Iceland has been our most visited country since we started traveling. We've experienced amazing ice caves, bundled up in our warmest gear and patiently waited for the Northern Lights to dance across the sky, took a Defender swimming, drank wine behind one of our favorite waterfalls and explored a wide variety of landscapes that look straight out of a movie (no wonder why a number of movies were filmed in Iceland). Needless to say, every trip has offered something unique and memorable.
When we saw that a new volcano erupted in Iceland and it was possible to see it in person, we immediately started to plan our next trip to Iceland.
The plan was simple. Get the vaccine as soon as possible and immediately head to Iceland.
Once we arrived in Iceland we stocked up on food from Costco and booked it to the volcano. For our full itinerary and some advice, read our blog post, Iceland Tips & Itinerary for a Summer Visit.
After a 50 minute drive from Reykjavik, we arrived to Fagradalsfjall's parking lot. We hopped out of the truck and were immediately greeted by high winds and a light drizzle. Pretty typical Iceland weather. It could have been a hurricane and we still would have found a way to watch the volcano, but I was a little concerned for my drones.
Before arriving to Iceland one of my goals, besides enjoying the experience, was to capture as much drone footage of the volcano as possible. I brought my Mavic 2 Pro and DJI FPV drone to capture different types of shots. I knew there was a chance that the weather would prevent me from capturing as much drone footage as I'd like since I experienced two close calls on previous trips to Iceland, but I was willing to lose a drone for the opportunity to film an active volcano. Plus, that's what insurance is for, right?
Even though the weather wasn't very favorable to fly a drone when we arrived, I brought them along for the hike anyway. Just in case.
After hiking for an hour, we reached the viewing spot and were greeted by even stronger winds. I was a little disappointed because I've been thinking about the opportunity to drone the volcano for months, but then it happened.
In that exact moment, I didn't care about drone footage or the obnoxious wind.
When we first arrived, looking into the distance was like peering back in time.
The land was desolate.
The sounds were eerie yet oddly relaxing.
Was this what it was like to roam the Earth 4 billion years ago?
Any feeling of disappointment vanished the moment the landscape that once looked like a scene from a black and white movie, started to turned orange.
The volcano went boom.
I sat there in a state of awe. Mesmerized. The only thing missing was David Attenborough quietly telling us random facts about volcanos.
My buddy looked over and didn't even have say a word. His "eff yeah" smile was enough.
"Yeah," is all I had to respond.
After the volcano calmed down and lava stopped spewing out of the crater, we listened to the remaining sounds like it was some form of meditation. The sound reminded me of a storm rumbling in the distance combined with a frozen lake cracking because of expansion.
Once our moment of zen was over, my excitement from what I just saw lead to the decision to put up the Mavic drone. It's heavier and more steady than the FPV so it had the best chance of surviving.
The wind was blowing towards the volcano so I knew there wouldn't be an issue getting there, but I needed to make sure I had plenty of battery left to fly back in sport mode.
Before arriving, we read that the volcano was erupting every 10-15 minutes so I timed the drone launch to that estimation. Like everything you read on the internet, that information was accurate and I was now experiencing my first close up view of a volcano erupting via my iPad screen.
"How close can I get?"
"Please don't hit an air pocket and drop."
"Stay away from me flying rocks."
"Let me get just a litttttle closer."
"This is so awesome."
Once I was done talking to myself and the drone's battery level was at 40% I started to fly back. Normally I would use more of the battery, but I wanted enough time in case something went wrong or the wind picked up and I was unable to fly back even in sport mode.
If you plan to fly a drone in Iceland, I'd recommend doing the same. The wind is already pretty strong, but occasional gusts that can last for minutes are totally capable of taking your drone further, even if you're trying to fly back in sport mode. In that case, you need to wait out the gust of wind while watching hopelessly from your screen. If luck is on your side and the wind calms down, you need to make it back before another gust occurs. That's why I always start to fly back way earlier than normal when dealing with high winds.
I was hoping conditions improved so I could fly the FPV drone, but unfortunately that didn't happen. No worries though, I was able to capture enough drone footage with the Mavic in less than stellar conditions so I was still happy. And, the drone survived.
After capturing drone footage, I sat in silence, enjoyed the moment and continued to watch something that I've only ever seen on TV. I'm really happy that I was able to capture some shots of the volcano, but I'm extremely grateful that I was able to experience something like that in person.
To me, these photos aren't just about the beauty, raw power and surprisingly tranquil vibes of a volcano erupting in one of my favorite countries. Since the volcano erupted in March, I knew I had to experience it in person. Before Covid, I would have been on the next flight out, but I had to wait until I was able to get the vaccine.
Traveling is such a big part of my life so the silver lining to Covid restrictions for a year is to not take the freedom to explore our world for granted. Now that more countries are opening up, I fully intend to take advantage of that freedom.
Below are a few drone shots in two different crops. 12" x 8" for prints and 3840 x 2160 pixels for the Samsung Frame TV since that's what I have in my home.
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12" x 8" Photos (or any 2:3 ratio)
Samsung Frame Pictures