Adventurer of the Week: Dorian Goes Coast-to-Coast

10. November 2016
Shape Dorian Tsai
Golden hour in the highlands

Dorian, a traveler and photographer from  Canada, shares his highland crossing adventure from Nýdalur to Eldgjá, deep in the Icelandic highlands. We caught up with Dorian and he shared his experience with us.

What motivated you to visit Iceland?

I was heading home from Europe to Canada, but still wanted to travel a bit more. Having lived in Sweden and Finland forever a year, I really enjoyed the outdoors and Nordic culture, so Iceland was the logical destination. I am also an avid photographer, and had heard that Iceland is a bit of a geological wonderland and photographic paradise. There were a great many reasons to head to Iceland.

I did a bit of group travel for a week through the interior of Iceland with the Icelandic Mountain Guides, which was a great way to finish my journey.

Dorian Tsai

How long was your stay? Did you travel solo or with a group?

I spent four weeks in Iceland in June and July. I did mostly solo traveling and hitch-hiking at the start of my trip. Hitch-hiking was really easy and such a great way of meeting people. It often took me down paths of travel that I would normally not see, and I got to peek into the lives of others, both Icelanders and travelers alike. At the end, I did a bit of group travel for a week through the interior of Iceland with the Icelandic Mountain Guides, which was a great way to finish my journey.

Shape Dorian Tsai
Highland textures.

Which tour did you take and why did you choose it? 

I took part in the Nyidalur to Eldgja trip (4th week) section of the cross-Iceland trek. I didn't know that it was part of a cross-Iceland tour, but that made it all the more interesting, because I could hear the tales from other parts of the interior which very few people actually see when they come to Iceland. I chose the Nyidalur to Eldgja trip because it was rumored to be one of the most beautiful and remote treks. I was also looking for one of the most diverse treks, and chatting with IMG led me to this particular trip.

What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?  

I will always remember the moss-bed nap in the middle of the mountains, overlooking the fjord. It was half way into our week-long backpack through the mountains, and we had just crossed some of the glacier. Following a ridge and skirting over a small and chilly stream, we came upon a moss-covered valley that was completely covered in moss. The serenity and overwhelming remoteness of the area made it supremely special in my mind.

Shape Dorian Tsai
Huge perspective

What is something that you learned about Iceland that surprised you?

I was surprised to learn how intense and dynamic the weather in Iceland could be. It's like having several weather systems constantly jostling for supremacy. On our very first day out from Nyidalur, we had just pushed through a rain storm with intense winds for 5 hours. We made it down to a sheltered area with water, and promptly started setting up camp. We set up the tubular tents to withstand the wind from the prevailing direction. After a half hour, Robert (our guide) and I started preparing meals for the group, when the wind changed directions completely and a huge gust literally ripped the tent up with us inside it. We went for a bit of a tumble, but no one was hurt, and the gear was mostly intact. Even though we piled heaps of rocks around the tents to make a wind-wall, I could still feel the wind pushing the tent and the rocks around us all throughout the night.  I can definitely understand the saying "if you don't like the weather in Iceland, just wait for 30 minutes."

I can definitely understand the saying "if you don't like the weather in Iceland, just wait for 30 minutes.

Dorian Tsai

If you had more time in Iceland, what else would you like to see and do?

Shape Dorian Tsai
Deep highland river fords

I would probably travel to Iceland in the winter time and revisit a lot of the popular sites that would be much quieter during that time of year. With a fresh blanket of snow, everything looks completely different. I'd also be keen to chase the aurora borealis; I spent 4 months in Northern Sweden studying the physics behind the aurora, and it would be amazing to see the aurora mixed in with quality Icelandic landscapes!

What tips do you have for people who want to visit Iceland?

Shape Dorian Tsai

What adventure are you off to next? What is your next dream adventure? 

I'm off to do some multi-pitch rock climbing in Australia's Blue Mountains in a few weeks, and later on diving in the Komodo Islands. I'm pretty excited for both! My next dream adventure is definitely a multi-month road trip through New Zealand, which I hope to make happen in the coming years while I am still living in Australia.

Dorian's coast-to-coast adventure is only one of the many features that make for an unforgettable experience. Book your tour and join us for an excursion that is guaranteed to make memories that last a lifetime.  

About the Author

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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