An Iceland Adventure

Iceland Study Trip
June 3, 2014

Adaptable Travel's very own Julie Edwards recently embarked on an inspection visit to Iceland, find out more about her epic adventure below and some of the sights awaiting your school in Iceland.

The land of fire and ice has been on my travel to do list ever since my days as a geography undergraduate. With low-cost air now making the island more cost effective, I took my chance and visited this April for a 3 night whistle-stop tour.   I dug out my walking boots and headed for an adventure I’d never forget…

I arrived in Reykjavik after a late flight, with just enough time to see the sunset before bed.  Overall, I found April was a wonderful time to travel as its light until about ten in the evening and I was really lucky with the weather as it was pleasantly sunny and warm.

Golden Circle

On my first full day in Iceland, I joined a Golden Circle tour.  The first stop was the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, home to numerous geysers, including the great geyser which the phenomenon is named after.  Strokkur is now the most active in the complex, throwing up a column of water and steam every every eight minutes. After a couple of attempts to capture the Stokkur eruption and then getting distracted and missing it, I finally caught a picture! The next stop was the impressive Gullfoss “Golden” Waterfall, which is on the glacial river Hvita, which flows from Langjokull glacier in Iceland’s highlands. On arrival all I could hear was an almighty roar of water, but as I ascended the trail down, it suddenly appeared in view and at that moment all I could say was wow! It was such a spectacular site.    

The last stop on the tour was the Pingvellir National Park, where the Eurasian and North American Plates diverge.  This is such as unique place, it is only one of two rift valleys in the world that is accessible - it was a privilege to see.  As we drove over the plate boundary the features associated with crustal rifting and volcanism were clear to view, including the vast deep fissures and lava lobes.  Also Lake Þingvallavatn was spectacular, our guide pointed out how water from the catchment area is filtered through lavas and hyaloclastites before emerging as springs within fractures at the shores of the lake.

South Shore Adventure

The next day I woke up to a beautiful blue sky over Reykjavik. The city really came alive in the sunshine.  Today was the South Shore tour, which was a mini Iceland in one day.

My favourite stop was the Myrdalsjokull Glacier.  We were able to cross the forefield to get right up close to the snout. The guide talked to us about the creation and features of the glacier and how it is now in retreat. We even saw melting in action, as a large piece of ice fell into the outlet lake just as we were talking about global warming (see picture).  Some groups at the glacier were just getting “crampon-ed”  up to go on their glacier hike.   On route to the glacier we did a stop at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  The landscape now looks calm, and it’s hard to imagine the volcano was to blame for the travel chaos caused across Europe in 2008. On route we also saw and discussed other volcanoes, such as the super Volcano Katla, which is a disaster waiting to happen!      

We also had a stop at the Black Sand beach at Vik, which has been named top 10 in the world.   We were lucky that the tide was out so we could explore the cliffs and caves. I felt dwarfed in comparison to the huge basaltic columns forming the cliffs, like some great Viking army of years passed (see picture). There is also some lovely examples of stacks, and stumps!

Before visiting two beautiful waterfalls, we stopped off at the Skogar folk museum. I really enjoyed this place. The owner of the museum is a 93 year old gentleman whose passion for his country was clear to see.  He gave us a recital on the church organ and informed us on his vast collection of items before we wondered around the reconstructed dwellings from Iceland’s social past.

The last stop was the town of Hveragerði, and its earthquake exhibition.  Well I couldn’t resist having a go on the earthquake simulator there! I had previously experienced a small “earthquake” before (the infamous Dudley earthquake of 2002 reaching 4.8 Richter scale!) but this simulator was something else, it really was quite a scary experience.  A large fissure is also visible in the floor and has been covered and illuminated for visitors to see and walk over.

The Blue Lagoon

On route back to the airport I visited the Blue Lagoon. The landscape on route through the Reykjanes plains offers some of the best lava flow features I have seen.  It is quite simply other worldly, like we had been dropped on the moon.   The Blue Lagoon complex is a little oasis in a vast sea of rocks, and a dip in the cloudy blue waters was just the ticket to round off an awesome trip.  Iceland is truly a very unique and special place, both the landscape and the people; it is one of the best places I have visited.  I will definitely be returning again soon!

To find out more about how to take your school on an epic Iceland adventure, take a look now at the different options available to educational groups by clicking here.