On June 25, 2014 we flew from Denver, CO to Reykjavik, Iceland
for the start of a tour of Iceland and Greenland. It was great that
Iceland Air has a direct flight from Denver taking about 7 hours.
Our tour was with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) which is the adventure
travel division of Grand Circle. They take a maximum of 16 people
on their tours which was a great size. Everyone on our tour was
a well seasoned traveller and very pleasant to be with. We
travelled in a 19 passenger van which pulled a small covered trailer
behind for the luggage. Our driver, Siggi, was not only a great
driver but also a courteous and helpful gentleman. Our tour director,
Sigrun, was wonderful. She spoke beautiful English, shared lots
of personal stories and experiences around Iceland, and offered
many extra side trips to some of her favorite places. We couldn't
have asked for a better group to be with for 18 days.
Iceland is a rather small country - only 39,700 square miles, about
the size of Kentucky. It's population is about 320,000. The official
language is Icelandic but almost everyone speaks English so it is
an easy country to visit. Children start learning English at 2 years
old! By the time they finish 9th grade, they know Icelandic, English,
Norwegian and either German, French or Spanish. Norse settlers (Vikings)
began arriving in Iceland in the latter part of the ninth century.
The country fell under the rule of Norway in 1262 but Denmark was
given control in 1397. Iceland became an independent nation in 1944.
is poised atop the geologically active mid-Atlantic Ridge, where
tectonic plates are separating as Europe drifts away from North
America. Iceland is one of only two places in the world where an
undersea mid-ocean ridge rises above sea level. Iceland's 3088 miles
of coastline are punctuated by numerous rugged fjords. There
is abundant geothermal hot spots and over 96% of Iceland homes are
heated by geothermal energy. Some electricity is generated from
geothermal springs as well.
was a surprise to us. We knew the country was full of volcanoes,
lava fields, glaciers and geothermal hot springs. What we didn't
expect was how green and lush the countryside was. Our travels took
us past rolling farmland where farmers were baling hay for their
livestock. Everywhere we looked there were sheep grazing in the
grass and horses roaming free. The farms were large and widely spaced
apart, nestled under snow covered mountains and volcanos.
Waterfalls coming off the mountains were too numerous to count!
There were few trees as the original forests were cut down by the
early settlers for housing. But some of the farmers are now planting
trees so there were pockets of birch trees here and there.
We travelled from Reykjavik (the capital) north along the west
coast of Iceland, around the Snaefellnes peninsula and then over
to Akureyri. From Akureyri we flew back to Reykjavik and then drove
east to explore the Golden Circle. We stayed 2-3 nights in each
area which made it nice for unpacking.
Iceland 6 of us took the optional extension to Greenland. We flew
2 hours to the tiny village of Kulusuk on the east coast of Greenland.
Then we took a helicopter to the capital "city" of East
Greenland, Taslilaq. Greenland is not green like Iceland.
It is covered with glaciers and surrounded by ice. East Greenland
was fascinating as it has been so isolated that the people living
there still keep their Inuit traditions.
To read about each place we visited and see a few photos from that
area, go to Iceland and Greenland
You can view more photos from our trip by going to the
Photo Gallery. And if you want to see a full size picture, just
click on the photo.
There is a map of our route at Iceland
and Greenland Maps.
Locations Visited Photos Map