"You know what I find most special here?
Okay, you say, we've already seen it all - cascading waterfalls, fjords, iceberg lagoon, seals, whales, Aurora Borealis, you name it.
But what's fantastic is that around every corner of the road is a different landscape.
It's Game of Thrones winter beyond the Wall, but 20 minutes further on it's sunny and there are seals on the shore. Or it's raining. Or around the corner is a layered volcano, or a reindeer, or a polar fox. Or a song comes on the speakers that sounds like it's ripped straight from the landscape outside."
Land of contrasts. Of the ocean that wildly roars against the mountains and the mountains that seem to have suddenly stopped, in a stupor, with their feet in the icy water.
The feeling that everything is as welcoming as on the Moon. That, along with our machines, clothes and anthills of petty excitement and agitation, we have nothing in common with this corner of the planet from a millennium ago.
And the ballet between decisions, because you are in a constant race with the Sun, with the Aurora, with weather warnings. And you want to take it all in. And it's really worth it.
We want to see the Aurora, what about the Aurora Borealis?
Speaking 'scientifically', with my glasses on, I can tell you that flares from the Sun's corona send beams of electrically charged particles (electrons, protons and alpha particles) known as 'solar wind' towards the Earth, sometimes creating 'solar storms' that impact our daily lives; on contact with the magnetic field near our planet's magnetic poles the particles manage to partially break through the atmospheric blanket and ignite in contact with atmospheric gases.
Huh, almost done with the science 🙂
The phenomenon is extraordinarily beautiful and depending on the intensity of the solar wind the sky can either turn slightly green or literally explode in drapes of galactic-scale lights shaded in green, pink, orange. Magnificent!
Do you know why the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are much more intense than the Aurora Australis? Take a look HERE!
We've been lucky enough to be "Aurora Witnesses" (this isn't a clan or any cult, mind you 🙂 ) on each of our tours!
The chances of seeing the magic of the skies depend directly on the strength of the solar wind, the cloudiness of the night and the location of the observation - the darker the better. It's not certain you can see the Aurora, although we wish it with all our hearts!
You probably already know: we choose to visit Iceland late in autumn as the Northern Lights are only visible from September until March!
Iceland is famous and I've heard about the Golden Ring. Is that where we're going?
We travel 1700-2000 km annually along the island's coastline, with short forays inland in search of waterfalls, canyons, glaciers or special places.
The Golden Ring is just a small loop near the capital Reykjavik and yes, we do ride it but it only takes up one day of our holiday!
Our route covers the south coast (with waterfalls over 60 metres high, glaciers, icebergs and black sand beaches), the east coast with fjords, seals, reindeer, waterfalls 🙂 and volcanoes, the north coast with seals (other 🙂 ) and hot springs.
Only then do we return to civilization on the famous and populated Golden Ring to complete the experience with geysers and... little surprises.
Where do we stand? Sure it's not cold at night?
Ah, no way 🙂
We sleep comfortably every night in double rooms with very good heating. The whole of Iceland is geothermally heated and enclosed spaces are always warm.
Besides, despite its name, the island is not very cold, you know! The oceanic climate and the presence of a branch of the Gulfstream compensate for the proximity to the North Polar Circle and temperatures have been in the -7 - +15 degrees range year after year.
Fun stuff: the name Iceland is given by sailors to the island off Greenland, while Greenland got its name in the same pattern. Although the climates of the two lands are exactly the opposite!
Good food in Iceland?
Hmmm, not exactly our favourite culinary destination :), for that we invite you to #3RiversExpedition!
Locals eat fish (Arctic char, cod, salmon, etc) either dried as harðfiskur or stewed with vegetables as plokkfiskur but also lamb/sheep with potatoes and other vegetables.
Fast food is dominated by hot dogs, considered a real delicacy (!) but we didn't find any to our liking and burgers dominate the restaurant menu.
Prawn soup is yummy instead!
There are also specialities, such as whale or shark fillets, roast puffin or the famous hakarl.
Hakarl deserves a special mention: it's Greenland shark meat that you cook for two months in the open air and serve with a glass or two or nine 😀 of brennivin, the traditional grain brandy flavoured with cumin.
The taste experience is unforgettable, a famous travelling gourmet calls hakarl "It may not kill your body, but it is likely to destroy your soul. It is the single worst food on the planet." 😀 Details see here
We've tasted it and... it's not good.
Wind gusts of 120-240 km/h, black ice and sleet
These are the "friends" of driving in Iceland and the reasons why every autumn the local news is filled with images of wind-swept cars on the road. Yes, it's challenging to drive on the island and it takes a lot of care, experience and a keen eye for the forecast.
Iceland is wonderfully communicative and you always have access to up-to-date forecasts on vedur.is and via the ice-sar app! It also helps to know the most exposed spots along the south and east coasts and to time your walks carefully.
The modest and discreet victory over travel conditions means that year after year our tour runs smoothly and cleanly, with no hiccups or cancelled bookings and unexpected schedule changes, although those can be the spice of an adventure too 🙂
Specifically, what objectives do we see?
Almost everything you've read about Iceland is included in the tour, even if sometimes the weather forces us to "run" a bit to catch it all.
Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Skogafoss, Gljufrabui, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Diamond beach and Jokulsarlon lagoon, Detifoss, Europe's highest flowing waterfall, Krafla volcano, Akureyri, the capital of the north and whale watching, Thingvellir rift between the continental plates, Geysir.
But there are more, and we won't list them here, as they are the delight and uniqueness of our tour.
You will receive them, in detail, at registration!
Do you want to come with us? We congratulate you and invite you to join your fellow adventurers HERE!