In the summer of 2020 my wife and I made a trip to Iceland. Originally we had planned to go hiking in northern Scandinavia but due to the pandemic we had to change plans. It has been 8 years since my last visit in 2020 and I clearly saw changes, especially at the typical tourist attractions: larger parkings with fees, guardrails, paved trails and viewing platforms, no drone signs everywhere (but sometimes ignored), etc. Were there more people than in 2012? Well, due to the pandemic this wasn’t the case. I strongly believe, that otherwise it would have been significantly more crowded.
During our trip we did a lot of day hiking but decided also to do the famous Laugavegur trail from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. Of course, we didn’t expect to be alone on the trail – and in fact met a lot of people. On the other hand, hut wardens told us that in normal years there’s much more going on. So we were lucky. E.g., we didn’t meet any commercial groups and we always found a camping spot near the huts (there were even beds left which is unusual).
In the following a few images from the Icelandic highlands along the Laugavegur (including a detour at Landmannalaugar and Hvanngil):
I also compiled a short video to show what it’s like to hike this trail:
To answer the question in the title: Was it worth it? Yes, it was a great experience, especially due to the spectacular, otherworldly landscape! The impressions along this trail inspired me enough to plan a more remote hike in the Icelandic highlands sometime in the future.
A few days ago we had some snowfall and really cold temperatures in Hamburg. This reminded me of last year’s trip to the Swedish village Nikkaluokta in early March, just before the pandemic fully started. Nikkaluokta is located about 50 km from Kiruna.
This time my wife and I took a relaxed approach. We rented a small cabin and did some excursions on skis in the surrounding area. We knew Nikkaluokta from a summer backpacking trip. In comparison to summer it was not very crowded. There are marked winter trails in the area, in particular one section of the famous Kungsleden starts here.
We enjoyed the Vistas valley the most. Very few people and almost no snow scooters. A quiet and beautiful place.
The following short video is documenting our trip.
It’s winter now and Corona lockdown is in full force again. In autumn less restrictions applied. The following images show two sides of autumn in Germany.
The first images have been taken in the Palatinate forest in south-western Germany where I was greeted with wet and foggy conditions. While it was not the most comfortable, I believe it was a great fit for the castle ruins near the small town of Annweiler.
In the Palatinate forest there are small managed campsites that are only reachable by hikers. I stayed at two of those during this wet three-day trip. Highly recommended!
The second set of images has been taken in a small nature reserve in Hamburg, the city where I live. It was a beautiful day in November where the autumn colors were bright and prominent.
From mid August the heather is blooming in northern Germany. A famous location where this spectacle can be observed is the Lüneburg Heath (German: Lüneburger Heide) which is located between Hamburg and Hannover.
During the heather bloom you will encounter many visitors, but in the mornings and evenings it’s usually far less crowded. Then, due to the directional light, the colors seem even more vibrant.
To preserve the landscape in its current state, the grazing of sheep is necessary. There is a special breed of sheep (“Heidschnucke”) which can be encountered in herds.
If you visit the area be sure to take your time and explore the area on foot on one of the many hiking trails. Below you find some more images.
Painting with Light
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