Exactly one year ago I was exploring the wilderness and enjoying the unbelievable landscapes of my favourite country – Iceland. My boyfriend and I set off from Zagreb on a motorcycle on June 12. Our journey lasted 27 days and the two of us travelled more than 7000 kilometers through 9 countries on the mighty Kawasaki KLE. The trip to Iceland was our first great journey and a huge test for both of us and also – for our relationship. For me, it was without doubt the most amazing and most wonderful experience and a dream come true on so many levels.

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Route drawing of my trip to Iceland

With a population of only 300 000 people, Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Driving through its dramatic volcanic landscapes made me feel like the tiniest (and the loneliest) person on the planet. Sometimes we would drive for hours without seeing a single soul. Huge mountains, volcanoes, lava fields, black-sand beaches, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, hundreds of waterfalls… and only the two of us, sharing this majestic landscape. And the most amazing thing about Iceland is that every few kilometers the landscape changes dramatically and you see colours and shapes and natural wonders you have never seen before. As Stephen Markley wrote, “The problem with driving around Iceland is that you’re basically confronted by a new soul-enriching, breath-taking, life-affirming natural sight every five goddamn minutes.”

A whale and a boat - near Húsavík
A whale and a boat – near Húsavík

whale-watching-issa-markowhale-dive

Since whales were the reason why I first became interested in Iceland, a whale-watching tour was a must! In Húsavík, a small town in North Iceland and Iceland’s whale-watching capital, we boarded a boat and quite soon encountered four humpback whales (and some puffins!).

 

One was particularly curious, playing around our boat and showing off. In the midst of excitement, joy and happiness, I realized for the first time that I was 4000 kilometers away from home and some 50 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. The feeling was great.

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Icelandic coastal waterfalls

Because of the north Atlantic climate that produces frequent rain and snow and because of the large glaciers that melt in the summer, Iceland is home to many amazing waterfalls.They are literally everywhere! And some of them are quite extraordinary.

Below you can see the mighty Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Located in Vatnajökull National Park, it totally blew us away.

Seljalandsfoss is the romantic one, since it is possible to walk behind it. It drops 60 meters over the cliffs of the former coastline. On few occasions it was impossible for me to take photos of other great fosses because of the weather – heavy rain and polar winds were little too much for my old camera.

dettifoss
Dettifoss
Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss

On the edge of Vatnajökull National Park there is a large glacial lake called Jökulsárlón. It developed after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and it recently became the deepest lake in Iceland, as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The large glacier lagoon is a quiet and awe-inspiring place, where huge icebergs float in silence and occasionally break off from the glacier.

Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón icebergs
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River crossings in Landmannalaugar

However, the highlight of our trip for both of us was an off-road drive through
Landmannalaugar region. Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the highland of Iceland. Most of the roads in this region are 4WD roads only, but we were crazy enough to explore the place on Kawasaki KLE (we even crossed some rivers!).

landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar region
Issa, Marko and mighty KLE
Issa, Marko and mighty KLE

Iceland was, and still is, a huge inspiration for my art. Some months before the trip I made a short illustrated story entitled “We would like to go to Iceland” which is now a wonderful postcard collection of the places we visited and of the things we did on our journey. Some of the things that I draw, like seeing Huldufólk, were left undone so I guess we will just have to visit Iceland again one day.

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We would like to go to Iceland – short illustrated story
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