HikingGears tipsTips for beginners Practice TipsFamily, babies & childrenSnow & cold weather Where to go ?Hiking responsiblyNature Explore
Mickael Peralta loves crazy adventures, life in the heart of nature, and transcribing this love of the great outdoors in photos; here, he tells the story of his solo adventure in Iceland.
I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland, so some time ago, I decided to take the plunge and explore this fascinating country over 10 days.
I’d already travelled a lot with two or more people before starting to organise this adventure, .
The competitive spirit I feel when travelling with others (photographers) is really a source of motivation and pushing myself ever further, and I love the dynamic it creates.
But this time around, I wanted to change my habits and get out of my comfort zone, and decided to go alone.
I think at that point, I felt an almost overwhelming urge to reconnect with nature, and with myself as well, and trekking the silent expanses of Iceland seemed like the perfect opportunity for that!
The idea behind this road trip was ultimately quite simple: take time from browse the south from en car research from photo and from.
I’m always careful when I travel and hike alone, especially in this kind of country where the snow forces certain roads to be closed and where access is often done on foot.
I spent 10 days on the Icelandic roads, and I chose not to take a hotel or other accommodation for this trip, but to sleep either in the car or in a tent, a detail that obviously has great importance for the choice of equipment I took with me!
I always travel light when I go on a photo road trip, for the sake of convenience, but this time, I decided to really only take the bare minimum: my camera of course, a tent, and something to face the cold.
Because to complicate things a bit, I set off in March, when the temperatures are quite glacial in Iceland ... but it was imperative for me to have the chance to find this particular lighting that I always seek and which characterises my photo work so well. I wanted snow, wind, rain and just a little bit of sun .... And I certainly got it!
For an adventure like this, the first piece of advice I can give is to choose your equipment carefully.
I’d studied the weather trends in Iceland at this time of year and the forecast during my stay there, as I always do before heading off, and I already had in mind that it was going to be very cold, especially at night.
So here's a quick recap of the gear I brought with me: a tent canvas (make sure you check which time of year it’s intended for), a sleeping bag (
the same again - check the temperature level likely when you get there and choose your sleeping bag accordingly; little tips: always base your choice on the comfort temperature of your sleeping bag, which
may seem obvious but it’ll make all the difference for your expeditions).
I always wear three layers for upper body clothing (usually a technical T-shirt, fleece and parka), add waterproof, warm pants, socks suitable for hiking, gloves and, maybe most importantly, good boots that provide effective waterproofing, both breathable and warm, and suitable for snow.
Preparing the equipment is always a critical part of planning my adventures, and I think about it well in advance, and when the time comes, I can easily
devote a whole day to it.
This gives me the reassurance my trip will go well, that I’ll be able to deal with any unforeseen events and enjoy the adventure with peace of mind.
This adventure in Iceland was a truly timeless moment; I’d like to be able to describe precisely what I felt during those 10 days, alone in the middle of this very raw nature, often without internet network or phone and therefore ultimately quite isolated (you don’t meet many people on the roads of Iceland at this time of year)!
This feeling of solitude was ultimately very soothing, and the feeling of living in a moment suspended in time helped me reconnect with myself and really recharge my batteries.
These sensations were surely also intensified by the fact of sleeping under the tent or in the car (despite the temperatures at night easily falling to -15 degrees), of waking up very early to discover the glow of the day even before sunrise.
I need to tell you about this feeling of "the glow of the day", as I call it: I only saw this in the Nordic countries I was able to visit, and it was the first time I witnessed it on this trip to Iceland: over there, it’s already almost daylight before the sun rises, a sort of "whitened", pale day.
When the sun finally rises, the light is still very different from what we can experience at home, and gives the impression of seeing everything in grey-blue.
For the record, my family found my photos almost exaggeratedly bluish when I got home, and found it hard to believe that the light was really like that there; I remember my wife looking out the window one morning on a trip to Norway a little later, and telling me that she now understood, not really believing her eyes as she saw the blue landscape before her !
I’d never experienced this before, the proximity to the Arctic Circle having a lot to do with it, and it's one of the things that’s made me fall in love with the Nordic countries.
Finally, if I had to sum up this adventure, I’d say it’s absolutely and totally incomparable with all the other adventures I’ve had before and since this one; I think I was lucky to have been able to make it unique by choosing to go alone, at a time of year when I knew the weather was going to be difficult, not planning any accommodation but instead being totally immersed in Icelandic nature...
To be honest, I don't know if I’d be able to head off today the way I did then, I may be inclined to want a little more comfort, and now I find that nights spent at the hotel aren’t so bad … but I know I don’t regret anything about this adventure.
During those 10 days, I was often frozen, tired (but never worried, as Icelandic roads are completely safe for a traveller, even alone and isolated in
the middle of the night); I walked and slept in damp clothes, I got lost in white landscapes which all look alike, I also felt lonely sometimes, but I remain
convinced that you have to give yourself the means to change your habits and get out of your comfort zone, to provide yourself with some incredible memories!