Arturo’s favourite experiences in Iceland
I recently travelled to Iceland to explore this incredible country. Home to geysers, volcanoes, geothermal lagoons, spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking scenery, Europe’s most sparsely populated country is an amazing destination, particularly for nature lovers. We can suggest the best places to stay, from luxury lodges to private houses, and arrange a wonderful adventure for you here. Although there is so much to do, these were three of my favourite experiences:
We had to get up very early in the morning because it was going to be a long day. While we were having our breakfast, we observed the capricious Icelandic weather: sun, rain, hail, strong winds and snow. It was extraordinary to have all of these in just a few hours – but, I supposed, this is Iceland.
We were driven to Vík í MÃ½rdal, a remote seafront village on the south coast that is one of the main bases for ice-caving adventures. We hopped into super-jeeps with gigantic wheels – the only vehicles that can cope with the ice and bumpy terrain. While on the road, our private guide told us about the volcanic activity of the island, which is quite remarkable. There are about 130 volcanoes in Iceland, both active and inactive, and eruptions happen regularly. The last one to do so was Katla (meaning ‘kettle’) in 2017.
Soon, we drove onto the glacier. After one hour on the ice, our vehicle stopped in a completely silent and white landscape. This spot was used as a location for one of the Star Wars films and Game of Thrones, and it was awe-inspiring. Our guide asked us to put on our crampons and helmet, and we set off on foot. We walked for around 10 minutes before climbing up a wooden ladder into a natural ice cave with layers of sparkling, bluish white ice over black volcanic ash. It was absolutely spectacular, and we felt exhilarated to be there.
Ice caves are winter phenomena and can only be visited between November and March. You need to be reasonably fit to go to this ice cave, but it is well worth the effort to witness to see these majestic ice formations first-hand. We, at cazenove+loyd, can secure private access to the cave and set up a very special lunch here. You will be given extra clothes to keep you warm, feast on delicious food prepared by your own chef and sip Brennivin, Iceland’s signature spirit, from ice glasses. I would recommend this amazing experience to anyone.
Seeing Gullfoss Waterfall
It was 9am when we left the hotel to discover one of the top sights in this small country. Gullfoss (or ‘Golden Falls’) are located in the so-called Golden Circle (a route that covers most of the important attractions in the south-east of the country).
The power and sound of the water are overwhelming and the magnitude of the falls is so impressive. The vantage point is only a few minutes’ walk from the car park and, from here, it feels as if you are seeing the cascade from the sky. If you’re looking for something really memorable, it is possible to soar above Gulfoss in a helicopter.
My best tips here are to arrive early to avoid the crowds and to see the waterfall from all angles because they are just mesmerising. Your private guide will know all the best viewing spots and most will leave up to two hours to do it justice. We can even arrange fantastic picnics here in the summer.
Meeting Icelandic horses
I loved spending some time at an Icelandic horse farm. These pony-sized horses are the gentlest and kindest that I have ever met. They are beautiful, soft and very unique: the breed is unusually pure because the Vikings banned all imports of foreign horses over a thousand years ago. They have been bred to be hardy and docile, which is ideal for the tough Icelandic climate. They also have an unusual, quick gait known as tÃ¶lt. Today, it is possible to export horses but they are still not allowed to return.
We can organise farm visits, horseback rides and hikes in different areas of the country, or you can just meet these delightful horses and watch a demonstration of their skills.