I haven’t met any South African’s who actually wanted to go to Iceland. In fact, when you say you are planning a trip to Iceland there’s a silent pause and then “Ok... why Iceland?”
Any travel to Europe is expensive for most South African’s, especially for a holiday, and other cheaper options like Thailand or South America or the 4-hour flight to Mauritius is preferred.
So why Iceland? I have to admit that I also never thought of the small country of fire and ice as a travel destination, but I have read many travel blogs and articles about the island recently, and travelers love it.
So here are 8 reasons why:
The Northern Lights
Ah, the Northern Lights. I think every person on earth want to experience the beauty of this phenomenon at least once in their life. You can see it from most Scandinavian countries and a few others, but Iceland is a very popular spot to observe and photograph this.
Hot Water Geysers
Now we are talking! In a country with ice almost everywhere, the hot geysers are a welcoming feature at the end of a long day of travelling. The Blue Lagoon near the capital Reykjavik, is the most popular tourist attraction boasting a full spa and food and drinks. The Myvatn Nature Baths in the North at very popular too. There are also several other hot pools across the country and locals relax here at the end of their day.
Volcanoes and Lava fields
Are you also drawn to the massive power of volcanoes? There are quite a few in Iceland, some active, many inactive. You can even take a tour into a volcano to the centre of the earth. Ok, maybe not that far in, but still.
Lava fields are everywhere...
Icy glaziers, especially in the Western Fjords look amazing in pictures. Activities include hiking on glaciers, snowmobile tours and dog-sledding. The Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in the south is a blue lagoon with glaciers drifting around; a boat tour in this lagoon is a must.
There are tours to see ice caves in winter which sounds amazing.
For nature lovers, hikers and bird watchers, hiking is a great way to see Iceland. There are trails for the seasoned as well as the leisurely hikers. There are several National Parks with trails and amazing waterfalls (Godafoss, Dettifoss and Svartifoss to name a few), lava fields and glaciers to explore.
Folklore, Elves, Trolls
Icelanders believe in elves. So much so that roads have to be built around boulders in the road if they believe elves live under it. A medium is needed to negotiate possible relocation of the elves otherwise. People also have little houses in their gardens for them. The Hidden Worlds tour in Hafnarfjordur is a guided storytelling walk around the homes of the elves, fairies, hermits and dwarves.
Many stone pillars around the sea shores of the country are believed to be petrified trolls turned into stone.
One can take a “course” to become a Viking. There are several old buildings built by Vikings, and most of the country’s history is based on Viking sagas. The Viking Village Fjorukrain Restaurant is housed in a traditional longhouse and serve Viking feasts such as dried fish, braised lamb and soup, served by singing Vikings.
The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft in Holmavik (Westfjords) apparently contains several artefacts (like Necropants, made from a real person’s skin, and magic books) and explains the history of witchcraft in Iceland. Contrary to the rest of the world, almost all witches burnt at the stake in Iceland were men – interesting. Most of their occult practices were only Viking traditions however.
Game of Thrones
And for fans, let’s not forget that the Game of Thrones series was filmed at many locations here. Need I say more? You can check out the list of all 38 film locations across the world from Skyscanner if you are keen to do your own Game of Thrones trip.
So yes, it might not be everyone’s first idea of an awesome vacation, but we think it is going to be an experience of a lifetime.
Over the next couple of weeks I will share some tips on our planning for this trip and give you guys some more info.