Heaven vs Haven
What is the difference between a photographer’s heaven and a photographer’s haven? Well, heavens become very popular quickly, especially with lightning-fast internet everywhere and the new ways that people are able to say “Check this out!!” with a stunning photo. Then everyone wants a piece of the action.
Capturing the amazing colours of the Aurora over a glacier lagoon or stepping into an ice cave under the glacier are the types of activities that most photographers would find heavenly.
However, when a tour bus arrives with 14 other photographers when you are enjoying this heaven or the ice cave suddenly fills up with 40 tourists, you need a photographer’s haven. This is where Iceland’s East Coast steps in.
Thinking of a self drive?
Vestrahorn to Reydarfjordur
The east coast of Iceland is separated from the south coast by Vestrahorn Mountain. If you are travelling by road, there is a tunnel that takes you under the mountain for 2 kilometers until you emerge from the darkness onto Iceland’s east coast. From the coast, the first mountain that catches the eye is Brunahorn.
This photo was taken during a long exposure on a rainy day. On a clear day, Brunahorn resembles a bat and is known locally as the Batman Mountain.
Driving through the East Fjords is not for anyone in a hurry. The roads are winding with a variety of surfaces, and in some places, they have bridged the ford to make travel a little quicker.
During the course of about an hour of driving, you would have been facing all directions, sometimes into the sun, sometimes away from the sun. The villages are always on the northern edge of each fjord, so they can see the sun in the winter.
There are active fishing communities in most fjords. Notably, Fáskrúðsfjörður has a French connection. The village is twinned with Gravelines in northern France, and it is not unusual to see the French flag flying there. The next village in Stöðvarfjorður houses the world-famous Petra Stone collection.
Some fjords are without villages, such as Berufjorður, which has a nice campsite instead with great views of Bulandstindur Mountain. Bulandstindur is considered to be the most beautiful mountain in Iceland (by the residents of East Iceland).
Leaving the East Coast
There are many opportunities to get away from the East Coast along the way. Escape roads lead to Egilstaðir and are there to help the trucker’s meet there targets, but if you get tired of going in and out of the fjords or the photography is just not working, then follow a sign to Egilstaðir and you will be saved from the haven.
I would recommend sticking with it until Reyðarfjorður. At Reyðarfjorður there is the most direct road to Egilstaðir and a tunnel allows you to cut out the final peninsula – Vattarnes. Please avoid the tunnel, unless you are running out of time. The Vattarnes Peninsula has some of the finest coastlines on the East coast.