An Iceland holiday offers Luxury Travel Consultant Liane a chance to explore an island of two continents. Start planning your Iceland holiday with Ker & Downey today.
I’m off the airplane first thing in the morning… one eye open… then straight to the Blue Lagoon (which is roughly 12 miles from the airport). Said eye tells the other eye to open and study the lava fields we are driving by on the way. It is one thing to see them in pictures, but to see them physically is wonderful! I’m not used to going to a spa at 8:00 a.m. but this is no normal spa. This geothermal spa is rich in minerals like silica and sulfur. What a way to begin the trip – with a mud mask, a glass of champagne, and soaking in healing warm waters. It’s a nice way to ‘fill in time’ before going to the hotel for check-in and also staying awake to acclimate to the time zone switch. I admit, I did take a wee nap once I arrive to the hotel, but that was for good reason – I had an afternoon hike to a dormant volcano and a venture planned to go INSIDE!
This volcano is called Thrihnukagigur (Three Peak’s Crater). It hasn’t erupted in 4,000 years and is safely dormant. It is less than 15 miles southeast from the capital city of Reykjavik and is a marker to the Highlands. The roughly hour-long hike (two miles each way) to the volcano was easy but hiking boots are preferred as we walked on small pieces of volcanic rocks. The terrain was mostly flat with a steady incline to reach the top to then descend into. Once we reached the top, modern engineering was on full display to allow visitors an opportunity to go down a magma chamber. I went down at a slower pace via an open elevator system to view the myriad display of colorful minerals. I even found Thor with his hammer on the wall! I shared this discovery with one of the guides and started a chat with her. Come to find out, she is the niece of the person who discovered the chamber and worked hard with the country to allow it to be investigated and made available to the public to explore. Her father is one of the financiers of the project. This made for such a personal tour and I appreciated the family-owned and operated experience! Only a few people are allowed down at a time and private tours are available in the later afternoon or evening. As I stood at the at the bottom and looked up, it was hard to believe I was down farther than the Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower is high at 700 feet deep!
Upon return to the top, I enjoyed the view of ice and Reykjavik in the distance before heading to a nearby hut that had the best authentic hot lamb meat and veggie stew. There was a little baby arctic fox that lived under the hut that came out to play! Needless to say on the first day of my Iceland holiday, after flying in just hours earlier, I was fully alive and awake, taking in the fresh air. What a day – and a first day at that. Iceland… I am in love.
Another highlight of my Iceland holiday was the quintessential Golden Circle. To walk next to the North American plate and view ‘no man’s land’ was thrilling beyond description… and then the Eurasian plate was just over yonder. To be on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the two plates are moving away from each other, makes one feel as if they are floating in time in a way. One is literally standing on the precipice.
As the trip progressed around the coast of the country, I had many opportunities to witness fjords with waterfalls and puffins and a multitude of bird life. And yes, sheep and horses too. I even spotted some reindeer in the east grazing. Iceland is a country of contrasts – green, green, green in certain areas and barren in others. It’s like another planet with too many geological wonders to list!
While in the Southeast I enjoyed the Glacier Lagoon where broken ice does gymnastics on and through the water. It’s so amazing to view a large piece completely turn over – like God used his finger to instruct the piece to ‘flip’ or ‘roll.’ It’s just as interesting to walk on the black sand beach with ice that is being reclaimed into the ocean to start the cycle again.
A visit to the Vestmannaeyar archipelago was a highlight at the end of the trip. It is a 2.5 hour drive from Reykjavik, followed by a ferry across to the island of Heimaey (or a flight from Reykjavik or from the South). In the early 70’s Eldfell volcano erupted and all population was safely evacuated to the mainland. The volcano engulfed and claimed one fifth of the town, and it could have been more without the ingenious idea and can-do attitude of the community to apply 6.8 billion liters of cold sea water to halt the flow. After about a month, many of the members of the town came back to resettle. I enjoyed a zodiac (small rubber boat) ride along the coast of the main island and saw many basalt formations with puffins perched on them as well as dolphins.
The last night of the trip driving back into Reykjavik, after visiting the colorful boiling mud pits and sulfur hot springs at Seltun, the sunset along the coast was an all-consuming experience. I’ve never seen a sunset like that.
An Iceland holiday offers so much in such a compact amount of space – an island of two continents with plenty to explore. It’s a country for young and old where everyone can find something to ignite pure wonder. I look forward to coming back for another Iceland holiday for a New Year’s experience and Northern Light Hunting. It will be a combo of man-made and Heaven-made fireworks of color.