Last year I, my husband, and a couple of our oldest friends embarked on our most exciting cruise ever – a transatlantic cruise trip from the UK to Boston on the east coast of the USA. What made this one so special is that we were going to call on several very northern ports that we have never visited before, and will probably never have the opportunity to visit again – they are literally at the opposite end of the earth from where we live in South Africa! I was a bit apprehensive about being on a cruise ship for such a long time (16 days), but the interesting ports of call persuaded us to give it a go, and it was a wonderful holiday. Today I would like to tell you about Reykjavik Iceland – by far the most interesting of the places we visited and really worthy of a longer exploration if you ever get the opportunity.
Our ship docked in Reykjavik Iceland where we would be staying overnight – that meant two full days to explore! The town of Reykjavik Iceland is small and pretty – no skyscrapers here – but it is the countryside of Iceland that you just have to see! We had not planned on taking a tour as they were very expensive, but once we arrived we decided it would be foolish to come so far and then go back home without seeing at least some of the natural wonders of Iceland. We managed to find a small private tour company (right at the quayside!) and our guide was just wonderful – she is a born-and-bred Icelander and has studied geology, so was an absolute fountain of knowledge! We set off on one of the best excursions ever.
The most remarkable thing about Iceland is that the landscape is unlike any other; at first you can’t quite work out what is so unusual, until you realize there are not trees – not one! This is due to the very shallow soil which does not allow roots to develop. The ground is made up of volcanic deposits so rather resembles a lunar landscape. Our first stop along the route was to see some beautiful waterfalls – there are many on Iceland, as the glacial snow is continually melting and pouring down the rivers – they were really amazing as you will see in the photos.
After lunch we were taken to see some geysers in the geothermal park – did you know that everyone in Reykjavik gets free hot water piped into their homes courtesy of the geothermal fields? It was wonderful to watch the hot water shooting out of the earth at regular intervals. The highlight of the tour was when we spotted one of the largest Icelandic glaciers; unfortunately, it was quite a distance away but still quite awesome! If you have more time you can go on a Glacier Tour, where you get to walk the glacier and even have a go at Ice Climbing.
Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa
On our second day in Reykjavik Iceland we took a local bus to the incredible Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa to swim in the wonderful pools and buy some of the delightful products to take home; at €38 entry fee, it is not a cheap day out and you should try to spend the whole day there – sadly, we only had an hour or two but the whole experience was amazing and the bus trip took us through more of the remarkable “lunar” landscape.
If you have the time, a wonderful way to explore incredible Iceland would be to hire a motorhome or camper and spend a few weeks seeing it all at your own relaxed pace. There are 68 campsites in Iceland – only open in summer, from about June to September, and in my opinion this would be a great option as you would not have to retract your steps back to a hotel every night.