Somewhere across the ocean from the place I call home, there's an island surrounded by the frigid Atlantic waters. It's only 40,000 square miles, tucked just below the Arctic Circle. In the summer months it's known for it's endless daylight (no, really), vast green landscapes and flocks of puffins. However, we decided to brave the winter landscape and were rewarded with beyond spectacular scenery. Two-hundred feet tall sheets of icicles decorated the sides of the waterfalls, snow covered the extra terrestrial landscape, and the most moving- a brilliant display of the northern lights.
A group of five us- some of us were friends, some of us were soon to be friends- piled in our Duster, a SUV perfectly suited for taking dirt roads in whatever direction called us. This was the beginning of a truly special five days. We spent the first day exploring many of the popular tourist spots: Skogafoss, Dyrholaey, Reynisfjara Beach and a string of other places unpronounceable to anyone but a native Icelandic speaker. With tired eyes and jet-lagged bodies, this was perfect. All of these spots are easily accessible and made short work of creating beautiful photographs.
Then the real magic happened.
We took dirt-roads to huge glacier pools, full of icebergs, the setting sun painting the sky a brilliant pink in one direction, a brilliant blue that matched the ice in the other. We stood, humbled and silenced by the majesty of the northern lights. Never have I felt so moved and inspired. I will never forget the green lights dancing, fading and then exploding again across the star splattered sky. We felt the full fury of nature- gusts of wind so strong they moved our bodies, a snow storm so thick the location of the road was anyone's guess. We encountered a group of arctic seals lounging on icebergs like it was summer. They swam beside us as we walked on the water's edge, bobbing their heads up occasionally in either a territorial stance or a playful game. Regardless, it was beautiful. We spent nights talking until we fell asleep in the early hours, beds pulled into the other's room, like a high school sleepover. We talked about the things we love, the things that cause us pain and the things that shaped us. Therein lies the beauty of travel- it can be fun, eye-opening, beautiful, but when surrounded with incredible people, it can be life changing..
"Some had scars and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest"
As always, thanks to Pomelo Travel for sending out the best deals, we scored these plane tickets for $350. I'll be forever grateful for this planet and the ability to experience it.
Video by Haley Bateman (https://www.hihaleybrooke.com/), with drone footage provided by SugarRush Video (https://www.sugarrushphoto.com/)
Check out the other incredible people on this trip on Instagram:
@haley_bateman, @littlebrades, @haileyarnold, @chrismuhlestein, @pomelo.travel