Volcanoes and Northern Lights escorted tour in pictures
I was very lucky to be part of the first departure for our Volcanos and Northern Lights escorted tour this season. It is so difficult to choose a favourite part of the trip as everything in Iceland is just breathtaking. If I was pushed, I would say the best part of the trip for me was the day in the Highlands and Landmannalaugar in our impressive 8WD truck.
The Highlands & Landmannalaugur: my favourite day
I'd recommend the Icelandic Highlands to people looking to see a different side of Iceland without hoards of people, dramatic landscapes, craters, lakes, volcanoes and lava fields. Although we were in the bus most of the day, there are regular stops as you go – at least six stops during the day, including lunch, and to walk around. There isn't a loo on the bus, but Helga (our guide) always told us how long it would be till the next stop so no-one was caught short!
The highlands in the winter is like no place I've seen before. As we left Hotel Highlands on our journey, the black volcanic ash desserts where sprinkled with dustings of snow like one big Black Forest gateau. Lava rocks started to rule the terrain as we passed lava fields, where it felt like black was fighting with white. There were no other colours in the landscape, and no other life here either. It was just us and the silence, which was a really surreal experience.
We were breaking the way as we were the first group of tourists to be driving this route in the winter. The 8WD truck is brand new for this season, and even our local Icelandic driver has never been this way before. Out of all the thousands of tourists in Iceland at that moment it was just the twenty of us who were witnessing and experiencing this part of the country. That fact alone is awe inspiring.
As we headed deeper into the unknown, white started to win the battle against black as the landscape became covered in miles of virgin snow. We thundered on in our giant truck; nothing could stop us now! However even the biggest truck in Iceland has its battles with this great land. But we sputtered through snow drifts and passed into the valley of Landmannalaugar. Located just below the Sprengisandur route in the south of the Highlands, Landmannalaugar is very remote; you can't get there in a regular vehicle. Travelling in winter it was just us, one other Superjeep and a snowman around!
It's famous for its natural hot springs - the pool is completely natural and is part of a running river, but there are change rooms with basic toilet/shower facilities. From there it's a two minute dash in the snow to reach the pools. There are steps leading down into it, but as it's shallow you sort of lie/sit in it – if you stand up it would probably go just past your knees.
As it's running water, it isn't blue in colour like Iceland's most famous place to bathe in naturally hot water, the Blue Lagoon. There's no silica mud either. It's also much more off the beaten track than the Blue Lagoon – especially at this time of year; we were the only folks there when we visited. We were there for about 2.5 hours, which included lunch, a lovely walk into the valley and a swim in the pool.
What else did we see?
On our first day we visited the Golden Circle – Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir to see Strokkur erupt, and Thingvellir National Park.
Thorsmork, south coast & northern lights
Our second day in the truck was visiting the equally remote Thorsmork Valley. We went from Hotel Highland, fording rivers and traversing the terrain up to the foot of the glacier.
We also saw some of the most beautiful waterfalls on the south coast – including Seljalandsfoss
And were even treated to incredible displays of the northern lights
Before heading home, there was also time to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula, including the bubbling mud pools of Krysuvík and a walk across the bridge between two continents.
This was a truly fantastic trip and if you are a fan of 'off the beaten track' then this tour certainly takes that to the next level.
Take this trip
You can find more details about our Volcanoes & Northern Lights holiday here
Or browse our range of escorted tours in Iceland
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