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Sunday, December 04, 2016

5 Unique Ways to Experience Iceland

Iceland as a destination has been buzzing all through 2016 and I am pretty sure that it will continue to remain a hot destination even in the year 2017. After all, no one can stay away from the charms of the glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and overall rugged geography of this Nordic country.

Iceland is all about its rugged geography. Be it mighty big waterfalls, mind blowing volcanic and geo thermal areas, lava forests, amazing glaciers and icebergs, hot springs, steam vents, rhyolite mountain ranges or picture perfect fishing villages, you are never too far away from a WOW moment or a postcard view. Wherever you go in Iceland and whatever you decide to do, you will not be too far away from these natural wonders.

Chasing Northern Lights in Iceland

Personally, I have always been smitten by this country. Right from the time I wrote this article titled ‘Why I want to visit Iceland?’ in late 2015, I have made 3 different trips to this sensational geologically active country. All these three visits were for volunteering programs, but each one took me deep into a different part of the country. The best part of each of these trips was that it took me much closer to the Icelandic culture and the local way of life while revealing hidden sights and attractions that only the locals knew.

Spectacular Icelandic Nature

These 3 volunteering holidays to Iceland (all in different seasons – from summer through Christmas) allowed me to explore a lot many places in this country. Some of these places were part of my volunteering projects while some were explored either on my own or with friends from volunteering camp. And it is based on these personal experiences that I recommend you these 5 unique ways to experience Iceland on your next holiday. I hope that this helps you experience and enjoy Iceland like I did and you keep returning for more. 

1) Drive through Iceland in a 4WD

The beauty of Gulfoss

Iceland is a big country with tough terrain and limited public transportation and connectivity. To go places you either need to spend a lot of money or invest in a lot of time and which is why I I think that Iceland is best explored on a self drive holiday. If you are a decent driver and hire a good four wheel drive vehicle, not only can you explore the remote corners of this volcanic country, but you can also save a lot of time and money. If you wish to truly rough it out and stay in the wild, you can opt to camp out in the open. If not, you can always find a warm bed to spend the night. Whether you wish to see the mighty Gulfoss, the mesmerizing Blue Lagoon, experience the famous Golden circle or travel into the far away bowels of Iceland’s remote hinterland, a self drive holiday is ideal. If you want to up the ante in terms of adventure, but still wish for some local guidance, you can choose guided self-drive tours that give you a tour of the arctic region like no other.

2) Opt for a Volunteering Program

Glacier Hiking in Iceland

Even though Iceland is a fairly well to do country, there are a lot of places where it can do with some external help and assistance. These could be areas like volcanic research, geothermal research, work in hydroelectric projects or construction and cleaning projects in the remote stretches of the country. The reason I dig volunteering projects is because it gives me access to a totally untouched region (from a traveler’s perspective) with lots of local interaction while allowing me to contribute my skills to the betterment of humanity. It was through such volunteering camps that I found access to some stunning active volcanoes (I love volcanoes), to climb the remote glaciers in the interior regions of Central Iceland, the fjords of the East coast and to some really cool ice caves where the experts were doing some research.

3) Go on a Photography Tour

Snow covered white Reykjavik

If there is one country in the world that is photogenic, it has to be Iceland. Every photo taken here seems to be fit the postcard tag. Even though more or less every photo taken here looks fabulous, I still recommend going on a photography tour as it will help you find that perfect combination of color, timing, attraction and location. For example, do you know the site where you can pitch your tent to capture the northern lights along with the dramatic lava fields and geysers. Or do you know the best time and location to capture sunrise at the Snaefellsjokull National park. Photography tours in Iceland give you that perfect local guidance to see and experience Iceland like never before. And the best part of these photography tours is that you don’t need to be a photographer!

4) A White Holiday

Snowmobiling in Iceland

Most people visiting Iceland seem to prefer the summer months, but I think Iceland is a magical winter destination. In fact, it offers a white holiday like no other. From experiencing the northern lights in Reykjavik to losing yourself in the deep sapphire blue ice caves underneath the 1000 year old Vatnajohull glacier and from a thrilling snowmobile ride in the remote and wild Landmannalaugar islands to the seeing the beauty of the lava caves in the Snaefellsnes peninsula, there is no better time to experience Icelandic nature than the cold winter months. A winter holiday in Iceland would need some special preparations and hence it is very much advised to go through a reliable iceland travel guide to gather all the local tips and guidance. After all, you can’t leave everything to your super jeep with mammoth tires!

5) Up the Adventure Ante

Kayaking in Iceland

In all my trips to Iceland, I have learnt that there is no place in the world that offers a much wider and richer spectrum when it comes to true adventure. After all what can beat glacier hiking, ice climbing, ice caving, climbing into volcanoes or climbing down lava caves for a sensational adrenaline rush. Add to it, kayaking and river-rafting, snowmobiling, skiing, snorkeling with whales, off-roading and many more and you are truly spoilt when it comes to adventure. Hence, when you visit Iceland, don’t just go see the tourist attractions, but be prepared to taste some of its best adventure experiences.

So go on and see the raw beauty of Iceland with your own eyes and find out why it is a top trending holiday destination in 2016 and one of the top unlikely holiday destinations in Europe.

Note: The photographs in this article are courtesy of Iceland Tourism.



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