Fantasy Tours. Iceland Excursions takes you to see other-worldly sites
Iceland Excursions takes you to see other-worldly sites

You’ve no doubt seen ‘Lord of the Rings’. It could well have been filmed in Iceland. Besides being a land of elves, dwarves and hidden secrets, it’s also a land of similarly spectacular, fantasy-like landscapes. The world has heard about the volcanos but it’s a land where ice and water play an important role, too. The largest glacier in Europe covers part of the south, with powerful rivers going north and south. Water is plentiful and results in some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe
To see Iceland properly, you also need to understand its culture and history. If you drive yourself, you will only see one part. The solution is to take a tour with a guide who can synthesize 1,000 years of history and culture down to a meaningful and enjoyable account that puts each landmark into perspective and highlights what you would otherwise have missed.
Two of Iceland Excursions’ tours head south and both will take you to other-worldly scenes of magnificent beauty and awe. After leaving Reykjavik and crossing the desolate mountain heath with its plumes of steam billowing up into the sky, the rough, craggy landscape suddenly gives way to a spectacular view of verdant farmlands stretching from mountains, punctuated with steam spouts, all the way to the sea. The trips head first for the village of Hvolsvöllur, where there is a refreshment break. It’s an area of beauty and history which the guide explains.

Þórsmörk - Thor’s Woods

One tour stops next at the beautiful Seljalandsfoss. It’s quite an experience to walk behind this waterfall. It will then head in to the interior, past Eyjafjallajökull into an area as desolate as any moonscape except for the rivers criss-crossing the dusty grey terrain. According to the GPS, there’s a lake here but all you see is a little puddle in a sea of grey dust. Prior to the 2011 eruption, there was a lake, but so great was the ash fall that the land rose and the lake disappeared.
Those little rivers can, in a matter of minutes, turn into a foaming tumult that has swept vehicles away. However, the tour drivers know just how to navigate these waters and you press onwards, feeling as if you have arrived on the moon. As you wonder if this is joke, you round a towering cliff and a completely new vista opens up: the verdant area of Valaknúkur, a veritable Shangri-La, with its own micro-climate, bordered by rivers and surrounded by mountains. The contrast couldn’t be greater.
Now is the time to enjoy your lunch at this popular leisure spot and a good hour-long hike on one of the many different trails amongst the woods and meadows. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise. On leaving the area, the tour continues to the Stakkholtsgjá gorge and another hour’s hike up to its end where the river is crossed on stepping stones. Climbing up a small rock face will bring you to another refreshing waterfall.

Jökulsárlón
The second tour, meanwhile, continues south, taking in sights like the awesome Skógarfoss falls before driving past Iceland’s biggest volcano and its highest peak, Öræfajökull and arriving at the climax of the tour: the fantasy lagoon of Jökulsárlón.
From early May, there is time for an amphibious boat tour to take in the amazing, other-worldly sights in the stillness of the afternoon, as it weaves its way past giant blocks of ice from the glacier. The lagoon began forming in the early 1920’s and continues to grow, year by year. It has been featured in at least a couple of films.
Returning, the tour passes by Skaftafell, the beautiful park that is home to both massive volcanos and glaciers and the stately Svartifoss waterfall, noted for its black basalt columns, reaching Hotel Núpar for lunch, followed by a 45-min stop in the small town of Vík for dinner, a quick trip around the town or down to the black sand beaches and a look the strange rock formations of Drangey. Seljalandsfoss falls is the next stop. They look very special in the soft evening summer light.
As one traveller put it, “An amazing day! Jokulsarlon was the aim of the day but you get to see much more en route making the whole experience unforgettable. I fully recommend this trip to anyone.“

Iceland Excursions
Hafnarstræti 20 • 101 Reykjavík
+354 540 1313
iceland@grayline.is
www.grayline.is

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