In the early hours of the morning of Friday 20th October, 20 pupils alongside Miss Turner, Miss Cook and Mr Hopgood met at the Lower School ready to make the journey to Iceland. After nearly 10 hours worth of travel time, we headed straight to the renowned Blue Lagoon Spa ready for a well needed relax while taking in the gorgeous Icelandic scenery. After unwinding in the refreshingly hot water of the Lagoon, we boarded the coach once again and made our way to Reykjavik to settle in to our accommodation. Dinner at a local pizzeria and a walk to the city’s harbour in an attempt to see the northern lights made a great end to the first day of the trip.
Following the first night in the Reykjavik hostel, we were ready to discover more about the country we had just arrived in. The second day had a lot in store; a visit to the nearby geothermal power station (a very informative stop) and the Golden Circle Tour. We saw some of Iceland’s most renowned wonders; the Geysir Geothermal Area, the Gullfoss waterfall and Þingvellir National Park where you can visibly see the boundary between the two tectonic plates of which Iceland rests on. All of these sites were as spectacular as they were unique and did not disappoint!
Day three involved nearly six hours worth of driving so as to travel to the glacial region of Skaftafell for the South Shore Tour. Our first visit was to the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that recently erupted in 2010, where we met the owner of a farm that is situated at the volcano’s base. We then travelled to Skogafoss waterfall and were all amazed by its magnitude (60m in height) as well as the 370 steps we had to climb to reach the top! After some more travelling, we stopped at Sveitarfélagið Hornafjörður to marvel at the vast glaciers cascading through the mountainous valleys - a picture stop worth the journey. After that, we went to the glacial lagoon where we were met with cold, clear water, jet black sand and floating icebergs (some were crystal blue and others marbled with black streaks of volcanic ash that was trapped in the ice). We took a boat trip around the lagoon and had the chance to get even closer to huge icebergs and see seals that live in the lagoon all while having an educational talk by the guide on the boat trip with us. Once back on the shore, we travelled just up the road to one of the illustrious black beaches where we watched the powerful Arctic waves crash on the shore and wash up smaller glaciers and ice blocks - something quite indescribably beautiful.
The long journey wasn’t purely for sightseeing though - day four entailed a once-in-a-lifetime glacial hike. After gathering our crampons, ice picks and helmets, we were ready to tackle the giant of ice and ash. We walked, climbed, smashed up some ice and learned all about the glacier’s formation and movements - a very memorable and incredible experience. We then proceeded to our new accomodation of small two/three man cottages. After some ‘moving’ karaoke performances in the main building, we were ready to try and spot the northern lights, and with the help of our amazing tour guide, we did just that. Flashes of greens and whites could be seen across the sky, and although not quite like the pictures on the internet, they were still beautiful.
Our final full day of activities and sight-seeing in Iceland had in store the visit to the Thjorsardalur Valley. Far from the usual hubbub of crowds of tourists, the valley was just as peaceful and elegant as it was dramatic and wonderful. Clear blue streams and waterfalls cut through the earthy ground and greenery, and with glorious clear skies and sunshine, the valley did not disappoint. Added to this, we went to Iceland’s highest waterfall, Glymur. We stood over a deep v-shaped valley measuring 198m and watched the rushing water fall from this great height - it was just spectacular! As if the day hadn’t already been packed with yet more geographical wonders, we were lucky enough to see the northern lights for a second night in a row only this time even clearer and more colourful. What started off as just a faint grey haze in the sky turned into a bright white glow, then faint greens until finally the sky was ablaze with dancing bright greens and even purples and reds. A perfect end to an unbelievable trip!