Iceland – The land of fire and ice

In November 2011, I travelled to Iceland, coined the land of fire and ice because of the glacial and volcanic landscapes. I have heard a lot of hype about Iceland such as the natural beauty and the possibility of seeing one of the natural 7 wonders of the world – the Aurora.

Usually, when I hear a lot of hype about something, whether it be a movie, restaurant or travel destination, I get easily disappointed. Possibly because I build up high expectations in my mind and the reality rarely matches my expectations.

Nevertheless, Iceland was the exception. I have travelled throughout Europe over the past year and I have never experienced or seen anything as naturally beautiful as Icelandic landscapes.

We based ourselves in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The great thing about Reykjavik is that because it is such a small city (population of approximately 120,000), the tour companies will pick you up from your accommodation and drop you off there as well which is greatly convenient!

We bought a deal with Icelandic Air that included flights, accommodation and an aurora tour for around £320-350. It was a steal! Especially since our friends that booked later on paid £250-300 for flights alone.

Here are some photos and descriptions from the trip.

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The aurora tour company that we went on were terrible. We spent most of the time on the road moving from one destination to another and the tour in general seemed very disorganised. We were just glad we didn’t have to pay the full price, as it was included in our holiday package. We were later told by another tour operator that Aurora tours are unethical as they will take your money and drive you to places even though the chances of seeing the aurora are slim to none. On the night we went, it was very cloudy so it limited our sightings. I was able to catch a glimpse of the aurora on camera but to the human eye it appeared very differently. It appeared as a white strip/glow in the sky, rather that the typical green glow you see in photos.

The chances of seeing the aurora is all dependant on the weather, moon phase and of course the aurora activity around the area. I have now learnt that if you are Aurora hunting, you should search ‘aurora forecast’ in a search engine, which will tell you the aurora activity on the day and the likelihood of seeing the aurora.

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We went to the Blue Lagoon which is a natural geothermal spa. The water is around 37-39 degrees, although outside temperatures are in the minus degrees. The views are amazing, we were surrounded by snowcapped mountains and snow started falling shortly after. We also dined at their nearby restaurant which was made inside an inactive volcano.

On the last day we went on the Golden Circle tour, it was a 8hr long bus tour and it was definitely one of the better tours I have experienced.

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We visited the crater of an inactive volcano.

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A small waterfall, that measured 7m in height.

This is a Geyser – a hot spring. Water boils beneath the earth and then explodes into steam.

We stopped by on the side of the road to feed these Iceland horses. Their legs are a lot shorter, and they are seen as stumpier compared to traditional racing horses. They grow extra long hair during the winter months. This was the highlight of my trip! Our tour guide told us that Icelandic horses can roll around on their backs and you can own a horse regardless of your background and how much money you make. He also told us that the clumsy Icelandic horses at birth are usually eaten.

This is the Gulfoss Waterfall. Not many things have made me say ‘wow’ upon first sight, but this definitely did. To get an idea of how big it is, you can see people walking up the cliff on the right hand side.

I’m afraid that my photos do not do any justice to the magnitude and beauty of Iceland. My only hope is that people will consider travelling to this beautiful country and witness the magnificence themselves.

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