Meet the East
If you look at a map of Iceland, you’ll notice a rugged coastline all along the eastern shore. The area is characterized by long fjords called the Eastfjords. Don’t be discouraged if you get them mixed up, Icelanders do too, especially the uninhabited ones. It’s a magical place of deep fjords and tall mountains, full of places that are so remote and extreme that the sun doesn’t reach them for long periods of dark winters. And yes, we chose our words carefully there.
Now, if you’re traveling to Iceland, surely you have a taste for the remote and the extreme. And while the drive from Keflavik airport to the city of Reykjavik seems like an otherworldly experience, you should know that you’ve landed in the most densely populated part of Iceland. When it comes to remote and extreme, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Most tourists will visit Reykjavik, see the Golden Circle of Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir in the south and maybe drive along the south coast, some going as far as Jökulsárlón - that picturesque glacier lagoon you’ve seen so many unbelievable pictures of. If you’re in the market for something totally different, drive a little further and then a lot further and you’ll reach the Eastfjords.
If you feel like you’re in a different world, you’re not entirely wrong. This area is geologically much older than where you’re driving from. Contrary to what you might think, the Eastfjords and the Westfjords are the oldest parts of this very young country (in geological terms), that just happened to meet in the middle. Think tall mountain ranges, long and narrow fjords full of fish, seals and whales of course. Think spooky moors and crazy roads. Think tiny colorful towns with a charming café and the obligatory swimming pool. Think historical turf houses, seemingly far removed from all civilization. Think deserted farms and even deserted towns. Think endless cliffs and birdlife galore. Think lava fields, volcanoes and all the black beaches you can dream of. Think less of elves and more of trolls. And perhaps most surprisingly, think better weather. Well, that last part might be relative but relative to Reykjavik, you’ll find warmer summers and often much less wind in these parts.
That’s the thing about Iceland. You don’t have to drive very far to experience a completely different landscape than where you’re driving from. Another hour and you’re in yet another world.
by Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir