Friday, 27 December 2019

Elephant Rock Iceland: A Westman Islands Star Attraction

As you drive along the South Coast of Iceland toward Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you’ll pass the Westman islands or Vestmannaeyjar. Southern Iceland is known for volcanic eruptions and this unspoiled archipelago is the result of volcanic activity. You’ll want to stop by Heimaey island (Home island), the only inhabited island of the cluster. Heimaey is the largest island and home to Elephant Rock Iceland.

Elephant Rock Iceland on Heimaey in the Westman Islands

Elephant Rock Iceland: What is it Exactly? 

Elephant Rock is a natural rock formation on the sea cliffs that looks just like a giant elephant. We get the name Elephant Rock from the appearance of the giant pachyderm dipping its trunk into the ocean grab some refreshing water. The resemblance is uncanny, especially because the basalt rock that makes up the natural wonder is dark gray. Combine this with the wrinkly skin appearance of the rock’s texture and you can see how Iceland’s Elephant Rock couldn’t be called anything else.

While the advancing lava has long since cooled, what we are left with is Elephant Rock in Iceland. The mossy rocks that cover the head and ears add to the beauty of this dramatic spot.

Some have pointed out the surface of the rock also bears a resemblance to HP Lovecraft's terrifying sea demon Cthulhu. His horror-genre comics from 1928 featured a cosmic daemon with the face of an octopus.  If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, picture Bill Nighy as Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies instead. The rocky sea cliff has holes in the rock which give the eerie impression of eyes and realistic appearance of a face.

Elephant Rock in Heimaey Iceland 

You may sometimes hear Heimaey referred to as Elephant island Iceland because they are so closely associated with one another. In fact, many visitors come to see Elephant Rock in Heimaey Iceland as part of a day trip or stopover. To get to the island, you’ll need to catch the ferry. It’s a very straightforward and enjoyable ride.

The Westman Islands are home to Elephant Rock Iceland

Elephant Rock island is located 7.4 km (4.6 miles) nautical miles off the coast of Iceland. Spread among the 13 square kilometers (5 square miles) of the entire area, you’ll find 15 islands and 30 natural reefs. To get to the Elephant Rock in Iceland is easy to get to via ferry. Book your ferry tickets on the Herjólfur passenger ferry that leaves from Landeyjahöfn.

It holds 500 ferry passengers and 60 cars, which sounds like a high capacity. But remember that during the summer high season, everyone is going to want to take a trip. Tickets might sell out, so the sooner you can book, the better.

Don’t worry if you’re not able to bring your car or camper on the ferry. Landeyjahöfn has free parking and everything on the island is within walking distance. You’ll be able to get around easily and have a nice active day out.

The ride itself is short; around 35 minutes each way. Then, get ready to explore all of the wonderful natural beauty and make your way to Elephant Rock. There are around seven departures and returns every day, so just plan your schedule and give yourself plenty of time. Ticket prices are quite reasonable. Adults pay 1600 ISK ($13.25 or 11.90€) and there are discounts for children, teenagers, senior citizens, disabled travelers, and students.

Directions to Arrive 

So where is Elephant Rock? Once you’ve landed in Heimaey and gotten your bearings, start heading toward the western side of the island. There are some protected nesting areas, so depending on the season, you might need to take a small detour. If you’re wondering where is Elephant Rock, keep going towards the Westman Islands Golf Club. The rock itself is located on the northwestern tip of the island.

Elephant Rock Iceland is on Heimaey island

Once you’ve passed the Latter Day Saints Church Monument and Mormon pond, you’ll see it off in the distance. Walk up the shore to get a closer look from the rocky coast to the south of our elephant-like friend.

The best angle for viewing the rock is actually from the sea, and you can access this by private boat or on a boat tour. In addition to Elephant Rock, the island is famous for its rock formations, coves, inlets, and bird cliffs. Take a Westman islands boat tour for a relaxing few hours enjoying the amazing view. If you plan on going this route, please remember that the tours leave from Heimaey (the main island) and not from the mainland.

Elephant Rock Heimaey Iceland 

A visit to Elephant Rock in Heimaey Iceland is one you won’t soon forget. Our country boasts thousands and natural wonders and this is a very special one indeed. It combines the best of volcanic rock formations, the sea, and areas filled with typical Icelandic wildlife that are a nature lover’s dream. Come visit the Elephant Rock in Iceland to see what all the fuss is about.

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Friday, 20 December 2019

Advantages of an Iceland Road Trip

Driving through Iceland is the adventure of a lifetime. In this Land of Fire and Ice, you will see nature in all its contrasting glory. From stunning glaciers to geothermal hot springs and midnight black sand beaches to vibrant blue ice caves. Renting a car is the best way for you to experience all of these natural wonders. The advantages of a road trip include setting your own pace and visiting many sites efficiently. You will surely stop along the road in awe of the landscape and the peaceful serenity. Picture perfect photo opportunities will be around every bend in the road.

Snowy landscapes are part of Iceland road trip advantages

Advantages of a Road Trip 

When you create your bucket list, think about what you want to see and how many days in Iceland you will have. Also, where you want to go will determine the kind of rental cars you should research. Summer is a great and popular time to visit Iceland. But depending on your preferences, fall might be preferable if you do not mind colder temps and enjoy smaller crowds. Fortunately, at anytime of the year, Iceland remains an unforgettable and mystical island.

There are a ton of reasons why a road trip is the best option to go across the country. So let´s get started on planning your epic road trip with Iceland’s best routes, car rental and road tips.

Renting a car in Iceland is by far the best way to see this contrasting Land of Fire and Ice. However, it is not like renting a car in other countries. Here are few tips before you pick up your car keys. Book in advance to get the best rates because during peak season quality vehicles might not be available. Cars are completely imported so what you see is what you get. Remember to adhere to all speed limits and do not drive off road. If you drive off road you can face very expensive fines and up to two years jail time. Be cautious because no one wants to have any mishaps on an otherwise great vacation.

Stop at local gas stations to keep your tank full to avoid running out of gas. You don’t want to pass a station on a half tank while driving along long stretches of road. You can drive for hours and not see another soul or gas station. Please note that gas is expensive in Iceland so budget accordingly.

Where do you plan on going? 

Where you want to go will determine if you rent a regular car or a four-wheel drive. If you are driving in the Highlands you need a four-wheel drive because of F-Roads. What are F-Roads? They are rugged and unpaved roads that require you to drive over rivers, lava fields, and more. But the epic views are worth the adventure. And how many people can say they've driven through a river and a lava field?

If you are driving through places like the Ring Road, it is predominantly paved, therefore a regular car should be fine. But depending on weather conditions you might need a four-wheel drive due to snow levels and ice on the ground. Overall, be prepared for quick weather changes like sudden sand storms and rainfall. Also, get car insurance. You won’t regret it.

Iceland Road Trip Planner 

First, establish when you want to visit Iceland because it will determine what you can see. Then based on time of year and terrain you will face, you can decide on your rental car. Peak times to visit are in the summer months of June, July, and August. The advantages of the summer season include long daylight hours, warm weather, generally clear road conditions, and green landscapes. In June through July you can see violet lupine flower fields, whale watching, and the Midnight Sun. The only disadvantages are more people, higher prices, and not seeing the famous Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).

During summer, there is simply too much light to see this natural phenomenon. In spring and fall you also have great daylight hours, but brilliant spring and fall colors and decent road conditions. Spring is in April and May while fall is in September, October and early November. During these times you can actually see the famous Northern Lights and still go whale watching. Additional advantages include cheaper prices, fewer crowds, and only slightly colder weather. So when creating your Iceland road trip planner, the time of year is an extremely important factor.

Iceland road trip advantages include the Northern Lights

In the winter, which is mid-November to early February there are fewer crowds and the landscape looks like a fairy tale covered in snow. There are good prices and you can witness winter magic by discovering frozen waterfalls. Please note the driving conditions are very challenging because driving in Iceland requires you to be comfortable navigating in snow. It will also require the use of a four-wheel drive. Several roads are also shut down for safety purposes and there are limited hours of light.

Iceland Best Routes 

After you have identified the time of year you want to visit Iceland, choose how long your trip will be. If you spend a long time in Iceland you can appreciate much more of this magnetizing country. It's best to spend 10 to 14 days to avoid rushing any part of your experience. However, even three to seven days will work for short day trips. Either way, lasting memories from your great adventures will be created.

On shorter trips, focusing on locations close to the city capital of Reykjavik would be wise. You could take a day trip and drive through the Golden Circle then on another day visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula or the South Coast of Iceland. You can also drive 40 minutes from Reykjavik and experience the rejuvenating Blue Lagoon for a refreshing day at a geothermal spa. For longer trips, you can plan to visit all of these areas including the famous Ring Road, the Highlands, and much more.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula 

When you land at Keflavik Airport, pick up your rental car, charge your phone, and hit the road. Visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula, it is close to the capital city of Reykjavik and can be experienced in one day. However, if you have more time, two to three days would be preferable to see everything at your leisure. It is often called “Iceland in miniature” because it encompasses so many of the beautiful features Iceland has to offer in one area. Snaefellsnes Peninsula has ancient mountains, crystal clear waterfalls, active volcanoes, many lava fields, picturesque golden sand beaches, and cute villages. Snaefellsnes Peninsula even has basalt column cliffs called Gerðuberg, which are hexagonal structures that look like perfectly made sculptures. But they are a natural result of lava cooling.

If you like visiting places that have been featured in famous movies or television shows look no further than the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Kirkjufell Mountain is one of the locations where Game of Thrones was filmed. Many people from all over the world have traveled to take a singular photo featuring this ancient mountain and two breath-taking waterfalls called Kirkjufellsfoss with Kirkjufell. Snaefellsjökull National Park is another must-see because it surrounds a famous volcano called Snaefellsjökull, which is topped by an ice cap. This volcano has been the inspiration for a novel and movie called Journey to the center of the Earth. Another site to admire in this national park is Skarðsvík. It’s a unique golden beach in Iceland because most are black sand beaches from basalt lava.

Day trips to Kirkjufell are one of many Iceland road trip advantages

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is one of the most popular road trip routes in Iceland. It will lead you to memorable locations that everyone should see. The three important sites are Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique historical and geological significance. This national park was the place where Iceland’s first democratic parliament was founded and where you can see two continental plates separate. You can actually snorkel and dive between the tectonic plates and witness this marvel up close.

The next sight to see is the famous Geysir hot springs, which is the place of the first erupting geyser. This area is very steamy from the geothermal vents but is no longer active. The last stop is Gullfoss Waterfall aptly called the Golden Waterfall. It is a miraculous vision to behold, the water changing color and cascades down from the melting of Langjökull Glacier. While here you can visit a manmade ice cave.

The Best Way to See Iceland

Get excited, going on a road trip through Iceland is the trip of a lifetime. There are so many advantages of a road trip and you’ll create lasting memories and leave with many stories to share.

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