So, it was a little over 3:00AM when we left the capital after that short night in August. It had been dark at that hour, and the volcano in the distance had colored the clouds with a red splash.
Dropping the vehicle at that time was a breeze since all we had to do was park it in the dedicated space and put the keys in a letterbox. The people at BCR would send an email during the day to confirm the good condition of the vehicle.
At the airport, the queue had felt quite endless with the current health checks being imposed. For check-in they wanted vaccination certificates and passports, of course. However, vaccination certificates would no longer be requested again in France, which was unusual as they had been required at the airport in France as well as upon arrival in Iceland.
So, of course, it had been a very strange year with the restrictions imposed on us until the day of the flight, but in the end, everything had gone well. Iceland was much more strict about it compared to our return to France...
As for restrictions, in Iceland in fact they had been pretty light... It was quite rare to see people wearing masks outside, just in restaurants and supermarkets like Bonus or Krónan. It had also been common practice to complete a traceability document in restaurants by filling in our contact details.
With all this, the number of tourists had been clearly down this year compared to our recent trips in 2018 and 2019, for example. We had found fewer French travelers as well. It had been true that we visited places that were less touristy than most travelers, but even near Jökulsárlón, there had been far fewer buses than usual.
As for the weather, it had been exceptional. Over the 18 days on site we had had 4 days with more than 20 °C, including peaks at 25 °C over two days... Throughout our week in the east, the weather had been magnificent with temperatures around 15°C, and finally, we had only had two days of (light) rain during our stay that required a bit of improvisation.
The year had also been special with the eruption of Geldingadalur. We went there twice, right after landing and then the day before takeoff. We had never seen an eruption in progress and it's true that there's nothing quite like it. To see those great outflows of lava and that crater that sometimes spewed lava several dozen meters in the air, and the sound of all that lava in motion, that unearthly noise, was incredible.
Finding a good spot wasn't easy, and sometimes required a little effort, but it was definitely a must-see. We could have stayed there for hours.
It was not our first trip to Iceland, far from it, and we were kept discovering new things to see, rediscovering things, that's just the magic of Iceland. We walked a lot, with no less than 200 km of hiking and were blown away out there on the trails.
The eruption of Geldingadalur, of course, left a big impression on us. Central Iceland is as beautiful as ever and will always be special to us.
If we had to pick the places that amazed or surprised us most this year, there would definitely be Langisjór and Veiðivötn. These two regions have been absolutely magical, just all to ourselves, these little corners of paradise. We were lucky to have nice weather in Veiðivötn, and the colors were exceptional.
The Mælifell region also impressed us and the F210 that led there was an attraction in itself. These trails generally were great experiences and we were really amazed by some like the F228 to Veiðivötn, the F235 to Langisjór, the F208 south, the F210, and the F207 from Laki. We had never had problems with our Duster crossing fords; the deepest were probably the F228 at the end and the last one in the F207, but we got through with no problems. The Laki region in good weather was particularly beautiful, as was the Thórsmörk region with its unforgettable panoramas.
Going east, we really liked the Hvannagil region and we will be returning to it because we feel like there's more to see.
In the east, we also loved the hike to Storurð, an exceptional trail, as well as the hike to Therribjörg and its incredible colors. In this region, road 917 was an absolute gem with its shoelaces above the beach.
Also in the east, the Laugarvellir hot spring and the Stuðlagil canyon were some of our best experiences here.
The canyon is amazing but we were a bit surprised (disappointed?) To find so many people in Stuðlagil, the site has really become a place with crazy crowds. It's hard to take a photo without having 10 people on it or 3 drones flying over your head...
A few regrets, unfortunately we were not able to do the Strútslaug hike due to lack of time. That will be for the next time.
Finally, we still have a curse with Landmannalaugar where we went 5 or 6 times in different years and never found the sun there! This did not prevent us from hiking on the first day but the rain did not allow us to hike Suðurnàmur on our second scheduled day on site. Never mind, we'll try our luck again next time!