The unique excursions of Iceland
Living in a country which awaits volcanic eruption, is completely isolated and in between big continents like North America and Euroasia. They have learned to be self sufficient and develop their own way of life. Unique and fascinating in any kind of way. A true experience.
Icelandic people are crazy. I’m sure about it. Just look below how they spent their days. I have done most of the activities described below, but some are recommendations by colleagues. And yes, there is plenty to do in Iceland.
Floating on Jökulsárlón glacier lake
You will not believe the beauty of this glacier lake until you have seen it for yourself. Jökulsárlón, the glacier lake famous from the James Bond movies: A View to a Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002). Icy blue water decorated with bright white and blue ice sculptures floating slowly towards the ocean. You can experience the magnifying scenery in three ways.
First you can walk along one side of the lake over the sandy shore and enjoy the landscape. Secondly, you can take a boat ride with a zodiac.Thirdly, can take a boat ride with an amphibian boat. The latter is the most spectacular since this ‘boat’ drives on and off the shore and then sails among the icebergs. With a zodiac boat you have the chance to get a bit closer to the spectacular icebergs. Do scout during the ride for seals, if you are lucky you will see one or two in search for food.
Amphibian boat tour: € 35 p.p. (adults), € 10 p.p. (children 6 till 12 year), free for children under 6 years
Zodiac tour: € 55 p.p. (adults), € 29 p.p. (children 10 till 12 year)
Location: Jökulsárlón glacier lake
Descend a dorment volcano
Just outside Reykjavik you can visit an active volcano. Yes, active, however dorment. You gather at a rest stop from where you walk approximately 45 minutes to an hour to the edge of the volcano. The descend is by cable cart and is 120m long. During the descend you get a great look of the inside walls of the magma chamber. It is plastered with minerals and all kinds of bright colors. Inside the volcano you can walk around a huge chamber and see even more of the colourful inside walls. Though the tours is quite expensive, I can really recommend it. It is something very unique.
Price: € 275 p.p.
Snorkel in the Silfra fissure
The water is three degrees Celcius, or maybe four… A tough situation for a regular snorkler or diver. In Pingvellir, you actually have the opportunity to dive into the cold glacier waters and explore the Mid-Atlantic ridge. How unique, snorkling between two continents, North America and Eurasia.
Geared up with some extra layers with on top a drysuit, you can plunge in. You might expect the freezing cold, but it is not that bad at all. Surprisingly ‘hot’ actually. It is only your lips that get numb and swollen by the cold. You will experience a unique view. With the extreme clear water, you can see up to a hundred meters ahead. Besides beautiful colors from minerals and other natural resources, you will see extreme green alges and other water plants.
An excursion you won’t easily forget and if you already have some snorkling experience, this is a really add on. You can also choose to dive through the Silfra fissure. However, I have heard the diving experience does not add much to it.
Price: € 109 p.p. (without transfer) and € 139 p.p. (with transfer)
Location: Silfra fissure, Thingvallavatn lake, Thingvellir National Park
All these excursions are more than spectacular.
The Blue Lagoon and other hot springs
Though Iceland is often associated with cold weather and icy landscapes, the country is also famous for it’s numerous hot springs. Due to the vulcanic activity, the underground water is continuously heated. Most households have this heated water running from their hot water tap. This pure hot spring water is full of all kinds of salts and minerals and is very healthy for your skin.
There are a couple of public hot springs you can visit. The most famous is The Blue Lagoon, just outside of Reykjavik. With its milky blue water and vulcanic landscape it is almost surreel. Other public hot springs worth to visit are:
• Hofsós: from this hot spring you have a fantastic view over the bay
• Grettislaug: this is more like a hot tub built with lava stone
• Hotsprings of Landmannalaugar
The Blue Lagoon: € 45
Hofsós: € 3,50
Grettislaug: € 3
Explore a lava cave
Climbing and crawling. That is what this excursion is about. After a 30 minute walk over a deserted lava field you descend into something that looks like a hole in the ground. Welcome to the lava cave Lofthellir. With a helmet and a head lamp you will explore the lava cave. Especially the helmet comes in handy since some gateways are really narrow and low. It is a true exploration. This lava cave freezes and melts, resulting in beautiful ice sculptures Hanging from the ceiling and standing on the floor. The guide makes it even more stunning by placing led lighting around the ice sculptures.
Price: € 125 p.p. (adults) en € 65 p.p. (children)
Location: Lofthellir lava cave, Mývatn
Race the white water with a riverjetboat
Originally from New Zealand and it’s one of the most popular tours in Queenstown. And this has just arrived in Iceland. At full speed a jet boat will take your through narrow canyons. Almost like drifting with a race car. Besides the speed, there’s instant breaking and 360 degree spins. When you gasp for air, you can explore the basalt canyons of the Hvita river. A real adrenaline rush whilst enjoying spectacular landscape.
Without transfer: € 95 p.p. (adults) and € 55 p.p. (children 10 till 12 years)
With transfer: € 159 p.p. (adults) and € 99 p.p. (children 10 till 12 years)
Location: Hvitá river
Hike and climb a glacier
The immense mass of ice is one you have to experience yourself. What better way than standing literally on it? Iceland offers many tours where you can hike and climb a glacier. Geared up with warm clothes, crampons and an ice axe, you will walk and climb with your guide over the glacier field. There are several options when it comes to the amount of hours you will spend on the glacier. You can also book ice climbing. An activity where you will learn how to climb a steep ice wall. With ice axes, your crampons and off course a harness and ropes.
Short hike (2,5 hours): € 62 p.p. (adults) and € 39 p.p. (children)
Long hike (4 hours): € 95 p.p. (adults) and € 55 p.p. (children)
Location: Skaftafell National Park
Sleep under the arctic stars
What about this? Drive with a Super Jeep (extra extra large wheels) onto a glacier and set up camp. You will sleep under the arctic stars in a special equiped tent and sleeping bag. You might even see the Northern Lights. Drink your coffee whilst the sun rises and hear the cracking of the ice. An experience you won’t forget.
Go on a Viking sushi adventure
Try fresh scallops and shrimp from the sea, whilst sailing with a traditional Viking boat past the Icelandic coast. The tour takes a couple of hours and besides eating freshly caught fish, you have the chance of watching puffins and other sea birds.
Go offroad with a quad
A good way to explore Iceland is on a quad. There are several quad safaris where you drive on unpaved, dirt roads and you get to places where you won’t be able to go by car. Cross a river here and there or even go totally offroad. Safaris are always guided so you won’t get lost…