First Hotel Kopavogur Collab: Golden Circle Adventures

Hello again!

This is my final blog post on my recent Iceland trip. I hope you enjoyed reading my previous posts!

Here are the links to my previous Iceland posts:

  1. Post 1
  2.  Post 2
  3.  Post 3

 

During our last few days in Iceland, we stayed at First Hotel Kópavogur. First Hotel Reykjavik Kópavogur is located in the second largest town in Iceland, Kópavogur, only 7 km distance from Reykjavík city center. The hotel has 24/7 self-check in and is in the middle of a grown neighborhood in walking distance from restaurants and Iceland ‘s largest and most modern shopping mall.

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First Hotel Kópavogur works with tour companies providing a long list of activities, like the Northern Lights tour, Snæfellsnes tour, Golden Circle tour and many more.

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We were able to join both the Northern Lights (9900 ISK) and Golden Circle (10900ISK) tours. For the Northern lights tour, Here is how it works: Every day the company will take a look at the forecast for the evening. First, you need activity of the lights. Second, you need to have a clear sky. And last you need to get out of the city to rid of the light pollution.

If conditions are favorable, they will send guests an email. If they don’t t find any lights, you have the option of going again for free. If the tour never operates due to unfavorable weather conditions, you will get a 100% refund.

However, we were not that lucky to catch any Northern lights during our two-week stay in Iceland.

The Golden Circle tour, the most popular tourist route in the country, is an 8-hour day trip. You will explore the most visited natural nature attractions in the southern part of Iceland, Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, Þingvellir National Park and the volcanic crater Kerid.  This full-day tour of Iceland’s stunning Southern part is ideal for nature lovers.

Þingvellir National Park

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Þingvellir – which translates directly to ‘the fields of parliament’, became a National Park in 1930. In 2004, it was accepted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The number of tourists visiting Þingvellir National Park increased by 77% in ten years. Located just 45 minutes’ drive from Reykjavík, and the first stop on the Golden Circle, these numbers are only expected to increase with the rate of tourism

Iceland is divided by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; some parts of it, such as the Westfjords and Reyjavík, are on the North American tectonic plate, while others, such as Vatnajökull glacier and the East Fjords, are on the Eurasian plate. Iceland is the only place in the world where this rift is above sea-level, and nowhere can you see the edges of both plates as clearly as in Þingvellir.

As you enter the park from Reykjavík, you descend a steep cliff into a valley. Looking upon the face of this cliff is to literally look at the edge of North America. If you drive through the park, you will ascend on the other side adjacent to another wall; this is Eurasia. The valley in between, in which Þingvellir is contained, is the rift valley.

You are welcome to walk alongside both of these plates. One of the park’s most pleasant walks takes you between the edge of the North-American plate and an old part of the wall that collapsed away; this is called the Almannagjá gorge. This path impresses the geological processes going on here upon you very clearly, and ends with a charming waterfall called Öxaráfoss. This is also one of the locations where Game of Thrones was filmed at.

The tectonic plates move apart at approximately 2.5 centimetres a year and have done for millenniums. The effects of this movement are very clear within the park. Lava fields fill the valley, from magma that welled up as the continents spread, and the whole area is littered with ravines, ripped open by centuries of earthquakes.

Earthquakes continue every day in Þingvellir, although most are far too minor to be felt. No volcano has gone off in the area in 2000 years, but they are not considered extinct. More eruptions are expected; the question is only as to when.

While visiting Þingvellir is a highly sought-after experience and is very rewarding, the number of visitors coming through the park has had a significantly negative effect on the nature. As tourism boomed, infrastructure struggled to keep up.

The moss that covers the lava rock throughout the park is incredibly delicate, and those who have not stuck to the paths during their visits have damaged much of it; it will likely take decades to recover fully. The heavy metals in coins that people have thrown into a ‘wishing well’ have seeped into the lake and are now above appropriate levels. Those staying at the campsite have been known to leave their waste behind. These are just a few of the ways tourism has damaged the park.

Visitors to Þingvellir can greatly help its survival by respecting the basic rules and leaving as little impact as possible. Ideally, Þingvellir can be a beautifully preserved place that will leave you wanting to bring the ideals of natural beauty and cultural protection back home with you.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Iceland is 10300 square kilometres and 11% of the country is covered with glaciers?

Laugarvatn

Laugarvatn is a shallow lake, about 2 km2 in size, and is located in the inlands of Árnessýsla, midway between Þingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir, 100 km from Reykjavík. Under its floor there are hot springs heating the lake so it is warm and suitable for bathing all year round.

“Laugar” means places of wash. “Vatn” means water. The locals go there to shower, wash their clothes, cook and even bake breads. That’s right, people actually bake their breads in the ground because it is so heated by the hot springs!

Efstidalur Dairy Farm

In Efstidalur you will get a unique and different experience. Right in the middle of the Golden Circle, you get a glance of the farm life in Iceland. This family farm has opened up for tourists and offers a variety of products straight from the farm, such as the famous ice cream, skyr and feta cheese.

The farm is known for its home-made ice cream and it shows by the long queue of customers. Efstidalur  farm produces its own ice cream from the milk of the cows at the farm. You can actually watch the  cows in the barn while enjoying your ice cream since the restaurant is in the same building as the barn.

Geysir

Strokkur is, arguably, the country’s most famous hot spring, shooting vast jets of boiling water from 20 metres (65 feet) up to 40 metres (130 feet) high. Don’t worry about missing this incredible spectacle of nature, as Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes; just make sure to have your camera ready.  It sprouts hot water as high as 30 meters into the air! I managed to take 3 videos of the beautiful eruption.

Gullfoss Waterfall

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The iconic Gullfoss Waterfall is famed for its scale and beauty. Gullfoss Iceland is one of the country’s signature waterfalls and it is no surprise to see why! In Icelandic, Gull means Golden and Foss means falls/waterfall.

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Gullfoss Waterfall is unique because you view the falls from above and it appears that the Iceland waterfall is actually going underground! It is a very interesting perspective making Gullfoss one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. If this is one of the first waterfalls you see in Iceland, you will certainly remember it because it is one of the only waterfalls in Iceland with such a unique formation.

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Hope you guys enjoyed reading my very last blog post for Iceland!

You can follow me HERE on Instagram!

 

Xx,

Nic

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Gimbur Guesthouse Collab: How best to explore North Iceland without a car

The day we were supposed to go to the North, there was a snow storm and we didn’t know that the roads to the North were all closed. We waited at the bus stop for 30 minutes and when the bus finally came, the driver told us that we had to try the next day. We had to make an emergency hotel booking for that night since we didn’t have anywhere to stay.

Luckily, the next day, the storm cleared and we were able to catch the morning bus out to the North!

Gimbur Guesthouse

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Gimbur Guesthouse is operated in a house built in 1992 by a farmer named Johannes Runólfsson or JR. It is located in North Iceland, 23km North of Hofsós. In February 2015 Jon and Sjöfn rented the house and started renovating and preparing the guesthouse. The first booked guests arrived by the end of May the same year.

Gimbur is an Icelandic word for a young, female sheep. The name of the mountain that characterizes the property is Gimbraklettur or “sheep-cliff”. During summertime, many sheep can be seen grazing around the property by the guesthouse. Thus, the owners named this guesthouse after the mountain.

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There are currently 5 rooms and 2 bathrooms in the guesthouse. Jon and Sjöfn are working on adding two additional rooms.

The rooms in the guesthouse are named after small bays that are along the seaside of the property. “Vik” means small bay and hence, the names of the rooms have the word “vik” in them.

Reykjarhóll or “smoke hill” is a regularly-formed hill East of Gimbur. The hill is located within the property, and is farmed by geothermal activity under glaciers during the ice age. Reykjarhóll provides the guesthouse with 70 degree Celsius of clean water, enough to heat the houses and hot tubs on the property.

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Facing the Arctic ocean, the guesthouse experiences the Midnight sun in summer and Northern Lights in winter. In fact, according to a local, a couple of years ago, they faced three consecutive weeks of the sun not setting at all.

At the guesthouse, you’ll be able to hike near the property and enjoy the beauty of nature. The owners’ trusty and adorable dog will be your tour guide. Couldn’t ask for a better guide! You can also enjoy the property’s hot tub. If you’re lucky, you can actually see the Northern Lights while soaking.

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Langhus Horse Farm

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Another activity that might interest you is horse-riding. Langhus horse farm is just a five-minute drive from Gimbur. The family farm has been run by the same family for at least a century.

Horses are the family’s passion. They started out as a milk farm and owned many cows, but decided to sell the animals and convert it to a horse farm, in order to concentrate on the horse training and breeding business.

In Iceland, there is a regulation that horses cannot be imported to the country. The locals take pride in their very own breed of Icelandic horses. What is so special about them? Well, unlike other breeds that only have three gaits (walk, trot and gallop), Icelandic horses have five, with the additional being tölt and skeið.

Tölt is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it is also comfortable and ground-covering

skeið is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth with some horses able to reach up to 30 miles per hour. Not all Icelandic horses can perform this gait; animals that perform both the tölt and the flying pace in addition to the traditional gaits are considered the best of the breed. The flying pace is a two-beat lateral gait with a moment of suspension between footfalls; each side has both feet land almost simultaneously.

It is meant to be performed by well-trained and balanced horses with skilled riders. It is not a gait used for long-distance travel.

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At Langhus, there is a variety of trail options for both beginners and advance riders. The riding trails are in a beautiful area with valleys and stunning mountains, by a fresh water lake and the black beaches of the Arctic Ocean.

There are so many types of horse riding tours you can choose from at Langhus. There is “The Beach Ride”,  “The Viking Tour”, “A Little Bit of Everything Tour”, “Horse Round Up Tour”, “The River Ride” and many more….. You can choose the tour according to your needs and level of horse riding experience.

We chose the “A Little Bit of Everything Tour”, which is a 3.5 to 4-hour tour. We passed through moors on a country side road with very little traffic, down to an old little former village by the beach.  We were able to ride on the coast, or directly on a black sand beach on a beautiful reef between the Arctic ocean and a fresh water lake bordering the farm.  We were also able to go up the beautiful and striking Flokadalur valley, and passed some farms on a quiet country road.

Hope you guys enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for my next post next week!

In the meantime, you can follow me on my Instagram

Nupan Deluxe Collab: Why Iceland is a good place to explore

Hello again,

Have you ever wanted to explore Iceland, visit the beautiful land of ice? Well I’ll be sharing with you some tips that I’ve learnt during my two-week stay there.

Nupan Deluxe

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For the first four days of our trip, we stayed at Nupan Deluxe , which is located about a 5-minute drive from the KEF airport! Very convenient! However, if you’re not renting a car, taking a taxi from the airport is super costly. Yes, even for just 5 minutes! It cost around SGD 50 to get to Nupan.

Nupan has 11 rooms and 6 toilets. Staying there felt like home away from home. I was pleasantly surprised how clean it was!

There are a number of restaurants, like Fernando’s and Malai Thai, just a five-minute walk from Nupan.

Explore Reykjavik

Exploring Iceland isn’t complete without a visit to Reykjavik. Reykjavik is known as Iceland’s largest town and the air is so fresh and clean. Exploring Reykjavik gives a sense of coziness and leaves the impression of minimalism.

A stunning backdrop pronounces Iceland’s picturesque capital: on one side of town stand rows of prim coloured rooftops outlined by a silvery, duck-and –swan filed lake. On the other, city streets slope down to the wind-capped bay of Faxaflói and a pair of quiet, bright–green islands.

Hallgriímskirkja

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The grey tower of Hallgrímskirkja defines the Reykjavik skyline in a most impressive way. At 245 feet high, this is Iceland’s tallest building and the city’s most prominent landmark. You can see the church from a good 25km away. The church’s design has become a symbol of Reykjavik in its own right: an ancient theme that honours a past hero by invoking nature with modernism.

The bold structure honours Hallgrímur Petursson, the country’s famous post-Reformation reverend and a man who authored so many classical Islandic hymns. It is the most well-known work of Gudjon Samúelsson, Iceland’s state architect who designed so many buildings in what is now a telltale Reykjavik style. The church is built to mimic the crystallised columns of basalt formed by cooling lava.

Sun Voyager

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This gleaming steel structure was created by Icelandic sculptor Jon Gunnar Arnason and is located on Reykjavik’s waterfront. It is an ode to the sun, symbolizing light and hope.

Because of the beautiful setting and spectacular nature of the Sun Voyager, it has become one of the most popular attractions in Reykjavik.

 Blue Lagoon (15.989 ISK)

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Known as Bláa Lónid, it is a popular place when  exploring Iceland.

Ethereal blue waters from this manmade hot spring.

The bottom is covered with white silica mud, the result of a natural process of re-condensation. The silica does wonders for your skin, which is why everyone’s fighting over the the little boxes and buckets to get a fistful of their own.

South shore adventure (10.499 ISK)

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This tour takes you along the south coast of Iceland, one of the country’s most scenic regions, as far as Vík, a charming village surrounded by high beautiful bird cliffs.

South Iceland is special for that it is one of the flattest regions on the island. Because of that, most of all grain farming in Iceland is done there. The high mountains to the north, shield the area from the harshest winds from the north.

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Among the stops on this tour are at the gorgeous Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is part of the Seljandsá river, which has its origins in Eyjafjallajökull glacier. What makes Seljalandsfoss so famous and interesting is that you can walk behind it.

Skógafoss, another famous Icelandic waterfall, is the starting point of the Fimmvörðuháls walk over to Þórsmörk. The waterfall was also used in the films Thor: The Dark World and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

The perfectly straight waterfall drops a good 60m over the green cliff after tumbling all the way down from the glacier above.

Awe-inspiring and humbling!

It is believed that the first farmer, Thrasi Thórolfsson, who lived there, hid a chest of gold behind the falls.

We also stoped at Reynisfjara black sand beach, with the Reynisdrangar rock formations and columnar basalt. It is one of the most spectacular beaches in Iceland but can be dangerous. The wind is so strong that you can feel yourself being pulled away.

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Additionally, we stopped by Sólheimajökull and walked up to a small lake which has formed in front of the retreating glacier.

South Shore Adventure is the perfect way for nature lovers to explore Iceland!
Stay tuned for part 2, which will be out next week!
In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram here!

Xx,

Nic