Welcome to Iceland the beautiful home of glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and hotdogs, where even the prime minister is addressed on a first name basis. Iceland has a variety of travel experiences to suit any budget. A five star hotel, you will not find here; however, a close fit can be found with Kristinn and Porunn’s apartment in the city of Reykjavik. The host and hostess will welcome you with open arms and provide a quick overview of the island and its many sights and adventures. You will not want to miss: The Harpa Theatre, The Free Walking Tour and the Hallgrimskirkja.
|Free Walking Tour of Reykjavik|
|The back of the Hallgrimskirkja.|
|Piping and dancing on top of 'The Pearl'|
Be sure to taste the mouth watering cuisine of…hotdogs, dripping in sweet mustard and mayonnaise with a fried onion crunch. The cheapest taste of Iceland comes in at a mere $3.00 each, quite a bargain on the island.
|The girls loved the crispy fried onions added to the bun!|
After a day or two in the city you must set out on the Ring Road, the main highway that travels around the perimeter of the island. There are a variety of transportation and accommodation options to suit your needs from rental vehicles, Happy Campers, Excursion trucks, to a cot on a cab! The south provides: breathtaking views of the countryside, a visit to the Blue Lagoon, Glacier walks, spectacular waterfalls and Puffins.
|Coolest tent ever!!!|
|Not my idea of a Happy Camper - we passed on this campsite!|
The countryside is vast and diverse; in parts it resembles Mars with the abundance of volcanic rock and little vegetation, allowing the traveller to see for miles. In other areas the mountains are speckled with sheep roaming free in the green grass and rocky slopes. Trees are few and far between, the oldest tree on the island dates back to 1880 (a baby really) and can be found in Reykjavik, the capital city, of all places.
The Blue Lagoon, one of the 25 wonders of the world is located just outside of Reykjavik. Guests can renew their relationship with nature, soak up the scenic beauty and breathe the clean, fresh air while relaxing in the warm geothermal seawater. Experience a silica mud facial where science and nature work in harmony resulting in a natural source of healing power. The water and its minerals do wonders for the skin but are a hairstylist’s nightmare. Three showers later and your hair will resemble a drier, more matted version of itself.
|Just another day at the SPA!|
There are many glaciers along the south coast that offer breathtaking views. Iceland is known for its four major glaciers. Myrdalsjokull produces huge waterfalls pouring down in all directions and its peak reaches 1493 metres. A unique campsite is nestled into the base of Skogafoss, the plunging 60 metre waterfall. If you are one of the lucky travellers you may be treated to a performance by a loan piper perched atop of the spur, jutting out from the natural wonder. Mist and spray may soak you to the bone, but a very worthwhile experience when Axel, one of Iceland’s ‘real’ Viking descendants, compliments you on your playing and offers you a job.
|A treat for the tourists!|
Vatnajokull is the largest glacier in Europe and produces many glacial tongues creeping down towards the sea. You may encounter a Geography teacher in the midst of a lesson on glacial morphology (glacier parts) along your stroll to the snout. Iceberg Lagoon (Jokulsarlon) featured in the James Bond series is magnificent and offers a unique photo opportunity for visitors. Be sure to check out both sides of the road for incoming and outgoing icebergs. Low tide presents a unique opportunity to witness stranded icebergs grounded on the warm, black, volcanic sand beach.
|Breathtaking and WARM finally!!!!|
|The sand was warm even though it was covered in icebergs.|
If you venture as far as Hofn, treat yourself to a feed of sweet succulent local lobster, best enjoyed from a picnic table with a view of the sea. Also pick up some fresh, smooth black licorice made in the local licorice factory.
Just outside Hofn you will find Arnanes, the home of Willy an Icelandic horse. For $6000 isk/hour you can enjoy a relaxing horseback riding adventure into the mountains and through glacier runoff streams. The Icelandic horse is best known for the tolt, which is a floating, comfortable gait, where the horse moves softly over the land as if it were crouching down.
The South of Iceland is unique and is by far the part of the island most frequented by travellers. Everything that makes Iceland interesting can be found in the south. There are just some places in the world that must be experienced and Iceland is certainly one of them.
For the non-official guide to 4x4 adventures inland Iceland, please check back in a few days!