Monday, June 18, 2012

Iceland - glaciers galore (Part I)

The lonely iceberg ...

If you are only interested in the pictures (which is quite natural):
Flickr link

Iceland is a nature lover's paradise. Iceland is like reaching the end of the world, literally! If you are looking for a place far far away from the hustle bustle of daily life, and also away from the hordes of tourists  flocking the usual touristic hot-spots in summer, Iceland is the place to be in. Of course, this also means that Iceland is NOT the place to be in for tourists who enjoy crowds and look forward to the place's nightlife.

- Don't forget to bring a good camera with you or you will regret it later (and don't tell us that we did not warn you!).
- Can get really cold during night even in Apr, so be prepared.
- All advertised tours do not operate throughout the year.  Tourism in Iceland is still developing which also implies that there are often too few tourists for the group tours. So please confirm beforehand with the travel agency who can then also arrange private tours for you (for an additional fee) if required.
- One of the primary attractions of Iceland is the 'Northern Lights' (aka Aurora Borealis) and it is mostly seen in winter. So this might also influence your travel dates.


Travel to Iceland is expensive. There are no direct flights from major European cities (Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich) to Reykjavik (the capital of Iceland). You will have to change in either Helsinki or Stockholm. Iceland is in Schengen, so while your Schengen VISA will be sufficient to visit Iceland - the trip would be very expensive esp. because of the lack of direct flights.

However if you are already resident in Europe or US and wish to take a transatlantic flight, then it might be worthwhile to lookout for discounted deals to visit Iceland. Because Iceland is almost midway for most transatlantic flights, they usually offer package deals which include spending a few days in Iceland in between.

Places to see

Iceland is a place of natural wonders. Simply driving along the country side is a visual delight (see the pics below).

Icelandic country side
Black lava columns, Iceland
Atlantic coast, Iceland

A very popular tour here (which almost every 'average' tourist takes) is the 'Golden Circle' tour. The tour is not very costly (~70Euros per person) and it allows you to cover a lot of wonders in only half a day - so it is efficient both from time and cost perspectives. Highlights of the tour include:

Strokkur geysir (hot springs)

Hot springs are an interesting natural phenomenon and seem quite remarkable when you see them for the first time. You will basically see columns of water shooting high up in the air from time to time. There are actually quite many in Iceland (you can even see them close to the road while driving - the pic below) and we were told that there is some serious effort ongoing in Iceland to harvest this energy.  

Hot springs, Iceland

One of the stops in the Golden Circle tour is the Strokkur geysir where you can see hot springs shooting water up to 30 meters in the air.

Strokkur Geysir (hot springs), Iceland

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfalls

Another marvel in the Golden Circle tour is the Gullfoss waterfalls. We have been to Niagara Falls, however that in no way affected the impressiveness of Gullfoss for us. In a way, Gullfoss can be considered as the "wilder" cousin of Niagara. Surrounded by civilization and easily accessible, Niagara doesn't give you that "wild & dangerous" feeling. However, you very easily get that feeling here when the river Hvítá falls straight into a rocky crevice some 30 meters deep.

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfalls, Iceland
Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfalls, Iceland

Kerið volcanic crater lake

The geology behind the formation of this volcanic crater lake eludes us now, but the crater is still quite deep and impressive. More scientific details here: Wikipedia.We understand that one of the specialties of this place is that the volcanic rocks are 'Red' here in comparison to the usual 'Black'.

Kerið volcanic crater lake, Iceland

To be continued ...

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