Our featured guest post is written by Lesleyanne Ryan who travelled on the Natural Wonders of Iceland tour June 16-23, 2013.
Lesleyanne Ryan is a retired Canadian Forces veteran and author. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.
When I decided to go to Iceland, a lot of people asked me why. The answer was simple. I love the natural world and the forces that have formed it. Iceland is the place to see it all – from volcanos and fault lines to glaciers and waterfalls – and all of it surrounded by incredible scenery under a midnight sun. Having completed three previous tours with Insight Vacations, I knew the tour would be well-organized and hassle free, so when I opened the brochure to see The Natural Wonders of Iceland tour, I was sold.
Our Tour Director, Snorri, met up with us for a welcome drink on the first day and the next morning he gave us a brief tour of Reykjavik before he headed out for a full day of sightseeing. We visited the Hellisheidi geothermal plant where we learned that Iceland is split between the North America tectonic plate in the west and the Eurasian plate in the east and is being torn apart at a rate of two centimetres a year. We got our first close look at a volcanic crater shortly after. The 300 metre wide crater called Keira is just sitting off the side of the road and we had a chance to walk part of the rim. From here, we visited Gullfoss, the first of many waterfalls that rival Niagara for beauty and power.
After a lunch stop next to the original Geysir, we headed east towards the famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull (I just call it Bob) and at the base, I had my Amazing Race moment with a visit to the waterfall Seljalandsfoss. A little farther down the road, we visited another waterfall called Skógafoss. If you remember the episode, one team had mistaken the second falls for the first and lost a lot of time returning to Seljalandsfoss.
Low clouds obscured the much larger volcano, Katla, as we rounded the southeast corner of Iceland. After a night in Kirkjubaejarklaustur, we visited the massive glacier Vatnajhokull and took a boat ride into the Jokulsaelon Lagoon which was full of ice calving off the glacier. The lagoon was used in the Bond film Die Another Day.
As we drove to Djuplvogur for the night, we passed herds of reindeer and Snorri stopped for a photo op. We spent the night in the Hotel Framtid, and since the hotel was full, I was given one of the cozy cottages next door. The woodwork was beautiful.
As we drove through the northeast corner of Iceland, we left behind another waterfall, Foss Oxl, and drove across an area so desolate, NASA uses it to train astronauts. We approached the west side of the island and visited two massive waterfalls – Dettifoss and Selfoss. Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful falls in Europe and the rocky, barren ground around the falls made it ideal location to film the opening scene for the movie Prometheus.
After a visit to the sulfur springs at Mývatn near the volcano Krafla, we were shown where the two tectonic plates actually meet. This was an unexpected treat. We were able to stand with one foot on each plate. Fantastic!
Before we arrived in Akureyri, we visited the impressive Goðafoss, a horseshoe shaped waterfalls. The next day, the brilliant sunshine lit up the snow covered hills as we drove south towards Reykjavik and visited a smaller falls called Kolugljufur. En route, we visited Thingvellir, the ancient site of Iceland’s parliament. What we didn’t expect was to learn that parliament was held inside the fault line. The wall of the North America plate runs for miles through Thingvellir while the Eurasian plate is a series of fissures. We were able to walk through the fault and it was such a gorgeous day, Snorri brought us back after lunch to visit the falls that was created by the original inhabitants.
We said farewell to Snorri on our arrival in Reykjavik but we had one more treat – the optional visit to the Blue Lagoon where we had a relaxing soak in the warm Icelandic springs. What a way to end a tour full of so many amazing sights.
The following is a sample of Lesleyanne’s original review of her experience on the Natural Wonders of Iceland tour . To read the full article click here.