Mid Sussex Explorer Scouts to Iceland
Between 17th and 24th February 2013, 39 Explorer Scouts and Leaders ventured to Iceland for 1 week of adventure.
On Monday, we ventured to Hafnarfjörður to experience riding Icelandic horses. We were greeted by stunning surroundings of lava fields and mountains and the remarkably friendly horses were a joy to ride for all.
On Tuesday, we were lucky enough to venture out onto the Sólheimajökull Glacier tongue. Pulling up to the Glacier, after 15 minutes on a bumpy, off-road track, the first thing to strike us was the sheer scale of the Glacier. What went on was only the start of what goes on to Iceland's second largest Ice Cap. This walk took us up towards the top of the tongue, showing us the different types of ice. We also got up close and personal to crevasses, water holes and large drop offs. This was certainly a lifetime experience! Even if you returned to the same Glacier in the future, it would have changed. As our guide said, 'the Glacier is a living creature, moving and changing all the time.'
As well as Glacier walking, Tuesday took us along the South Coast of Iceland. First stop after Glacier Walking was the 60m high waterfall of Skogafoss. This powerful waterfall has cut itself inbetween the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull Glaciers. For those that took on the challenge of walking up the steep path to the top of the falls where there were greeted by an incredible view across the plains of Southern Iceland, extending out to sea.
The second waterfall, whilst not as big or powerful as Skogafoss, had the quirk of being able to walk behind it. Seljalandsfoss had its own charm and those that did venture behind it had the experience of being able to hear it through the rocks. Some, however, saw it as an opportunity to get soaking!
Wednesday saw us going out on the open seas, well...the waters surrounding Reykjavik more like. Whilst we didn't see any whales, we were lucky enough to see a whole pod of dolphins. The highlight of this trip was sea fishing – being able to catch and cook cod directly from the Atlantic Ocean was special. The consensus was that the fish we had that day would be very hard to match anywhere else in the world!
After the delicious fish that we tasted on the Wednesday, we got off to a foodie start on the Thursday. A geothermal tasting session was waiting for us at Geysir - a chance to taste bread and eggs cooked in the ground. We also got to see Strokkur geyser erupt numerous times, with a Harlem Shake filmed in time with the eruptions. Geysir demonstrated the geothermal properties of the country and the tasting session showed one benefit!
Next stop was Gullfoss waterfall – a huge and powerful waterfall eclipsing the size and ferocity of the other waterfalls we had seen in Southern Iceland. We also got to visit Pingvellir National Park. Not only is this a special place for the Icelandic people, but it is one of the only places in the world where you can see the effect of the tectonic plates!
Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city, was our base for the duration of the trip. Staying in a hostel in the city, there were plenty of opportunities to go and discover the shops, sights and stories of this wonderful city. With the Esja Mountain range providing a backdrop to the city, the northernmost capital city in the world took us in and 'wowed' the group. The colourful rooftops of the houses, the futuristic Harpa Concert Hall and the vast range of shops were just some of the highlights for the free time within the group.