Tracy’s Iceland adventure!
The land of fire and ice, said to have four seasons in a day, is an abundance of natural beauty, pure air, stunning scenery, warm and friendly people, mouth-watering food and exhilarating experiences – Iceland exceeded my expectations on so many levels……
This morning, with hiking boots and thermals packed (flip-flops and a bikini normally more my thing!), a nice short flight with Iceland Air and only an hour’s time difference, we arrived at our destination. We were greeted with a warm welcome from our guide for the week and within half an hour we were already at our first stop, the Blue Lagoon. A huge outdoor lagoon filled with geothermal hot water and natural minerals. The water looked powder blue and the back drop was just stunning – although it was snowing, the water was warm. We had our first beer plastered in the white silica mask they provide! Our first night was in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, where we enjoyed a fantastic meal! Excited for what tomorrow holds in store for us…
Today, we headed to the Old Harbour in Reykjavik in search of whales and dolphins, unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side and the whales were too far out. We took a ride on a rib boat anyway just to be able to experience the breath-taking scenery. Whale watching season is May to October and puffins can be spotted May to August (I am definitely coming back!). We then head out of town to the heli-base where we met the team and learn all about the customised heli-tours they can create – they sound amazing and we were lucky enough to get a quick spin in the helicopter to view Reykjavik from the air. With our guide, we drove out of Reykjavik into the Golden Circle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; a collection of hot springs, waterfalls and geysers awaited us… First stop: Thingvillir National Park Look-out Point – the panoramic views were amazing. We then made our way to our hotel for the night at the edge of the Golden Circle – the weather looked promising and there may have been a chance of the spotting the Northern Lights! After another fantastic meal we walked back to our lodge and jumped into the hot tub to wait and see if Mother Nature would smile on us… we were so lucky – the light show was incredible!! Iceland is one of the most spectacular places in the world to view the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, which can both be alluring and elusive, needing to have the exact weather conditions for the vivid light show to make an appearance. After such an exhilarating day, I am wondering whether tomorrow will be as exciting…
Well I haven’t been disappointed! Today saw us head further into the Golden Circle to visit the geyser hot spring area, just one of Iceland’s iconic natural attractions. The entire area is situated on top of a vast geothermal field, dotted with bubbling, multi-coloured mud pools, hissing steam vents and hot and cold springs. The spouting geyser Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes or so and its white column of boiling water can reach heights of 20-30 metres. Here we spent a while trying to get the perfect photo! We had a wonderful lunch and explored a fantastic new hotel, due to open this summer. After lunch we journeyed to a family-run farm for our ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) experience. We were surrounded by snow-topped mountains as we travelled off-the-beaten track – the secret way to discover Gullfoss! Our trip culminated on the opposite side of the main tourist trail. We got to see the country’s most enchanting waterfalls from a unique vantage point… along with a stunning rainbow which seemed to appear just for us, it was a magical moment not be forgotten! We drank pure water from the stream (cold, refreshing and devoid of any impurities), before heading back to meet the family’s gorgeous Icelandic horses, followed by tea and cake – the perfect end to the most memorable day! Tonight, we stay in a lovely boutique farmhouse hotel and have just experienced yet another fantastic meal – after all this fresh air I will sleep well tonight!
This hotel is a new addition to the farm and is very much a family affair, we meet the current owner the seventh generation to have lived, worked and bred horses here. What a great place to saddle up – whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned rider there is a range of horses and trails on offer. My lovely horse took me on gentle stroll around the farm to take in more of the stunning south coast landscape. We then journeyed along the south coast to Skogafoss Waterfalls and climb up the walkway for a birds-eye view! Next stop, Reynisfjara, one of Iceland’s iconic black beaches. At the end of the day we enter Vatnajokull National park and witness one of the most beautiful places along the south coast – the magnificent glacier lagoon and Diamond beach… Today has been another day full of surprises, fantastic vistas, more great food and wonderful people!
Woke up this morning and prepared to hike across the Vatnajokull glacier. However, due to the melting snow our tour guide took us to another, safer glacier. Accompanied by ‘name here’ our guide, we hike to the foot of the Falljokull glacier – crampons on and we start the climb. With plenty of refreshment stops, ‘Guide name’ fills us with fascinating facts about the area, the culture and the history, as we take our fill of the breath-taking views before us! We all feel a great sense of accomplishment as we were able to climb quite a distance. Our efforts were well rewarded with yet more stunning views of our beautiful surroundings! This evening we are back in Reykjavik for our final night before heading home tomorrow.
We were so incredibly lucky with the weather – most days were bright and sunny. When we arrived, a foot of snow lay on the ground, but on our return to Reykjavik it had disappeared, and it felt that Spring was just around the corner. The Golden Circle landscape was mostly snow covered, but the south coast was green and gave us an idea of the summer landscapes. Our guide was just a minefield of knowledge and passion for his country and I was be sad to say goodbye, but happy in the knowledge that our clients will be in very capable hands! As you can see, we had a jam-packed, intense itinerary which enabled us to learn a great deal about what this beautiful destination has to offer. Whatever time you have, or whatever the time of year you wish to visit, there will always be spectacular things to experience in Iceland and we can create the perfect experience for you!
What an adventure, a trip of a lifetime! I feel so lucky and have a renewed zest for life – Iceland is now at the top of my list of places to visit and I am definitely going back!