Iceland – Land of Fire and Ice

I had been dreaming of starting a food & travel blog for years and in 2017, I finally accomplished it. I realize now that this is just the beginning. Blogging is not easy and at times I’m overwhelmed. But I’ve learned so much in this one year and the experience has been very fulfilling.

I want to end this year’s post with another fulfilling experience – our visit to Iceland and viewing the magical Northern Lights.

Iceland Northern Lights

We visited Iceland in March. For the last few years, we’ve relied on the Caribbean islands for the much-needed winter escape. This year, however, we did just the opposite.

Viewing the Northern Lights was a bucket list item for me. Since they are visible only in the winter (late August to end of April), we decided to take the plunge.

Iceland Northern Lights

We typically rent a car on our island getaways as it gives us a lot of flexibility. But due to Iceland’s unpredictable weather and long, desolate drives, we decided against it.

We relied heavily on tours and they did not disappoint us. In fact, we got to learn so much about the country’s history and culture from the guides – something we would’ve missed on our solo adventures.

Northern Lights

Even though Iceland is popular for the Northern Lights, there are several factors that determine if you’ll actually be able to see them. You need solar activity along with dark & clear skies. A cloudy night will ruin the whole show.

Iceland Northern Lights

We used Time Tours for Northern Lights viewing. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel. Our guide, Ronny, was quite knowledgeable about this phenomenon and extremely passionate about them. We were quite lucky as the weather conditions were perfect that night.

We drove about 1 hour to the north of the island and stopped at a desolate farm, off the highway. Within a few minutes, we saw the most spectacular display of green lights above us. Due to strong solar activity, they appeared to be moving and the whole thing seemed every bit magical.

The tour lasted about 5 hours. We stopped at a couple different spots to see the Northern Lights as the clouds and lights changed directions.

Iceland Northern Lights

Iceland Northern Lights

Iceland Northern Lights

Iceland Northern Lights

South Coast Tour

This was a 10-hour tour (seems long, I know!), but we stopped often and it gave us plenty of time to experience the Icelandic landscape and beauty. This tour mainly focused on the natural attractions on the south coast of the island.

Icelandic Horses
Our first stop on this tour was a small farm where we interacted with very friendly Icelandic Horses.
Icelandic Horse
Isn’t he adorable? 🙂

We drove on volcanic lands covered in snow and saw several glaciers that had volcanoes beneath them, (including Eyjafjallajökull that erupted in 2010 and caused massive air travel disruption in Europe). No wonder Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice, glaciers and volcanoes coexist on this island.

Iceland

Iceland Waterfall
Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss Waterfalls upclose
Skogafoss Waterfall
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
It was crazy windy the day we visited!
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
The black sand beach is extremely beautiful with its contrast of colors
Iceland
Vik Church
Solheimajökull Glacier
Hike to Solheimajökull Glacier

Solheimajökull Glacier

Solheimajökull Glacier
A closer look at the Solheimajökull Glacier
Solheimajökull Glacier
A tiny piece of the glacier
Solheimajökull Glacier
The black volcanic ash entrapped in the glacier
Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Golden Coast

This was another day-long tour, but shorter than the south coast one. We started our tour by visiting couple more waterfalls. We then stopped at the Geysir hot spring area, followed by the Þingvellir National Park.

Iceland Waterfall
Faxi Waterfall
Iceland Waterfall
Fish ladder at the Faxi Waterfall
The Gullfoss Waterfalls
The Gullfoss Waterfall

The Gullfoss Waterfalls

Both tours were booked with GeoIceland Day Tours.  They work with small groups, under 20. The tours were well planned and our guides Oscar & Siggi were wonderful! They had a great sense of humor and we learned a lot about Iceland’s history, geology and culture from them.

Haukadalur Geothermal area

Haukadalur Geothermal area

Haukadalur Geothermal area

Haukadalur Geothermal area

Haukadalur Geothermal area
People waiting for the periodic Geysir to erupt
The original Geysir
The original Geysir

Haukadalur Geothermal area

Haukadalur Geothermal area

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park

Though we were in Iceland for only 4 days and had a busy schedule, we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and were continuously amazed by Iceland’s beauty. We stayed in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. That deserves its own post, so stay tuned for that.

Before I sign off, wish you all a fantastic 2018!

 

2 Replies to “Iceland – Land of Fire and Ice”

  1. As always, lovely pictures!!
    Iceland has been on my bucket list but now it just moved to the top. Can’t wait for your next blog post 🙂

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