I’m a huge fan of the famous HBO show, Game of Thrones. This award-winning show is based on the series of epic fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin entitled “A Song of Ice and Fire”. I’ve always wondered if there exists a place where such irony exists, a land where iciness meets warmth. Lo and behold, there is indeed a land where ice meets fire, and that country is called Iceland.
As I’ve read more about this magical place, I’ve discovered many things about Iceland. They have cheap and renewable energy, it is the world’s greenest country, and it is the homeland of Bjork (remember her? She’s the singer with the weird accent and the famous swan dress). I’ve also discovered that most of the scenes on the North of the Wall on Game of Thrones were shot here, where the King of the North Jon Snow met the wildling Ygritte and where the Wildlings camped amongst the icy surroundings.
But aside from these useful facts, there are so many places to explore around Iceland – from massive glaciers to volcanoes and lava fields. Here are the top six reasons why you should plan that Iceland excursions.
1. The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa filled with seawater coming from the nearby geothermal plant, and is believed to have healing and age-defying powers. This is one, if not, the most popular attraction in Iceland, where milky blue water is surrounded by dark lava. The warm waters are rich in silica and sulfur, and it is said that bathing here can help people suffering from skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. But since it is one of the most popular attractions here, you have to book weeks in advance prior to your visit.
2. Massive Icelandic Glaciers
Iceland is a glacier paradise, with 11% of the total land area covered by ice caps. But some of you may ask, “What the heck are glaciers?” Glaciers are huge rivers of ice and form only in places where fresh snow never fully melt. It compresses and transforms into dense ice as it builds up on mountain tops or highlands. The largest glacier in Iceland is Vatnajökull and is known as the “water glacier”. You can go glacier hiking and climbing, skiing or snowmobiling in these places.
3. Great Geysers
Ok, this piece is becoming a science journal, now you’re probably asking me “What is a geyser?” Well, a geyser is a spring wherein water is emitted out into the air coming from a crater. They can only be seen near active volcanic areas, where the geyser effect is due to the proximity of magma – thus, these formations exist only on a few places on Earth. Iceland is home to some of the most popular and most impressive geysers and the Great Geysir is one of them. This amazing geyser can shoot boiling water up to 70 meters in the air. Imagine hot boiling water spewed by craters underneath, makes up for one thrilling sci-fi flick.
4. Exciting Volcanoes
Have you ever wondered what volcanoes look like on the inside? In Iceland, you can even go inside a live one. This is the only volcano in the world where you can actually go inside. You can descend through the top crater of the Thrihnukagigur volcano to the bottom of the magma chamber, where you could see vivid red, burnt orange and golden yellow rocks. The bottom of the cave is about the size of a football field and there are number of tunnels you can check out. No need to worry though as it has been dormant for 4000 years.
5. The Northern Lights
Remember Piolo Pascual’s movie titled the same? No? Well that movie is actually set in Alaska, but if you’ve seen the movie, you’ve also watched the scene where Piolo made lovey-lovey with someone under the Northern Lights. Ok enough talk about Papa P and more about the Northern Lights. Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are shafts or curtains of colored light visible on occasion in the night sky. It is a result of collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Iceland is lucky to have eight months of this atmospheric wonder, usually from early September to the end of April – anytime in these months you are likely to see some aurora activity.
6. Mesmerizing Waterfalls
Iceland has lots of waterfalls, 10,000 of them actually all over the country. They have some of the most picturesque waterfalls, the most famous being Gullfoss (or Golden Waterfall), and belongs to the famous “Golden Circle” which is a popular tourist trail in the country. As you approach the falls, the edge is obscured from view so it seems that the river vanishes from the Earth.
If this list doesn’t make you want to save up and go to Iceland, I don’t know what will. The thought alone of visiting the place where Jon Snow camped makes me want to rush to this place.