Discovering the Real Iceland on a Ring Road Trip
GeoEx’s Natalie Crow and Alysa Pakkidis recently headed to Iceland, a hot spot for adventure lovers, to scout the most interesting and authentic experiences for GeoEx travelers.
To explore the Land of Fire and Ice, we opted for a road trip Iceland style: two weeks, one island country, one four-by-four super jeep. Our expectations were high going into this trip—Iceland had been on our bucket lists for years. We covered a lot of ground, and what we found was absolutely inspiring and surprising: waterfalls, hot springs, isolated villages, glacial tongues emptying alongside the highway, and never-ending sky. With the help of our Icelandic guides and contacts, we were able to explore and learn about the country in depth, seeing it from a local’s point of view—much more meaningful than shuffling around the most touristic spots. Here are some of our discoveries and highlights.
Day one: We hit the road! Natalie and Kristjan map out our route. Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
With more than 200 volcanoes and 600-plus hot springs, Iceland is home to a staggering amount of geothermal activity. Harnessing these and other natural elements, the country is able to produce nearly all of its energy from renewable sources. Video: Alysa Pakkidis
We would have loved to take a dip in this thermal pool, but the temperature was almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit—near boiling! Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
Our guide drove us down a back road to reach the other side of this popular waterfall. We nearly had it all to ourselves. Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
This is how most Icelandic farmers used to live, some even up until the 1950s. These turf houses are made of grass and soil to save on wood (which is hard to come by). Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
If you are lucky, you get to experience the Northern Lights. If you are even luckier, you have a guide who can track the activity on his phone and take you out onto a hillside at exactly the moment that the sky opens up to reveal them. They took our breath away. Photo: Kristján Vilhelmsson
Sheep farming is sacred in Iceland. Most people are well connected to the small farming towns throughout the country. Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
Getting off the beaten track means discovering historic villages along the East Fjords. Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
We just fell in love with this eclectic, remote, and artsy town called Seydisfjorder! Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
One of the biggest highlights of our trip was walking on the Vatnajokul Glacier. Our guide is pointing to areas where you can clearly see the ice field has receded. Photo: Natalie Crow
Iceland or Patagonia? There aren’t many places in the world where you can walk on a glacier, and it will become increasingly difficult. Estimates project this glacier may be completely gone in roughly 150 years. Photo: Natalie Crow
Iceland’s southern coast: They call this Diamond Beach. Ice breaks off from the glacier and eventually makes its way to this beautiful black-sand beach. The ice sparkles. Video: Alysa Pakkidis
Where better to be on a snowy day than sitting in your private home’s hot tub with your morning coffee? We were fortunate enough to stay in a few homes, this one with its (seemingly) private lake. Photos: Natalie Crow (top), Alysa Pakkidis (bottom)
The best part about the super jeeps: no roads needed! All you have to do is deflate the tires and you are ready to go. Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
After searching in the snow for the entrance to this cave, we were rewarded with a private (and somewhat eerie) lava tunnel walk. Photo: Natalie Crow
Back in Reykjavik we cozied up to breakfast in our hip, modern, brand-new hotel located in the center of town. Photo: Natalie Crow
Reykjavik is an emerging foodie destination. It takes a lot to impress two travelers from the Bay Area, but we were blown away by the abilities and creations of Reykjavik chefs. Photo: Alysa Pakkidis
The Blue Lagoon is one of the wonders of the world. The VIP lounge is just what you need to make it extra special. Photo: Natalie Crow
You blew us away—almost literally—and we cannot wait to come back. Thank you for an adventure of a lifetime!
Ready for an adventure of your own? GeoEx’s Iceland expert Natalie Crow will gladly help you plan your journey. Contact her at [email protected] or give her call at 888-570-7108.To learn more about our new trip, visit Iceland: Land of Awe.