The sun didn't rise until about 10:45am. The latest sunrise I have ever seen.
It was the darkest and coldest time of the year in Iceland. With not even 6 hours of sunlight (setting just after 4:30pm), it wasn't the easiest planning a road-trip around the south-east of the country. But with a very early arrival, we managed to make it to our first destination before first light. We didn't mind following the Ring Road back to the capital after dark so with some precise planning and mapping it was possible to see quite a bit on our first day!
We spent a few hours getting wet hiking around waterfalls; each breathtaking in its own way. They were surrounded by walls of icicles, the water dropping down into frozen rivers. Can you believe there are over 10,000 different waterfalls across this island? On the drive, we pulled over to enjoy some mountain views and stopped by a farm to get a closer look at some Icelandic horses, with their unique pony-like look and huge fluffy manes.
Towards the end of the day, we headed towards the southern coast.
Below is a shot from Reynisfjara beach at the coastal village of Vik - the southernmost village in Iceland. It is known as one of the most unique beaches in the world, the black sand created long ago by lava flowing into the ocean from nearby volcanoes and cooling almost instantly. The sun setting just to the left of the tall snow-covered cliffs made the view that much more impressive...
The shot below is simple but to me quite fascinating. This photo is in colour. How often do you see pure black or white (other than snow) out in nature, let alone side by side like this?
Reynisfjara beach is also known for the rock pillars towering out of the water just off shore (tall basalt sea stacks by the name of Reynisdrangar). The shot below was taken at 80mm zoom from a church on a hill, high above the coastal town. This was just before sunset.
If you look closely (towards the bottom centre of the image), you'll see two people walking right along the water... Gives you some perspective and an idea of how large the surrounding rock is. My next trip to the country is already booked!