I recently returned from this short but action-packed trip to the Land of Ice and Fire. I travelled with G Adventures on a small group tour that included exploring a lava cave, Pingvellir National Park, hiking on a glacier and soaking in a hot spring.
I made this trip with my 16 year old son, Nathan during the October half term. It’s a country we have both always wanted to visit and I felt that as it was just us, it would be more enjoyable to join a small group tour.
Reykjavík and Blue Lagoon
We made our way to Reykjavík and, as we had some time before the welcome meeting, we decided to explore the harbour area and take a trip to the Blue Lagoon. This didn’t feel as busy as we expected, as it was so well organised.
At 7 pm it was time to meet our group and our CEO (Chief Experience Officer) Linus. The tour was fully booked, so there were fifteen of us in all, a good mix of nationalities and ages, including eight single travellers.
After the meeting we all went for a meal - a great way to break the ice before the tour started.
Lava Caving by the Blue Mountains
The following morning, our first stop was the Leidarendi lava cave. We were able to go beneath the earth's surface to discover how Iceland was created. We had to walk and then crawl through this cave that had been carved out by flowing volcanic lava, marvelling at the multi-coloured rock formations left in its path. Our guide made us all turn out our head torches so we were in pitch darkness!
Thingvellir National Park Visit
We moved on to the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, to see the tectonic faults created by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates shifting apart. One of the most-visited sights in Iceland, the park is an excellent spot for camping, hiking and even snorkelling between the tectonic plates!
Iceland is famous for its geothermic activity, so a trip to see a variety of geothermal pools and the Strokkur Geysir is recommended. It's lovely and warm when you are next to the steam... but also very smelly.
Gullfoss Waterfall Visit
One of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland, it completes the tourist circuit known as the Golden Circle. This massive cataract cascades over three “steps” before spilling into a large crevice. Fed by a glacier lake, the water passing through the falls can be dark grey, depending on how much sediment gets pushed through the river.
We arrived early evening at our beautiful guest house, situated in the middle of the countryside. There are friendly horses on site, as well as chickens and ravens, who feed on leftover food.
We were the only people staying there and it was very much all hands on deck for both the evening meals, with everybody taking turns to prepare the food or clear away afterward. Linus cooked a traditional Icelandic fish stew on the first night and the following evening, barbecued lamb in a pit outside.
On both evenings we went in search of the Northern Lights. We saw a great many stars but only a brief glimpse of the lights themselves.
One of my trip highlights was waking up and just taking in the 360 degree view from all sides from the guesthouse.
Hot Spring Hike Reykjadalur
On day three we hiked along the scenic Reykjadalur trail, along rolling hills and pools of bright blue water, steaming as we neared the hot springs. I was one of the brave ones who tried out one of these geothermal hot-tubs. Very relaxing until it was time to get back out into the cold!
Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike
On day four, Nathan insisted that we join the majority of the group on the optional glacier hike. So, equipped with crampons and an ice axe, we hiked through the dramatic glacier valley and along the black sand flood plains to the very edge of the ice. Here we enjoyed stunning, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Well, I say enjoy, but the weather was against us this day - very wet and windy. Top tip for visiting Iceland: come prepared for all weathers, as it can change so quickly.
Skógafoss Waterfall Visit
After drying off, we went to Skógafoss, one of the largest and most recognizable waterfalls in Iceland. We then travelled through more dramatic scenery, returning to Reykjavik for our last evening together. This involved a traditional restaurant and discussion of where our next G Adventure trip would take us.
Iceland was an amazing place to visit and I was surprised at how much we managed to do in such a short time. I'd like to return to explore more of the Island, and perhaps go back in the summer, to experience different scenery and travel further afield. Both my son and I really enjoyed travelling in a small group and taking part in the activities. Many of our fellow travellers have been on tours with G Adventures before and we all agreed that it's about the people you meet as well as the places you go to.
All G Adventures tours share a common love of adventure, but life-altering experiences come in a variety of flavours. This was a classic tour, but adventure travel does not always have to mean budget, hostel style accommodation. If you're looking for other options, G Adventures National Geographic Journeys offer greater hands-on exploration and insider access, all with upgraded accommodations and more inclusions than other G Adventures tours.