It’s the first day of March which can mean only one thing…in 3 days time the Trefoil Guild trip to Iceland will be underway and what an exciting and mesmerising itinerary I have in store for the ladies.
On day 1, after arriving at Keflavik Airport in late afternoon, a short transfer will take us to Keflavik, an important fishing town on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Our hotel is the very comfortable 4 star Keflavik Hotel. After settling in, evening options include strolling to the leisure craft marina or to the local swimming pool where outdoor hot tubs can be experienced (38 – 40 degrees C, wonderful), very much a part of the Icelandic culture.
The 2013 Iceland Tour properly begins on Day 2 in SW Iceland, a fantastic area and one often by-passed by most arriving tourists. Day 2 will allow us to explore this fascinating landscape of volcanoes, lava fields, colourful hissing ground, steam vents and bubbling mud. Grindavik is another important fishing town and here we’ll visit both the Saltfish Museum and Magma: Earth Energy to learn about fishing in the past as well as the fascinating geology of this amazing country. A visit to the Blue Lagoon is part of this day, an extensive relaxing spa set amidst the Illahraun, the Evil Lava. Its mineral rich waters will invigorate, stimulate and exfoliate; I only hope that after a couple of hours here that I recognize the emerging, rejuvenated Trefoil Guild members! The day continues out along the new South Coast road where a fascinating coastline of ocean eroded volcanic cones will be seen as we cross the dramatic mountainous landscape of the impressive Mid Atlantic Ridge. A visit to the Northern Light Experience (a DVD projection) and Ghost Museum concludes the planned inclusions of Day 2. Our accommodation this evening (and the following evening) is Eldhestar, a lovely, small, country hotel, set midway between Selfoss and Hveragerdi. If conditions allow, there may well be the opportunity to view the Northern Lights from just outside the hotel door! Fingers crossed!
Day 3 takes in the three must-do places of any Icelandic tour itinerary; Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir area and Gullfoss waterfall. At Thingvellir, the rift valley of the plate boundary between the North America Plate and the Eurasian Plate is awesome, in scale, in scenic beauty and in the way it illustrates how our globe works. The Geysir area is one of hot springs and colourful fumarole areas with the “star” being the shooting geyser of Strokkur (a challenge to all photographers trying to catch the doming bubble and the water jet!). To conclude the scenic wonders of Day 3 (and they are truly “wonder full”), Gullfoss is magnificent, any day, any time. This double fall waterfall is spectacular when seen from above but, for the intrepid (and that includes all Trefoil Guild members!), to take a walk down to the cascade’s lip is thunderously wonderful. An optional swim is then possible as we return to our accommodation centre. We might also be able to sneak in an additional stop at Keri Crater, one crater along a fissure row. Then it’s back to Eldhestar and to once again seek sight of the alluring Northern Lights.
Day 4 is spent travelling east, way out along the South Coast. First stop is Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall that can be walked behind (ice permitting). Next we shall stop off at a delightful little Visitors’ Centre at the base of Eyjafjallajokull (yes, they will all be able to pronounce this by the end of your tour) to view a very good film about the 2010 eruption that stopped much of the world for many days. Then Skogafoss is a massive “curtain” fall of water that can be viewed close up after entering a short gorge (waterproof clothing definitely advised). The “iced gem” today is Solheimajokull, a valley glacier coming from Myrdalsjokull icecap (the icecap beneath which sits Katla volcano). Beautiful ice formations will be seen here at the snout of this magnificent retreating glacier. Vik, Iceland’s wettest settlement (population just over 100), is a “rest and recovery” stop with its café and Wool/Gift Shop no doubt being a most welcome sight. Then it’s heading back westwards to Reykjavik for overnight (and for tomorrow night as well) is in the cosy Hotel Cabin, Reykjavik.
Day 5 our compass shifts. On this day we travel up the west coast of Iceland. Massive glacially carved basalt mountains will be seen with their long, deep and straight U-shaped valleys. Here the rocks are much older than those seen on previous days. Many such valleys have been flooded to produce long sea lochs e.g. Hvalfjordur, Whale Fiord. Expansive landscape too will be seen, many scattered with traditional summer houses that Icelanders love so much during the brief summer season. Deidatunga hot springs, Iceland’s largest, will be visited (perhaps seeing tomatoes grown using this abundant geo-thermal heat) followed by strolling amongst the glorious waterfalls and surrounding landscapes of Hraunfoss and Barnafoss. The return journey to Reykjavik will be via Borganes with time to relax, have a coffee, catch up on some gift shopping. On our return to the city, for those with some energy left (and I hope that includes myself), Iceland’s largest swimming pool complex is just a 10 minute walk away from Hotel Cabin (and it has great flumes/slides if you dare) so this could be an evening option.
Day 6 allows time to enjoy the capital city. There is much that can be done and full discussion will allow a wide variety of things to be incorporated. One such is to visit Volcano House to view a superb film on the landscapes of Iceland including the Eyjafjallajokull eruption; it has a lovely café plus an excellent selection of rocks on display for handling. But then, sadly, just after lunchtime, it will be time to head back to Keflavik and then on back to the UK. Everyone will no doubt be heavier in luggage (gifts and many collected rock samples) as well as, hopefully, full of happy, long lasting memories garnered from the TGTiI3.
Let’s go or as they say in Icelandic. Afram!