Monday, 20 April 2015

Discovering Iceland

This is me going even farther north! This time I went up to 64°N - Welcome to Iceland!
For you to have an idea: if I would try to do this in the southern hemisphere and go as low in latitude as 64°S, that could be located in Antarctica just like the Island of James Ross which is 64°S 57°W.

Iceland is a volcanic island whose first settlers were vikings coming from the European continent in the middle age over a thousand years ago. These settlers persevered through the years, protected from wars due to its geographic isolation. It then eventually became the country named Iceland.

The island is very touristic thanks to its exotic nature. Why exotic? Because Iceland depicts the destructive side of the nature: volcanoes, ashes, strong winds and cold. Due to the non-organic soil, the island has no trees and very small fauna. People go to Iceland for hiking or to see they uncommon nature phenomenons like the aurora Borealis and geyser eruptions. If one is "lucky" enough, can be contemplated with a volcanic eruption. Keep your distance! 

I summarize below the main attractions of Iceland (or at least the ones I visited):

The Golden Circle

The golden circle is a ring route with approximately  350 km and it is fully paved, so there is no need for a 4x4 car. On the way there are several mainstream attractions of Iceland such as the Strokkur geyser, the Gullfoss waterfalls, the Þingvallavatn lake and the volcanic crater of Kerið.
For those who are visiting Iceland for the first time, these are 'must see' attractions.

Strokkur geyser


This geyser which is the main one in Iceland erupts around every 5 minutes and the intensity of its eruption varies. This eruption I caught on camera and I believe was a weak one but still impressive. There are several other smaller geysers around. These attractions are for free. 





Gullfoss


These are beautiful waterfalls somewhere located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland.

During the winter the water flows with the intensity of 140 m3 of water per second. During summer, it lowers to 80 m3.



Volcanic crater in Kerið

Well, a volcanic crater is less than an inactive volcano because the there isn't any volcanic activity detected underneath. The view is awesome, just as a volcanic caldera but with a frozen lake in the middle. For this attraction you actually have to pay 2 Euros to see and get much less 'wow' effect than the waterfalls or the geysers.




Hot river in Hveragerði


When the water comes hot from the ground in Iceland, one thing is for sure: it is going to be HOT. So, if you don't want to be just like a chicken in a soup, take precautions.
The hot river in Hveragerði is suitable for bathing because it mixes with some cold stream of water from melting snow and balances the temperature of the water for a bath in a more human-friendly temperature (which normally shouldn't exceed 45°C).

Really nice hike! I recommend! :)





Climbing Ajakfull hills



Not far from Reykjavik, by the city of Akranes, you can find the Ajakfull hills for an easy hike but with a nice view from the top, if not cloudy. On top of the hill you will find a box with a guestbook so you can sign! Cool!

The road to Akranes is fully paved too and if you can't find the beginning of the track just go to the city and find the HI hostel and get more information in there. People are friendly.




Blue lagoon



Probably the #1 attraction in Reykjavik, due to its convenient location and infrastructure.
The Blue Lagoon is located on a lava field (no lava anymore, of course, but just a vast rocky field which was once lava before it cooled down) nearby the international airport of Iceland (KEF). It is so convenient for people having connecting flights in Reykjavik when flying from U.S./Canada to Europe (and vice-versa) to drop by for few hours in this beautiful geothermal spa and then going back to the airport.

That photo above shows it as if it was a raw nature attraction but from my other photos you can clearly see the 'human touch' in it:



Thanks for reading!