We just returned from nine days in Iceland. Some friends from Tahoe had scheduled a trip before Covid, and it was delayed until this year. So we joined them, plus all Covid restrictions have been gone in Iceland since the spring of 2022, only tourists were wearing masks.
On our first day out we visited the rift zone dividing North America from Eurasia tectonic plates. The cliff in the back is the North America plate, the Eurasia plate has fallen that length of the cliff in just the last 700 years. Where the flag stands is the place Icelanders have traditionally met for voting, this is their Althing, a democratic tradition going back to Viking days 1000 years ago.
Most of our group hiked into the rift zone and learned about the trolls, elves and hidden people. Our guide (right) explained the hidden people would guide you from danger like being lost at sea in the fog, so somewhat like guardian angels.
A couple of our group put on dry suits, and swam in the rift zone between the plates.
The swim is about 200 yards in very clear, VERY COLD water.
Iceland was and continues to be formed by active volcanoes. So with that lots of hot springs and geysers. This geyser erupts every five minutes or so.
And this small one nearby runs continuously.
Iceland's flag is red white and blue, red for fiery volcanoes, white for glaciers and blue for water, both the sea around and glacier melt feeding waterfalls everywhere. This is the Golden Falls, the largest in Iceland.
And a few miles down the road another falls, one you can walk behind.
And another one just a quarter mile away inside a crevice.
And just another falls, they are everywhere. They were also all flowing well because the first couple days of our trip were rainy.
The next day we took a short hike up to and on to the glacier. Getting briefed by our guide.
Up on the glacier, ice axe in hand (mostly for pictures)
And our guide demonstrating proper walking down the ice. Bent knees, weight a bit back, and stamp those crampons on your feet into the ice.
The next day the weather cleared up for a zodiac ride among the icebergs. We are in a fjord, gouged out by Iceland's largest glacier.
Our group suiting up with insulating overalls, life jackets.
The zodiac gets us up close and personal
Back at the hotel savoring a local beer, and Brennivin an Iceland aquavit flavored strongly with Caraway. It is served in a frozen piece of lava with a shot hole hollowed out.
The next day we hiked along another finger of that same glacier. Here looking at the bridge over the fjord, with rocks holding bergs back from taking out the bridge.
The sun was out and into the low 60s, so our group out stripping off coats and rain gear.
This is our guide and the van the 13 of us traveled around in, stopping in one of the lava flows.
And lava flows of varying ages everywhere, the first to colonize is the moss which grows slowly (maybe 20 years to the inch), that will eventually start turning into soil.
On the way back to Reykjavik we stopped by the cliffs where the Puffins nest. They spend most of the time at sea, but come in for about 3 months to lay an egg and then feed the chick from abundant herring.
The Puffin has become the tourist symbol of Iceland. Yes they are cute, amazing they can fly with their stubby wings. The Vikings identify more with the raven or eagle.
Love my Canon SX720, a pocket camera with 40x zoom.
Another stop to take some pictures of the many volcanic bluffs all about the island.
We took a separate trip to go inside the volcano. This is the bridge to an elevator down into the core.
We descend 500 feet into a volcano that drained the magma after an eruption, only known one in the world.
After visiting the volcano, we had soup in the hut, served by our guides. A picture of an artic fox (guide on the right).
This fox was orphaned, but taken in by the guides at the hut and named Mia, still wild, but obviously has made friends with the guides.
So all in all Iceland is an interesting place, rugged volcanic terrain, lava flows, waterfalls, glaciers and black sand beaches. If you go in summer, temps in the 50s, and you can see a lot with the daylight hours. If you want to go to see the northern lights, go in winter on a moonless week. But what you give up is sunlight to visit the sites.
Iceland was quite isolated up until WW2, when most lived an almost medieval existence, our guide grew up in the far north hunting and fishing. In WW2 it became important for its strategic location. Then the US built a lot of infrastructure during the cold war, airports and freeways serving them.
We also made a stop for a dip in the Blue Lagoon, yes it's a "tourist trap", but worth the time for dip in its mineral water. This is a stock photo, I decided to keep my cameras safe from the minerals of the pools.
Also stopped at Flyover Iceland, another good thing to see. Sounds hokey, but an impressive immersive ride flying over Iceland (bring Dramamine if you need it).
The food was great, lots of good fish, Artic Char for sure. We missed out on the Icelandic hot dog, which we thought was a joke, but is suppose to be great made with lamb and beef.