[Editor’s note: THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS are the result of Elisabeth traveling 1,500 miles over seven days in Iceland. These are her favorite moments. Follow her on Instagram to keep up with her latest adventures.]

1

Svartifoss

After unsuccessful attempts to shoot Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, I was finally able to catch a break at Svartifoss, or Black Fall, which has the unique distinction of being surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns.

2

Oxararfoss

You’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other people at the more popular waterfalls, but the roar of water crashing over the rocks will help you forget about all the tourists with selfie sticks. Pictured here is Öxarárfoss, one of the prime spots on the Golden Circle.

3

Horse and landscape

After I snapped this photo and moved back a few steps, this playful mare seemed intent on following me around, as if to start a game of tag.

4

Magic lighting

Less than one minute after starting my hike to the rim of the Hverfjall crater, I stumbled across a group of horses in a nearby field. I spent two hours watching them munch on hay and doze off, and I’m fairly certain this was a better choice than trekking up an icy trail. When the last of golden light vanished and two of the animals settled down for naps, I took that as my cue to leave.

5

Geothermal river

After a brief hike through the Reykjadalur Valley during a hail storm, my friends and I arrived at the spot where the icy cold Varma River mixes with water from hot springs flowing down from the mountains. Getting blasted in the face with small chunks of ice made the reward of a hot soak even sweeter, though getting pants and boots on after our swim was no easy task.

6

View from the camper van

If you don’t mind skipping a few showers and cooking dinner on a portable gas stove, renting a camper van is the best way to see Iceland. There were some mornings where crawling out of my sleeping bag was torture, but as soon as the heat kicked on and the instant coffee was in my hands, I was good to go. This shot was taken from a parking lot where I slept the previous night.

7

Kirkjufell

The view of Kirkjufellsfoss Falls with Kirkjufell mountain in the background is generally the first image that appears when you Google Iceland. Of course, my friends and I drove right by it, convinced that the pair of 25-foot waterfalls were far too small to be the epic landscape we had in mind. Kirkjufell, or Church Mountain, played peek-a-boo behind rolling clouds of fog, and as snow started falling around me, I wanted to pinch myself.

8

Svinafellsjokull Glacier

The blue of the Svínafellsjökull Glacier in the Skaftafell section of Vatnajökull National Park made me feel like I had been transported to another planet. I can’t even begin to understand the science behind the color of the ice, so I was quite content sitting for a minute and taking it all in.

9

Unknown mountain near Snæfellsnes

After consulting with some friendly locals during our first night in Reykjavík, we completely ditched our itinerary and took their advice, which was to chase whatever good patches of weather we could find. Somewhere near the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we found ourselves driving toward this mountain, which we stopped to admire for several minutes. You can spend hours researching a destination, but you never know where the road will take you until you’re actually on it.

10

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

The chunks of ice at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon made a surprisingly calming sound when they slowly crashed against each other. When the wind picked up, tiny waves broke over the small pebbles along the shore and made a noise that sounded like faint applause. Everywhere I looked, there was constant movement. Seals would periodically pop their heads out of the water to scope out tourists, and their eye contact was so direct, I felt compelled to wave and say hi.

11

Ice chunk at Jökulsárlón

The ice moves all over the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, but sometimes thicker pieces like this one get stuck on the shore. After being polished by the flowing water, they shine like cut gemstones when the light hits them at the right angle. Many of these chunks end up floating out to sea and subsequently washing up on the nearby black sand beach, which is an equally astonishing sight.

12

Playing peek-a-boo with seals

The seals in Iceland are as adorable and inquisitive as the horses, and if you drive along Ring Road, you’ll see dozens of them. As we cruised around the northeastern coast of the island, we noticed several strange "rock formations" in an ocean inlet. We quickly realized these odd shapes were actually seals sunning themselves on the rocks. As I approached with my camera, I caught the attention of this curious youngster.

13

Mossy landscape

Most of the country was covered in fresh snow when I visited, but there was a spot around the southernmost village of Vík where winter barely seemed to have touched the land. A quick trek through a mossy lava field revealed a canyon, a number of waterfalls and a stretch of black sand along the river that connected it all. The view was incredible, but the texture of the moss was what I remember most vividly. It was softer than the plushest of carpets, and if you gently touched it, it retained its original form seconds later, much like memory foam.

14

Blue water

With scenes like this literally two feet from the pavement, it’s easy to see why it takes hours to travel a small distance along Iceland’s Ring Road. The water ranges from an unbelievable shade of aqua to pastel green, and the snow-capped mountains in the background make the colors pop even more. These are the places that have no name, signs or parking area, and despite the influx of tourists over the last few years, you will probably never see this exact composition in anyone else’s photo.

15

Northern Lights

After driving 20 minutes north of Mývatn, my friends and I set up shop for the night and waited for the Northern Lights to appear. I pressed my face against the camper van window every few minutes to scan the horizon, but I was ready to give up after an hour of pure darkness. I stepped outside to use the restroom, and when I stood up, there was so much purple, yellow and green dancing in the sky, the only proper reaction was to scream. The columns of light seemed to explode in every direction, and it was one of those moments where no picture or words can accurately describe the experience.

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