Sixty Queen’s School geographers returned back from a highly memorable and enjoyable trip to Iceland.
Arriving into Keflavik airport gave the girls an overview of the vast wilderness that was to be home for a 6 day tour of the land of ‘Ice and Fire’.
After the flight, a long soak in the mineral rich waters of the blue lagoon hydro thermal pools (accompanied with silica face masks and falling snow) was just the remedy.
Iceland hosted us superbly well with plenty of snow and temperatures deserving of its name. Day one included driving through glacial, volcanic and fossil coastal landscapes as we visited columnar basalt cliffs and black sand beaches of the southern shores. The stunning waterfalls of Skogafoss and a meteorological challenging trip to the snout of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier were high points.
Day two allowed us to understand how within fifteen years the Icelandic economy transformed from being a net importer of fossil fuel to energy self sufficiency. Who would have thought of making a power station a thing of great architectural beauty as well as equipping it with an excellent visitor centre complete with earthquake simulator? We continued on the ‘golden circle’ taking in the Thingvellir National Park, home of the first parliament and tectonic rifting. Europe’s most impressive waterfall and completed the day experiencing the explosive hydrothermal activity at Geysir.
Day Three crammed in a visit to the Reykjanes Peninsular and the Gunnuhver geothermal springs and steam vents and the mesmerizing views looking over the North Atlantic Ocean. There was even time for a snowball or two in the eight meter wide no-man’s-land between the North American and Eurasian plates and a stop at an Icelandic supermarket. A walking tour of Reykjavik to the cathedral was an ideal way to build up a good appetite for the hotel buffet.
The evening activity was to be the highlight of the tour for many. A northern lights tour often ends, for many, with disappointment as the elusive Aurora Borealis requires the perfect celestial conditions. We were treated to a remarkable showing with the best seats in the house.
Our final full day was not as planned, as volcanic sediment from the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption blocked our passage from the ferry port to the island of Heimaey. We had instead more luck with a pod of killer whales in the waters off Reykjavik which is rare, even for local trawler men.
The girls were a credit to the school and deserved to be rewarded with the best that Iceland can offer.