I am now back from my holiday to Iceland which was just as amazing as I thought it would be! If you are looking for a holiday destination, I highly recommend it! The country is beautiful and the people are so lovely and welcoming!
I have split my post into 3 as it was very long! I hope you all enjoy my account of our adventures in the land of Fire and Ice!
Day 2: Waterfalls and Glacier!
For our first full day we had booked a guided group tour to see several waterfalls and a Glacier.
The first stop took about an hour to get to from Reykjavik. On the route the guide pointed out the landmarks including these amazing lava fields and the volcano that has been erupting recently. When we arrived at Seljalandsfloss it was just an amazing sight! Our guide said that we could climb up behind it and out of the other side. We did this but it was pretty precarious as the rocks were all wet and muddy! It was well worth it though! What I was quickly noticing was the Icelandic peoples’ appreciation and respect for their environment. There was no litter anywhere and they have learned to live with their surroundings rather than bulldoze through them.
There was also a small gift shop at the sight and I picked up a few things (which I will show you all in a separate souvenirs post). Then we were back on the mini-bus for the main destination: Sólheimajökull glacier and Katla volcano.
I think it was about another 45 minutes to an hour to get to the volcano and glacier. The Katla volcano is an active volcano that is located under the glacier. Our guide explained that they had scientists monitoring it so it was perfectly safe. In fact it was so safe that you could borrow some climbing gear and climb up the glacier. This was optional and me and Sarah decided against it. I have some medical conditions so we opted to observe it from the ground whilst most of the rest of the group and the guide scaled it!
When they returned a few hours later we got back on the bus for our third destination: Black Sands Beach. The sand is black because of the eruptions from the Katla volcano. Our guide explained that when the lava reached the sea it cooled and became black. The beach is also home to the Reynisdrangar sea stacks that were in Game of Thrones! Our guide also warned of the unpredictable waves that can be much higher than we were used to and advised that we kept back a good distance from the sea!
There was also a restaurant at the beach where we could stop for lunch, but we had already eaten whilst waiting for the climbing group to return!
Our last stop for the day was Skógafoss waterfall. It was a lot bigger than the first one we visited. You couldn’t climb behind this one but there were steps (300+) to get to the top. We did climb to the top and view was amazing! Some people were getting very close to the edge which made me a little nervous!
On the drive back to Reykjavik our guide explained more about Iceland and including why everything was more expensive. He said that the tax was very high there (40% I think), but wages were good enough to accommodate this. He said that this meant that everything (emergency services, health care, infrastructure etc) was paid for. We have a similar set up with the NHS in the UK but the waiting times are insane (Accident and Emergency at my local hospital has a waiting time of up to 31 hours!). I assume that because of the lower population and higher taxes in Iceland there is no waiting around and treatment is prompt! The guide also said there was no poverty and there was no rich or poor. The living standards were high and everyone who wanted to own a house could. It was very interesting hearing a different approach to taxes and living.
Once we got back to the hotel we decided to have another quite evening as it had been a very long and physical day! We ordered a dominoes and got ready for the next (and final full day!) which was whale watching!