Exploring the heart of Reykjanes by Kaspars Dzenis

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Everybody knows where are them main attractions in Iceland. You can just pick up handful of brochures at any information center and you will know how to find them. They are beautiful, no doubt, but sometimes it is hard to enjoy them with countless camper vans, tour buses and all the buzz around. So, if you were hoping to enjoy some stunning scenery and experience wild and peaceful nature on a remote island, you might feel disappointed.

However, Iceland is big and if you´re not afraid to explore, there are still places that are just as stunning, but at the same time, you can completely immerse into the landscape and feel the beautiful desolation.


Another point concerning photographers. It is kind of a same deal when it comes to the popular landmarks. With million pictures out there, getting a unique shot in Iceland is getting increasingly hard. Sure, you can chase the light and make it unique, yet, I feel that in this day and age, it´s just not enough.


One of my main tools is satellite maps. I explore them thoroughly, searching for any mountain peak, river, waterfall, valley, sea shore, that is not marked, but looks interesting. Then I travel to the location and find compositions that would look great in pictures. I gather this information so I can include it in my photo tours, but also, just to share them with other enthusiasts, who are looking for something, maybe not completely, but different. 


One of the places I would like to talk about in this post, is a mountainous area right in the heart of Reykjanes. In this area you will find a recently active geothermal area, beautiful valleys and lakes and is just a joy to hike around, with no one else in sight.

You can reach this area from two sides. From the east side, after leaving Reykjavik, on the way to Keflavik, you can take the road that goes to Keilir mountain and drive until the very end. Park your car and follow the trail that leads into a geothermal valley. From there you can follow different sheep trails that will lead through the valleys and around the three kettle lakes.


You can also access this area from the east. This time, drive to Kleifarvatn following the road 42 and just before heading into the mountains, turn where the sign says Vigðísarvellir. Then drive until you reach Djúpavatn lake, where you can begin your hike there.



Walking inside a ''beautiful nothing'' by Kaspars Dzenis

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   Kálfafellsdalur is a long glacier valley located south east of Vatnajökull. Valley is scared with streams collectively called Miðvötn or Landkvísl and at the very end of the valley you can find steep glacier tongue called Brókarjökull (Breaches glacier). This is another place, where you can not find any signs and is rather difficult to hike in. However it´s a perfect place to disconnect from the outer world and marvel the ''beautiful nothingness'' of Icelandic nature.


   Valley is easily spotted from the ring road. Entrance is located near Kálfafellsstaður farm and it´s possible to drive inside the valley until Kaldá river. To venture further, there is no other way but to cross the river. I´ve not tried to do it with a car, and I would not recommend it, unless you have a monster truck.


From there you can venture further inside the valley. Landscape changes rapidly, from rock covered sands with steep mountain slopes, to green meadows, full of birds and grazing reindeer.


End of the valley splits into two, with glacier tongues at the end of each. Brókarjökull is a very steep glacier tongue that divides around the rock Brók. On the west side glacier forms lagoon. Nearby you can also find number of kettles - shallow ponds formed by retreating glacier. On the east side you can find a small valley called Vatnsdalur. There glacier literally hangs of the mountain. It´s a thrilling, yet a scary feeling to stand close to it. 


   It takes pretty much the whole day to explore the valley and it´s a demanding hike. But if you are looking for that feeling of peaceful desolation, it´s a perfect place to be in.