If you’re exclusively a sit by the pool of an all-inclusive resort in the sun sort of person, then Iceland probably isn’t for you. However, if you love the great outdoors and a bit of adventure then you should definitely book your trip today!
I briefly visited Iceland in September 2011 and had a blast of a time. At that time of year there weren’t very many other visitors around and it often felt like we had the entire beautiful island to ourselves. Even the rain didn’t dampen our spirits – although it dampen pretty much everything else at one point or another!
The landscapes of Iceland are a lesson in extremes. On the one hand you have the tectonic activity of the Mid-Atlantic ridge creating and stretching new land into existence. As a consequence, there’s also a glut of geothermal activity. On the other hand, there’s the icecap and glaciers of the central mountains, inexorably wearing the island back to dust.
We arrived in Keflavik airport early in the morning, picked up our hire car and headed straight for the bridge between two continents, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are slowly moving away from each other.
The rest of the morning and a chunk of the afternoon were relaxed away at the Blue Lagoon natural spa. The grey skies, spots of rain and chilly air made its geothermally-heated waters all the more appealing.
That evening we explored the stark but charming capital of Reykjavik on foot. Along the way we tried some rather ‘unique’ foods, including Hákarl (cured shark meat that, to the uninitiated, smells and tasted like rubber soaked in pee) and smoked puffin (which was much more appetising). We also tried whale, which I felt bad about and wouldn’t make a habit of, but nevertheless decided to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
On our second day we did a circuit of Iceland’s Golden Circle. Along the way we took in the dramatic Gullfoss waterfall, the hot springs at Haukadalur (that include Geysir, from which we get the word geyser) and Þingvellir, site of the World’s first parliament.
The last full day we spent on Iceland included a couple of hikes. The first was into the hills across the bay from Reykjavik. The second was across the moon-like landscape of a massive, ancient lava flow to Sturtshelir, the longest lava cave on the island. Along the way we also got to see a bunch more geothermal sites and waterfalls, not to mention the remote Icelandic home of Erik the Red.
We were underground for much of our final morning, having decided to do some geocaching in a couple of caves to avoid the rain. This wasn’t a particularly well thought out plan, of course, since the rainwater had to go somewhere. And most of it seemed to go down the back of my neck.
Still, we might have left Iceland a bit wet, but we also left very happy. And itching for the day we can return, no matter what the season!
If you’re an outdoorsy kind of person like me, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
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