Green Oasis at Maelifellsandur

Sunset at a Green Oasis on Maelifellsandur

We were back in Iceland in late August, spending most of the time exploring the Highlands ("hálendið" in Icelandic). For a couple of years now, this vast uninhabited volcanic desert has been our favorite place to do photography. We love its remoteness and the tranquility out there. After crossing just one or two adventurous rivers you will hardly meet any other soul during the whole day. The only downside is the hair-rising rates charged by the Icelandic rental car companies for larger SUVs. Currently, a Toyota Landcruiser with a maximum fording depth of 70 cm (27,5 inches) costs about 200 Euros per day and sometimes even more during the summer months July and August. That's the only time of the year when the higher elevations are not completely buried in snow.
But as you can see on this month's image, despite the extremely short growing season, it isn't just all about hostile desert environment. It is rather quite the opposite! This image was taken at the edge of famous Maelifellsandur, a barren expanse 600 m above sea level made out of nothing but pitch-black sand. Falling rain infiltrates so quickly into the ground that hardly any plant manages to thrive on this plateau. But when standing right at the edge of Maelifellsandur you might suddenly hear water rushing below your feet. We were so surprised by seeing a waterfall coming literally "out of nowhere" and cascading down into a small valley. And a little futher down, the valley widened and turned into a desert oasis all covered with incredibly soft moss. These cushions are one of the first colonisers of volcanic grounds and their colors range from yellowish to vibrant neon green. But the course of the streams changed over time and the moss receded in places. That's how this location looked like seven years ago, when we stood at the edge of Maelifellsandur for the very first time -> Green Oasis.

Iceland's Highlands are so intriguing, so full of mystery and beauty! To be continued... asap! ;-)

Image data: 1/10 s at f/13, ISO 500; Canon 16-35 mm 1:2.8 L II USM at 23 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Related Links: Our images from Iceland