An Adventurers Journal

My plans in Guatemala

Belize Jungle

Voor wie het nog niet wist: binnen een 2-tal weken trek ik voor onbepaalde duur naar Centraal- en Zuid-Amerika. Eerder vertelde ik al dat ik samen met een reisbuddy en een coole bus doorheen de continenten trek, op zoek naar avontuur. Veel avontuur! Maar vooraleer er wordt afgesproken in het noorden van Guatemala en we zuidwaarts trekken, wil ik eerst nog Guatemala rondtrekken op individuele basis.

Vorig jaar was ik nog in de buurt van de grens tijdens onze rondreis in Belize waar we onder andere grotten gingen verkennen met Marcos en op survival gingen in de jungle met wel.. dezelfde Marcos. Avonturen die deden dromen van meer. En anderhalf jaar later lijkt dat er nu aan te komen.

For those who didn’t know yet: within 2 weeks I will travel to Central and South America for an indefinite period. Earlier I mentioned that I am traveling through the continents with a travel buddy and a cool bus, looking for adventure. Lots of adventure! But before we meet in the north of Guatemala and head south, I want to travel around Guatemala on an individual basis.

Last year I was near the border during our tour in Belize where we went to explore caves with Marcos and went on survival in the jungle with the same Marcos. Adventures that made you dream of more. And a year and a half later that seems to be coming.

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My home for the next few months

First stop: Guatemala

Op 28 oktober land ik in Guatemala City, zo’n 43 uur nadat ik in Parijs op het vliegtuig ben gestapt. Wie goed is in aardrijkskunde (of met google maps) weet dat Guatemala city in het zuiden van het land ligt. Gezien onze ontmoetingsplaats in het noorden is, besluit ik nog even Guatemala te verkennen ondertussen. Maar wat is er allemaal te doen?

Guatemala heeft een indrukwekkende cultuur, een koloniaal verleden en een rijke geschiedenis. Erg leuk allemaal, maar wie me kent weet dat ik daar niet naar op zoek ben. Gelukkig liggen er binnen de grenzen ook heel wat vulkanen en verborgen ruïnes in het de tropische jungle.

On October 28, I arrive in Guatemala City, some 43 hours after I boarded the plane in Paris. Those who are good at geography (or with google maps) know that Guatemala city is in the south of the country. Given that our meeting place is in the north, I decide to explore Guatemala in the meantime. But what can you do?

Guatemala has an impressive culture, a colonial past and a rich history. All very nice, but anyone who knows me knows that I am not looking for that. Fortunately, within the borders there are also many volcanoes and hidden ruins in the tropical jungle.

Challenge one: climbing active volcanoes

Het is niet de eerste keer dat ik een vulkaan ga beklimmen. Nee zo’n zeven jaar geleden beklom ik al de Kilimanjaro, Afrika’s hoogste bergtop die tegelijk een – weliswaar slapende – vulkaan is. Maar wat is dan zo speciaal aan de vulkanen van Guatemala? Wel de vulkanen van Guatamala maken deel uit van de Ring of Fire en een aantal hiervan zijn nog steeds erg actief. Hoewel er een aantal erg toeristisch zijn, hoop ik vanuit Antigua de ervaring iets uitdagender te maken met de Trident Challenge, waarbij ik zowel de Pacaya, Acatenango en Fuego vulkanen ga beklimmen met een kampeertripje onderweg. Geen familieuitstapje dus, maar een heuse mini-expeditie.

It is not the first time that I am going to climb a volcano. No, about seven years ago I already climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain peak, which at the same time is a – albeit sleeping – volcano. But what is so special about the volcanoes of Guatemala? The volcanoes of Guatamala are part of the Ring of Fire and some of them are still very active. Although there are some that are very touristy, I hope to make the experience a little more challenging from Antigua with the Trident Challenge, where I will climb the Pacaya, Acatenango and Fuego volcanoes with a camping trip en route. Not a family trip, but a real mini-expedition.

Challenge two: explore Mayan ruins in deep vast jungles

Iedereen kent wel Tikal, de grootste Maya ruïne in Guatemala. En hoewel deze uiteraard ook op het lijstje staat, heb ik mijn zinnen gezet op El Mirador, een veel meer afgelegen ruinencomplex. Om hier te geraken moet je maar liefst 4 dagen door de jungle trekken. De uitdaging wordt om een gids te vinden die deze aanbiedt tijdens het regenseizoen, of om hem op zelfstandige basis af te leggen. Ik heb er alvast zin in!

Everyone knows Tikal, the largest Mayan ruin in Guatemala. And although this is of course also on the list, I have set my sights on El Mirador, a much more remote ruin complex. To get here you have to travel no less than 4 days through the jungle. The challenge is to find a guide who offers it during the rainy season, or to take it independently. I’m looking forward to it!

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Everything you need to know about camping in Iceland in summer

We all know that Iceland is not the cheapest of all destinations. However, it is possible to visit Iceland on a budget and one of the best ways to do so is by camping. Though wildcamping is no longer permitted in Iceland, you can still enjoy waking up in Iceland’s most amazing sceneries, or fall asleep under the Northern Lights. Still, fair to say, camping in Iceland is different than camping in any other country. Therefore we have written this first-hand guide of everything you need to know about camping in Iceland.

Why camping?

First of all, camping is by far the cheapest way of visiting Iceland, because accommodation such as hotels, hostels and guest houses is very expensive.  Secondly it is one of the best ways of experiencing natural vistas. Some campsites are located near waterfalls, others in mountaineous surroundings. Also camping gives you more flexibility as you don’t need to book in advance and can plan your schedule as you go.

The downside however is the Icelandic weather. It can get very cold in Iceland, even during summer months. Besides, if you are not used to pitching tents, sleeping in a sleeping bag, cooking on a gas stove, it’s better to wait. Iceland is not ideal for a first camping experience.

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Camp at the best locations

When to camp?

Year round basically. However not every campsite is open during winter, so you need to do a bit more research in advance. Still, it is fair to say that all campsites are open from June till September, as this is peak season.

This means you won’t have access to most facilities such as kitchen, toilets, showers, etc.. Also, winter months tend to be a lot colder. Expect freezing temperatures during the night, so it might be worth considering not to tent-camp during winter. But if you do, bring proper gear and be well prepared for the cold.

The recommended option hower is to upgrade to a rental van during winter months.

Where to camp?

There are 170 campsites where you can pitch your tent, rent a cabin or park your van/mobilhome. You can check them on the website https://tjalda.is/en/.

This is the only place where it is allowed to camp as it is illegal to camp in a tent, camper van, RV, or vehicle anywhere outside of a designated camping area. Wildcamping is not only against the law, but also is a sign of disrespect towards Iceland nature. Which probably is the reason why you visit Iceland in the first place.

Even sleeping in a van on a parking lot is going to make an impact as you will probably leave food waste or dumping out water and therefore is not allowed either.

The cost of camping

The good news is camping in Iceland is relatively cheap. In my experience, spending a night on a campsite doesn’t cost more than in any other European country. Expect to pay in between 1,000 to 2,000 Icelandic krona ($8-$18 USD). This includes access to kitchen facilities and toilets. The more expensive campsites often also grant access to showers, while in the cheaper ones you often have to pay with coins by minute. Expect around 100 kronas per minute.

In most campsites you can pay by card.

What to expect at campsites?

There is a huge difference in facilities campsites offer. In general you can expect a beautiful setting with indoor kitchen, toilet and shower facilities on the grounds, wifi, laundry facilities and even the option of electricity.

However, except for the toilets, wifi and kitchen facilties, most come at an extra cost. If you just need to charge your phone, you can just use one of the outlets in the kitchen or shower facilities.

Water is always available as tap water is good to drink. So don’t waste money by buying water in the supermarket.

Showers and washing facilities

If you want to take a shower during your stay, we recommend bringing coins in the local currency. There usually is a coin-operated machine to give you (hot) water.

Pitching your tent

Keep in mind that there are very few trees in Iceland, so most campsites are nothing more than an open field where everyone pitches their tent (or parks their camper) wherever they want.. If it’s very windy or it rains hard, you will need a decent rainproof tent.

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There even is a campsite with view on the Skogafoss!

Rules at campsites

  • Campsites are mainly just open fields where everyone pitches their tent or park their van wherever they want.
  • Building a fire is not allowed (there is hardly any wood either). This is to avoid damaging the fragile ecosystem. Some campsites do however have metal grills you can use.
  • Don’t leave food waste behind.

What gear to bring

Camping in Iceland means you will need to be well prepared.

  • Tent – most people have one where the rain cover completely covers the tent because of high wind
  • Ground tarp
  • Extra stakes
  • Sleeping bag – make sure your comfort temperature is low enough to deal with the freezing cold at night.
  • Sleeping pad – the ground is actually pretty soft, so a Thermarest should work fine
  • Pillow
  • Camp Stove
  • Cookware
  • Water bottle
  • Eye Mask – if you are camping during the summer, it never gets dark.
  • Ear Plugs
  • Fast dry towel
  • Headlamp – not necessary in summer
  • Food – check out our post on visiting Iceland on a budget to learn about the best places to buy groceries.
  • Things you’ll need to rent in Iceland
    • Gas

If you want to camp in Iceland but you don’t have all the gear, it is possible to rent gear for camping in Iceland. Check out this website to be fully set up.

Camping tips

  • If you are camping in the summer (May-August) do not forget to bring a sleep mask with you. There is so much daylight, and you are not going to be able to sleep if you’re camping in summer because it’s going to feel like it’s the middle of the day.
  • Are you camping with a family for more than 7 days? Then the camping card could be good for you. The Icelandic Camping Card is a smart card that gives two adults and up to four children access to around 40 campsites around Iceland. The idea is simple: get one card, gain access to around 40 campsites around Iceland and save a considerable amount of money.  Each card is valid for 28 nights for the whole group.
    Each card is valid for a tent, caravan, motorhome or other camping units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kjeragbolten: tussen een rots en een harde plaats

Het vraagt wat moed en stelt je gebrek aan hoogtevrees op de proef, maar uiteindelijk na een diepe zucht te hebben geslagen maak ik een klein sprongetje terwijl ik probeer te vermijden om in de afgrond te kijken. Ik sta op de eivormige rots die geklemd zit tussen twee bergwanden, 1000 meter boven het fjord. Mijn hoofd is leeg en de vele gedachten die ik daarnet had in de minuten voorafgaand zijn verdwenen. En dat is misschien maar best ook.

Wie stilstaat bij het feit dat hij op een rots staat die geklemd zit terwijl de diepe afgrond slechts een stap verwijderd is, krijgt spontaan een paniekaanval. Tegelijk sta je er beter bij stil dat je hier maar beter geen domme dingen doet. Een dilemma. Letterlijk situeren je gedachten zich tussen een rots en een harde plaats. Maar goed, het voorkomt niet dat er nog een rij mensen achter me staat die zich straks aan dezelfde sprong willen wagen.

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Een jaar wachten

In feite stond de Kjeragwandeling een jaar eerder al op de planning. Slecht weer gooide toen roet in het eten, waardoor ik de wandeling moest schrappen. Nu lijkt de helderblauwe hemel alles te compenseren. Met een groepje van vier staan we aan het beginpunt van de trail. De blik op de eerste kilometer verraadt meteen dat het een moeilijkere wandeling wordt dan die naar Trolltunga of de nabijgelegen Preikestolen. Hoewel ik hier als reisbegeleider sta , kan ik amper mijn uitgelatenheid verbergen. Het is kwart voor acht in de ochtend en de parking is zo goed als leeg. Ik wil dan ook zo spoedig mogelijk vertrekken om de Kjerag voor onszelf te hebben. Dat we niet naar boven zullen rennen, wordt al snel duidelijk bij de eerste stappen omhoog. Het pad via de rotswand is zo steil dat er paaltjes met kettingen staan om je aan op te trekken. ‘Gelukkig heeft het niet geregend.’, denk ik bij mezelf terwijl ik nog iemand van mijn groep omhoog hijs.

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Drie beklimmingen

Drie beklimmingen. Dat staat er ons te wachten op deze vijf kilometer lange tocht. In totaal goed voor net geen 400 meter hoogteverschil. Op zich geen statistieken waar de gemiddelde wandelaar van wakker ligt. Ware het niet dat de hoogteverschillen telkens op een kleine afstand overwonnen moeten worden. Steil terrein dus. Het zorgt ervoor dat de wandeling al snel mijn favoriet in Noorwegen wordt. Het technische aspect zorgt voor een extra dimensie wat je anders vaak niet hebt. Een extra uitdaging zeg maar.

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De kettingen laat ik links liggen. Het lukt me beter om zonder de hulp ervan naar boven te klimmen. Al kunnen ze wel erg handig zijn als de rotsen erg glad zijn na een regenbui. Maar dat is vandaag niet het geval dus is klauteren waar nodig al minstens even leuk. Hier en daar pak ik de hand van een groepsgenoot vast en help ze de soms erg steile stukken te overwinnen. Na een anderhalf uur te hebben geklauterd komen we op het rotsplateau, de laatste rechte lijn naar de Kjeragbolten.

Kjeragbolten: een Instagramhit

Eerlijk is eerlijk. Staan op de Kjeragbolten is zo eng als dat het er uitziet. Neem het maar aan van iemand die al redelijk wat enge dingen op zijn palmares heeft staan. Wie iets anders beweert, denkt niet na. Waarom is het eng? Een misstap betekent immers een val van 1000 meter en dat zou altijd als eng moeten worden beschouwd. Al is staan op de Kjeragbolten voor iedereen die geen evenwichtstoornissen of hoogtevrees heeft wel degelijk mogelijk. En er wordt beweerd dat er geluk rond de rots hangt, want er is nog nooit iemand afgevallen.

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De realiteit is echter dat de meeste mensen bij het zien van de Kjeragbolten spontaan hoogtevrees krijgen. Alleen is de rots een ware Instagramhit geworden en is de drang naar likes en 10 seconds of fame groter dan de angst. Wat iedereen ziet is hoe mensen op de rots staan, lachend en met hun armen in de lucht. Maar wat vaak niet te zien is op de foto’s zijn de trillende benen en de aarzelende laatste stappen richting de hangende rotsblok.

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De Kjeragbolten van bovenaf gezien

Mijn ervaring op de Kjerag

Wanneer ik met de laatste persoon van mijn groep aankom op de Kjerag zie ik de twee mannen van mijn groep zitten. Beiden hebben net hun foto’s genomen op de rots. Zelfs de persoon die normaal hoogtevrees heeft. Oké, onze beurt dan maar. Al genieten we eerst even van het uitzicht en een snack.

Een korte rij staat er tussen mezelf en de Kjeragbolten. ‘Wat is het pad erg smal. En kijk eens naar de grote stap die je nog moet zetten om op de rots te staan. Zou je daar echt een kilometer naar beneden kunnen kijken?’. Het zijn maar enkele van de twijfels die in mijn hoofd spelen terwijl ik wacht op mijn beurt. Ik heb nochtans geen hoogtevrees, maar het is net het lange wachten in combinatie met het zicht op het akelige stukje om op de Kjerag te staan die je doen twijfelen. Zeker als je iedere wandelaar voor je ziet aarzelen vooraleer ze hun laatste stappen zetten.

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Het smalle pad naar de Kjeragbolten

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Het smalle stuk van bovenaf

Uiteindelijk is het mijn beurt. Ik adem diep in en stap zelfverzekerd naar de richel. Ik duw mezelf tegen de grote rotsblok die tussen de rij mensen en de Kjeragbolten ligt. Terwijl ik de afstand tussen mezelf en de grote rots miniem hou draai ik rond de hoek om op een vlak stukje terecht te komen. De kjeragbolten ligt nu net voor me. Zonder aarzelen of na te denken zet ik de grote stap op de hangende rots. Ik maak een kwartdraai naar rechts en kijk naar iemand van mijn groep die klaarstaat om de foto te maken. Zonder erbij stil te staan dat ik één stap verwijderd ben van een diepe afgrond steek ik mijn armen wijd in de lucht. Ik forceer een lach en een tiental seconden later stap ik terug van de rots.

Poseren voor een foto ligt niet in mijn aard, maar op de Kjerag kan je moeilijk anders dan een geforceerde pose aannemen. Misschien heeft de Instagramhype me ook te pakken gehad?

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Down the rabbit hole: exploring Crystal Cave in Belize

I suppose this is the reason why they call it a rainforest. It has not stopped raining since we left San Ignacio. When we approached the Hummingbird Highway towards Blue Hole NP, it got a lot worse and rain fell out of the sky in buckets. And it is not even the rainy season.

It is not that we can say that it has been better in the past few days. The shoes I wear are still damp and are full of mud from our visit to the ruins of Cahal Pech yesterday. We are standing at the parking lot of the Blue Hole National Park in Belize, about twenty kilometers south of the capital Belmopan. For the first time we head into the jungle. Towards an adventure that I was looking forward to the most: exploring Crystal Cave, perhaps the most demanding day trip from San Ignacio.

Through the jungle

A walk of about 45 minutes. That is what awaits us before we get to the entrance of the cave. ‘I estimate the difficulty of the trip about eight out of ten,’ says Marcos, a guide with Maya origins. We are not intimidated by Marcos’s assessment and put our backpacks in the trunk of the car. I quickly take my drinking bottle and GoPro when Marcos is waving his arms to leave. For a brief moment the trail seems to be doable, but after about fifty meters the stone path turns into a real mud pool. In the jungle, holding on to the branches and trees is not an option. You never know which animal is on the back of the trunk, or what dangerous insect is camouflaged so much you did not see it. And then we don’t yet take Poisonwood into account, a poisonous tree species that grows here and of which a touch of the bark is enough to make you sick.

Centipede, Belize

The journey does not become a demonstration of my Tarzan-like skills to swing from vine to vine to keep me straight on the slippery path. With legs often extending widely, my technique is better described as a clumsy ballet dancer. Mud, smooth stones and roots hidden half-underground. Enough obstacles to cause a fall leading to a mud bath. Especially when we have to overcome some altitude meters. That I am not exaggerating becomes clear when Linsay falls first on her buttocks before we reach the entrance cave.

Descending the Mayan underworld Xibalba

Eventually I succeed in reaching the entrance of Crystal Cave without a fall. Although this feat is hardly noticeable because of the large amount of mud on my trouser legs. Caves such as Crystal Cave were sometimes called Xibalba by the Maya. Literally translated it means ‘place of fear’ or ’empire of shadows’. Not an inviting term, but what did you expect from a place that was used for rituals and human sacrifices. Fortunately, as far as we are aware of Marcos’ plans, this is not on the schedule the day.

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To explore Crystal Cave, we first have to abseil about five meters into the dark hole. Marcos sets up a system and descends first. I follow and shortly thereafter it is Linsay’s turn. The sunlight barely reaches the beginning of the cave and so we quickly put our headlights on and descend further down the cave. Anyone who thought that this would be the most difficult part would have thought wrong. In his free time, Marcos often goes out to explore new caves himself, and he plans to give us the same experience. Not much later we come across a first Maya site. Remnants of pots and a fire place are easy to recognize, even though it is only illuminated by the light from our lamp. Crystal Cave is full of it.

What really revolved around me in discovering the caves of Belize was the experience of really doing some caving. Narrow corridors and crevices that you have to squeeze between. Deep below ground, while only the light from your headlight illuminates the road ahead. You would become claustrophobic for less. That was the biggest fear of Linsay before we started this adventure. Murmuring yourself down a small corridor and then suddenly get a panic attack. Fortunately, she is very brave. I myself enjoy the adrenaline boost that you get when you crawl further under a low ceiling to end up in a larger hall. Exploring the inner forces of the earth is a lot like climbing a mountain, I think. More than once we clamber from one stalagtite to the other. The only difference is that we are climbing down here.

Wonderland

We have been exploring Crystal Cave for almost two hours when we arrive in a large hall. “So far everything seems to be going well with you,” Marcos begins. “Do you want it a little more adventurous?” We nod. He points to a narrow opening at the top. “Behind it is Wonderland,” he begins. A more difficult piece that requires more scrambling. “Only one in ten groups ventures out, depending on the capacities of the group.” We have fallen so deep into the rabbit hole that Wonderland is next, I think to myself ..

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Entering Wonderland

We take off our shoes and socks and walk towards the starting point of Wonderland. I feel the smooth surface of the ground with my bare toes. Somehow this feels even better than with shoes. I pull myself up on a smooth protruding rock to get to the entrance of the corridor that leads to Wonderland, about a meter above the ground. In the meantime we are about 180 meters below ground. The light from our headlight makes various rock formations sparkle before darkness absorbs the light. This place, which is only reached by a few people per day, is rightly called “Wonderland”.

Crystal Cave, Belize

Having a rest

Back to the sunlight

Climbing 180 meters down slippery rocks and crawling under low ledges is a heavy physical exertion. To travel the same way back up is much more. With equal care, we work our way past the many crevasses and boulders that are sometimes larger than a car. Our arms and legs meanwhile feel quite tired, but it is not possible to rest for a long time deep underground. Linsay, too, wants to go back upstairs as quickly as possible, because she is slowly getting anxious and the claustrophobia is starting to play. When we see the first rays of sunshine again after many hours, a final steep and very slippery wall awaits us before we climb back out via the rope. After spending six hours in the darkness, the sunlight is blinding. Eventhough it is partly cloudy and we are still under the dense foliage of the jungle. From our toes to behind our ears we are full of mud and we’re sure we will feel our tired legs and arms until tomorrow morning, but the discovery of a new dark (under) world is one that we will never forget.

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Ultimate Iceland Itinerary

Putting together a good travel route for Iceland is quite a challenge. There are so many beautiful things to see and it is quite difficult to estimate in advance how much time you will spend on everything. To make it easy for you, we share here the ultimate travel route for  Iceland, whether you are staying for 3 days, a week or two weeks. Hereby you won’t only tick off the most beautiful sights of Iceland but you also make a few nice hikes. Because that is the perfect way to enjoy the rugged landscapes that Iceland has.

3 Days – For those with only little time

Day 1 – Arriving at Reykjavik

Most flights arrive at Keflavik airport late in the afternoon, making little time to start your exploration the very same day. The best way to make most of your day is picking up your rental car and visit the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal pool is one of the most popular bucket list items to tick off amongst tourists. It is located a short drive from the airport and Reykjavik. Since it is open till midnight, it is the best way to relax after a long day of traveling.

Day 2 – The Golden Circle

Today your adventure in Iceland really kicks off. The Golden Circle is a tour of sights near Reykjavik. First, Thingvellir National Park is on the schedule. Thingvellir is a fault line of two tectonic plates that move a few millimeters further apart each year. This is the fault line between the Eurasian continent and the American continent. The next stop is Geysir, a geothermal area where the Strokkur geyser sprays water up to a height of 20 meters every 5 to 7 minutes. A special natural phenomenon to see! From here it is only a short drive to Gullfoss, a giant waterfall that is 20 meters wide.

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Strokkur, one of the attractions of the Golden Circle

Read more about the Golden Circle in Iceland here. 

Day 3 – The most beautiful waterfalls of Iceland

Iceland has hundreds of waterfalls and today 4 of the most beautiful are planned: Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi, Skógafoss and Kvernufoss. The first two and the last two are within walking distance of each other. They are all beautiful and unique in their own way. After visiting the waterfalls you can walk up the stairs at Skógafoss and a beautiful hike is waiting for you behind it. This trail is part of the two-day Fimmvörðuháls Hike.

 

Read more about Waterfalls in Iceland here. 

Tip! Spend the night in Phakgil campsite.

7 Days – For those who visit Iceland as a short getaway

Day 4 – Phakgil

The campsite in Phakgil is a remote one, but maybe one of the best ones to stay at without renting a 4×4. The road leading to it is an adventurous one, but scenic! From the campsite there are three different trails. The longest one is leading to the Myrdalsjokull.

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Day 5 – Vik 

Vik is renowned for being the wettest village in Iceland, but there are still lots of reasons to visit. The notorious plane wreck on the black sand beach is one of them. Reynisfjara beach is another. In recent years the aircraft has transformed from a secret spot into a fairly busy Instagram location. Do you want to have the plane wreck to yourself? Then you have to get up early and be in the parking lot around 7 o’clock.

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Day 6 – Skaftatell NP

Skaftatell NP is part of the Vatnajökull  glacier, the largest ice sheet in Europe. This is one of the top destinations in Iceland when it comes to hiking. Don’t miss the Svartifoss, a waterfall which is surrounded by columns of black basalt. These basalt columns were created because lava cooled very slowly and as a result the molten rock could crystallize. Adventurous souls can also embark on a glacier hiking tour.

Day 7 – Diamond Beach

Jökulsárlón is the largest glacier lake in Iceland and the pieces of ice float directly from the lake into the sea. Then these large and small pieces of ice wash up again on the black beach. This beach is full of pieces of ice that sparkle in the sun. That is why this beach has been named Diamond Beach. In the afternoon you can travel back to Reykjavik or if you are traveling longer you can head further to the next stop.

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14 Days – For those who drive the Ring Road in Iceland

Day 8 – Borgarfjörður

Borgarfjörður is located in the northeast of Iceland, a region well known by hikers. There are numerous hiking trails here, which can be easily combined to multi-day treks. Even if you are not that into hiking, there is a very good reason to visit this part of Iceland. Borgarfjarðarhöfn is a little harbor located at the end of route 94. Here, during summer months, you can see the largest puffin colony in Iceland. There are over 10.000 of these often-photographed little birds.

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Day 9 – Dettifoss

It’s quite a drive from Borgarfjordur towards the Dettifoss, but along the way you can make a stop at Stuðlagil Canyon. A short detour from the Ring Road is required plus a 4 km hike from the parking lot. As a reward you will be able to tick off one of the few hidden gems of Iceland. Head further towards the Dettifoss, one of the most powerfull waterfalls in Europe.

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Day 10 – Myvatn

Myvatn is a lake area where many tourists stay for quite some time. It is one of the best places to enjoy a thermal pool and it has quite some attractions to explore as well. A must visit is Hverir, one of the three major geothermal plains. Due to the thin crust of the earth there is still a lot of volcanic activity. Take a walk along the mud pools and hot sulfur springs, where you will be able to enjoy your eyes on this colorful and hilly landscape. Other attractions in the area are Grotagja Cave and the crater Hverfjall.

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Day 11 – Whale watching

Northern Iceland is one of the best regions to go whale watching. Husavik, Akureyri and Hauganes are only a few locations where tours are offered in the chance to spot humpback whales, minks, orca’s, dolphins and maybe even a blue whale.

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Day 12 – Rafting

Adrenalin junkies will love this one. The Austari-Jökulsá Glacier River is rated IV+ and is one of the most challenging rivers to raft in Europe.

Day 13 – Kirkufjell and Snæfellsjökull National Park

Before heading back to capital Reykjavik, make one last detour towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. On the tip you will find the Snæfellsjökull National Park, one of the three national parks in Iceland, and named after the glacier located here. Another popular must see attraction is Kirkufjell, the Matterhorn of Iceland. 

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Day 14 – Reykjavik

Your last day in Iceland is best spent in its capital. Visit the Hallgrimskirkja, its shopping streets and the Harpa, the center of the vibrant music scene of Reykjavik. In the Harpa you can see Iceland in a Box: A Visual Tour. A film, which is fifteen minutes long and takes you back to all the natural beauty Iceland has offered you during these last few weeks.

Vintage Waasland

Ondanks het slechte herfstweer trok ik er dit weekend nog eens met het busje op uit. Een van de laatste keren vooraleer ik voor enkele maanden naar Zuid-Amerika trek. De bestemming werd Vintage Waasland, een oldtimer event. Niet dat ik zoveel oldtimer events bijwoon (het was slechts de tweede keer), maar m’n interesse was vooral gewekt door de drive-in cinema die ‘s avonds plaatsvond. Ook dat was de tweede keer dat ik dit deed met het busje, en gezien het toen zo leuk was, was de keuze snel gemaakt.

Enkele sfeerbeeldjes

 

De komende weken hoop ik nog enkele tripjes te maken met het busje. Weten jullie nog leuke plekjes in België, Nederland of Duitsland?

 

 

 

Iceland – must see waterfalls and how to reach them

Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice. But during my Ring Road trip around Iceland, it became clear that the land of waterfalls could have been a great alternative as well. Sure, I read about Skogafoss and Gulfoss on the internet in advance, but honestly those didn’t even reached my top 5. There are literally thousands of waterfalls or fosses in Iceland and you can’t see them all in one trip. Some are easily spotted, while others are well hidden. Here are a few impressive waterfalls in Iceland along the ring road and how to reach them.

Reykjavik area

Gulfoss

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Why? Probably Iceland’s most visited waterfall as it is located along the Golden Circle. The size of it makes it truly impressive!

How to reach? Located along the Golden Circle route, about 10 kilometers from Geysir.

Tip! Go early or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. During summer you can enjoy the spectacle until late in the evening due to midnight sun.

Öxarárfoss

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Why? One of the highlights of Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir). To explore the national park, you can follow the trail to Oxararfoss.

How to reach? Thingvellir National Park is often the first stop along the Golden Circle route. The park is situated along route 36. There is a car park located nearby the Oxarargfoss, or you can make the slightly longer hike (4,2km) from the visitor’s center.

Tip! None

South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland is a popular road trip and has several beautiful waterfalls along the road.

Seljalandfoss

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Why? The Seljalandfoss is a popular stop in every South Coast tour because you can walk behind the waterfall.

How to reach? Seljalandfoss lies along route 1 about 70 kilometers beyond the city Selfoss. There is a car park nearby from which you can make a short hike behind the foss.

Tip! Visit early to avoid the crowds. You can also stay at the nearby campsite Hamragarðar and combine this waterfall with the Gljúfrafoss.

Gljúfrafoss

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Why? Probably my favorite waterfall in Iceland mainly due to its setting. Located nearby a campsite but still has the ‘hidden’ feel.

How to reach? This fall is located close to Seljalandfoss (10 min hike) and is actually situated on the campsite Hamragarðar. There is a narrow gorge with a river flowing out of it. Enter the gorge and follow upstream before reaching the pool with close-up views on the fall.

Tip! This is a real treat for photographers. The setting gives an Lara Croft feel and the big rock in front of it completes the picture.

Skogafoss

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Why? This is probably the best-known waterfall in Iceland, so it should be on your list to visit.

How to reach? While the Skogafoss can be seen from the road in advance, you continue your way to Skogar where a sign will tell you to turn left. Another left turn will lead you to the parking lot.

Tip! Almost every tourist visits Skogafoss so don’t expect to be alone. There is a campsite nearby where you can spend the night as well.

 

Kvernufoss

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Why? Located less than a kilometer from Skogafoss, but lacks the crowds. And in my fair opinion, is more beautiful as well.  One of the hidden gems and you can walk behind the waterfall.

How to reach? From Skogar museum, step over the fence (there is a ladder) and head east across the plain towards the gorge that can be easily spotted. Follow the river into the gorge and you will reach Kvernufoss eventually. Takes about 20 minutes.

Tip! The first glimpse on the fall is impressive to say the least, but the best photo opp is from behind the fall where you can get the view on the gorge.

Svartifoss

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Why? Famed for its setting in black basalt columns.

How to reach? Located in Skaftatell National park. There is a trail from the campground leading to the fall. The full hike takes about 1h, depending on your stamina.

Tip! Make the circular walk instead of returning the same way.

East Iceland

Hengifoss

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Why? Iceland’s third highest waterfall measuring 128 meters in height.

How to reach? Hengifoss is around a 30 minute drive from Egilsstaðir, and then the hike up to the falls is around 2.5km. It’s pretty much all uphill.

Sveinsstekksfoss

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Why? Impressive fall closely located near the ring road. Ideal for a quick stop.

How to reach? Located about 16 km northeast of the city of Djúpivogur along route 1.

Tip! There is a viewing platform, but you can also scramble your way up.

Northern Iceland

Dettifoss

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Why? The waterfall with the highest volume of water going over it in Europe, so impressive to say the least.

How to get there? Dettifoss is located just east of Myvatn area. There are two sides to see the fall. Route 864 from the ring road leads to the east side (asphalted road), while route 862 brings you the more close-up view on the west side. However, the latter involves a long, bumpy ride.

Tip! See the Dettifoss from the western side. Here you get a more close-up view. Avoid in wintertime.

Godafoss

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Why? Easy to get to along Iceland Ring Road, so this horseshoe-shaped fall has receives many visitors.

How to reach? 50 kilometers west of Reykjahlíð (Myvatn area) along Ring Road.

West Fjords

Dynjandi

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Why? I haven’t visited this one, but it’s high on my list. Despite being very impressive, this bridal veil-style of waterfall doesn’t receive many visitors.

How to reach? Dynjandi is found deep in the Westfjords, a remote region of north west Iceland that many visitors never venture to. Can be found along route 60, somewhat 260 kilometers off the popular Ring Road.

 

So what waterfall in Iceland is your favorite and why? Please share your story in the comments below. 

 

Escape the Maze Mechelen

Wie me een beetje kent, weet dat ik het niet meteen zo heb voor stadsbezoekjes. De drukte, het verkeer, de vele musea en kerken… het gaat me allemaal snel vervelen. Nee, geef me maar wat avontuur in een natuurlijke omgeving. Toch heb ik deze week een uitzondering gemaakt. Ik trok immers naar Mechelen waar we een stadsspel uitprobeerden: Escape the Maze.

The Maze

The Maze is een virtueel doolhof in de stad waar je kiest in te spelen en waar je moet uit zien te geraken. Dit kan door het elimineren van de verkeerde uitgangen tot er uiteindelijk eentje (hopelijk de juiste) overblijft.

Hoe?

Het vinden van de juiste uitgang doe je door het oplossen van raadsels en het vinden van locaties in de stad. Kortom een combinatie van een treasure hunt en escape game.

Onze ervaring

Hoewel het een leuke activiteit is om in teams te spelen, trokken we er met z’n tweeën op uit om de juiste uitgang te vinden. Het oplossen van de raadsels bleek al snel de ideale manier om Mechelen echt te leren kennen.  En voor mij persoonlijk voegde het wat extra avontuur toe aan een stadsbezoek.

Oh, en na zo’n twee uur hadden we uiteindelijk de juiste uitgang gevonden 😉

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Een citygame brengt je op de leukste plaatsen in de stad zoals de Sint-Romboutstoren in Mechelen.