While in Iceland during the winter season, I experienced for the first time the visceral sensation of being somewhere extraordinarily unique in the world. Everything was so new, so unexpected and so special that the entire trip is engraved in my memory as one of the most exhilarating adventures I have ever embarked on. Here are 5 inspiring revelations I had from visiting Iceland in the winter:
- The already otherworldly landscapes emanate even more magic
With the sun never rising too high in the sky during the winter months, the sunrises and sunsets I witnessed lasted for hours and created the kind of bewitching light that photographers lust after. The beauty of the pristine countryside was made all the more magical by the fact that the time in which to view it was fleeting. Dreamy, snow-covered fields simply blurred into the distant hazy ocean; it was almost impossible at times to differentiate the pure white of the ground from the snowy sky.
- The weather, however unpredictable, elevated my experience
Despite warnings about travelling to this northern country in moody February, I was not deterred and felt confident that as a Canadian, I could handle anything it would throw at me! I did survive a storm or two but remember only the awe of seeing misty clouds rolling in and out of the harbour on a whim, the whipping winds awakening all of my senses and the joy of feeling unseasonably warm sunshine filling my pores for a brief moment. It was thrilling to be at mercy of the constant change and flow.
- The colour palette of the country is a privilege to witness
Winter in Iceland is composed of stunning colour contrasts. Jet-black volcanic rock surrounded by the purest untouched snow was a vision to behold. I encountered every shade of blue imaginable- one vista in particular encapsulated a visual layer cake of pearly white snow, azure lakes and sky topped with pristine clouds.
- My sense of place in the world was magnified
It was truly an indescribable feeling being so far north during the season of its essence. While visiting a black sand beach on the south coast, our guide explained that if I was to head out into the ocean due south from our location, I would not hit land again until I reached Antarctica. I found this to be simply awe-inspiring and it created an acute awareness of where I was on Earth.
- The power of Mother Nature knows no bounds
To witness the geographical marvels and cosmic performances of Iceland in the winter chill is to feel alive. Everything from crags in the earth, the deafening bellow of half-frozen waterfalls, the palpable building tension of geysers and vast stretches of uninhabited land, to the mystique of being surrounded by snow covered mountains in the dark is a true feast for the senses. I felt a deep respect for our planet during my time here. A journey to this part of the world in the off-season is decidedly incomparable.