Do you have as many questions as me on this first trip to Iceland? Mine begins alone and in winter, with dozens of roads closed and with many doubts of what I will find. Do we investigate?
Iceland in 20 questions / answers to know it in detail
1. Where is Iceland and why does it belong to the Nordic countries?
Iceland is a "lost" country in the northwestern tip of Europe near Greenland. His first human settlement in Iceland dates back to 874 although other Vikings passed through here before. Due to its historical roots, it is considered a Nordic country next to Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway (not to be confused with Scandinavians that refer to the Scandinavian peninsula and where only Sweden, Norway and Denmark are included although they call themselves the " most southern Scandinavians "and many historians consider them all Scandinavians too)
2. Story for "dummies". From the fugitive Vikings to the 2008 crisis
Surely if you decide to travel to Iceland you will take a good guide that explains much more about the history of this country but if you have come here you will ask ... What leads some "crazy" to settle in a volcanic country so inhospitable that it remained depopulated until the nineteenth century? Although it is said that the Irish monks were the first to create settlements, history tells of that nineteenth century when a Norwegian first stepped on Iceland, remained and returned "from the land of snow". From there they began to settle and even Erik El Rojo, before arriving in Greenland, would take refuge here as an outlaw. Norwegians and Danes, allied occupations and times of famine take us until 1944 and their independence. Did you know that Iceland is one of the few countries (but almost unique) that judged bankers and politicians who introduced them to the 2008 crisis?
3. Is it true that there is almost 9 times more population in Galicia than in all of Iceland?
Yes, and not only that, it is believed that 320,000 inhabitants belong to the same family to some extent being the only country in the world that preserves the family tree of all its inhabitants but also one of the most educated populations (with more readers of books read a year), with great musical diversity, perfect command of English, ... Can you imagine having to go out to flirt at night with an APP that tells you if you " half orange "is close family? Well, there is!
4. You tell me about the trolls, elves and other "species" of the country
Well, let's say the Icelanders believe in them and when you tell them it's a lie, if they've seen any, they answer you “And have you seen your God to believe in him?"The 13 yules, the monster of Fífusstaðir, elves, goblins or legends of trolls they are many of the "folk tales" that you will find in the country of fire and ice. Without a doubt, a good book of all its stories should not be missing in your library.
5. Odin, Erik, Thor ... What a fuss !, right?
Writing about it for us would be impossible since Norse mythology requires several extra volumes in the library that you started with the stories of "mystical beings." Simplistically, the Vikings speak of Asgard as the world of their gods, Midgard as our world and a rainbow of fire guarded by Heimdall, their god, between them. Odin is the god of the gods and his son Balder our Jesus Christ although Thor was the noblest god seems to be. And Erik the red one? A "simple" Viking, great explorer, discoverer of Greenland (and therefore America) when he was kicked out of Iceland. And Leif? Erik's son, Leif Eriksson founded the first settlement of the great Greenlandic island.
6. Why should I travel to Iceland? What's so special?
Because your body asks for it and because there are already more than 1,700,000 visitors a year who are attracted to its charms. Imagine a land where there is highest concentration of volcanoes in the world (more than 200, many assets), more than 600 geysers, with a completely uninhabited and inhospitable interior to live but also a quarter of the island always with vegetation, with 7,000 km2 covered by glaciers where is the second largest in Europe occupying 13% of the country and where all the energy is nourished by renewables. What does your imagination see? Something similar to the following?
It is also special because you will feel that you walk through the two parts of the planet at the same time as the fault that separates (or unites) the Eurasian and North American continental plate
7. But ... is it a safe country?
Insurance? The average number of crimes in Iceland is 1 every 6 or 8 years and neither has an army, nor an army nor air forces. For what? Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world according to the Institute for the Economy and Peace. Of course, another thing is to talk about natural "incidents"
8. What is happening with tourism in Iceland? The boom since 2008
Those who have traveled to Iceland even before 2015 will talk about unadulterated natural wonders, one of the best places on the planet to enjoy unusual landscapes. However, Iceland "suffers" one of the largest growth in tourism on the planet, having gone from the traveler who was looking for hiking, trekking, geological experiences and adventure with just about 200,000 people in 2008 with the crisis and devaluation of the currency to 1,700,000 visitors in 2016 and is expected to reach 2,000,000 soon. This, together with the fact that the Icelanders are a bit "Spanish" and do not have a national tourism plan (also for health and other things), makes the growth very improvised and there are cases of having a reservation and others coming more empowered tourists and pay double if you have not yet arrived and lose your reservation (be careful, they are exceptions). What does this imply? What can happen with a mass tourism on an island that is sold abroad as an inhospitable and virgin place? Time will tell, so better travel before.
9. So, better summer or seasonally adjust my trip to Iceland?
The summer of 2017 will be a litmus test for Iceland. From 1 airline (Icelandair) it has been passed to 16 airlines and 80 destinations operating in the country and an expansion of the airport but without planning to create another in the north that would make tourism flow to other parts of the island.If you go in summer, touring the circular and exploring the northern areas, the East and West fjords, can be a great complement if you are looking for authenticity. If you dare with the interior or strips of specialized agencies ... the trip can be unique!
The Another option is to seasonally adjust the trip and look for winter or spring / autumn, with less influx of people, where visiting the southern area may still be possible with some comfort. Here the auroras are the other great incentive
10. I have no idea where to start, can you explain a little more about the areas that can be seen?
Landsvæðun, Höfuðborgarsvæði, Suðurnes, Vesturland, Vestfirðir, Norðurland, Norðurland and Austurland! Take it now! You already have Iceland divided
11. You've left me the same, could you break it down a little more?
Iceland, in the eyes of a traveler or tourist, is usually mentally visualized by its main attractions and its way of traveling. There are several main circular roads that can be used throughout the year and that make up the main route. There is also the so-called Kjölur route which is the only interior that can be done with a car other than 4x4. From there the rest are for the most daring and only from May or June.
The main attractions counterclockwise and by areas They are as follows:
International Airport of Keflavík, Blue Lagoon and Reyjkjavik
Gold circle (P.N.Thingvellir and its waterfalls Öxarárfoss, Gullfoss, Haifoss or Urridafoss, Geysir's geyser, diving in the Silfra crack)
Trekking toLandmannalaugar, a classic to a unique region in the world of lava fields, rhyolite mountains, hot springs and landscapes near the river Laugalækur
Skógar and Vík surroundings with the Glufrafoss, Seljalandsfoss or Skógafoss waterfalls, Eyjafjallajokull, Sólheimajokull glacier tongue, Dyrholaey or the Kirkjubæjarklaustur area where in addition to the Laki volcanic area or Eldgjá craters, the Fjaðrárgljúfu canyon stands out especially
P.N. Skateftafell with the spectacular Vatnajokull glacier, the Svartifoss waterfall, the Kristinartindar day trekking and the nearby Jokulsárlón glacier lake
Fishing Village of Hofn
The Eastern fjords, starting with Egilsstaðir, Djuplvogur and the fishing village where the first Norwegians arrived in Seydisfjordur
Diamond Circle (Askja volcanic complex, Myvant thermal lake, Viti lake-crater, Namafjall fumarole, Selfoss waterfalls, Godafoss, Dettifoss, Asbyrgi Canyon and the curious volcanic formations of the Dark Castles and Cliffs of the Murmurs)
The whaling population of Husavík or the fishing port ofAkureyri
The scenic skagastrond peninsula and the population of Blonduós
The wild and isolated region of western fjords in Vestfirdir as Ísafjördur. Although they say the eastern ones are nicer, this is a good area to see puffins
Route of Kjölur
Snaefellness Peninsula dominated by the P.N. Snaefellsjokull where you can see the most photographed volcano Kirkjuffel, Snaefell mountain, cliffs ofArnastapi or black sand beaches with wrecks of Djupalonssandur or eastward lava fields of Husafell
Of course there are many more places to include in your route (if you want to spend more days) but those are the essentials that should not be missing in any of your trips.
12. What does it mean that there are inland roads that cannot be used?
To the ingredient that the interior is inhospitable and depopulated and that the interior roads require 4x4 and only in summer, add that in winter they remain completely closed and maintenance free. In autumn or spring you have to go carefully and check their status inwww.road.is or do it with specialized agencies
13. But then, does Iceland's climate make it uninhabitable all year?
No, Can we explain why? It turns out that the temperate Gulf sea current makes Iceland have a much milder weather than we might think initially, especially in winter, a time that many compare with that of Germany or another country in Central Europe.
14. How different is summer and winter?
Yes! He Midnight sun gives way to the northern lights (! YES! BOREAL AURORAS! You can see the prediction in the Iceland's meteorological office), the possibility of finding overcrowding in the main attractions of the south disappears, the snow gives white landscapes but in summer the green leaves a beautiful island. Whale watching, other cetaceans and puffins become an attraction from June but seeing frozen waterfalls or a collapsed glacial lake of “cubes” in winter compensate for the cold.
15. Alone or in a group? By car or with agency?
Quiet still! We are going very fast, right? Iceland gives for 10 different trips and 100 different emotional states. It has nothing to do with going in summer, in the midnight sun months (4 months a year), with winter with much less people and less crowded landscapes. It also has nothing to do with going only in summer that you even dare to go free with the harsh winter where the central roads of the island close or make a circular route with some expeditions inside with specialized agency such as Polar Lands which is the one that has won me for this type of solo travel including explorations of glacial tongues with crampons, snowshoe activities, expeditions in lava or ice caves, ... Which one do you fancy?
16. What kind of wildlife can be seen in Iceland?
Sheep (many, twice as many people), horses (beautiful although pony type with more than 1000 years), reindeer, puffins, hundreds of different birds (ducks, seagulls, gannets, cormorants, ...), cetaceans of all kinds, whales (It is said that there are 23 types of whales in its waters) and ... arctic foxes like the one we saw in Svalbard. While the rest of the land are imported, the latter already existed when the first settlers arrived.
17. And which one will I not see even if I spend the rest of my life there?
You will not see penguins (We still have not explained why there are no polar bears in the south or penguins in the north except for rare exceptions?) But, the most curious thing is that You won't see ants either. Incredible true?
18. I have read that there are no mosquitoes in Iceland ... LIE!
When I started researching Iceland, I read among his curiosities that, together with the Faroe Islands and Antarctica, it was the only territory in the world without mosquitoes. Well, don't believe anything because it's not true. While in the south you can find them (even in spring) small and harmless, in the north zone and in summer you will see! clouds of them !! Knowing how close the greenland fjords where millions reproduce (and where you had to bring mosquito net) I miss reading this. Then enter the area of Lake Mývatn, the lake of the "dwarf flies" (literal translation) and tell us ...
19. I have read that in the lodgings I can take a hot bath under the Icelandic night ... TRUTH!
In many farms or cabins in Iceland where you can stay there are so-called "hot pots" that are outdoor hot tubs at temperatures between 35ºC-40ºC that are ideal for any time of the year. And that doesn't consume much? You will be surprised to know that Iceland is totally self-sufficient and bets on clean energy since it has hydroelectric and geothermal energy like no country in the world. Thanks to the latter it is harder to have cold water than hot, haha
20. Can you give me some tips, information, descriptions, ... to travel to Iceland?
Yes, but I will update this article in the future for it when I have visited the country in more times. My first foray is very humble and has no practical purposes but if you bring a nice story with some of the essentials of Iceland in winter and spring in its southern area. What do you think? What you will have is a list of alternative tips to enjoy Iceland like no other (try the best yogurts in the country? Or the best declared dogs in the world? Do you want to know stories that the guides do not tell? Use the internet since you land ? The best beers? Try the fermented shark? And the liquor of the country?) And you already have "Travel to Iceland in a week (ideas and preparations)"
Everything and much more in alternative advice to travel to Iceland (beyond visits) in the next few days. Do youWe also venture into the stories of Iceland? (The photos that are not ours belong to the image bank of Shuttershock.com to which we are subscribed)
Isaac, at the gates of a territory called Iceland