Wednesday, April 2

Nature at its best

Finally, a series of posts on our adventures in Iceland. Do come back and revisit these posts as I'll be updating them with appropriate photos at a future date. This post covers off the events of our first day in Iceland - then scroll down to read about subsequent days...

We reached our hotel shortly after midnight following an uneventful flight to Keflavik, Iceland’s main international airport. The airport is some distance from the capital, Reykjavik – at least 48 km west. Given this distance and our late arrival I had booked us into the Northern Lights Inn, a simple bungalow-style hotel located about 12kms from the airport. The hotel also offered a free shuttle service, making the late night transfer quick and simple.

Complimentary breakfast the next morning was offered in sunlit atrium. We dined while overlooking jagged lava fields and snaking pipes feeding searing hot water to the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. In the distance steam could be seen rising from the island’s famous Blue Lagoon, a bathing complex filled with hot milky blue geothermal water. The hotel also supplied a free shuttle back to the airport for us to collect our rental car, and towels for to use at the lagoon itself.

We decided to take a leisurely drive along the southern coast toward a hotel we’d booked for our second night – about 120 km east of Reykjavik. Our first stop was Bláa Lóniõ, as the Blue Lagoon is called in Icelandic. The complex itself is nestled in amongst barren mounds of purple-grey lava. You reach it by walking along a meandering path laid in trench dug through the lava itself.

The water is kept at a constant 38C making a cosy, relaxing respite from the cold, local climate. Buckets of pure, creamy white silica mud can be found around the bathing lagoon. Guests are encouraged to smear on the mud for a refreshing spa experience. We gave it a go. Our skin was left tingling with fresh exfoliation.

From here we made our way to the coast, experiencing the first of many stunning scenic moments. Before us the bold southern coast stretched out into the misty distance, rugged, snow-capped and wonderfully desolate. We one point we drove down to the shore to witness Atlantic waves sweeping across a gravel beach at Selatanger.

The road then wound inland towards a series of frozen lakes. We stopped briefly to enjoy a remote, one-room wooden chapel perched on a hill overlooking a vast, snowy plain. Its simple red roof stood in stark relief against the blue skyline. Garry commented that it was probably the first time he’d ever been to church on Good Friday.

We stopped for lunch on a deserted bluff looking out across Kleifarvatn, a dramatic lake filling a barren volcanic fissure. Ice on the lake shore had begun to crack, creating the most stunning picnic vista I can ever recall. As sunlight glinted off the ice as we quietly communed with nature. Our next scenic stop was Urridafoss, powerful waterfall just south of Iceland’s island-circling main ring road. Here a mighty, roaring 360cu metre of water flows per second, tumbling over a short 6 metre drop.

We based ourselves for two nights at Hotel Ranga, a luxurious log cabin hotel set in an isolated rural location. The hotel boasted a classy restaurant, outdoor hot tubs and a cosy loft bar. Each morning we woke to a back drop of snow-capped mountains and sunlight glinting off the nearby river.

Click here for more Iceland adventures.

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