Sitting just outside the Arctic Circle, Iceland still feels the icy influence of the northern polar region. Winters are dark and very cold with temperatures low enough to freeze the mighty waters of the Gullfoss waterfall. But far beneath the snow and rock on the surface, a warm heart beats. Iceland is one of the most volcanically active places on the planet. So even as temperatures drop, the steam from countless hot springs rises steadfastly over the landscape. At the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, the geothermal waters have been harnessed to create one of the biggest and best thermal baths in the world complete with a hot, powerful waterfall.
As the ice and snow melt for the summer, more of Iceland’s volcanic heritage is unveiled. Immense expanses of solidified lava flows – young in geological terms – are yet to be colonised by plants and black sand beaches line the shores.
Due to the wild and volcanically active interior, most of Iceland’s settlements are situated on its periphery. Fishing has long been a mainstay of the economy as has whaling in times gone by. Perhaps partly due to its relative isolation, many myths and legends hold strong, even today. Tales of the hidden folk and other mystical beings abound; disturb their homes at your peril!
Some of our polar voyages end in Iceland. Look out for minke and other whales in The Denmark Strait – the stretch of water between Greenland and Iceland. Around Iceland’s coast, large colonies of seabirds thrive including the endearing puffin with its brightly coloured parrot-like beak.