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Fish Skin for Human Wounds

Iceland’s Pioneering Fish Skin Treatment For Human Wounds

Iceland’s Pioneering Fish Skin Treatment For Human Wounds

Text by Sonia Nicolson

These FDA-approved skin substitute reduces a patients inflammation and can transform chronic wounds into acute injuries using a simple solution; fish skins.

Amputations can be the result of trauma or an aggressive disease but a lot are caused by injuries that fail to heal; chronic wounds. This can be the result of the patient having diabetes. Diabetes is on the rise with 1 in 11 Americans suffering, and this is set to rise to 1:4 by 2050. Iceland has an exceedingly low rate of diabetes for a developed country. Genetic factors, and a higher percentage of A2 milk consumption (A2 beta-casein is the dominant form of casein protein found in a cows milk) are possible explanations for this low rate. Diabetes is when a person has high blood sugar levels and this can cause nerve damage and poor circulation meaning the body finds it harder to heal wounds. If wounds become infected, this can lead to amputation.

Current Treatment For Wounds

Wounds are currently treated with skin from animals; pigs (or human cadaver, corpuses) but both can risk infections or transfer of other diseases.

“I was interested in finding a source of material that is as similar to human skin as possible and the surprising thing is that cod fish skin is much more similar to human skin than for example pig skin” said Fertram Sigurjonsson, Chemist and CEO, Founder of Kerecis Ltd.

Gone Fishing

Iceland has worked with fish leather for a long time. “My grandfather’s first shoes were the skin of a catfish,” Sigurjonsson says, and instead of kilometers, Icelanders used old worn out fish shoes to mark distance.

“My first memories are of fish,” Sigurjonsson says, poking at a machine he designed to help dry out the skin. Like many men here in Iceland he spent his summers working in processing plants, cleaning the catch or driving forklifts. After graduating from the Technical University of Denmark with a Degree in Innovation and Product Management, he started working at prosthetics maker Ossur, where he saw many amputee patients with replacement limbs developing chronic wounds. An impromptu move to New Zealand where he was running business development for Keratech, who dressed wounds with sheep wool, got him thinking about substitute natural materials. When he returned to Iceland, he started researching the idea of using fish skins in wound dressing.

Fertram Sigurjonsson has spent his career treating chronic wounds and is turning cod skins into medical products. The Kerecis Ltd manufacturing facility, located in the fishing town of Isafjord which is 30 miles from the polar circle, mainly fishes for cod. Using a 583-ton trawler on a 3 day fishing trip as an example “If you take all the skins from that trawler…we would be able to treat one in five wounds in the world.” says Fertram Sigurjonsson

Today, trucks haul the fish to a commercial processing facility in Isafjordur. The fish land on a conveyor belt, where they get filleted and skinned. The meat is sold as food and, twice a week, Kerecis employees come to collect skins of the right size, age, and species.

Fish Skin for Human Wounds

Photo by Rebecca Scheinberg

Descaling And Cleansing

The cod is taken to a processing plant where Kerecis collect the skins and examine them for flaws such as holes, tears, traces of blood and parasites. When the best fish skins are collected, the team start the process of transforming them into medical grafts.

The first step is to remove the scales from the material. The skins are then put into a solution which gently removes cells. “You need to get the mucus away, but we didn’t want to use harsh chemicals or wash away the fats or elastin,” Sigurjonsson says, referring to the protein that makes skin flexible. The clean skins are then moved into a decontaminated room where a dehydrator begins the two day process of dehydrating them, whilst preserving the important 3D structural built up of the material. This structural build up is vital to the healing process. The skin is then cut into squares and sterilised for use in bandaging.

Testing The Skins

Dr John Lantis, the Chief of Vascular and Endovascular surgery, and a Kerecis adviser, has been using Kerecis products at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on his patients.

The cell structure of these Kerecis fish skins recruit the patents bodies own cells to form healthy tissue. The fish skin acts as a structure around which healthy cells can grow and gradually incorporate into the closing wound. It is not known why fish skin works so well but when comparing the use pig skin verses fish skin, the fish skin grafts close the patents wounds significantly faster.

The materials in fish skin yield natural anti-inflammatory effects, especially omega-3 fatty acids, that speed up healing. When placed on wounds, the fish grafts work as an extracellular matrix; a group of proteins and starches that plays a crucial role in a patients recovery. In a healthy person, a matrix surrounds cells and binds them to tissue which generated the growth of new epidermis. But this natural structure fails to form in chronic wounds. Much like a garden trellis, the fish skin grafts provide the body’s own cells with a structure to grow around so they can form healthy tissue, gradually becoming incorporated into the closing wound.

In the first three months of 2017, Kerecis sold as much product as they sold in 2016.

Iceland’s Pioneering Treatment

Photo by Rebecca Scheinberg

Use In The US Army

Kerecis are having huge growth, with Doctors working on diabetic patients and also the significant investment from the US Military. On the battle field, these fish skin grafts can be applied immediately to a burn wound to serve as a cover and protect the wound, reducing pain and is an antimicrobial.

Icelandic Fish

The fish in the waters surrounding Iceland have given a lot of sustenance and wealth to the Icelanders. Fish skins were once a byproduct, fed to farm animals, but they are now considered to be the most valuable part of the fish, with Kerecis products costing up to a thousand dollars. At that point, Sigurjonsson says, “one gram of fish skin is worth more than a gram of gold.”


Geothermal Energy

CarbFix, Icelands Power Plants Are Turning CO2 into Stone

CarbFix, Icelands Power Plants Are Turning CO2 Into Stone

Text by Sonia Nicolson

100% of Iceland’s electricity needs are generated from renewable sources, including geothermal energy. The landscape under Icelands crust is powering geothermal plants all over the country.

While other power stations, wether using Nuclear, coal or gas, would need fuel to heat up the water to produce steam, in Iceland they can take the steam directly from the ground. Geothermal activity underground here in Iceland is being used on a larger scale as it has the capacity to supply all of the countries domestic electricity. By adding geothermal to the already advanced hydro capacity, Iceland has become world leaders in renewable energy.

With the aim of cutting emissions even further, a unique carbon capture system called CarbFix is being pioneered at the Hellsheidi geothermal power plant in western Iceland. 

How Does A Geothermal Plant Work?

In short, a geothermal plant drills a hole into the ground at a depth of around 2-3 kilometres, where the steam is over pressurised so it comes by its own pressure through the production wells. The power plant can then collect the steam at the surface and there they produce power.

The geothermal plants here in Icelands only use a very small amount of the heat generated in the earth everyday so amazingly, there is enough heat in the earths crust for millions of years to come.

How To Turning CO2 Into Stone?

Carbon dioxide emissions are captured, mixed with water and re-injected back into the ground. Through this process, the CO2 is transformed into a mineral called Calcite. The process takes just six months. This solid form of CO2 storage is seen as one of the most effective ways of preventing the gas from entering the atmosphere.

Iceland To Work With The UK

The potential of this heat and steam is so big that plans to help supply other countries, such as the UK, with geothermal energy from Iceland have been discussed.

Hellsheidi geothermal power plant

Photo by MindsGrid

The Downsides Of The Process

It might be fully renewable but there is a downside. In the process of accessing the steam, naturally occurring gases like carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide are also brought to the surface. The emissions are absolutely minimal when compared to the more conventional coal or gas power station however there are still some emissions to deal with.

What Is CarbFix And How Does It Work?

CarbFix is a new aspect in the development of geothermal technology where any pollutants emitted from the power plant are captured and sealed underground in the form of rock.

“We want to do our part in trying to solve this problem of the increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere,” says Ingvi Gunnarsson, a geochemist at CarbFix.

Iceland is doing their part in trying to solve the increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere with CarbFix, a new project which aims to capture the CO2 from the power plant and re-inject it back into the ground.

The Re-injection Labs

The gas immersions are transported from the main energy plant via pipes to geometric pods where they are re-injected into the ground. Once they have produced electricity, the Engineers at the plant needed to find a solution to dispose of the left over water and gas, which would be released into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

“What comes from the power plant once we’ve produced electricity is hot water and gas. We need to dispose of that somehow. If we would not be capturing it, it would be released into the atmosphere.”

Geothermal Energy

Photo by Teratornis

Turning Air Pollution Into Rock

Re-injecting this waste water and gas into the ground enables the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphite to permeate the volcanic basaltic rock and transforms it into stone. Water flows through the rock, fixing the CO2. The build up of this new rock is full of cavities, these pores are filled up with carbon minerals.

The CarbFix project replicates the natural process of weathering but instead of taking hundreds or thousands of years to turn into stone, CarbFix achieves it in just six months.

Testing The Theory, Proving It Works

To test this, Engineers sample the gases which they condense into liquid. It is a vital part in the project to demonstrate that the CO2 is being mineralised in the ground. The liquid can then be taken to a lab back in Reykjavik to be analysed for its CO2 and H2S levels. If the re-injected gases have successfully turned into stone then the sample should only contain the naturally occurring background levels of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide.

What the Engineers hope to see when testing the liquid is that the CO2 levels in the steam do not raise above the background levels. When the levels are about the same as the natural occurring levels, the gases have turned to stone. This is a great approach to lower gas emissions.

Future Potential For The Project

This new process is not necessarily locked to just geothermal energy. Engineers report that if you have a relatively pure stream of CO2, which you can capture and dissolve in water, then you can in theory take that water and re-inject it back into the ground, as long as there is favourable rock composition in the area. Approximately 5% of the continents on earth are basalt, and the ocean, so more countries, companies and industries should be working this way. The potential is there to help our atmosphere and reduce climate change too.


3D Crossing

Optical Illusion Crossing in Iceland

Optical Illusion Crossing in Iceland

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Traffic accidents in Iceland

According to the Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA), there were fewer fatal and serious traffic accidents across Iceland in the first ten months of 2017 than during the same period in recent years. There was a 21% decrease in serious injuries or fatalities caused by traffic accidents in Iceland between 2016 and 2017. 157 serious injuries or fatalities in the first ten months of 2017, and a significantly higher 204 within the same period of 2016.

Welcome Developments

ICETRA Public Relations Manager, Þórhildur Elínardóttir says the decrease is a welcome development and a result of changes that began in 2013. The main improvements have been in the education of young drivers with a more comprehensive training program and prevention efforts helping new drivers drive safely and be more aware of potential dangers.

Despite the rise in tourist numbers, accidents involving foreign drivers has reduced. However, accidents involving cyclists have increased and was estimated at 150 accident in 2017. With new efforts to improve driving education, awareness of potential hazards and other methods to prevent accidents, Iceland is taking to new projects to curb their fatal and serious traffic accident numbers.

Street Art Ísafjörður

Ísafjörður, the small fishing town in Icelands Westfjords, is the latest destination to introduce an ingenious way to slow drivers down when approaching a pedestrian crossing. This 3D artwork creates a clever floating zebra crossing which is painted on the road and gives the illusion that the white stripes are floating above the ground and obstructing the road.

3D Crossing

Photo by MotoringSearch

Controlling Speed

The town of Ísafjörður has the standard speed limit of 30 kmh (18.6 mph) set but residents felt this was still simply too fast. The streets are narrow in this small village and residents wanted to find a way to slow motorists down further. The local council met to discuss ideas. Ralf Trylla, the Icelandic Environmental Commissioner was inspired when he came across a similar optical illusion drawn in New Delhi, India.

Painted Optical Illusion Crosswalk

This street painting project was led by Gautur Ívar Halldórsson, the manager of Vegmálun GÍH, a road painting company which created the crosswalk located in Ísafjörður in northwest Iceland.

Self taught, Gautur Ívar and Ralf Trylla practiced their 3D painting skills whilst waiting the few weeks it took for all necessary permits from the Transport Authority and Police to come through so work could start. From above, the white lines look like columns but as you approach them at street level you see the optical illusion come to life and they appear to be hovering.

Drivers and Pedestrians

This creative design gives the impression that the pedestrians crossing the road are walking on air. The idea is that drivers approaching the crossing will see the 3D artwork and think it looks like there is an obstacle in the road, and will therefore slow down. The aim is to make drivers lower their speed to reduce the risk of accidents in this pedestrian area.

The Inspiration

Crossing like this one are popping up across the globe in India, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan and China, but this form of street art is not the only unusual method being used to slow down traffic for pedestrian crossings. In Russia, road safety experts used a very unsubtle method of employing topless women to hold speed limit signs in an aim to get drivers to slow down – perhaps not the best method to try here in Iceland.

In the UK there is discussion of scrapping speed bumps as part of the government’s dramatic plans to curb pollution. It emerged that these publicly hated humps are not only stressful but bad for the environment as slowing down to cross them actually causes a higher level of nitrogen dioxide and so pollutes the atmosphere.

3D Crossing

Photo by BoredPanda

Delhi’s First 3D Zebra Crossing

New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) newly installed crossing, painted at central Delhi’s Rajaji Marg, has helped reduce the average speed on this section of road down to 30 km per hour. “The new 3D zebra crossing has become a sight of amusement for commuters. Cars inevitably slow down and there is also excitement among pedestrians to use it,” said a senior traffic official.

This black and yellow crossing, painted as a trial project, had the aim to help make the city roads safer. New Delhi officials are now discussing more 3D pedestrian crossings to be created across the city to help make roads safer. “We did not know how people would respond to such 3D pedestrian ways, but the response is overwhelming. Our aim is to make the NDMC area a people-friendly space and such measures will ensure safety for pedestrians as well as drivers,” said Naresh Kumar, NDMC chairperson.

The average speed on this section of road is 50km/hr however the wide and well maintained roads make for the ideal place for drivers to speed through. Traffic officials have now monitored the crossing and an average speed of 30km/hr was recorded. “If you are driving, from a distance the crossing looks like the road has been dug up or is elevated, this automatically makes the driver slow down. During the day you will see pedestrians hopping through the painted blocks,” the official said.

It took Yogesh Saini, founder of Delhi Street Art, 3 days to paint the crossing in collaborated with NDMC. He said, “The entire crossing was painted in the morning during rush hour.”

A senior NDMC official said that five other locations have been identified where the crossing will come up in the coming months. “Instead of repainting the zebra crossings in black and white, we will replicate the 3D design,” the official.

Photo by Conor Lawless

Traffic on Ring Road One

Traffic on Icelands Ring Road is usually at its heaviest in July but it reached a record high last year, said the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (IRCA), with a record of 108,000 vehicles passing the 16 IRCA counters on the Ring Road daily. This number has increased over the past decade from 82,000 vehicles, meaning an increase of around 30% since 2007.

However, the increase in traffic between years is slowing down with an increased of only 7.3% in July 2017 compared to the pervious year. The greatest increase in traffic is in the north of Iceland with around 12% more visiters, and the South Coast is experiencing a growth of around 3.8%. Indications are that traffic between 2016 and 2017 increased 9% overall, which is a smaller increase than in the previous year.

The Future for Roads in Iceland

The local council has not decided if it will implement more 3D crosswalks like this one in Ísafjörður, but if the experiment proves successful more may follow.


Rye Bread

Iceland Rye Bread Baked by the Bubbling Geysirs

Iceland Rye Bread Baked by the Bubbling Geysirs

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Working with the Land

Iceland offers an incredibly unique landscape of lava, moss, glaciers, volcanos and active land, with bubbling hot springs breaking through rifts in the earth. Its incredible to live alongside this magnificent natural force, fire and ice. The Icelanders relationship with the natural world goes beyond mere resilience but reaches into the realm of harmony. The Icelanders have made this island and its formidable elements work for them, you can see this in one rather unsuspecting source, the Icelandic Rye Bread.

Rye Bread, known in Icelandic as Rugbraud, is a delicious Icelandic bread traditionally baked in the ground. The ground is heated by bubbling Geysir bubbling in the pebbled sand of the Laugavautn shoreline.

Geyser, Geysir

The English word geyser, with refers to a periodically spouting hot spring, derives from Geysir. The name Geysir itself comes from the Icelandic Old Norse verb geysa, “to gush”. Eruptions at Geysir attracts visitors daily to watch the magnificent eruption of boiling water being hurled up to 70 metres in the air. However, the geysers used to bake this bread at Laugavautn are all underground and bubble away within the sand, no dramatic hurl of water but they’re very very hot.

Rye Bread

Photo by On The Luce

How to Bake Rye Bread

The recipe Icelanders use is typically handed down from generation to generation. Each families recipe is basically the same but some have adapted it and added a secret ingredient.

The standard recipe is as follows:

4 cups Rye Flour

2 cups Wheat Flour

2 cups Sugar

A pinch of Salt

4 tsp Baking Powder

1.2 litres Milk

Once the mixture is mixed together, bake it for 24 hours in an unconventional oven, i.e the ground heated by hot springs.

Rye Bread

Photo by Dvortygirl

The Traditional Baking Method

A hole is dug in the ground about a foot deep. The ground starts to boil, the temperature is around 97’c when the bread goes in to bake. The bread is baked in a pot, submerged into the hot sand and covered over. A stone is placed on top to mark to locals where the bread is being baked. The entire process takes around 24 hours, then the bread is ready to be dug back up. After cooling it with water from the lake, the vessel is then opened to reveal a fully cooked loaf of Rye Bread.

Photo by jeffreyw

How to Eat Rye Bread

When cooked in this particular way, Rye Bread is sometimes referred to as hverabraud, which translates as ‘hot spring bread’. Many locals bake Rye Bread this way and have been doing so for many generations. Unique to Iceland, Rye Bread is enjoyed with butter, topped with smoked salmon, smocked tout, herring and egg; delicious.

Fontana Geothermal Spa

Fontana geothermal Spa in Laugavautn, a small lakeside town on the Golden Circle, is run by Sigurður Rafn Hilmarsson who has become something of a national icon for his Icelandic Rye Bread. Hilmarsson has prepared bread for countless visitors, including the president. When asked what makes his bread so special, Hilmarsson modestly replied “it has a bit more sugar in it than most,” he said. 

Rugbraud

Photo by Katrine Thielke

Cake, not Bread

The sugar content in Rye Bread results in a taste and consistency more akin to that of cake but most would say that the most remarkable element of Rye Bread is in its traditional preparation. Unlike most breads, this Rye Bread is buried in a bubbling geothermal pit and baked underground.

Experience it For Yourself

Rye Bread is still a staple in todays Icelandic cuisine but many now use the simpler and more convenient baking method of an oven. Sigurður Rafn Hilmarsson remains true to his Icelandic families roots “this method was passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me,” he explained. “That’s the one we are using here.”

This is a daily practice for Hilmarsson at the Fontana geothermal Spa where you can experience a demonstration of this unique method first hand on the lakeshore.


Drilling into a Volcano to Find Clean Energy

Drilling into a volcano to find clean energy

Text by Sonia Nicolson

We live in a world fuelled by dirty fossil fuels but times are changing and we are on the edge of a world that gets its energy from renewable, clean sources. Although geothermal energy is generally considered to be a sustainable source, it is not entirely renewable. The potential renewable and clean energy source are:

Space Based Solar Power

Every hour, more energy reaches us on planet earth than we could use in an entire year. To save this energy, engineers are looking into giant solar farms in space that can collect the solar radiation, mirrors would reflect onto solar collectors and this energy would be beaten back to earth wirelessly. Obviously this project would require a huge budget but doesn’t it sound incredible.

Human Power

Human powered devices already exist, but scientists are working on harvested power generating from normal human movement. Tiny electronics on billions of people means big potential. The idea is that one day, for examples, your phone will be able to change as you are walking down the street or it moves in your hand or as your fingers move on the screen. You can also wear small systems that pass electricity as you move. Human power wont solve the issues of global warming but every bit counts.

Tidal Power

Harnessing the motion of the ocean could power the world a number of times over, which is why so many companies are trying to figure out how. There has been a lot of focus on wind and solar energy so the tidal potential has been a little less explore, until now. Tidal systems are becoming more efficient from hydroelectric turbines to the world first ever desalination plant off the coast of Australia which is producing clean drinking water.

Hydrogen

The element Hydrogen is very high in energy, an engine that burns pure hydrogen produced almost no pollution. Nasa powered its shuttles and part of the space station with Hydrogen for years. Hydrogen works in combination with other elements such as oxygen. In the 80’s, Russia tested a passenger jet to run on it and more recently, Boeing tried out some small planes fuelled by it. It is possible to put hydrogen into mobile fuel cells in vehicles and they can convert it into electricity. These cars are being manufactured already. Honda is working on a car that can be plugged in to power a house, instead of the current electric powered cars which take energy from the house. The main problems with development is of course cost and a lack of hydrogen stations to refuel.

Volcano

Photo by peterhartree

Geothermal Heat from Lava

Geothermal, the method of converting the heat that rises from the depths of the molten core of the earth into energy. Geothermal energy currently powers millions of homes around the world. 25% of Icelands energy comes from geothermal technology. The current project looking for clean energy in the volcanos magma has only been tried once before, in Hawaii.

Iceland, where ice and fire meet, has drilled into a volcano in an effort to bolster geothermal clean energy. The energy company HS Orka is leading this project on a site is near the famous Blue Lagoon spa, in the Reykjanes region. Engineers are drilling into the superheated rock until they reach magma deposits in the hope to produce up to 10 times more power than conventional geothermal wells. The drills bore a hole, almost 5000m deep, into the Reykjanes volcano. This volcanic well, with its high temperature and extreme pressure produces ‘supercritical’ steam. The temperature at the bottom of the borehole is expected to be 427’c (800’f) but the team pumped water down into the hole, which the scorching magma instantly vaporised to a record of 500’c (932’f). The hotter the steam, the more energy it generates. The steam then pushes a turbine which creates energy. The steam is neither gas nor liquid but it produces much more energy than either.

This highly pressurised steam should lead to a giant leap in the energy generating capabilities of geothermal technology around the world.

Iceland is the only country in the world with 100% renewable electricity. Geothermal sources provide Iceland with 25% of its total energy needs, and this record breaking project means that Iceland can harness volcanic heat to produce clean energy in a pioneering new project. It could provide Iceland with 10 times more energy than gas or oil extraction. Iceland has been pioneering in geothermal energy, with 85% of its energy supply derived from renewable sources.

Albert Albertsson, an engineer on the project, named ‘Thor’ after the Viking god “to supply electricity and hot water to a city like Reykjavik with 212,000 inhabitants, we would need 30-35 conventional high temperature wells, compared to only three or five supercritical wells.”

Nuclear Waste

Nuclear fission power plants are the traditional reactors and have been in use around the world for decades and provide countries like the USA with 20% of its electricity. However, this method is highly inefficient and actually adds to the nuclear waste. The current system uses light water technology which surrounds the fuel rods with water to slow the neutrons and allows for a sustained nuclear reaction. This however only allows for 5% of the uranium atoms in the rod are used up when the rod has to be removed and adds to the ever growing stock pile of highly radioactive uranium nuclear waste. There appears to be a more efficient way called a fast reactor where the rods are no longer submerged in water but in liquid sodium. This means 95% of the uranium is used, a huge increase from the inefficient 5%. This change in liquid submersion reduces the 77,000 ton waste. The biggest obstacle is the high cost of building new nuclear power plants and political stigma surrounding nuclear energy.

Solar Windows

With production and installs getting cheaper, solar power is taking off. Photovoltaics are popular in Europe with Germany being the leader in this green energy. Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico mad a significant breakthrough in quantum dot solar cell technology. They have been developing highly efficient solar panels that can double as transparent windows. This means that every exposed window can now be converted into a mini power station.

Biofuels

The production of crop-derived ethanol and biodiesel has become a mainstream substitute or supplement to gasoline in cars. The discovery of vast amounts of cheap oil worldwide made the idea of Henry Ford’s Model T running on ethanol just an idea however renewable biofuels are making a strong come back. The main issue is that the currently dominant first generation of biofuels use the same land and resources as farming and growing food therefore driving up the cost of food, causing problems in the developing world. Algae has all the right ingredients to replace oil because its natural oil content is greater than 50% which means it can be easily extracted and processed. The remaining parts of the plant can be converted into electricity, natural gas, fertiliser to help grow even more algae chemical free. Algae grows quickly without the use of farm land or freshwater.

Flying Wind Farms

You may have already seen wind farms and turbines on the horizon but with the Bionic Air Turbine (BAT) floating above the ground, where winds are stronger and more consistent, we could soon be getting energy more efficiently. These flying wind turbines will soon replace the less efficient tower systems and could allow for the construction of offshore wind farms which are costly to build.

Fusion

Nuclear fusion doesn’t create deadly nuclear waste, unlike fission, because it fuses atoms together instead of splitting them apart. This means there is no threat of a runaway reaction that could potentially lead to a meltdown event. Easier said than done. Nobel Prize winning physicist described fusion as trying to put “the sun into a box. The idea is pretty. The problem is, we don’t k ow how to make the box.” Fusion reactions will produce materials that are volatile and hot that it will damage the reactor that created it. However, private companies and governments are spending billions on research to try and solve these problems. If these challenges can be solved, fusion could provide virtually limitless energy to power the world.

What do you think the future of energy is?


Icelandic Decomposing Algae Water Bottles

Icelandic Decomposing Algae Water Bottles, by Ari Jonsson

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Plastic Waste

We all contribute in one way or anther to the growing problem of plastic pollution. Think of the packing in your weekly shop, think of your garbage, think of the items you work with and replace in time; it’s hard to avoid a plastic.

Plastic pollution is the build up of plastic products in the environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat and/or humans. Plastics that act as pollutants are categorised based on sizes into micro, meso or macro debris.

The main issue that we in society face is that plastic is an inexpensive and durable material which means it is used to high levels but the plastic we use is very slow to degrade. Plastic pollution can unfavourably affect lands, waterways and oceans which in turn effects living organisms, particularly marine animals. Problems such as entanglement, ingestion, exposure to chemicals an all cause issues in natures biological functions.

More than 5 million tonnes of plastic are consumed annually in the UK alone. An estimated 24% of this makes it into recycling systems, that leaves a remaining 3.8 million tonnes of waste which is destined for landfills. Plastic reduction efforts have occurred in some areas in attempts to reduce plastic consumption and pollution, and promote plastic recycling.

Plastic Pollution

Photo by Kevin Krejci

Creating a Biodegradable Bottle

After reading about the amount of plastic waste produced daily, Ari Jónsson started to explore the concept of a replacement material.

“I read that 50 per cent of plastic is used once and then thrown away so I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day,” Jónsson told Dezeen.com

“Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?”

What is DesignMarch?

DesignMarch is Iceland’s most important design festival and is held annually, from 10-13 March, this year will be the festivals 10th gathering. DesignMarch is organised by Iceland Design Centre and works to promote Icelandic design and architecture. It’s the largest and most significant design gathering in Iceland and brings together designers and Architects from all over. Located across Reykjavik, the most northerly capital city in the world, there are around one hundred different events from discussions and lectures to exhibitions and networking events. It transforms the city into one big venue for design where fashion and furniture, architecture and food design come together. The festival opens with DesignTalks, a day of lectures by internationally acclaimed designers and the foremost local design thinkers.

The festival showcases the best of local design alongside exciting international names, it’s a great chance for newcomers to display their work and be seen. Product Design student studying at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Ari Jónsson, created a biodegradable bottle from a combination of red algae powder with water, and his work was exhibited during DesignMarch 2016. Jónsson’s decomposing bottles were presented at the Drifting Cycles student exhibition which was held inside a remote lighthouse.

Testing Materials

Ari began by studying the strengths and weaknesses of different materials to determine which materials would be best suited for use in the development of his water bottle. Working with natural materials and materials inspired by nature, Ari discovering a powdered form of agar, a substance made from algae. He found that when agar powder is added to water it forms a jelly-like material which can be formed into functional objects. He experimented with different promotions of water and algae to create a pliable formula. Then, slowly heating the substance, he poured it into frozen bottle shaped moulds to help him achieve the perfect form.

Photo by Youth Express

Working with Algae

As the material was in a liquid form, he needed to cool it to set the bottles shape and solid form. He found that rotating the mould whilst submerged in a bucket of ice cold water set the liquid substance making it take its bottle shape. The agar form was then refrigerated for a few minutes before it could be extracted from the mould.

“If it fails, or if the bottom is too thin or it has a hole in it, I can just reheat it and pour it into the mould again,” said Jónsson. So as he develops the perfect thickness and material use, he can adapt and remould as he works.

How it Decomposes

The interesting finding of this new material was that the bottle kept shape as long as the bottle is full of water. As soon as it was empty, it began to decompose and loose both its form and function.

As the bottle is made from algae, a 100% natural material, the water the bottle stores is completely safe to drink. As the bottle is made from powdered agar and mixed with water to create the material, Jónsson did note that after a while it may extract a small amount of taste from the bottle. This is not being seen as a negative aspect and the designer even suggested that if the user likes the taste, they can start to eat the bottle itself when they have finished drinking.

Algae

Inspired by Nature

Designers are increasingly experimenting with other forms of algae and seaweed. Arup revealed their design for the worlds first ever algae powered building, a Dutch designer has created bioplastic for 3D printing from algae, and the IKEA lab Space10 created an algae producing pavilion in Copenhagen. Seaweed has also recently been used in the development of furniture combining paper and seaweed to create a new material.

This is being explored in architecture too; the Modern Seaweed House on the Danish Island of Laeso uses seaweed in its exterior cladding. This project revisits the tradition of constructing using locally found materials such as seaweed. At one stage on Laeso, there were many homes constructed using seaweed as trees were scares. Nowadays only twenty houses like this remains so this inspired Vandkensten studio and non-profit Realdania Byg’s preservation project.

Algae has even been implemented as an energy source to power buildings.


Waterfalls of Iceland

Top 10 Waterfalls of Iceland

Top 10 Waterfalls of Iceland

Text by Sonia Nicolson

When in Iceland, we say DO go chasing waterfalls. There are some incredibly beautiful waterfalls in very dramatic surroundings and a lot of them are easily accessible. From the Golden Circle to the South Coast and further up north, you don’t have to go far to experience one. The Icelandic waterfalls are very dramatic and you can see water drop from a great height, gush through lava rocks, over ledges meaning you can walk behind them and certainly see a rainbow or two.

So here are our top 10 waterfalls in Iceland here to help you plan out your trip.

Gullfoss

On the Golden Circle you will find Gullfoss, meaning Golden Falls, is located on the Hvítá River and is one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. The glacier water from Langjökull cascades 32m down in two stages. It’s a dramatic display of power and is incredibly beautiful to watch. The waterfalls power does spray up a lot of moisture into the atmosphere so make sure to wear waterproofs. Access the viewing platforms from the lower car park for the most accessible view, the top car park also has a cafe and shop. Great tour to see Gullfoss is the Golden Circle, Secret Lagoon and Bubble tour

Gullfoss

Seljalandsfoss

On the South Coast of Iceland you will discover the picturesque Seljalandsfoss. One of the more famous waterfalls in the country, Seljalandsfoss is Iceland’s highest waterfalls, at 63m. Make your way up the steep staircase to get a unique chance to walk behind a waterfall, a very unique experience. Feel the power as the water drops from the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajokull. Slightly further along the mountainside is Gljúfrabúi, a hidden waterfall which is often overlooked by the large tour groups, and so you might get it to yourself.

Seljalandsfoss

Photo by Ævar Guðmundsson

Skogafoss

Further on along the South Coast and the next waterfall is Skógafoss. Measuring around 25m across, with a drop of 60m, Skogafoss is Iceland’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls. You can walk right up to the falls and be hit by the spray. If you are lucky enough to be visiting on a sunny day then you might spot a rainbows in the spray from the powerful cascade. If you have the time, climb the 60m of stairs to the top of the falls.

Skogafoss

Photo by Mitchel Jones

Dettifoss

Located in the Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland and said to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss flows from the glacier Vatnajökull, with an average waterflow of 193m3 per second. Dettifoss measures 100m wide with a powerful drop of 45m down into Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Dettifoss  is Icelands largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, having an average water flow of 193 m3/s.

Dettifoss

Photo by carlabits

Godafoss

Located on the River Skjálfandafljót in the North of Iceland, Godafoss waterfall is the fourth largest river in Iceland. A spectacular waterfall with a width of 30m, falling from a height of 12m, it truly is dramatic. Godafoss means Waterfall of The Gods. It’s said that when Christianity was declared the official religion in Iceland, by lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall. The river, originating deep in the Icelandic highland, runs from the highlands through the Bárðardalur Valley from Sprengisandur in the Highlands.

Godafoss

Svartifoss

Svartifoss, as know as the Black Falls as it is surrounded by dark lava columns. Located in Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park on the South Coast of Iceland. Similar natural formations can be seen throughout Iceland and abroad, at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and on the Scottish island of Staffa. These basalt columns give inspiration to many buildings in Iceland such as Hallgrímskirkja church. in Reykjavík.

Svartifoss

Photo by Victor Montol

Hraunfossar

Located in the district of Borgarfjordur, Hraunfossar is a series of beautiful waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming from a short distance out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field. This lava field was formed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjokull. Some of the most magnificent falls found in Iceland, catch them in the summer or as the colours turn in autumn.

Hraunfossar

Photo by Jun

Haifoss

Háifoss is located near the volcano Hekla on the South Coast of Iceland. The third highest waterfall in Iceland, the water falls from a height of 122m streaming from the River Fossá. There is a car park above the waterfall. You can hike to the waterfall along the River Fossá from the historical farm Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng. The farm was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Hekla in the Middle Ages abut has since been reconstructed. The hike both directions will take you around 5-6hours.

Haifoss

Photo by James Petts

Barnafossar

Barnafoss, also known as Bjarnafoss, is located near Hraunfossar and burst out of Hallmundarhraun, a huge lava plain in the west of Iceland and about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Reykjavík. Barnafoss is on the River Hvítá and flows out of a lava field, creating a dramatic and very picturesque scene.

Barnafoss has been associated with many Icelandic folk tales, most famously the one about two boys from the nearby farm of Hraunsás. One day, the boys’ parents went to church with their ploughmen, the boys were supposed to stay at home but as they decided to follow their parents as they had gotten bored. Making a shortcut across the stone bridge over the waterfall, they suddenly felt dizzy and fell. The boys sadly drowned and when the news reached their mother, she put a spell on the bridge saying that nobody would ever cross it without drowning again. The bridge was demolished in an earthquake sometime after this.

Barnafossar

Photo by fr.zil

Faxi

Faxi, or the Vatnsleysufoss waterfall, is located on the Tungufljót River on the popular tourist route to the east of Reykjavik, the Golden Circle. Find Faxi around 12 kilometres from Geysir and Gullfoss, and 8 kilometres from Skalholt. Park up and walk away from the main road on a gravel track where there is a picnic area and small car park. The waterfall is a popular fishing spot as it is full of salmon. Please note that Kayaking in the waterfall is forbidden.

Faxi

Photo by Adam Fagen

Which waterfalls are on your bucket list?


Turf House

The Icelandic Turf House

The Icelandic Turf House

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Icelandic turf houses, “torfbaeir” and sometimes referred to as ‘hobbit homes’, were the built to withstand the brutal Icelandic climate, survive earthquakes and use zero energy. They offered superior insulation compared and good ventilation compared to the more modern wooden or stone constructions.

When the Vikings settled in Iceland they forested around 30% of the trees, clearing land and leaving a devastating mark on the natural landscape. Iceland had a large amount of turf suitable for construction and as many settlers were used to the idea of turf roofs from their time in Norway, this was an obvious building material. The turf house is now one of the more iconic buildings in Iceland.

Icelandic Turf House

Photo by Matito

The oldest turf house in Iceland is the historical farm of Keldur on the South Coast of Iceland. A typical Icelandic turf farm was a cluster of buildings connected by earth corridors. Keldur is one of very few preserved turf houses in South Iceland, along with the f.ex. the turf house at Austur-Meðalholt, now a museum, and the reconstructed houses of Skógar museum.

Keldur farm is a historical place of important for Iceland Saga of Njáll, Ingjaldur Höskuldsson, who lived here from 974 until around 1000. In the 12th and 13th century, Keldur was one of the manors of the most powerful clans in Iceland; the Oddi clan. Jón Loftsson, one of the most powerful chieftains in Iceland in the 12th century, and lived at Keldur until his death in 1197. The turf houses here have been rebuilt many times, reconstructed after both earthquakes in 1896 and 1912. In addition, the ruins of around 18 farmsteads have also been found on this site. Close to Keldur is the well known volcano Hekla, erupting on average every 50 years. Lava rocks from eruptions were used as building materials for the farmstead and driftwood was also used.

Turf House

Photo by PIVISO

In 1942, The National Museum of Iceland bought the old turf farm and farmhouse as part of the National Museums Historic Buildings Collection. The site is open to visitors from June – August.

The turf houses were all of the same proportions, regardless of class, social status or wealth. They were representative of a communal way of living in Iceland. All members of the family lived and spent their time together in the living room, the only room with a window, where they ate, slept, were born, and died.

Turf Roof

Photo by Theo Crazzolara

The typical construction of an Icelandic turf house starts with a large foundation made of flat stones. The back of the building was often dug into the hillside and the front stuck out with a pointed roof which was covered in grass. Then the wooden frame was constructed to hold the load of a turf roof. The frame is then clad with turf, often in two layers to help insulate. The sturdy walls were made of stone sandwiched between turf bricks, sometimes played out in a fashionable herringbone style. The entire structure was covered in turf and the growing grass helps to make the structure more sturdy. The only exposed wood was at the doorway where the frame was decorated. This door led you into a hall where you were usually met by a fire. The rooms were often below ground where the earth doesn’t freeze. All the warmth in the home was provided by the fire in the kitchen since heating from coal, oil, or wood stoves was not available until the 19th century. The flooring was typically wood, stone or just earth, depending on the buildings purpose.

Easy to maintain, the turf roofs and walls needed to be trimmed regularly but the structures do collapse eventually and need to either be rebuilt or repaired. When the houses do collapse, they only leave a mound of earth behind.

Turf House Interior

Photo by Theo Crazzolara

Turf houses had been continually constructed over a period of 1000 years but Icelandic architecture changed a lot in that time. In the 14th century the Viking style longhouses were gradually abandoned, replaced by many smaller and specialised buildings which interconnected. Later, in the 18th century, a new Burstabaer style started to gain momentum, the most common version of the Icelandic turf house. Many have survived well into the 20th century.

After World War I, a wave of modernisation swept the island and nearly eradicated the turf houses. Slowly, people moved into a more modern urban building style of wooden houses, clad in corrugated iron. These were later replaced with earthquake resistant reinforced concrete buildings.

In the late 20th and 21st century, the tourist boom brought a rise of interest in this traditional building type. The Icelandic turf house was given a help in its preservation in 2011 when turf housing was nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.

Turf Roof construction

Photo by Thomas Ormston

The practice of building turf houses is not widely known today and so new initiatives for heritage preservation have been set up to pass on these skills. Every year there is a seminar run by Fornverkaskólinn in collaboration with Hólar University and Skagafjörður Heritage Museum, where you can learn how to construct a traditional Icelandic house. Over the last years the participants of this seminar have helped in restoring Tyrfingsstaðir, a turf house deserted in 1969. This seminar not only helps maintain knowledge of this cultural construction method but it also works to preserve Icelandic heritage.

The typical life expectancy of a turf house was 20 years, serving one generation depending on frost, before it must undergo repairs. The more sturdy of houses could often last from 50 to 70 years.

Icelandic House

Photo by Marco Bellucci

Turf houses took a lot of maintenance and so sadly not many are still standing. Around half of the Icelandic nation still lived in turf houses in 1910. As Reykjavik grew, people moved into more modern dwellings and by the 60’s there were 234 inhabited turf homes in Iceland. Moving into the 70’s, most of these turf houses were deserted with families opting for corrugated timber homes instead.

These buildings are biodegradable, eco-friendly and energy-efficient. Rooted strongly in the Icelandic culture, would you stay in a turf house?


Iceland, Healthiest Country in the World

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Iceland, Healthiest Country in the World

One of the key topics discussed at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017 was the future of healthcare, and Iceland topped a new ranking of the world’s healthiest countries. The study, published by The Lancet, assessed 33 health-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators in 188 countries across 25 years. The results from the SDG present a global picture of the progress made, and the work still needed, to achieve the Millennium Developments global goals.

Using the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study 2015, the research examines health in countries around the world to create a global ranking. Iceland, Sweden, Singapore, Andorra and the UK were the top 5 ranking countries; Iceland took the top spot by one decimal place. The report singled out major factors such as tobacco control measures and Iceland’s publicly funded healthcare.

Improved Icelandic Healthcare

In the past 15 years, there has been significant progress with universal healthcare showing the greatest improvement followed by family planning and hygiene developments. It’s not all good news however with hepatitis B on the increase, alcohol consumption becoming more problematic and numbers of overweight children now worse than in 2000.

“Although considerable progress on the health-related MDG indicators has been made, these gains will need to be sustained and, in many cases, accelerated to achieve the ambitious SDG targets,” write the authors of The Lancet.

The authors examined the link between the health-related indicators and the socio-demographic Index; a measure based on income per person, average educational in the population over 15 years old, and total fertility rate.

Icelandic Diet and Lifestyle

There is a wealth of contributing factors to a good Icelandic diet and lifestyle; water, food and exercise. The diet often focuses on fish and healthy dairy products such as Skyr. A nation is famous for its rivers, waterfalls, glaciers and hot springs, the water in Iceland is some of the cleanest in the world. Icelandic homes are heated using volcanic water pumped from a variety of hot springs all around the country. These hot springs have been used for centuries by locals to bathe, wash clothes and cook in. Its also thought that the natural hot water and minerals it contains can do wonders for your health and skin.

People eat a lot of fresh and dried fish, and lamb. There are roughly a million sheep living in Iceland, 3 times the population. Sheep are left to roam the countryside freely throughout summer, grazing on thyme and adding to their flavour. Recently, Icelanders have become more concerned with eating healthily, with athletes promoting healthy options. Vegans and vegetarians have gained more healthy options in the city and restaurants such as Glo are doing well.

The average life expectancy in Iceland is just over 82 years old. Exercise plays a big part in this with many people going hiking, swimming, signing up for marathons and trying out yoga. The typical modern Icelandic lifestyle includes a selection of fitness options focusing on strength, protein intake and a clean diet. Icelandic women practice weight lifting in their gym routine, and teens compete in nationally televised CrossFit-style obstacle courses, gaining a lot of attention.

Icelandic Diet

Icelands Strongest Man and Woman

Iceland is famous for its Sagas with tales of heroes with incredible strength. From Vikings and Norse Gods, to Strongman champions, the nations football team to the modern trend of CrossFit.

The glorification of raw strength is nothing new in Iceland. Þór was known as the God of Thunder, Wrestling and Fertility, and Týr, was the God of War and Tactics. Both were described as physically, fiercely fit and strong but while Þór tended to smash things with his hammer, Týr used his brain too.

A Land of Rough and Unforgiving Natural Conditions

Iceland has over the years required a certain physical strength to survive with an attitude that everyone had to pull their own weight. Moving into the 20th century, Icelandic women in Reykjavik carried washing loads from the city centre to the pools in Laugardalur, a 5 kilometres walk. They would work for around 10 hours before carrying their mountain of wet laundry back home again. Foreign travellers often likened the Icelandic washing woman’s strength to the power of a pack horse.

Throughout history, Icelanders tested their strength by lifting stones. On Djúpalónssandura black sand beach in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula you will notice four large stones of varying sizes weighing between 23kg (50lbs) and 155kg (342lbs). These were used to test the strength of fishermen. The stones are named Amlodi (useless), Halfdreattingur (weakling), Halfsterkur (half-strong) and Fullsterkur (full-strong). A person of ‘Full Strength’ gains the Fullsterkur status by lifting, carrying and placing a rock of 155kg or heavier on a platform waist height or higher. Icelander might not need fishermen who can lift the Fullsterkur stones anymore but many still value strength as a representation of an enduring spirit. 

Strongman, Strongwoman

Originally, militant leaders who had keep command by their sheer force of will, rather than raw physical strength were referred to as a ‘strongman’. In the mid 19th century the word was linked to specific forms of athletic strengths common in circus acts. Todays strongman is a phenomenon seen in films and advertising, idols to look up to, not commonly seen on a battlefield.

Iceland has long been know for its strength and power, a nation of just 334,000 people with an outstanding number of ‘world’s-strongest’ men and women; Jón Páll Sigmarsson, Magnús Ver Magnússon and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (the Mountain from Game of Thrones).

The Icelandic strongman is the most famous of Iceland’s power icons but the country is home to plenty of superwomen too. Katrín Tanja, worlds fittest women in 2015, and Anníe Mist, two times fittest woman CrossFit Games and six times Games competitor. The world famous weightlifter, Ragnheiður Sara Sigmundardóttir, is known for her strength and physical prowess inspiring younger stars such as recent winner of the European powerlifting championships, Sóley Jónsdóttir. Sóley performed an astonishing 215kg squat at the tender age of 15.

Icelandic Strongman

Photo by sumoman.co.uk

Icelandic Wellbeing

With clean air and low pollution, wellbeing in Iceland is good. Though the population is small, the country is comparatively large meaning everyone has space. Equal rights are strongly fought for and the gender gap is the smallest in the world. Crime is rare and which helps the people of Iceland feel safe and therefore happier.

It’s easy to see that Iceland can be considered one of the healthiest places in the world.


Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay in Iceland

Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay in Iceland

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay in Iceland

It’s now illegal to pay men more than women for similar work in Iceland or companies can face a gender pay gap fine.

Top of the World Economic Forum’s

Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum’s ranking for the 9th year as the nation with the smallest gender gap. However Iceland’s overall gender gap is now just 12%.

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

A new law was passed on International Woman’s Day 2017.

The aim is to close Iceland’s gender pay gap by 2022 and so a new law was introduced at the start of 2018 that asks public and private companies, with a staff of over 25 people, to pay employees equally. These companies are now are obliged to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies or they could face financial penalties. 

Employers must prove that they offer equal pay regardless of:

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Nationality

Iceland, the First Country to Legalise Equal Pay

Iceland is the first country in the world to legalise equal pay and is a world leader on gender equality. Though there has been legislation in place previously saying that pay should be equal for men and women but there is still a pay gap. Icelandic women earned, on average, 16% less than men (in 2016).

Global Gender Gap

Though other countries such as Switzerland and the US state of Minnesota have similar schemes in place with an “equal-salary certificate policies”, Iceland is the first to make equal pay compulsory for both private and public firms with a staff of 25 people. The bill was supported by Iceland’s centre-right administration, as well as its opposition. According the the Global Gender gap Index 2017, World Economic Forum, the global average annual earnings were $12K for females and $21K for males (in 2017), a huge gap.

“The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations… evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera News.

Iceland is a relatively small country with a population of 323,000 people. It has a strong economy based on tourism and it’s fisheries.

Improving Equality for Women

Iceland has brought in measures to improve equality for women. One of these is a quotas on corporate boards and government committees. In 2016, female representation in the Icelandic parliament had reached a record of 48%, but this has since dropped. In December, a new Icelandic coalition government took office with left-green party leadership led by Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Known to be a feminist, she is the second woman to head a government in Iceland.

Despite an ongoing commitment to tackle this issue, Iceland’s gender pay gap has not shrunk fast enough.

Gender Pay Gap

Photo by Perzon Seo

The Icelandic Women’s Protest

In October 2016, thousands of women across Iceland walked out of their workplaces at 2.38pm in protest. The pay discrepancy means that Icelandic women effectively work without pay after this time, according to unions and women’s organisations. Two years later and Iceland is talking this seriously and making its statement to the world.

Men Are Still Being Paid More

At a time when it appears that other countries around the world are stalling on economic gender parity, Iceland is committed to working on closing its gender pay gap by 2022. For now however, men are still being paid much more than women and, in addition to this, mens wages are increasing rapidly meaning it will be more challenging to meet the 2022 aim (according to the World Economic Forums wide-reaching Global Gender Gap Report, 2017). In Switzerland, women earn just 72% of the average male salary for similar work.

“The time is right to do something radical about the issue Equal rights are human rights” says Thorsteinn Viglundsson, Iceland Equality and Social Affairs Minister

Equal Pay in Iceland

Photo by WOCinTech Chat

Global Gender Gap Report

The Global Gender Gap Report looks at the differences between men and women in four key areas:

  • Health
  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Education

Although much progress has been made over the past decade, this report found that the gender gap widened for the first time in 2017 since records began in 2006.

Iceland has been one of the fastest-improving countries in the world over a 10year period according to the Global Gender Gap Report which uses markers such as economic opportunity, political empowerment, and health to measure gender equality in the country.

What’s the gender gap like in your country?


When Is The Best Time To Visit Iceland?

Text by Sonia Nicolson

When’s The Best Time To Visit Iceland, Summer or Winter?

First off, of course you can travel to Iceland all year round as there really isn’t a high season anymore, but one of the main questions we get asked is wether to visit Iceland in the summer or winter. Weather is a big factor in planning a trip to Iceland. The weather here is incredibly unpredictable and it is commonly said that “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”. You can often experience both summer and winter weather in one day, and in any season, so it’s advised to expect the worst and hope for the best.

Many travellers come to Iceland in summer as they feel winter will be too challenging but winter is slowly becoming as popular so which is better? It’s a hard question to answer as both seasons have a lot to offer, so instead of recommending one, here are a few highlights for each season to help can decide.

WINTER – A Winter Wonderland

Let’s start with winter (October – April), winter in Iceland is so different from the soft green mossy landscapes of summer (June – August). This otherworldly landscape is covered in a white blanket of snow with stark contrasting black lava pecking through. Both are beautiful and should be experienced if you are lucky enough to travel here more than once.

Snow, Sunsets and Frozen Waterfalls

In winter the days are short with sun rising at 10:45 and setting at 16:00. The sunsets are stunning with pink, yellow and orange glowing wisps across the afternoon sky. You will probably see some of the most incredible sites set with a wonderful wintery wonderland backdrop. Frozen waterfalls are just stunning but be careful as they can be very slippery and dangerous. If there is a ‘no access’ sign, please respect this as it’s there for your own protection.

Northern Lights

The first and more obvious reason to visit in the winter months is for the Northern Lights. This breathtaking natural phenomenon can only be seen in winter, when it’s dark and the sky is clear. The rule is that if you can see the stars then you will have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. The best time to see the Aurora is from 1st September, through winter, until 15th April. Make sure to check the Aurora forecast for activity levels, there is a scale of 0-9 with the most common activity is 3-4.

Things To Do

There is plenty to see and do in Iceland, popular winter activities include glaciers hikes, skiing, snow mobile trips, ice fishing and ice cave exploring and winter is when the caves are the most accessible. Many people visit Iceland in the run up to Christmas and to celebrate New Years. People decorate their houses with fairy lights and these are kept on throughout winter, bringing an extra light and magic to the city. There is a small festive market and ice skating rink in downtown Reykjavik too. New Year in Reykjavik is an extraordinary experience with fireworks exploring all around. There are no official firework displays but many locals purchase them and have their own displays. The proceeds from the sale of these fireworks goes towards supporting the Icelandic Search and Rescue teams.

Driving in Winter

Driving in winter can be a little tricky, especially if you are not used to wintery conditions but all hire cars have winter tires to aid in driving on snow and ice. Snow storms are very common in winter and so your journey may be interrupted. The weather can effect airline travel with some flights being delays or cancelled so keep an eye on your flight prior to travel. Also sections of the ring road around Iceland can be effected with road closures throughout winter so it is best to check Vegagerdin for road updates. http://www.road.is/

The downside to visiting Iceland in the winter is that the days are shorter so your sightseeing time is a lot more limited. However the light, though sparse, is beautiful for photography as the sun is low on the horizon so it looks similar to a day-long sunset.

Wildlife

Though Iceland isn’t know as a wildlife destination, you can see birds, Icelandic horses and if you are very lucky you might also spot an arctic fox.

SUMMER – The Midnight Sun

Preferred by the locals, summer provides mild weather and the famous long summer nights. The days are long with sun rising at 03:20 and setting at 23:30 so you will have more light for longer adventures. This can be fun and the endless daylight can merge days into one but it can also be difficult to sleep. Come prepared with a good eye mask and be aware of the time, try to take rests when driving. Obviously the lack of darkness means you wont see the Northern Lights so make sure you plan for the right month to visit.

Waterfalls and Hiking Trails

Most sites are generally more accessible so you can walk right up to, and sometimes behind, the waterfalls. There are some hiking trails which can be accessed all year round but you will have more to choose from in the summer months.

Budget Considerations

If you are travelling on a budget then summer might be more for you. Camping is easier and certainly more pleasant, and hitch hiking is much more common.

Moss and Lava

The icy blanket of snow melts away to reveal a green and lush mossy blanket over the lava fields. Road become easier to drive and are generally more accessible, with some of the highland roads being opened though it’s never advised to drive off-road. The northern part of the island is much more accessible now.

Wildlife

Though Iceland isn’t know as a wildlife destination, you can take a whale watching tour in any season, see Icelandic horses and often spot geese. Puffins are most commonly seen in summer along with other bird.


Regrowing the Icelandic Forests, Reducing Emissions

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Regrowing the Icelandic Forests

There is a particular lure to visiting this otherworldly island. Some describe the landscape as a ‘moonscape’ and last year alone 1.8 Million tourists visited. This dramatic landscape is a huge draw for the film and tourism industry but for Iceland, its barren land is problematic.

Iceland is one of the most deforested countries in Europe, technically 40% of the country is a ‘wet desert’. Before the Viking settlers arrived in the 9th Century, Iceland was almost entirely covered in trees. There is archeological evidence that a quarter of Iceland was covered in forests until these settlers arrived. Vikings, living in the Iron Age, chopped down forests for timber, farmland and grazing, removing these vital pillars from the ecosystem. Now Iceland is almost tree-less.

Vegetation struggles to gain a foothold so farming and grazing are near impossible in many parts of the country. Strong winds and sandstorms also destroy the land and this has been a problem for decades now, particularly the east of Reykjavik. But Iceland is committed to bringing its trees back and returning natural life to a largely barren landscape. The main reasons for regrowing its forests are to improve and stabilise soil, help agriculture and fight climate change as trees can help offset emissions.

Taking Action

The government took medial actions and established a reforestation and soil conservation program at the turn of the century. First they started with conserving existing forests but in the 1950s and onwards, afforestation was seen as the only way. Reintroducing a small percentage of these trees could aid in Icelands aim to curb climate change emissions between 50% – 75% by 2050, the governments pledge in its Climate Change Statement, with less economic pain. Reinstating some of Icelands forests could help balance these emissions with the trees capturing carbon dioxide to help them grow.

Reforest sites are popping up across the countryside with native Birch and non-native Spruce being planted. These sites are overseen by the State backed Icelandic Forest Service who also manages the National Forests. Head of the Agency, Thröstur Eysteinsson, believes that even planting a small portion of Icelands long lost forests will do some good. “Over the past decades, the absence of vegetation to hold the soil caused farming and grazing to be nearly impossible in many parts of the country,”…“This was further compounded by the nation’s legendary strong winds, which contributed to severe soil erosion.”

Icelands Energy

85% of Icelands energy is supplied from domestically produced renewable energy sources such as hydropower and thermal energy. According to the Icelandic and Northern Energy Portal, this is the highest share of renewable energy is any national total energy budget. However, Iceland has a high per-capita emissions of greenhouse gasses from transport and industry such as the aluminium smelting plant. Iceland could look into reducing its production and consumption but this would effect the economy, and changing a nations behaviour is very challenging i.e car sharing, taking public transport, etc.

The best investment is to plant trees as this is a financial investment and will eventually pay for itself, or even yield profit. Though it is a huge amount of work. Icelands climate is highly unpredictable and it varies each year which means slow, unpredictable growth for trees.

Regrowing the Forests

So Iceland is regrowing its forests but “it’s definitely a struggle,” said forester Mr. Jonsson who works for the private Icelandic Forestry Association and volunteers to plant saplings. They are growing around 3 Million new trees per year and restoring around 123,000 acres of long lost forests. It’s a slow and seemingly endless task. According to the Icelandic Forest Service, this is only around 2% of Iceland countryside.

Watch Our ‘Regrowing the Icelandic Forests’ Video

Preparing for the Trees

The process is to first evaluate the site and its existing vegetation to gain an understanding of the soils richness and help determine which trees to plant. Lyme grass is planted first which grows quickly and helps stabilise the soil. Lupine comes next, spreading across the landscape. Finally the trees are then planted, grown as saplings in local greenhouses first as importing live trees is prohibited in Iceland. Birch has been found to be best about 30% of the time, this links back to pre-settler times. It grows well in poor soil but slowly, everything grows slowly in Iceland and so meeting targets is challenging.

The sheep in Iceland roam freely and fencing is uncommon due to its cost. The sheep love saplings and so they need to be protected in order to grow and not have the natural spreading of trees interrupted. The goal is to replant 2.5% of Icelands forests but it has been said that this would take around 200 years at the rate they are going.

Funding has also been a challenge. The 2008 banking crash meant support was cut and, although the economy has since recovered, the pre-recession funding for 6 Million new trees did not.

Footing the Bill, Meeting the Target

Iceland is a small country with a small population of 350,000 people per acre. This means fewer tax payers per acre. Forestry is just another item that has to compete with all the other worthwhile items people want to use tax money for. Therefore, sadly reforestation will continue to represent a very small part of the national budget.

Working with the European Union and Norway, Iceland is looking to reduce the emissions by 40% from its 1990 levels by 2050. Iceland might not grow 2% of its forests back but it could be a strong enough sign to other countries, and the international community, to show its solidarity and commitment to the climate change goals of the Paris Agreement.


10 Pools To Try In Iceland

Text by Sonia Nicolson

Top 10 Pools In Iceland

A trip to Iceland isn’t complete without a trip or five to a hot pool, especially a natural geothermal one set in a beautiful landscape where you might be lucky enough to have it to yourself. There is a lot more to Iceland than the Blue Lagoon so today we are sharing ten pools to try in Iceland. 

1. BLUE LAGOON

It’s the most obvious one so let’s start here. The Blue Lagoon is everything you have imagined it will be. It’s a truly relaxing experience and can be a very romantic one too. Located near Keflavik International Airport, it’s an ideal stop on your way to or from the airport. Recently extended in size with a new swim up bar and in-water massage area, the Blue Lagoon is a great welcome to Iceland. The distinctive blue hue of the water comes from that sulphur, so it’s a good idea to remove copper or silver jewellery before bathing as it can cause discolouring. Swim around in the calming blue waters, try out the waterfall, steams rooms, cave, algae and silica mud masks. Enjoy a refreshing drink at the swim up bar whilst your mask works its magic. With a rather large price tag and appearing on almost everyones bucket list, keep in mind that there are other options.

2. REYKJADALUR

Located an hours hike from the town of Hveragerði (45min drive from Reykjavik) is a hot river that welcomes you after a pretty stunning hike. The landscape is beautiful and changes from bubbling brown mud to green moss, steam billowing from the ground and rising from the algae filled waterfalls. Reykjadalur, meaning steaming valley, is the first of our completely natural (and free) recommendations. Once you arrive at the section popular for bathing, you’ll notice there are no changing huts. Strip down to your swimming costume and brave the few steps into the water. Access has been made easy by a manmade boardwalk with steps into the river. There are some screens to shelter behind and change but this is a pretty wild experience, especially if the weather is wild too, though it’s an unforgettable one. Walk or paddle upstream for hotter water, lie by the small damns and take in the view.

3. GAMLA LAUGIN / SECRET LAGOON

This pool is visited on our Golden Circle, Secret Lagoon & Bubble Tour and is a great introductory pool with easy access, changing facilities and showers. The Secret Lagoon is a unique natural hot spring, the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, built in 1891. It’s a large pool that was once used by local women to wash clothes in, and was the local swimming pool where children learnt to swim until 1947. The water holds at 38-40C (100-104 Fahrenheit) all year around. Here you can swim and float around, using the noodles provided, to find the hottest part of the lagoon. Once you are warm enough, take a short walk around the lagoon to see the beautiful landscape, original changing hut, natural geysirs heating the lagoon and the nearby greenhouse. There is a cafe here for a hot chocolate or snack afterwards.

4. SELJAVALLAUG

Seljavallalaug is an algae pool located in a very dramatic setting at the base of the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. It’s relatively easy to find but is quickly changing from a local, secret pool to one being visited by tourists. Located on the south coast and just a short drive from Seljalansfoss waterfall. To access, drive up the farm road past Hotel Edinborg and park at the car park by the guest houses. Make your way up through the valley following the river path. It’s a short 15-20min walk on rocky terrain, crossing one waterfall, but is relatively easy and kids will manage. The pool is manmade and built into the rock face. There is a small but basic changing hut where you can change and leave your belongings. The pool is naturally heated but can be a little cooler if it has rained or snowed recently. The tap feeding the pool is located at the top of the pool, where everyone gathers but hot water also trickles down the rock face. The pool is an algae pool so can feel a little odd but is amazing for the skin. Lie back and enjoy the landscape, imagine the activity of the mighty Eyjafjallajökull and the history of this pool.

This pool is cleaned by volunteers annually and you can make a donation by the entrance to the changing hut. Please enjoy but be respectful of the pool and its landscape, leave no trace.

5. FONTANA

A manmade geothermal spa located near the Golden Circle. This is popular with tourists and can be a good alternative to the Blue Lagoon, though on a much smaller scale. Take in the healing powers of the geothermal springs with natural pools. If you are brave enough then take a dip in the refreshing lake. After you have enjoyed the spa, head to their geothermal bakery to try the Icelandic way of making pot-baked lava bread. 

6. MÝVATN NATURE BATHS

The Blue Lagoon of the North, though a lot smaller, Myvatn was developed in 2004. Located on the sloped of Dalfjall, the baths have a beautiful backdrop of ochre coloured hills. Dalfjall is home to Icelands first geothermal power station. The milky blue colour of the water comes from 25 metres below you. The perfect place to enjoy a long hot soak in the 38-40 ̊C water or a seat in a sauna after hiking and travelling. There’s a cafe here too.

7. STÓRAGJÁ

Located at the bottom of a steaming lava fissure is a fairy tale hot spring. This is a very secret pool where the waters temperature is safe to bathe in but it’s often not recommended due to the algae growth. Make sure to read the signs as information is updated regularly. This is one for the more adventurous, bathe at your own risk.

8. GRETTISLAUG

Known in the Icelandic Sagas, this pool feel like its on the edge of the world. Grettislaug is located in the north of Iceland, on the coast. It is said that the famous Icelandic outlaw Grettir Ásmundason once swam 7km to the Icelandic shore from Drangey Island and regained his strength by bathing in the 42°C waters of this steamy pool.

9. VITI

Viti, meaning hell in Icelandic, is a volcanic crater filled with milky blue water. Located in the eastern Icelandic highlands, this is a pretty wild place for a swim where the water fluctuates between 20-60°C. When the Askja volcano erupted it moulded the landscape, forming the carter and making it one of Icelands most dramatic landscapes. Only accessible by 4WD and so winter is out due to dangerous weather and road conditions. This is another one for the more adventurous but we do recommend taking a tour here or listening to an experienced local guide before accessing.

10. LANDMANNALAUR

Set in some of the most stunning and dramatic scenery Iceland has to offer, this geothermal bath is located in the highlands of Iceland. The landscape here changes with the movement of the sun, a truly unique place surrounded by over 500 year old lava fields and mountains of yellow, blue, white and orange. The water here is 36-40°C all year round. Stay in one of the local cabins or camp, and hike the many treks. You will need to join a tour or self drive a 4WD to get here, access in the winter can be very challenging.


A Night in the Bubble

Text by Sonia Nicolson

A Night in the Bubble

Last week I had the chance to stay overnight in one of the Bubbles, so I took my Mum and we headed off for a night under the stars. A beautifully crisp winters day, we arrived into a winter wonderland, ready for the Aurora and to sleep under a blanket of stars. 

Some childhood dreams stay with us our entire lives. Sleeping under the stars or watching the Aurora Borealis dance might be one of them. To fulfil these dreams, the Bubble concept was born. It’s the ultimate glamping experience and perfect for viewing the Northern Lights. 

What are the Bubbles?

The Bubbles are a fully transparent, inflatable structure made out of fire-retardant PVC tarpaulin. Nestled in a small Icelandic wood they make for ideal Northern Lights viewing. Somethings referred to as the Bubble Hotel, these structures sleep two adults in a comfortable double bed. The bubble structure is kept inflated by a slight over-pressure from a noiseless ventilation system. It permanently renews the air inside 2-7 times the volume per hour and this way it prevents humidity. The system has heating elements with thermostat so the Bubble stays warm all winter.

Are the Bubbles all transparent?

Yes, although some offer a little more privacy with a white panel wrapping around the bottom of the walls at bed height. This however does not interfere with your view of the sky and you still feel like you are sleeping right in the woods.

Where are the Bubbles?

The Bubbles are located in the countryside, near the Golden Circle, however the location is kept secret until you have booked. This secret location is around an hours drive from Reykjavik and two hours from Keflavik Airport. Set back from the road and surrounded by trees, the Bubbles are nestled in a beautiful spot where you can see volcanos Katla and Eyjafjallajökull on the horizon. 

What is there to see?

The Bubbles are located in a very beautiful landscape which is picturesque, especially at sunrise. If the sky is clear of clouds then you will hopefully see a starry sky with some magical Northern Lights dancing above your head.

What is there to do?

Not a lot which is a good thing. This is an opportunity to truly chill out so lie back and take it all in. Nearby is the town of Fludir where you could take in the waters of the Secret Lagoon. This is a unique natural hot spring, the oldest swimming pool in Iceland (made in 1891). The water holds at 38-40 Celsius (100-104 Fahrenheit) all year around. Swim and float around, try to find the hottest part of the lagoon. You can also take a short walk around the lagoon to see the beautiful landscape, original changing hut, natural geysirs heating the lagoon and the nearby greenhouse.

Is food provided?

No, but you can store and prepare food and drinks in the service house. There is a fridge, kettle, coffee machine and a two-ring electric hob. There are plenty of dishes and a dish washer too.

Nearby is Minilik, an Ethiopian Restaurant which gets great reviews, and Mika, a family run restaurant specialising in handmade chocolates and langoustine dishes.

What should I bring?

Pack a small rucsac with you pyjamas, wash bag, camera (and tripod for Aurora shots), a good book and your swimming stuff for the Secret Lagoon. Wear good walking boots, a wind / waterproof coat, and layer up. You won’t need a towels or bedding, these are provided and the Bubble has extra blankets, electric blankets and a spare air heater so you will be cosy and warm. As the Bubbles are small, there isn’t enough room for a suitcase so leave that at your hotel or in a left luggage facility and just bring a small bag.

Where is the toilet?

The toilets are in the service house, a short walk from your Bubble. There are two shower rooms with sink and toilet. Towels are provided but bring your own for the Secret Lagoon.

Can I stay without the tour?

Unfortunately not, the Bubbles are part of the tour on offer by Northern Lights Iceland so you cannot stay without booking the tour. Northern Lights Iceland is a travel agent and not a Hotel. The tour is fabulous and takes you in a luxury suburban jeep to the Golden Circle stopping at Geysir, Gulfoss and the Secret Lagoon. The tour group is small, maximum six people, and there are only nine Bubbles on the site so it feels very private.

Can I self drive?

Yes, there is a small parking bay on site for self drivers but you still pay the full cost of the tour even if driving yourself.

How much does it cost?

59,900ISK per person (use a currency convertor for USD or other currencies)

Please note, the minimum age is six years old, for health and safety reasons.

Where do I book?

Book your Bubble Tour here


Customize Your Tour


3-4 Day Tour Idea

Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon Tour: ISK 41,900

Details:


Operating: All year

Pick-up time: 9:45 – 9:00am from guesthouses/hotels in Reykjavik

Included: Luxury SUV or super jeep English guided tour of the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon transfer (tickets are not included to the Blue Lagoon, please prepurchase your tickets here: www.bluelagoon.com)

Guide to traveller ratio: 1:6

Returns: We return to Reykjavik around 17:00

Minimum Age: 6 years old

Difficulty: Easy

South Coast & Glacier Hike: ISK 64,900

Details:


  • Operating: All year
  • Pick-up time: 8:45 – 9:00 from guesthouses/hotels in Reykjavik
  • Included: Luxury SUV or super jeep, English guided tour of the South Coast, 1 hour glacier hike (includes all necessary equipment)
  • Guide to traveller ratio: 1:6
  • Returns: We return to Reykjavik around 20:00
  • Minimum Age: 8 years old
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Northern Lights & Stargazing: ISK 21.900

Details:


  • 1 September – 15 April
  • Pick-up time: from guesthouses/hotels in Reykjavik (1-30 Sept 9pm, 1-15 March 8pm, 16 March-15 April 9pm)
  • Included: English guided tour on super jeep to see the Northern Lights with stargazing, use of telescope, hot chocolate and kleina (Icelandic sweet treat), free photograph of you under the Icelandic nights sky
  • Guide to travellers ratio: 1:7
  • Returns: We return to Reykjavik around 1-2am
  • Minimum Age: no age limit
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy

$$$$$ Apotek

$$$$ Fish Market

$$$ Burro

$$ Islenski Barrin

$ Cafe Loki


About Us

Our Mission


We are the only travel operator in Iceland focusing on travel services for the winter season only. Our mission is to create a nest of innovative & exclusive travel products you can only find at our website.

About Us


Flotferðir ehf
Reykjavik
Tel: +354-7734444
Kt. 631014-0890
VAT nr. 122908
Support: info@northernlightsiceland.com
Billing: invoices@floatingtours.com


Private Tours

Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs.

If you wish to travel in a small group or just by yourself we can offer you private tours that are sure to meet your expectations.

If none of the above work for your itinerary, please contact our private tour specialists at: Northern Lights Iceland and they’ll be happy to assist.


Top of the World Tour

About the tour


We begin this journey in the late afternoon, starting from Reykjavik and head towards the breathtaking glacier, Langjökull. After getting dressed in the proper clothing and equipment, we will drive to the base camp where your 2 hour snowmobile journey begins.

After a safety briefing and short training, you’re ready to go. It’s an exhilarating ride as we make our way along the top of the glacier, riding over glacial rifts and bumps.

On a clear winters night, if the sky is clear, you will hopefully see the wonderful performance of Northern Lights as you drive around on this glacier. Be sure to take it all in, it’s truly unforgettable.

The aim of this evening tour is to spot the Aurora Borealis dancing across the sky so keep an eye out and remember your camera for that memorable shot.

After the ride, there will be light refreshments before heading back to Reykjavik.

To help you get the most out of your magical lights experience, this tour also includes entrance to the Aurora Reykjavik exhibition in the old harbour area of downtown Reykjavik. The exhibition is Iceland’s first Northern Lights centre and has educational and recreational displays on offer.


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

Pickup and drop off occurs within Reykjavik only. Please contact us with any questions about your hotel/guesthouse location and if it is included within our pickup/drop off area.

This tour is scheduled to be 9 to 10 hours. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

This tour is scheduled to be 9 to 10 hours. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

We recommend dressing in warm, layered clothing for under the overalls provided for snowmobiling. We recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.

optional: extra set of clothes in case they get wet, muddy or dirty

Please note: those looking to drive the snowmobile must bring a valid driver’s license and be at least 17 years old

Overalls, gloves, shoe covers and helmets.

Yes, solo-travellers are able to book this tour. Please note that there is a minimum number of guests needed for this tour to continue. Contact us for further information.

You can also drive solo on the snowmobile for an extra fee. Please refer to the information on the booking calendar.

Yes, it is advised you bring along your camera to take photos of the beautiful Icelandic nature. Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage due to rain/waterfalls by keeping it in a protective case. We are not responsible for the breakage of any equipment.

No food is provided on this tour. Guests are allowed to bring with them light snacks and beverages.

If you would like to drive, rather than be a passenger, you must bring a valid drivers license and be at least 17 years old.

Book Now!

We run tours on a minimum number of 4 adults. If this is not reached a week prior to departure, the tour will be cancelled and you'll receive a full refund.

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Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs. Please see Private Tours for more information.


South Coast Tour

About the tour


We begin this journey, starting in Reykjavik and travel towards the breathtaking waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Be sure to watch out the window at the beautiful landscape, seaside and hopefully glimpse the Westman Islands.

At Seljalandsfoss, make your way up the steep staircase to get a unique chance to walk behind a waterfall. Feel the power as the water drops from the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajokull.

Back in the jeep as we drive to Skogafoss. Be sure to catch this waterfall from two views, in front and above. Do you have what it takes to walk the 60 meters of stairs?

We will make our way to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, located near Vik. Reynisfjara is home to the iconic basalt stacks. This black sand beach is widely popular for photographers and people who wish to enjoy a nice walk on the rocky sand.

Please be aware that these are treacherous waters. High, powerful waves which sometimes flood the beach, can easily carry you out to sea.

We will now continue the journey back to Reykjavik. This is your chance to take in all the sights one last time. Don’t miss the sprawling desert black sands of Skeidarasandur and make sure to look out over the sea to catch a glimpse of the Westman Islands (Vestmannaaeyjar), 15 natural volcano islands and home to about 4,000 people.

You will also notice the famous Eyjafjallajokull which is a volcano completely covered by a glacier ice cap and the site of the 2010 volcanic eruption. While this glacier is one of the smaller one’s in Iceland, it’s summit still has an elevation of 1,651 meters.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the sky, here’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights as we drive back.


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

Pickup and drop off occurs within Reykjavik only. Please contact us with any questions about your hotel/guesthouse location and if it is included within our pickup/drop off area.

This tour is scheduled to be 8 to 10 hours, depending on road conditions. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

We recommend dressing in warm, layered clothing so you are able to remove or add clothing if the temperature changes. For your outer layer, please make sure it is both wind and water resistant, though waterproof is best. We recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots, sneakers/trainers. Depending on the season, these should also be water resistant or waterproof.

Yes, solo-travellers are able to book this tour. Please note that there is a minimum number of guests needed for this tour to continue. Contact us for further information.

Yes, it is advised you bring along your camera to take photos of the beautiful Icelandic nature. Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage due to rain/waterfalls by keeping it in a protective case. We are not responsible for the breakage of any equipment.

No food is provided on this tour. Guests are allowed to bring with them light snacks and beverages.

Book Now!

We run tours on a minimum number of 4 adults. If this is not reached a week prior to departure, the tour will be cancelled and you'll receive a full refund.

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Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs. Please see Private Tours for more information.


South Coast & Snowmobile Tour

About the tour


We begin this journey, starting in Reykjavik, and head towards the breathtaking glacier, Solheimajokull. After getting dressed in the proper clothing and equipment, we will drive to the base camp where your snowmobile journey begins.

After a safety briefing and short training, you’re ready to go. It’s an exhilarating ride as we make our way along the top of the glacier, riding over glacial rifts and bumps. Be sure to take a moment and snap some wonderful and unforgettable photos.

After the hours snowmobile journey we will make our way back to Reykjavik. On the way back we stop at the breathtaking waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Be sure to watch out the window at the beautiful landscape and seaside.

Our first stop is Skogafoss. Be sure to catch this waterfall from two views, in front and above. Do you have what it takes to walk the 60 meters of stairs?

Back in the jeep we drive to Seljalandsfoss, the last stop before returning to Reykjavik. Here you can make your way up the steep staircase to catch a glimpse of what it looks like behind a waterfall. Feel the power as the water drops from the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajokull.


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

Pickup and drop off occurs within Reykjavik only. Please contact us with any questions about your hotel/guesthouse location and if it is included within our pickup/drop off area.

This tour is scheduled to be 8 to 10 hours. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

We recommend dressing in warm, layered clothing for under the overalls provided for snowmobiling. We recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.

optional: extra set of clothes in case they get wet, muddy or dirty

Please note: those looking to drive the snowmobile must bring a valid driver’s license and be at least 17 years old

Yes, solo-travellers are able to book this tour. Please note that there is a minimum number of guests needed for this tour to continue. Contact us for further information.

You can also drive solo on the snowmobile for an extra fee. Please refer to the information on the booking calendar.

Yes, it is advised you bring along your camera to take photos of the beautiful Icelandic nature. Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage due to rain/waterfalls by keeping it in a protective case. We are not responsible for the breakage of any equipment.

No food is provided on this tour. Guests are allowed to bring with them light snacks and beverages.

You will be supplied with water resistant overalls, helmets, gloves and balaclavas, or ski mask for the snowmobile trip.

If you would like to drive, rather than be a passenger, you must bring a valid drivers license and be at least 17 years old.

Book Now!

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Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs. Please see Private Tours for more information.


Northern Lights & Stargazing

About the tour


For this Northern Lights tour, we will leave Reykjavik and drive to the best possible location for the lights. This will most likely be between 30 minutes to one hour outside of Reykjavik, away from the city lights. These locations are dictated by many conditions including weather, cloud coverage and light activity. We typically stop at one location and our expert guides will determine if its worth a wait or to move on according to the forecast. It’s truly a magnificent experience and Iceland is one of the more popular and reliable places to see the Aurora.

Leave the city lights behind in search of the multi-colored, magical lights in the sky! Watch the magical green whisks of light dance across the sky under a canopy of stars. If you are lucky you might spot a glimpse of purple, pink, red, white or blue. No sighting is ever the same as each time the lights are seen, they look and dance differently. The activity depends on many things from cloud condition and weather to atmosphere and strength of activity. This means that everyones experience is unique and truly magical.

Our tours are run in small groups so we can get off the beaten path and help you catch the lights by teaching you the best photography skills for your camera or phone.

You can also rent a tripod for that extra still shot! But don’t worry, our guide also takes a photo of you under the lights which you will receive, for free, the next day.

Whilst we wait for the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis, you can pass the time by gazing through our state of the art telescope. View millions of stars above your head, an experience on it’s own!

In the late evening, we will warm up with some homemade hot chocolate and a traditional Icelandic kleina. If no lights are seen by midnight then we may extend up to 60 minutes if our expert guides believe the chances are good.

After the viewing, we will load back into the jeep to make our way back to Reykjavik, normally a 30-45 minutes drive, arriving back between 1-2.00am.

Please note that the Northern Lights can only been seen on a clear winters night so wrap up warm. We recommend a wind and waterproof coat and hiking boots, sneakers/trainers.


Disclaimer:

Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

We offer pickup within Reykjavik at your hotel/guesthouse.

Warm, layered winter clothing that is thick and preferably thermal. Wear a wind and waterproof coat and remember your hat, scarf and gloves.

This tour is scheduled to be 3 to 5 hours. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

Yes, it is advised you bring with you a camera to take photos of the beautiful dancing lights. If you are bringing a DSLR then we can teach you how to alter your cameras settings to work best for night photography. Please note that tripods are available to hire. You may be able to use your smartphone camera but your photographs will not be as good in quality.

Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage.

We will provide homemade hot chocolate and an Icelandic kleina (sweet treat) on the tour. You may also bring with you light refreshments to eat or drink.

You may rent, at an added cost, a tripod or warmer pads for your hands or feet (they’ll keep warm for 5 to 8 hours).

Tripod ISK 1,000

Warmer pads for hands ISK 500

Warmer pads for toes ISK 500

The Northern Lights are not easily predicted therefore can not be guaranteed. If you do not see the lights on the tour then you are welcome to join us again for free, subject to availability. Contact us for more details.

A Go/NoGo decision is made by our meteorology expert at 6:30pm the night of your tour. You will receive an email letting you know if the tour is going ahead. In case of cancellation, please check your email at 6.30pm and if the tour has been cancelled then you will be given a re-schedule or refund option.

Book Now!

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Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs. Please see Private Tours for more information.

Didn´t find what you are looking for? Here are some more tours!


2 Day Jokulsarlon & Ice Cave Tour

About the tour


Day One

We begin this journey, starting in Reykjavik and travel along the south coast of Iceland. Be sure to watch out the window at the sprawling desert black sands of Skeidarasandur. Look out over the seaside to catch a glimpse of the Westman Islands (Vestmannaaeyjar) which are about 15 natural volcano islands and home to about 4,000 people.

Our first stop, depending on weather conditions, will be Reynisfjara, the Black Sand Beach. Located nearby the small fishing village of Vik. Reynisfjara is home to the iconic basalt stacks. This black sand beach is widely popular for photographers and people who wish to enjoy a nice walk on the rocky sand. Please be aware that these are treacherous waters. High, powerful waves which sometimes flood the beach, can easily carry you out to sea.

Back into the jeep as we journey to our next stop on the South Coast Tour, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This is a truly magnificent sight and will leave you speechless.

Imagine huge icebergs slowly breaking off the glacier and drifting out to sea, as you stand there surrounded by a dramatic landscape of mountains and snow. As the ice floats out to sea, larger pieces often split or break off making groaning noises. Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially seals playing amongst the ice. It is such a peaceful and tranquil place. You may also recognise this location from movies like James Bond: Die Another Day and Tomb Raider.

A short walk down to the coastline and you will arrive at the Diamond Beach, a length of coastline covered in large and small pieces of beached ice. As the powerful waves come ashore, they start to corrode these diamond shapes and you can watch them slowly drift out to sea. A truly magical sight and they make for some great photo opportunities.

We then drive to our hotel for a good nights rest. Keep an eye on the sky for a glimpse of the Northern Lights!


Day Two

After a hotel breakfast, we will make our way towards Skaftafell Nature Preserve where we will explore the ice cave at Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier which covers nearly 8% of Iceland’s surface. This ice cave, formed by glacier floods centuries ago, will be an adventure you won’t forget.

After your ice cave exploration we will continue the journey back Reykjavik stopping off at the breathtaking waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. You will also notice Eyjafjallajokull, a volcano completely covered by a glacier ice cap and the site of the 2010 volcanic eruption. While this glacier is one of the smaller one’s in Iceland, it’s summit still has an elevation of 1,651 meters.

At Skogafoss, be sure to catch this waterfall from two views, in front and above. Do you have what it takes to walk the 60 meters of stairs?

Back in the jeep for the drive to Seljalandsfoss, make your way up the steep staircase to catch a glimpse of what it looks like behind a waterfall. Feel the power as the water drops from the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajokull.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the sky, here’s another chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights! The tour will drop you off at your hotel/guesthouse in Reykjavik.


Accommodation

Our preferred accommodation partners for this tour are:

  • Fosshotel, Glacier Lagoon
  • Fosshotel, Vatnajokull
  • Gerdi Guesthouse


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

Pickup and drop off occurs within Reykjavik only. Please contact us with any questions about your hotel/guesthouse location and if it is included within our pickup/drop off area.

Accommodation depends on the time of the year and what is available. For this tour we will stay at Hotel Gullfoss, or equivalent.

We recommend dressing in warm, layered clothing so you are able to remove or add clothing if the temperature changes. For your outer layer, please make sure it is both wind and water resistant, though waterproof is best. We recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots, sneakers/trainers. Depending on the season, these should also be water resistant or waterproof.

As this is an overnight tour, please bring your overnight clothes. The hotel/guesthouse will provide linens and a towel for showering.

This tour is an overnight tour. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

There is no guarantee for the Northern Lights but if you are traveling during the winter months, and there is a clear sky, there is of course a chance.

Yes, solo-travellers are able to book this tour. Please note that there is a minimum number of guests needed for this tour to continue. Contact us for further information.

Single occupancy hotel rooms are at an added cost, please see the booking calendar.

Yes, it is advised you bring along your camera to take photos of the beautiful Icelandic nature. Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage due to rain/waterfalls by keeping it in a protective case. We are not responsible for the breakage of any equipment.

No food is provided on this tour. Guests are allowed to bring with them light snacks and beverages.

Book Now!

We run tours on a minimum number of 4 adults (regular tours). If this is not reached a week prior to departure, the tour will be cancelled and you'll receive a full refund. Single occupancy charge.

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2 Day Into the Glacier & Snaefellsnes Tour

About the tour


Day One

Start the day being picked up at your hotel/guesthouse (or specified location) in Reykjavik. From there we will make our way towards the beautiful landscape of the Snaelfellsnes Peninsula which boasts countless natural wonders, unique landscapes and a stunning coastline.

The first stop is the breathtaking Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall, located a short walk away from the equally beautiful Kirkjufell mountain, Iceland’s most photographed mountain. You will recognise it by it’s unique cone-shape. Kirkjufell is known as ‘Church Mountain’ as it resembles a church steeple and has acted as a landmark for seafarers and travellers over the centuries. This area is very photogenic, you might also recognise this location from Game of Thrones.

Continuing along the coast, we pass Gufuskalar before stopping at Djupalonssandur Black Sand Beach. This location was once a bustling fishing village, when Snaefellsnes Peninsula functioned as one of Iceland’s most active trading ports.

Walking down towards Djúpalónssandura Black Sand Beach you will notice four large stones of varying sizes weighing between 23kg (50lbs) and 155kg (342lbs), used as lifting stones to test the strength of fishermen. The stones are named Amlodi (useless), Halfdreattingur (weakling), Halfsterkur (half-strong) and Fullsterkur (full-strong). If you walk around the beach you may discover rusty iron remnants of the 1948 shipwrecked scattered along the beach.

The journey continues towards Arnarstapi, a small fishing village on the southern coast of Snaelfellsnes. Once in Arnarstapi you will get to marvel at the authentic and charming Icelandic houses, ragged cliffs and ocean views. The beach area here is also home to large colonies of arctic tern.

Back in the jeep as we drive towards our hotel for a good nights rest. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the sky, here’s another chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.


Day Two

The next morning we head off on a truly unique experience as we venture into Langjokull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. The ice tunnels are carved into the glacier to create a safe and easily accessible experience.

We ride up to Langjokull glacier in a specially modified vehicle. On the ride up, you will get a chance to enjoy the magnificent environment with spectacular views across this icy barren terrain. As we approach the glacier, we stop to get crampons on so you can easily walk comfortably on the ice. Don’t worry about the difficulty of this tour as the tunnel is well lit and the ground is relatively even throughout.

Our experienced tour guide leads you into the heart of the ice capped glacier where you can see the beautiful blue and white ice, and wander around for a truly memorable hour – don’t forget your camera.

The guide will explain a little on the geography of the glacier, how they are changing and the incredible creation of the ice tunnels. Natural caves do form in other glaciers however these are often too difficult to access and can flood or be unstable.

This is a once in a lifetime experience as Iceland is the only country where these impressive tunnels have been created so we can easily, and safely gain access.

After our exploration we head off the glacier and get back in our jeep to return to Reykjavik. On our drive back, keep an eye out for the Aurora Borealis dancing in the sky. This natural phenomenon is hard to predict but on a clear winters night, there’s always a chance of a magical display of Northern Lights.


Accomodation

Our preferred accommodation partners for this tour are:

  • Fosshotel Stykkishholmur
  • Hotel Budir
  • Hotel Husafell


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

We offer pickup within Reykjavik: at hotels, guesthouses or alternative locations such as bus stations or car rental offices.

Please let us know of your pickup and drop off locations as soon as possible.

Accommodation depends on the time of the year and what is available.

We recommend dressing in warm, layered clothing so you are able to remove or add clothing if the temperature changes. For your outer layer, please make sure it is both wind and water resistant, though waterproof is best. For you feet, make sure you are wearing comfortable and sturdy walking shoes/hiking boots/sneakers/trainers. Depending on the season, these should also be water resistant or waterproof. Please dress according to the season.

The sun can be very bright on the glacier so we also advice bringing a pair of sunglasses.

As this tour is overnight, please bring your overnight clothes. The hotel/guesthouse will provide linens and a towel for showering.

This tour is a 2 day tour.

There is no guarantee for the Northern Lights, but if you are traveling during the winter months, and the sky is clear, there is of course a chance.

Yes, solo-travellers are able to book this tour. Please know there is a minimum number of guests needed for this tour to continue. Contact us for further information.

Please note that single occupancy hotel rooms are at an added cost, please see the booking calendar.

Yes, it is advised you bring along with you a camera to take photos of the beautiful Icelandic nature.

Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage due to rain by keeping it in a protective case.  We are not responsible for the breakage of any equipment.

There is no food provided on this tour. Guests are allowed to bring with them light snacks and beverages.

You will be supplied with all the necessary equipment needed for the cave tour.

Book Now!

We run tours on a minimum number of 4 adults. If this is not reached a week prior to departure, the tour will be cancelled and you'll receive a full refund. Single occupancy charge.

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Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon Tour

About the tour


Starting in Reykjavik, this once in a lifetime tour starts with all the iconic sights of the famous Golden Circle. You will travel in a luxury jeep (6 people max) to Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and home to the first parliament, mid-Atlantic crest and Silfra fissure. The name Thingvellir means “Parliament Fields” in Icelandic. The general assembly, the Althing, was established here in 930 AD making it one of the oldest parliaments in the world. Thingvellir is also known for its geology and has been a protected area since 1928. You can walk the paths along and between the Eurasian and North-American tectonic plates, exploring nature and take in the beautiful views.

Our next stop is the famous Geysir hot springs area. It is located in the geothermal active valley of Haukadalur. Today the most active Geysir is Strokkur, an energetic spouting hot spring which erupts every 6 to 9 minutes. The white column of boiling water forms a beautiful half bubble before spraying up super-heated steaming water. It can reach a height of 15-30m (60-90 feet). Strokkur (the churn) was formed in an earthquake in 1789. Excuse the smell, it’s the natural boiling sulfur!

After Geysir, we go to the powerful Gullfoss waterfall. This is one of the most popular sights in Iceland. It runs down the river Hvítá in a curved, three-stepped staircase form. It’s a very powerful experience to walk close to the waterfall on the west side as an average of 140 cubic meters of water falls per second (80 in winter). The falls send moisture into the air so be prepared to get a little wet. We recommend wearing waterproof clothing here.

After a full day of sightseeing we head to the famous Blue Lagoon to relax and unwind (ticket not included in tour, please pre-purchase you ticket). Here you will have ample time to enjoy this magical pool, swim and float around in the healing blue waters. Take your time to explore the lagoon, cave, waterfall shower, sauna, steam-room and much more. Why not also try the famous Blue Lagoon Silica Mud Mask or unique Algae Mask.

This is where the tour ends and you will be driven back to your accommodation in Reykjavik.

Blue Lagoon Ticket: MUST be booked for 17:00


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

Pickup and drop off occurs within Reykjavik only. Please contact us with any questions about your hotel/guesthouse location and if it is included within our pickup/drop off area.

This tour is scheduled to be between 9-10 hours, depending on road conditions.

Time spent at each stop along the Golden Circle will be dependent on guests wishes and the driver’s recommendations. Weather and daylight hours may affect the time spent at each site.

Please bring with you a bathing suit and towel for the Blue Lagoon.

Warm layered clothing for the day tour and preferably a waterproof outer layer. We advice you wear good walking shoes or hiking boots, sneakers/trainers.

Optional: snacks, food, and/or beverages.

At this time, we are unable to accommodate solo-traveler.

Please contact us directly for guidance.

No, food is not included on this tour.

There is a cafe located at both stops on the Golden Circle, and snacks / beverages can be purchased at the Blue Lagoon.

No, the ticket to the Blue Lagoon is not included in the price. Blue Lagoon Ticket: MUST be booked for 17:00

Book Now!

We run tours on a minimum number of 4 adults. If this is not reached a week prior to departure, the tour will be cancelled and you'll receive a full refund.

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Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs. Please see Private Tours for more information.


Classic Northern Lights Hunt from Reykjavik

About the tour


This tour will begin from Reykjavik and takes you on a hunt according to the nights aurora forecast. We leave the city lights behind and head out into the wilderness. The elusive Northern Lights are difficult to predict and not guaranteed so be patient and keep your fingers crossed for a phenomenal and memorable night.

It’s truly a magnificent experience and Iceland is one of the more popular and reliable places to see the Aurora. No sighting is ever the same as each time the lights are seen, they look and dance differently. The activity depends on many things from cloud condition and weather to atmosphere and strength of activity. The most common colour to see is green but if you are lucky you might spot a glimpse of purple, pink, red, white or blue. This means that everyones experience is unique and truly magical.

To help you get the most out of your magical lights experience, this tour also includes entrance to the Aurora Reykjavik Exhibition in the old harbour area of downtown Reykjavik. The exhibition is Iceland’s first Northern Lights centre and has educational and recreational displays on offer.

As the Northern Lights can only be seen on a clear winters night, you will need to wrap up warm in wind and waterproof clothing. Remember to bring your camera gear and tripod for that memorable shot.

The Northern Lights are not easily predicted therefore can not be guaranteed. If you do not see the lights on your tour then you are welcome to join us again, for free, subject to availability. Contact us for more details.


Disclaimer
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

We offer pickup within Reykjavik, Gardabaer, Hafnarfjordur and Mosfellsbaer.

Warm layered clothing and a good wind and waterproof coat. We recommend wearing hiking boots but you can wear sneakers/trainers too.

This tour is scheduled to be 3 to 4 hours. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

Yes, you may be a solo traveler, please see the booking calendar.

Yes, it is advised you bring with you a camera to take photos of the beautiful dancing lights. If you are bringing a DSLR then we can teach you how to alter your cameras settings to work best for night photography. You may be able to use your smartphone camera but your photographs will not be as good in quality.

Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage.

We do not offer any food or beverages on this tour.

No equipment is provided on this tour.

The Northern Lights are not easily predicted therefore can not be guaranteed. If you do not see the lights on the tour then you are welcome to join us again for free, subject to availability. Contact us for more details.

Book Now!

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South Coast & Thorsmork

About the tour


We begin this journey, starting in Reykjavik and travel towards the breathtaking waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Be sure to watch out the window at the beautiful landscape, seaside and hopefully get a glimpse of the Westman Islands.

At Seljalandsfoss, make your way up the steep staircase to catch a glimpse of what it looks like behind a waterfall. Feel the power as the water drops from the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajokull.

From here the tour begins off-road towards Thorsmork Valley, one of Iceland’s most beautiful highlands. Crossing rivers and rough terrain we head to the Gigjokull Glacier, an outlet of the famous Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Your experienced driver will take you as far as the weather conditions allow. After a short walk around the area, the tour continues its journey down the south coast towards Skogafoss Waterfall.

At Skogafoss be sure to catch this waterfall from two views, in front and above. Do you have what it takes to walk the 60 meters of stairs?

The final stop of the day before returning to Reykjavik is Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, located near Vik. Reynisfjara is home to the iconic basalt stacks. This black sand beach is widely popular for photographers and people who wish to enjoy a nice walk on the rocky sand. Please be aware that these are treacherous waters. High, powerful waves which sometimes flood the beach, can easily carry you out to sea.


Disclaimer:
Northern Lights Iceland is not liable for any loss, damage, accidents, injuries or sickness during it’s tours. This also applies for any changes in tour schedule due to weather, strikes, or any uncontrolled outside force. Northern Lights Iceland reserves the right to cancel, alter or postpone any tour for any reason. Please see our full terms for more details.


FAQ

The most common questions for this tour.

Pickup and drop off occurs within Reykjavik only. Please contact us with any questions about your hotel/guesthouse location and if it is included within our pickup/drop off area.

This tour is scheduled to be 8 to 10 hours, depending on road conditions. This is dependent on weather and/or time spent at each stop.

We recommend dressing in warm, layered clothing so you are able to remove or add clothing if the temperature changes. For your outer layer, please make sure it is both wind and water resistant, though waterproof is best. We recommend wearing comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots, sneakers/trainers. Depending on the season, these should also be water resistant or waterproof.

Yes, solo-travellers are able to book this tour. Please note that there is a minimum number of guests needed for this tour to continue. Contact us for further information.

Yes, it is advised you bring along your camera to take photos of the beautiful Icelandic nature. Always protect your camera to prevent any breakage due to rain/waterfalls by keeping it in a protective case. We are not responsible for the breakage of any equipment.

No food is provided on this tour. Guests are allowed to bring with them light snacks and beverages.

Book Now!

We run tours on a minimum number of 4 adults. If this is not reached a week prior to departure, the tour will be cancelled and you'll receive a full refund.

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Our private tours are organised around your wants and needs. Please see Private Tours for more information.

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2 Day South Coast & Jokulsarlon Tour