During half term, on Monday 23rd October sixteen students and three members of staff left very early in the morning for a trip to Iceland. After meeting the trip guide at Keflavik International Airport we headed off for an action packed first afternoon in Iceland.
The coach left the airport and took us directly to the Reykjanes Peninsula, where the students had the opportunity to walk across the bridge between the continents, from the Eurasian to the North American plate. This was a great opportunity for photographs and the first chance to see the amazing sights and open expanses of the Icelandic landscape. From here we visited the Stampar Craters and the Gunnuhver Hot Springs. Both sites highlight the geothermal activity of the area, with bubbling mud pools and steam vents. As it began to get dark the group headed to its final site of the day, The Mariuhellar lava tube. With torches at the ready, the staff and students were guided into the cave for a brief explanation of how it was created. After an amazing first day, we headed to our hostel in Selfoss where we had a great meal and lovely rooms waiting for us.
The itinerary for day two showed that yet again we were all in for a full day of famous Icelandic locations. Departing the hostel there was a lot of excitement about what we would see. Arriving at Sejalandsfoss Waterfall, cameras at the ready, we were able to take a walk around a footpath behind the 65 metre cascade. This is the only waterfall in the world where it is possible to walk behind! Slightly wet from the spray of the waterfall walk, we departed for the Skogafoss Waterfall which is an impressive 60 metres high. This waterfall is famous for being able to see a myriad of rainbows, created from the huge amount of spray.
The next location on the journey was Solheimajokull Glacier where we headed up to the snout, passing lakes and glacial features. The rest of the day was spent visiting other key Icelandic sights, with a stop off at the famous Reynishverfi Beach, where we had the opportunity to walk along the black basalt sands and taking photographs of the amazing waves hitting the beach. On our way back to the hostel we had one final stop at the Gluggafoss waterfall, giving an opportunity for photographs of the sun setting over the fantastic landscape.
On the way back to the hostel we were told by our guide that there was a good chance that we could see the Northern lights that evening. There was definitely excitement about this.
After dinner we all met ready to head out, in hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Walking out of Selfoss, towards the open countryside, we started the get a hint of green in the sky. Our first view of the lights! They didn’t disappoint, with the lights dancing across the sky all evening, a perfect end to our first full day in Iceland.
Day three started early with a tour of the Hellisheioiõi Geothermal Power Plant, the largest one in Iceland from here we toured the Krysuvk Mud puddles and the Hveragerõi lava fields. The mineral museum in Ljosbra was a surprise highlight of the trip, with a passionate talk by the owner, we all left knowing far more about the geology of Iceland. The Ljosafoss HEP station was next on the trip agenda; this gave the group a chance to play interactive games all related to power production.
In the evening we were again lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights, and although they were more faint than the night before, they were still a spectacular sight and the staff and students all returned to the hostel in high spirits.
Our final full day started with a relaxing swim in the Secret Lagoon, a naturally occurring area of hot springs. Feeling relaxed and refreshed we moved on to the Geysir Geothermal area, cameras at the ready to see it erupt skyward to a height of 15 metres. Next was the impressive Gullfoss Waterfall where the glacial water cascades down a drop of 32 metres into a narrow canyon. Finally, we visited Thingvellir National Park where we toured around the rift valley between the European and North American plate, as the sun set we returned to the coach ready for a return to the hostel.
Our final day in Iceland started early, with staff and students all packed up ready to leave. We had enough time to spend part of the day touring Reykjavik, experiencing the culture, food and shopping. After an evening flight and a long coach journey back from the airport, staff and students arrived back safely on Friday night, with lots of new experiences to talk about and cameras full of amazing images.
Mr. T. Barfoot