Geography Trip to Iceland, February 2020
The intrepid group of RGS students arrived in Iceland on Wednesday 19th February. The weather was a real contrast to the UK’s, with temperatures hovering around freezing and lots of snow!
Leaving the airport they went straight out to the Reykjanes Peninsula to see the lava fields and a fissure marking the split between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. They then headed on towards the hotel, stopping at the vigorously bubbling Gunnuhver, Iceland’s largest mud pool. The steam and strong smell of sulphur clearly demonstrated how active Iceland is.
The following day was a long one, starting at the Lava Centre giving lots of background information on Iceland’s volcanoes. They then headed East, taking in Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls before lunch and kitting up with hard hats, crampons and ice axes for a glacier walk on Solheimajokull – a unique experience zig-zagging around ice sculptures and crevasses.
They then stopped off at Reynishverfi’s Black Beach to see the massive Atlantic waves come crashing in and to view the distinctive basalt columns making up the cliffs. After the evening meal they enjoyed a trip into the town of Vik to the Lava Show, the only show in the world where you can witness and feel the heat of molten lava in a safe environment. Lava was melted and poured down a channel to demonstrate what happens during a volcanic eruption. The heat was amazing!
Friday started with crossing the vast outwash plains to Jokulsarlon, a glacial lagoon that was choked with icebergs, before visiting the “Diamond Beach” where icebergs are washed into the Atlantic, only to be washed back onto the beach by the waves. There were plenty of photo opportunities here, and some even snapped the seals popping up between the icebergs!
Saturday was started at the Hveragerdi Geothermal Centre, cooking eggs in the hotsprings and collecting steam-baked rye bread followed by a second breakfast in the glasshouse, before moving on to the thundering Gullfoss waterfall, then to see Strokur Geysir erupting every 10-15 minutes. A visit to Efstidalur Farm for home made ice-cream was a real treat, before a final stop at Thingvellir, where Iceland’s first parliament was established in 930AD. The evening meal at the Viking Hotel saw students stay in a replica Viking street before fish and chips with a serenade of Viking songs from a local singer.
The last day allowed a brief visit to Reykjavik, its cathedral, concert hall and sculptures, before a final visit to the Blue Lagoon – thermal baths regarded as one of the 25 “wonders of the world”. Despite the freezing temperatures, the group basked outdoors in the geothermally heated pools, a lovely end to a very busy trip and some unique opportunities.