Travel Guide Iceland - Page 3
Prep or die - preparation is key!
First I have to admit that I love preparational work, even if it is not necessary I try to plan a trip very accurate. However in Iceland I experienced that preparation is key, I was so happy to have a map ready with all spots I wanted to visit. I know of tourists who just drive around the ring route, but they will miss a lot of great spots when they don't prepare themselves.
I did the same as I did for Venice, only a little more detailed, oh well, maybe excessive, I created a Google map with all spots I needed to visit. I included my hotels and fuel stops as well. Here's how my preparational map for my visit in May 2015 looked like.
The violet diamonds mark my hotels I stayed in. Blue stars mark photo spots I wanted to explore, with red stars being highlights. Yellow squares mark fuel stations, red squares mark important fuel stations as they were the only one in a longer distance. But as I have said in section 2 already, there were more fuel stations than I expected and than Google covered in their map.
As you can see I went around the island, and I spend every night in a different hotel. To get an overview of Iceland this is ok, but to take photos of important stops this is not the best approach as the weather can be bad to the time you arrive and you simply haven't planned to stay longer. For my next trips my plan looked different, first I stayed in one hotel longer (3-4 nights), second I concentrated on the major attractions I wanted to visit. Next time I might even go further and concentrate on a part of Iceland like Snaefellsnes for 2 weeks or just the highlands.
If you have never seen Iceland, I would recommend to circle Iceland, skipping Snaefellsnes and the west fjords (the top left island looking like a hand), and spend at least 10 days there. The West Fjords and Snaefellsnes alone can take 2-3 weeks to discover, and if you include it in your trip you will basically sit in the car the whole time not seeing anything. Here's a map of a newer trip so you can see the difference how I evolved.
Pretty different, isn't it? Fewer hotels, fewer spots, no fuel stations anymore. If you click on the red stars, the major photo stops, I always included a description when to be there and what to expect.
WHERE TO FIND ALL THIS INFORMATION?
Fair question! If you have never visited Iceland before, how do you inform yourself where to go?
First, there's the lowbrainer, ask others, use Google and search for images, and go to e.g. 500px or Instagram and search for amazing photos from Iceland. Then you get a rough understanding of how this country could look like. There might be other resources as well when you search for Iceland, read them! What I normally skip (or read to know where NOT to go) are touristic guide books. They include the touristic highlights, and that's where the tourists will go and take photos which I personally try to avoid (unless it's really cool especially at sunrise or sunset).
But the best information I got was through this map a French photographer created based on a lot of trips to Iceland. Together with the map there's an eBook giving you some details on Iceland and what to expect. This was a great first experience of Iceland, and I planned my travels with this map to find great spots. I actually made a photo of that map and inserted day by day routes with Photoshop and stored them on my iPad to see where I need to go.