takes less than 5 hours, but let me tell you this – just from Reykjavik to Thingvellir alone took us one whole day! And here’s why:

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HOW COULD ONE DRIVE WHEN THE SNOW PRACTICALLY BLINDED YOU IN A WORLD OF COMPLETE WHITENESS?

When the snowstorm hits, you slow down, you sit upright gripping the steering wheel as tightly as though it’s your only possession in this vacant world of nobody-ness, you listen to the howling wind outside, you feel the chill down your spine when you begin to taste fear with each swallow of your own nervous saliva.

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Just as we thought we were completely lost in the fearsome kingdom of snow, we felt a sense of revitalisation at the sight of fellow drivers on the road and came to a halt. Never knew traffic jam could bring so much joy!

The road ahead was blocked and all drivers were advised to head back to Reykjavik.

There came the dilemma – the next hotel is about 30km ahead while Reykjavik is about a hundred behind where we’ve already checked out. We finally decided to march on when the snow quietened down slightly. While trying to navigate through the side paths, our worse nightmare landed like a Death God – the vehicle was stuck in a pile of snow off the beaten path!

HOLY. HELP.

We tried all ways and means to get that cursed car out of its slippery situation but to no avail. I then realised it wasn’t just an “Iceland fun fact” when they printed the emergency police contact number on that Iceland Map.

Life-saving Rule #1 – make sure you get a local prepaid card or international roaming activated in Iceland. Never get stingy with your connectivity in Iceland for it might take days or weeks before your dead body is found by someone, somewhere.

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So yes, a dial on the phone (112), a pair of coordinates identified by the GPS, 2 starving stomachs and an agonising 45 minutes wait in the wailing snowstorm, came the heroic civil volunteers from the Iceland Police Department.

You heard me right – they are volunteers with a normal day job. They take off from work on different days, roaming through storms and thunders to rescue trapped travellers, locals and foreigners alike.

With an ineffable gratitude and utmost respect, we parted from these unsung heroes who rushed off to rescue fellow drivers elsewhere.

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Just as I thought the world was about to engulf us in its whiteness, a “blue lining” began to roll in from afar.

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Oh by the way, this is how a typical petrol station looks like. And nope, not all of them come with a mini mart, so don’t take things for granted :)

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Majestic sceneries on the way back from Thingvellir to Reykjavik.

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It was quite a bit of a bummer that the entire itinerary for the day was completely destroyed by the tough weather. However, on hindsight, I have pocketed an awesome travel story, don’t you agree? :)

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There is definitely no exaggeration in the saying that “one could experience different seasons in a single day on the Icelandic road”. And let me show you why.

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I couldn’t believe my eyes when the GPS brought us back to the exact same path we were on just a day before! Without the treacherous companion of a snowstorm, the Ring Road was a path to paradise.

Have you had such feeling before – some songs could magically bring you back to a certain moment in life, a certain place you have been to?

Paradise by Coldplay, is such a song to me. I will always be reminded of the mind-blowing scenery that Iceland has generously displayed in front of my unbelieving eyes.

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The sizzling earth at Geysir that made you want to remove your down jacket.

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Driving between the divided ocean of varying hues, into the unknown, against the afternoon drizzle.

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Greenhouses that looked like enchanted fairy nests lit up by a million fireflies.

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Before you realised, it was snowy mountain caps all over again.

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But sometimes, you might be pleasantly surprised with a serendipity that’s calming yet powerful enough to touch the soul.

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From hellish snowstorm to heavenly landscape, there’s nowhere else to do a road trip than Iceland.

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Its unpredictability, its vastness, its astounding beauty, its soul-searching tranquillity and its nerve-racking harshness, making Iceland one of my most beloved road trip destinations. I need at least 2 more return trips – one in summer, another in winter yet again to catch my Lady Aurora.  :)

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6 thoughts

  1. What a fantastic adventure! Like my sister always says adventure is never fun when we are living through it but it makes for great stories. I got stuck once in a landslide near Rohtang pass in the Himalayas for over 24 hours and thought it was amazing- yours just beats mine hands down!!!

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  2. Pingback: Waterfalls in Iceland | Travelgraphy

  3. Pingback: Strokkur and Geysir – the Boiling Caldrons that Erupt! | Travelgraphy

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