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Endless days and long hikes in Iceland

A HIKE at 9pm after dinner? Why not.

Busting to go to the toilet at 1am while camping? Forget the torch, you don't need it.

There are many advantages to camping in Iceland during summer.

Endless daylight means the scenery can be admired at any time of the day.

If you want to explore the best of what Iceland has to offer, hiring your own vehicle is the way to go.

Forget staying in the main centres of Reykjavik and Akureyri and doing day trips to the main tourist spots, unless you only have a few days in the country and you don't mind crowds.

My fiance and I hired a campervan and circumnavigated Iceland in 12 days.

It's hard not to love this country, even when you are freezing your butt off or your feet are killing you during a 16km hike.

Having the campervan means seeing everything with ease and allows travellers to visit hidden treasures that tour groups miss.

One of the incredible views of a glacier on a hike near Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park, in south-east Iceland.
One of the incredible views of a glacier on a hike near Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park, in south-east Iceland. Photo Pamela Frost

We all heard about the devastating effects the ash cloud had on aviation and how almost 100,000 flights across Europe were affected.

Following the eruption a family living at the base of the volcano set up a visitor centre.

A film shown at the centre details their plight when the volcano exploded, including evacuating their farm and leaving cows locked up in the shed as thick ash descended.

The eruption totally destroyed their farm. Ash settled all over their property and flooding from a melted glacier had devastating effects.

But as the 20-minute film, Eyjafjallajökull Erupts, will explain, the family rebuilt their farm and constructed a place to tell their story.

Driving through the area, you wouldn't know at first glance the area was covered in ash and floodwaters five years ago.

The visitor centre is located between Hvolsvollur and Skogar in south-west Iceland and can be found along the Ring Road, the main paved route which circles the country.

The area's scenery is stunning; luscious farmland extends for miles and small stone homesteads sit at the base of extravagant ice-capped mountains.

Sheep run around in paddocks on the side of the highway.

Almost everywhere you look there is a waterfall trickling down a cliff face.

The busiest tourist spots and the country's most popular sights - Geysir (where a hot water spout plunges 80 metres into the air), Gullfoss (Iceland's most popular cascading waterfall), Pingvellir National Park (where North America and Europe tectonic plates meet and are slowly drifting apart) and Blue Lagoon (a natural hot spring rich in blue green algae and mineral salts) - are spectacular.

But the number of people around tended to spoil the mood, given so many other breathtaking sites can be found without crowds.

One incredible scenic view is on a hike near Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park in south-east Iceland.

The hike circled a mountain and followed a cliff face, which offered spectacular views of glaciers and ice-capped mountain tops.

To describe it in words, or even photographs, does not do it justice.

Iceland's remarkable scenery gives a sense of peace and a deep gratitude for natural beauty.

It is easily the most beautiful country I've ever visited and I would go back in a heartbeat.

Except next time we'll fork out the extra money to hire a four-wheel-drive camper, which will allow us to venture off road and into the country's highlands where, no doubt, more adventures await.

Topics:  iceland travel weekend magazine


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