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Visiting Iceland – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about our first day in Iceland and how we got to plan our trip. On the second part, I want to tell you about our experiences during day two of our trip.

We had a great breakfast at our hotel in Reykjavík then we began our journey to the northwest side of Iceland, we drove through the Snæfellsnes Peninsula following road 54 all the way to Stykkishólmur where we spent the night.

Day 2 – Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Mt Kirkjufell

While driving through the Snæfellsnes Peninsula the sun started to come out, the morning colors were stunning so we decided to make a stop to take some photos of the mountains being warmed by the sunlight.

Hvalfjarðarsveit

Hvalfjarðarsveit

As you can see there were not a lot of houses in this area or too much traffic. The road was a bit icy due to the snow being blown away by the strong winds so we had to drive slow and very carefully. On the way we spotted a few horses next to the side of the road, so we decided to make another stop as we really wanted to see the famous beautiful Icelandic Horses.

Icelandic Horse


Icelandic Horse

After enjoying the company of these beautiful animals, we continued our journey. The sky was clear and the morning sun was giving a golden glow to the mountains.

Eyja-Og-Miklaholtshreppur

Búðakirkja

Our first official stop on our itinerary for the day was Búðakirkja, we wanted to visit the Black Church of Búðir which is a tiny wooden church dating back to the 19th century. With the snowy mountains in the background, the white floor due to the snow and the blue sky, this black church is a photographic gem, imagine this with the northern lights!⠀

The Black Church of Búðir

Gatklettur

Our second stop was in Gatklettur, a beautiful Arch Rock in the area of Arnarstapi, it was cold and windy but the view was spectacular.

Gatklettur

We had several more stops on the map that we wanted to make but it was getting late, due to the strong winds and the icy roads driving took longer than estimated, so after Gatklettur we decided to go directly to Kirkjufell to try to get there before sunset. Fortunately, we made it on time, there were a lot of people as this is a very popular spot. We parked in the Kirkjufellsfoss parking lot and headed to the other side of the waterfall to get a composition that included the falls and the mountain.

Mt Kirkjufell

The sunset colors were beautiful, it was partially cloudy as there was a storm coming that night. We couldn’t stay longer because we still needed to drive 40 min more to our hotel in Stykkishólmur.

If you don’t want to have to drive more, there is a small town next to Mt Kirkjufell where you can stay, if we knew the driving conditions were going to be like they were we would have stayed there instead to be able to spend more time in Kirjufell and reduce the driving time.

Despite the short time there I was able to get some more shots I enjoyed.

Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufellsa River

 

Mt Kirkjufell

This was one of my favorite spots, I wish I had more time there to explore other angles, also to be able to visit at night to try to catch the mountain with the northern lights, but I don’t lose hope and think I’ll go back one day.

If you have time explore the area, try different angles, across the road there is another parking lot and there are trails around the mountain, there are usually horses there too, so the photo opportunities are endless here.

After Kirkjufell we headed to our hotel, we stayed in Hotel Fransiskus in Stykkishólmur, it is a small cozy hotel with breakfast and parking included, it had everything we needed.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached Stykkishólmur it was late and the next day we left early so we didn’t have time to explore this town.

Day 2 Map

As I mentioned above, we added a lot of stops on this day, we could not visit them all but they are still here on the map, hopefully, this will give you an idea of all these other things you can visit in this are if you have the chance.

 

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We have visited Yosemite National Park in the past but never during winter. This year after returning from our trip to Costa Rica we decided to go to Yosemite during Martin Luther King’s weekend, we prepared our bags and left early on Saturday morning, we stopped for breakfast in Manteca and reached Yosemite Valley mid-morning.

Our first stop was Bridalveil Falls, there were a lot of people in the trail and there was a lot of ice which made it difficult to walk, a lesson we learned that day was to get ice grips for our shoes. We could not reach the end of the trail due to the icy conditions but I managed to get a shot of the falls that I like.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

After Bridalveil Falls we decided to go to the valley and we made a stop at Swinging Bridge, we took our snowshoes out and walked through the meadows, there was still a lot of water from the flood caused from the storms from previous weeks, which were creating some awesome reflections. It was not sunset yet but the light was nice giving a lot of life to Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Yosemite National Park in Winter

After the meadows we headed to Tunnel View to catch the sunset and because of the weather we had to drive really slow, we made it to Tunnel View just a few minutes before the sun went down, there were a lot of people, tourist, and photographers, it was super icy making it a bit hard to find a good spot to shoot from. There were no clouds but the colors were amazing and due to the rain and snow of the previous weeks, all the trees looked beautiful. I was able to get a shot before the sun went down, there was fog coming from the valley which gave the view a mystical feeling.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

The next day we drove down to the Valley and stopped at the Chapel, the contrast of the sky, trees and snow against the Chapel colors was amazing.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

After this we decided to hike to Yosemite Falls, again we found a very icy trail but we managed to walk up and get some long exposure shots of the lower falls.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

In the afternoon of that beautiful Sunday, we went to Valley View where we saw the fog was starting to come up making the view breathtaking. That side of the valley was under the shade, however, the top of El Capitan and the Three Brothers were being hit by the sun creating a lot of contrast, lots of snow down on the valley, not so much at the top, also the light and the shade created some amazing views.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Yosemite National Park in Winter

We decided to head back to Cathedral Beach to shoot some photos of El Capitan before going up to Tunnel View for the sunset. The Merced river water was very clear and I was able to get a shot where you can see the rocks in the river and a beautiful reflection of El Capitan.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Again we run up to Tunnel View, there were some more clouds and the sky was on fire that day, the tip of El Capitan and Half Dome were painted red by the sun and I was able to get a better spot to catch that amazing view.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

We stayed a little later after the sunset to try to catch the car trails in the valley, I was able to get one shot however since there was not a lot of fog that day the car lights were not reflecting as much as I wanted, but still, I am happy with that shot. We didn’t stay much, it was incredibly cold so we went back to our rental for the night.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

On our last day, we stopped at Tunnel View to get a shot early that morning and then we spent some time in the Valley before heading home, it was a wonderful weekend that we hope to repeat next winter.

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Yosemite National Park in Winter

Yosemite National Park in Winter

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