Perched on the edge of the Arctic, this wonderful little island contains some of the most impressive natural wonders in Europe. The continent’s biggest waterfalls thunder down with such force that the ground trembles under your feet; the barren highlands form Europe’s largest, loneliest desert; and the awesome ice cap Vatnajökull is the biggest outside the poles. Other spectacular phenomena include smoldering volcanoes, slow-flowing glaciers, extruding lava, gushing geysers, bubbling mud pots, soothing thermal pools and, in the darkness of winter, the magical northern lights.
Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is a hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity: 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries, and natural hot water supplies much of the population with inexpensive, pollution-free heating. Rivers, too, are harnessed to provide hydroelectric power.
Until about 20 years ago, Iceland’s fantastic scenery, friendly natives and eerily remote wilderness were a well-kept secret. Today the country is one of Europe’s hottest destinations. As well as having awe-inspiring nature, it boasts the compact capital Reykjavik, a city filled with Viking history and renowned for its high- energy nightlife and kaleidoscopic music scene.
If you have the time, indulge in a little horseback riding, white-water rafting, glacier walks, caving, whale watching, sea kayaking and a spot of elf hunting. That's right - elf hunting! Elves are nothing new to Icelanders who have told folk tales of "little people" since the time of the medieval sagas and have even today, had roads rerouted and building plans redesigned or abandoned to avoid disturbing rocks where elves are said to live.
Whale watching is a big here too. In the summer, Iceland is probably the best place in Europe to see minkes and humpbacks. The sea cliffs around the country are a paradise for birdwatchers, but even if you’re not a ‘twitcher’ you’ll be blown away by the sight of 20,000 puffins nesting on a cliff top. No matter if it snows, rains or blusters, or if you spend your whole visit basking in the sweetest spring sunshine, Iceland is a ravishingly beautiful place that you’ll long to return to.
Bolney Place, Cowfold Road
Bolney, West Sussex RH17 5QT
Tel: 01444 810399
South Business 65, Box 813
Hollister, Missouri 65673