Love, From the Land of Fire and Ice

Reykjavik

On a little island way up north, away from land-locked borders and crowded city grids, Iceland is a world of its own. Because the earth that Iceland lies atop is literally tearing apart, glacier-capped mountains and steaming lava fields are in turbulent harmony. Two tectonic plates where North America and Eurasia meet are continually shifting, causing volcanic activity, while the cold climate settles the lava in interesting ways. Venture out of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik (“rayk-ya-vik"), to where you and your friends will be completely alone with nature. The isolated isle strips you of the pressures of the large city: the 9 to 5 grind, the barrage of people, and the demands to always be plugged in. It takes guts and preparation as the terrain is rough, but it is an adventure like no other.

Updated 10 months ago


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Fimmvörðuháls Hiking Trail

Recommendation posted a year ago

Blackened land, rolling green slopes, and powerful waterfalls dot Fimmvörðuháls (“fim-vur-thu-hawls”), which is situated between two glaciers and a volcano. The Fimmvörðuháls Hiking Trail is an intense trek, but thoroughly rewarding. It can take around 12 hours to comb through all the land, so bring a tent or make a stopover in the mountain hut. During summer you may encounter some wild sheep; but, otherwise, you’ll be alone in the wild lands. Fimmvörðuháls passes Skógáfoss waterfall, Thórsmörk (Thor’s Valley), Eyjafjallajökull (“ay-uh-fyat-luh-yoe-kutl”) and Mýrdalsjökull (“meer-tal-syur-kutl”) glaciers. According to some hikers, you can still feel the warmth under your feet and see the smoke on the lava fields.

Skógar, Iceland

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Eyjafjallajökull

Recommendation posted a year ago

One of Iceland’s stratovolcanoes hit the worldwide news in 2010 when it erupted in a fervent overflow of ash, smoke, and molten lava. Snow covered Eyjafjallajökull, and ’til now, you can see ash mingle with the white powder on the fields. It’s been said that even after so many years, the crater is still so hot that you could dig a small hole and cook a hotdog. Whether that still holds true, we’ll leave for you to discover! There are no houses, roads, or shops for miles around, just open skies and endless land before you.

Iceland

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Hekla Volcano

Recommendation posted a year ago

Enter “The Gateway to Hell” and come back victorious as you conquer its crater peaks. Hekla Volcano got its reputation from a long history of fierce eruptions that devastated the land. From atop the volcano, as far as the eye can see, the ground is dark black and rusty red. The ascend is moderately difficult in parts where the crater is covered in loose soil and ash. You know it’s worth the climb as Hekla’s drastic slopes and violent history have inspired creative minds throughout the years—like writer Herman Melville, poet William Blake, and composer Jon Leifs.

Hella, Iceland

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Thrihnukagigur Volcano

Recommendation posted a year ago

You’ve seen what lava can do to a landscape, now delve into where it all comes from. The Thrihnukagigur Volcano is the world’s only volcano where you can enter the magma chamber. The thrill of descending into its dark depths still comes from the feeling of imminent danger, but you can rest easy as you’re safe to roam around the now-dormant volcano. Travel companies like 3H-Travel lead tours of Thrihnukagigur called “Inside the Volcano.” The course to the “center of the earth” begins in an elevator that drops into the cavern. The 400-feet trip down is a true test of grit. Your reward: a once in a lifetime experience in the heart of a volcano. Shining a light on the rocks reveal colorful stone walls that envelop you, save for a little crevice where the elevator and a little sunlight break through.

Reykjanesfólkvangur, Bláfjallavegur, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland

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Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Recommendation posted a year ago

From land shaped by fire, let us move on to land marked by ice. Marbled brown, milky white, and bright blue icebergs float across the clear blue waters of the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon. The body of water formed when a nearby glacier melted, creating an inlet of water that flows into the open ocean. Boat tours get up close to the jagged ice much like ships might on the polar ice caps, except all from the safety of southeastern Iceland. Visit Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon while the icebergs are still around. The beautiful lagoon faces an impending threat as the melting won’t stop, and the ice is disappearing swiftly. When the last one melts, Jökulsárlón will be just another pool—beautiful, but empty of its bobbing floats. Stay until darkness falls, The Northern Lights put on a show for all who come and admire the lagoon.

Höfn í Hornafirði, Iceland

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Vatnajökull National Park

Recommendation posted a year ago

Trace Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon to its nearest glacier, and you’ll find Vatnajökull. Trek up the slopes to Europe’s biggest ice cap, as it covers a significant amount of Iceland (more than 8% of land area!). Vatnajökull is so vast that little glaciers flow out from it, becoming “jökull” (glacier)—where Jökulsárlón takes its name from. The frost branches out from southeast of the island, covering many attractions in Vatnajökull National Park. You’ve seen ice at work on water, now see it slide slowly over land! Just under the surface, several volcanoes lay in waiting. When they erupt under the frost, little melt pockets weaken until water bursts forth. Skirt Vatnajökull to Jökulsárlón and its fellow glaciers: Hjallanes, Heinaberg, and Hofellsjökull. The small fishing town of Hofn is at the foot, offering quaint views of the magnificent icescapes.

Iceland

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Diamond Beach

Recommendation posted a year ago

Clear ice blocks beached on black sand shores are what gave Diamond Beach its name. Black sand is an anomaly found on beaches near volcanoes when lava flows into the cold ocean. The strangely shaped ice look like glass sculptures, making for a favorite subject for photographers who come here. Diamond Beach is a beautiful backdrop for a little contemplation and soul-searching. It becomes so clear how nature takes two opposing forces to create something so strangely beautiful. Tourists have even brought diamonds of their own here to pop the all-important question to their loved ones!

Höfn í Hornafirði, Iceland

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Geysir

Recommendation posted a year ago

View the geyser that started it all, Geysir. It was the first recorded of its kind in Europe, and now lends its name to spouting hot springs all over the world. The warm land underneath heats the water up, building pressure, until it erupts feet-high into the air. The Geysir explodes at regular intervals, but the high-pressure spout and time between bursts have mellowed through the years.

Bláskógabyggð, Iceland

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Mývatn Nature Baths

Jarðböðin Við Mývatn

Recommendation posted a year ago

End your journey through the Land of Fire and Ice at Jarðböðinn, in a soothing hot spring. The vast basin of creamy blue waters is heated from under by the geothermal activity of the island. The water’s temperature keeps at around 130°C, in contrast to the frigid air. Tourists and locals of all ages come here to loosen their weary muscles in the alkaline waters. Rest and relax after exploring Iceland, while enjoying the open skies and mountain views of the island. Word of caution: take off any silver or copper jewelry as the sulfur in the water will damage it.

Mývatnssveit, Iceland

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