December 11, 2023

Eurocean 2004

Life is an adventure

Experiencing Iceland’s Raw Beauty | Luxury Travel Advisor

As we’ve had to postpone our travels due to the fact of the pandemic, I feel a weekly dose of journey dreaming can be fantastic drugs. Here’s a reminder of the fun that awaits us in Europe at the other finish of this disaster.

Iceland, with cinematic scenery showcasing character in its rawest kind, thrills outdoorsy vacationers. Its intriguing landscape, from rugged coasts to steaming volcanoes and craggy glaciers, offers site visitors a range of adventures tricky to obtain any place else.

A person of my most unforgettable Icelandic experiences was my 1st tour into a dormant volcano. The Þríhnúkagígur volcano, a 50 {46dd52bca0123ad67b2d1222819e83fd0a56e45ca5068239f05f0c514f1e20f9}-hour drive from Iceland’s money city Reykjavík, very last erupted about four,000 several years ago. When its magma drained out, a cavity large ample to hold the Statue of Liberty remained. 

Right now, by means of a pricey six-hour “Inside of the Volcano” tour (which involves two-mile hikes to and from the volcano), you can trip a elevate by way of a squeezy opening at the volcano’s leading, then 400 ft down into its vast chamber. Inside of, lamps provide out the chamber’s pastel hues, and water, seeping by way of its ceiling, rains down evenly as you explore the bouldery flooring.

For a shorter (one particular-hour) and substantially more cost-effective volcanic encounter, you can visit Raufarhólshellir, billed as “The Lava Tunnel” — a forty-moment drive from Reykjavík. This 5,000-calendar year-aged lava tube was carved by a river of molten rock that was forced to burrow further immediately after its area had hardened. When the lava drained out, it left at the rear of an in depth tunnel covered in vibrant formations. 

Just after passing beneath a several “skylights” where by the ceiling had collapsed, you enter the intact lava tube — as large as a railroad tunnel in destinations. Refined lighting brings out the tube’s smooth hues and fanciful characteristics. At the turnaround position you can encounter a several minutes of utter darkness when the guide shuts off the lights.

Exceptionally, Iceland is not only home to 30 energetic volcanoes, but a selection of sprawling glaciers. Of the roughly 10 percent of Iceland that’s covered by glacial ice, the Sólheimajökull glacier on the South Coast is one particular of the most accessible.

There, a number of organizations supply excursions of varying lengths and issue. A 50 {46dd52bca0123ad67b2d1222819e83fd0a56e45ca5068239f05f0c514f1e20f9}-day outing with Icelandic Mountain Guides starts with a wander past an iceberg-filled lagoon to the foot of the glacier. Then the guide will help attach spiky crampons to your boots for the climb up spooky-seeking canyons of ice and black ash.

As soon as on leading, Sólheimajökull is smoother and whiter. As you crunch throughout the ice, the guide explains how the glacier moves, where by individuals mysterious cones of black ash arrive from, how gaping sinkholes appear, and how climate modify is melting the ice so promptly that Sólheimajökull could vanish in just a century.

Even on typical land, Iceland is a wonderland for hikers. Þórsmörk — “Thor’s Woods” — is a leading place, with very well-marked trails leading to thrilling sights around volcanoes, glaciers, and valleys. Obtainable only on gravel roadways that require fording speeding rivers and streams, most site visitors get there aboard specially equipped, jacked-up buses.

The primary purpose to check out Þórsmörk is the glorious hike to the leading of Valahnúkur mountain. Starting off from the site visitors advanced in Húsadalur Valley, the hike to the summit is a lot less than a mile, but it is staircase-steep in stretches and gains 900 ft in elevation.

On leading, your sweat earns you a commanding perspective of 3 glacier-topped volcanoes, including the notorious Eyjafjallajökull, whose 2010 eruptions choked European air journey. Significantly beneath, the wide Markárfljót river valley sprawls to your north and the Krossá river valley to the south, their glacier-fed torrents speeding towards the sea.

For individuals who prefer that someone else do the mountaineering, horseback using in Iceland is a unique encounter. The descendants of ponies introduced in this article by Viking settlers, Icelandic horses are tiny, solid, and docile. They are renowned for their 5 gaits: Along with wander, trot, and gallop, they have two excess “gears” — the tölt, which is quickly and incredibly sleek, and the skeið, a higher-pace “flying pace.”

A whale-looking at cruise offers a much more leisurely encounter and a likelihood to spy the elusive undersea mammals of the North Atlantic. You can hope to see dolphins, porpoises, and midsize minke whales (found on community menus) instead than large humpback or blue whales. A number of excursions depart from Reykjavík, but locals say the very best whale-looking at is in North Iceland, from the towns of Húsavík and Akureyri.

For all its ruggedness, Iceland also has its comforts — an abundance of thermal baths heated by the island’s geothermal energy. From touristy “high quality” baths these kinds of as the Blue Lagoon to municipal pools favored by locals, you are never ever much more than a small drive from a thermal tub. Consider wrapping up a vigorous day of exploring Iceland’s magnificent outdoor with a comforting soak in 100-degree water. Aaaaahhh!

From volcano chamber explorations to geothermal pool plunges, Iceland is packed with prospects for adventures and actions that you can’t effortlessly do any place else.

Rick Steves ( writes European journey guidebooks and hosts journey demonstrates on general public tv and general public radio. E mail him at [email protected] and observe his blog on Facebook.

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