Nature & Environment Jan 21, 2018

Discovering the Land of Fire & Ice: My Trip to Iceland

Guest post by Laurie Nerat

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What do you do when your girlfriend says, “We should go visit Iceland”? You go visit Iceland, of course!  And that’s exactly what we did.

After a nine hour flight from Los Angeles, we arrived in Reykjavik in 1:30pm. Coming from the deserts of Arizona, we didn’t exactly know what to expect. We were instantly enthralled by the stunning landscape. Driving past fields of solidified lava felt surreal. We had chosen to visit in October so the weather was likely to be unpredictable, but only some light rain and high clouds greeted us for our first afternoon.  

Not wanting to miss a minute of adventure, we checked in to our hotel and then headed downtown in Reykjavik for a beer and food tasting. We had so much fun meeting fellow tourists from the U.S. and Canada. We enjoyed the crafted local beer, the seafood and other delicacies while listening to fellow travelers share their experiences in Iceland. Even the taxi ride proved to be helpful as we asked our him for suggestions on what to see and do in Iceland.

The next morning we were picked up at our hotel for a Southern Coasts and Waterfalls tour. It was a long 10-hour tour, but driving through the gorgeous Iceland scenery from a comfortable motor coach was not too much of a hardship. It was a bright sunny day, and our first stop was the stunning Skogafoss waterfall.  We were treated to the most beautiful rainbow from the waterfall’s mist. From there we headed through some picturesque pasture lands dotted with the iconic Icelandic horses until we arrived at the southern coastal town of Vik. Although we came too late to see them, the southern beaches are home to a great number of puffins, but most head south by the end of August.

After grabbing a bite to eat in Vik we headed over to Reynisfjara black sand beach. The black sand was a beautiful backdrop for the tall basalt columns known as the ‘organ pipes’ that rose high into the air. Out in the water stood the Reynisdrangar rock formations. Our tour guide shared the folktale of the rocks forming when trolls attempted to drag three ships onto the shore.

Back on the bus, our next stop was a visit to the Sólheimajökull glacier. After a short hike we arrived and saw the stunning blue ice peered out of the bottom. It was easy to see why the producers from “Game of Thrones” chose this landscape as one of their filming locations.   

We ended our day with a visit to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and another spectacular rainbow. This famous waterfall is over 200 feet tall and if you don’t mind getting a bit wet, you can hike all the way behind the falls for an incredible view.  

As the tour bus headed back to Reykjavik, we drove past stunning lava fields and watched as steam poured out of natural vents, reminding us all of the geothermal power just beneath the surface. Our first full day in Iceland and it was very clear why this fabulous country is known as the “Land of Fire and Ice.”

I still have friends who ask, “Why Iceland?” and my answer is always “Because it’s Iceland!” If you’re considering a new and unique travel destination in 2018, look no further than Iceland.