Adventurer of the Week: Nancy's Remote Trek in the East

21. September 2017 —
Chad O´Hare
Nancy and her husband Chad traded in their corporate careers to pursue their creative interests. As avid nature lovers and appreciators of remote landscapes, they joined us for a trek in some of the most isolated areas of east Iceland.

What motivated you to visit Iceland?

In recent years, I have noticed an increasing number of travel articles and brilliant photos coming out of Iceland. The country’s dramatic landscapes and rugged spaces enticed my husband and I to hike some of its lesser-visited regions. Few destinations offer such a mix of colourful mountains, glaciers, icebergs and a chance to photograph northern lights. We had already planned a trek in the Himalayas and were flying to Asia via London. Detouring through Iceland to shake up our travels with a cooler climate and an equally alluring hiking route seemed like a good idea.

To add a little context, our Icelandic adventure is part of a longer four-month journey through the Baltics, Brunei, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. I plan to feature these destinations in my second book. After living and working around the world for the past twenty years, my husband and I recently decided to trade in our finance careers to pursue more creative interests. I published my first book and my husband switched his focus to photography. My book, Dust in My Pack was published in July. It is a mix of travel stories and practical guidance from my most memorable trips across all seven continents. I am excited to add Iceland to the list of countries that will be featured in the next …In My Pack book.

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

My husband and I did a seven-day tour with IMG and then spent two days in Reykjavik.

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

Our tour was called The Wilderness of Flaciers IMG491 and covered East Iceland Trekking parts 2 & 3. Three people in our group had also done part 1 before we joined.

I generally try to avoid overly busy tourist attractions, so I gravitated towards the remote locations that we could access as part of this tour. From reading the Lonely Planet Iceland guidebook, it seemed that the only way to hike these parts was through a good trekking company if you were not prepared to navigate the unmarked track or did not want to carry everything yourself. We also wanted to hike in Skaftafell National Park and see icebergs, which the later part of this tour covered.

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

During our first four days, we did not meet another person. The uninhabited landscape blurred into the horizon in all directions. It was not until we arrived at our third night’s hut, that we met the ranger who stayed there and took care of it and the surrounding trails. The final fourth day was back to our solitary walk until we were met by the IMG 4WD driver at the end of our trek – somewhere along a gravelly riverbank north of Höfn.

The feeling of being out in the middle of nature on your own is so special. I find it clarifies the mind and brings your goals into focus. Many tours are crammed full of people and quintessential tourist hot spots, whereas I much prefer to escape this congestion.

If you had to describe your experience in one sentence, what would you say?

This trip showcased Iceland’s remote and rugged spaces by hiking through the Lönsöræfi region and then explored iconic glaciers, icebergs and rocky peaks in the popular Vatnajökull National Park.

The feeling of being out in the middle of nature on your own is so special. I find it clarifies the mind and brings your goals into focus.

Nancy O´Hare

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

This was the first place I have been where the streams are clean enough to drink the water without any purification. I was less surprised in remote regions, but we even found fresh, clear water along trails in the Skaftafell area.

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

I would love to explore the Westfjords. Few visitors get to this region, but they are said to have some amazing hiking through dramatic scenery with beautiful fjords, cliffs and fishing villages.

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

I found that many of the bus stops along the southern ring road were quite busy and touristy. So, I would recommend getting away from the crowds and experience the tranquility of Iceland’s lesser-visited places. It depends on what interests people—for me, the first four days of hiking without seeing another trekker was impressive.

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

After Iceland, my husband and I will move on to Asia for a couple months of travel. We are attempting the 17-day snowman trek in Bhutan’s Himalayan mountains, a cultural hike in eastern Bhutan as well as exploring Brunei, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Read more about my travel book(s) at www.bynancyohare.com

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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