Iceland Guided Tour of Iceland's Best Landscapes
Where else on the planet can you simultaneously straddle two continents (Europe and North America), and hike in the most unusual and varying landscapes in the world? Iceland!!! The competing tectonic plates mean you can actually SEE that the land is ALIVE!
Gasses spout, geysers spray, volcanos explode, lands collide, and springs erupt in this unusual island nation that is tempered by the warmth of the Gulf Stream despite the fact that it sits just south of the Arctic Circle.
Progressive in attitude, almost all food is organic. The water is so pure it doesn't need to be treated. Energy is cheap due to all the geothermal activity so it's easy to stay warm during the long winter nights!
And did I mention the AMAZING LANDSCAPE!!! Iceland has it all! From humungeous glaciers to one of the world's most beautiful non-tropical beaches, to moss covered mountains to those colored like a rainbow. And hundreds of waterfalls!
Perhaps it's all the stunning trails in Iceland that leads to its men to live the longest on Earth (and the women third longest).
I recommend taking a fully guided Iceland trekking tour. The land is rugged and it's good to have the ‘on the ground' knowledge of a local guide. When doing the best hiking trails in Iceland, you want to expertise of someone who knows the rivers you hike across, and who can point out some hidden gems!
Glacial Trekking Iceland
Our guest, Donna, says that her most memorable hiking story was running up to the glacier with her eyes closed – as directed by her trusted guide. The clear blue color doesn't even look real!
Best Hiking Tour Iceland
The best hiking tours of Iceland will include the Top 20 in the world trail: the Laugavegur hike! This other worldly scenery is considered some of the most beautiful in the world! And at a difficulty rating of about a three out of five, is certainly doable for anyone who trains.
Iceland Hiking Accommodations
When you get out in the wilderness on an Iceland trekking tour, you will often stay in a communal mountain hut, so bring an eye mask and ear plugs. Nonetheless, it is SO worth it! And don't forget in the summer, the sun rarely, if ever sets (another good reason for an eye mask)!
The landscape changes every day! Sometimes it is green, other times you will think you are in a desert. Yet again, there are times when the mountains are rainbow colored! Are you on the moon? Are you still on Earth??? Even tough slogs through scree will reward you with a priceless view as your reward!
Because the land is rugged, leave your trail shoes at home. You should wear hiking boots for Iceland!
While it is certainly possible to back pack Iceland, I really recommend using a guided tour company. They know this rugged landscape and can add so much to your trip, plus keep you safe. Also, it can be logistically difficult to arrange this adventure on your own. Plus, you'll get to meet similar like-mided adventurers you can swap stories with throughout your Iceland trekking tour!
And – no need to plan your route or bring an Iceland hiking map as your guide has all the little details worked out for you and can take you on the best day hikes in Iceland. I love when all you have to do is just show up and hike!
Iceland Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular adventures in Iceland is soaking in the iconic Blue Lagoon. Yes, it's a bit touristy, but it's popular for a reason – it's fun!
If crowds aren't your thing, head over to the Secret Lagoon instead. There won't be as many tourists, but then again, it's not as pretty either.
Photo courtesy of Donna Yelmokas.
These videos will give you a good idea of the country, Iceland's culture and sense of humor (especially the cheeky “Hardest Karaoke Song in the World” which pokes fun at itself for Iceland's incredibly difficult language. But don't worry if, like me, you'd like a few more vowels please: virtually everyone speaks impeccable English.
SKELKUR ICELAND TOUR
This tour is 11 days. You are in a cozy inn most nights and stay in the mountain huts for two. There are three days of mild hiking, one 5 miler day and the rest are challenging long hiking days of 7.5 to 9.3 miles. You also have the option to see the puffins and/or go kayaking.
This 9 day tour has one easy hike day and six long hike days of 7 – 11 miles. Because you are backpacking, this tour costs less, but you are in the communal mountain huts most nights, so you can decide on what price/comfort level is best for you when choosing your tour company.
Please use my links when booking your adventure.
At Active Travel Adventures, I offer my unbiased recommendations. However, at no additional cost to you, some of my affiliate partners may offer me a small commission, or free or discounted travel, so it's a great FREE way for you to show support of Active Travel Adventures. Many thanks! Kit
Time Stamped Show Notes
01:38 Donna and adventure travel
04:05 Aging bodies and adventure travel
04:27 Donna's favorite trips
06:58 Iceland overview
08:24 Iceland's Ring Road
12:05 Northern Lights and Kit's visit with sister Terry
15:36 Donna's Iceland trek
18:00 Prue celan drinking water
19:57 Tour guides
20:45 Donna runs to the glacier
22:47 Obsidian lava fields
24:14 Moss covered mountains
25:37 Unusual bus to town
26:37 Donna's overall impression
27:28 Difficulty rating of this adventure
28:28 Hiking and river crossings
29:15 What Donna wishes she knew before her Iceland trek
30:14 Iceland is expensive and ways to mitigate
30:42 Donna's favorite story
32:01 IcelandAir.com and WowAir.com
34:08 Reykjavik, the capital
35:07 How we choose our next adventures
36:17 Using a guide
37:57 Layonver rule with Iceland airlines
Time Stamped Complete Transcript
NOTE: I am working on this site as I am dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Florence which has flooded our communtiy of Eastern North Carolina. The transcription below is machine transcribed. Normally I spend a couple of hours correcting the machine boo boos, but wont have time this week. I wanted to get this to you if you need it before I get a chance to do so. Please forgive the transcription errors. Thanks for your understanding!
Kit: 00:01 I consider myself to be fairly well traveled, having been to approximately 30 countries, I believe somewhere around there. Anyhow, there are two places on earth, that when I go there, I feel like I'm on another planet. One of those is Utah and we've got to Utah episode coming up in the near future and the other is Iceland. Iceland is a country that you can actually see that the land is alive. It is always spewing of gases or it's moving with earthquakes and volcanoes and it's got hot springs. Glacial melts everything to do with landscape and rocks and rivers and fire and ice. When you're talking about landscape, it's the most extraordinary country I've ever been to and not only do you feel like you're on a different planet, the landscape is so unusual that everyday on this adventure you're going to feel like you're on a different planet. It's like going to a solar system of landscapes.
Kit: 00:57 Welcome to the active travel adventures podcast. I'm your host, kit parks, and today we're going to go to the fantastical country of Iceland. It's an extraordinary adventure we have for you today and I can't wait to share it with you. So let's get started. Hi Donna, could you start by introducing yourself and perhaps telling us your age? Sure. Donna Yogis. I'm based here in San Francisco, California and I am 55 years old. So Donna, tell us how you first got into adventure traveling. My husband, I had been married for 30 years now and one of the things that I think has kept us together for 30 years,
Donna: 01:38 yours is our adventure traveling and from day one I've dragged them all over the world. I'm a military brat, so I grew up traveling around the world, so I think it was in my blood from, um, from birth. And Yeah, just have always been a wonder last I guess I would say for the next adventure and we're not the typical let's book a hotel and go to a city where more like let's really see the culture and whether it's biking or sailing or hiking.
Kit: 02:10 That's really kind of what we love to do. So how did you even know this was even an option of a way to travel like you as a military brat and my father worked for Pan Am when he got out of the military, so I was fairly well traveled as a kid yet I've never knew you could do these kinds of vacations and even though dad was really into the outdoors at home, I'm not sure it even occurred to him or to us to actually go explore the national parks or the the natural wonders of these sort of countries around the world. We do the typical go to the cities, do all the regular things to do that. You see in all the guidebooks, you know, a typical vacation. How on earth did you figure out that this was even an option to do exactly. You know, my job as I have in my entire life, I have a job that allows me to travel. So
Donna: 02:57 I've really spent a lot of time in Europe, a lot of my work mates or European and really just. They are so much more adventurous I think that Americans tend to be. I heard about these great trips, they were going to Thailand and to to Iceland and a New Zealand. They weren't staying at the Holiday Inn or whatever. They were actually finding a trucking company or going out on a truck on their own or doing a sailing trip and really doing this, this fun travel and I just got the bug.
Kit: 03:28 Very cool. Do your friends here in the states share your passion or are you an outlier?
Donna: 03:34 Oh, I would say it's 50 slash 50. I think I as I dragged my husband into the trips, I've dragged my friends along as well. Specifically with using wild land trekking and doing the they're hiking group. I tend to get a group of people that have never done this sort of trip before and then they instantly got hooked, so our group is becoming bigger and bigger as we go along around the world.
Kit: 03:55 That's exactly what I'm finding. Once people try adventure travel, they don't turn back or at least not going to turn back and do the traditional travel into their body can't do it anymore.
Donna: 04:05 Yeah, and now we're looking at things like, okay, do we do this one before we get too old and we start planning our next trip while we were on our trip. Isn't that the best?
Kit: 04:14 Yes, yes. Plus also you learn about new places when you're on these trips from other people that have done something like, oh, I got to try that one next as well.
Donna: 04:22 Exactly, exactly. Yeah.
Kit: 04:25 What are some cool trips that you've taken?
Donna: 04:27 Oh Gosh. I think some of the coolest trip I mentioned Thailand. Okay. That was a really amazing trip. I as a kid, I had lived in Asia in the Philippines for three years and they really wanted to get back as an adult and we went to Thailand and my step sister at the time was, she's British and was doing a, a travel around as they would their gap year and met her, so we did a little bit of the hospital, so I think that was kind of my first venture. I was much younger. What I did at the end say, okay, we've got to stay at like a Sheraton or a Marriott or something like the last day. I need a little bit of a grownup hotel amenities. Um, I think Thailand was great. We went all over. We did the islands. We did. We're very adventurous. We did trekking.
Donna: 05:14 I think another great trip we did was Alaska again. We didn't do the cruise ship. We actually with a group of friends, did our own boat. Um, so we talked every day and got off and did a hiking. We had someone who knew all the plant life. She was actually the first mate, but would take us on our hikes every day. Australia was another one. We didn't do the typical just to Sydney. We traveled all over. So those were, some of them. We recently did a great trip. I don't know if you've ever been to have a Sioux falls.
Kit: 05:48 I've heard of it, but I don't remember where it is.
Donna: 05:50 Uh, it's a sub canyon of the Grand Canyon, so it might near flagstaff area, but it was really amazing. I mean, not only do you see, it is actually a tribe where the native American Indians still live, so you got to see their culture and then you got to see just these beautiful waterfalls and it was, it was tough, you know, it's 10 miles down, but the whole time you're thinking, holy crap, I got to go 10 miles back up.
Kit: 06:17 I'd rather go up and down myself.
Donna: 06:19 Yeah. So yeah, those are probably the top ones on the list and I get to, like I said, I travel for work and one of the things they like to do for work, um, I always try and stay at least one day extra to any city I go to, to do something, either a museum or something cultural, um, or just get lost in, in a city. Um, some of my favorite cities or Amsterdam and Berlin and just some interesting things you can do while your take. Just take advantage of business travel.
Kit: 06:52 Very cool. Hopefully we'll be able to get you back on to talk about some of your other adventures.
Donna: 06:57 Yeah.
Kit: 06:58 Today we've got you on to talk about your adventure in Iceland. How about you given us a brief overview and then we'll drill down a little deeper.
Donna: 07:06 Yeah, so my sister, we're 11 months apart, so very close. As I said, we grew up as a military family, so she's got these, this adventure bug as well. She had started talking about going to Iceland and she called me one day and said, hey, what do you know junior husband mark like to go on this trip? And we thought, yeah, let's do it. They had just come off that they had done the rim to rim in the Grand Canyon using wild-land trekking and they loved them, loved the service, loved the trek leaders. And we said yes. And then we just started talking to other friends and family. And by the time we were done, there were nine of us in the Group of 12. It felt bad for the three other people. But uh, you know, there were nine of us that signed up for this crazy adventure and we knew that again, we didn't want to do just the ring road.
Donna: 07:53 We really wanted it to be event in adventure. So we wanted to to be more classical Iceland and more of the hiking and really get to meet the people and this was just a great opportunity to do that. Um, we didn't also want to, um, do the full on carrier bags on our, our, you know, our full on backpack. So this was a cheap jeep, so some of the older people older than me actually, we're comfortable with doing that as well. So yeah, it just started with a conversation with my sister and one thing led to another. We had nine people that wanted to go.
Kit: 08:24 I just want to clarify what the ring road is. Iceland of course is an island up near the Arctic Circle and the ring road is a road that goes around the circumference of the island so the residents can get around. They only built it maybe 20 or 30 years ago. One of the most popular tourist to take is the ring road tour for tourists that do visit Iceland. And I think the main reason people go to Iceland is for the incredible landscape. How about telling us a little bit about that?
Donna: 08:53 Oh my gosh, she had the landscape and for you know that the culture and the vibe of Iceland as well. We live in San Francisco. There's a certain vibe here in the city. It's, it's a very young, I hate to use the word hipster, but very cultural kind of the social aspects of, of Iceland are very in tune with California in San Francisco. So yeah, so the, the landscape. Oh my, I don't even, I, you know, it's one of those, we took a gazillion pictures and it doesn't capture the beauty. One day you would wake up and you're hiking and it literally looks like the moon and then the second day you're hiking and you're looking at glaciers that are millions of years old and it really puts things in perspective. And we luckily had amazing weather. So I did caution that we had every form of clothing you can bring. Um, I was told a long time ago, there's no bad weather, there's just bad clothing. So we were prepared, but we honestly, the last day we hiked, we were in shorts and t shirts. It was really amazing
Kit: 09:59 because of Iceland's location. Just south of the Arctic Circle, get that, makes it very far north and therefore in the colder areas it's also buffered by the Gulf stream which warms and a little bit. So between those two contrasting elements of whether you can have very changeable weather all times a year, sometimes in the same day. It says best to be prepared. I love that expression. There's no bad weather, just bad clothing. Perfect. So I'm guessing in Iceland, do you really just have the summer if you want to do some hiking? When did you go?
Donna: 10:29 Yeah, we went in August and really it's pretty short. Probably June, July, August. I would say probably the end of August, beginning of September would be the latest you would want to do this track. There was actually snow when we were there during some of the height. Obviously we all had the right boots on and, and equipment, but yeah. And it wasn't, you know, feet of snow. It was just, you know, an inch or so. But yeah. Yeah. The weather can be quite tricky and like I said, we were prepared but luckily enough we were blessed with good weather and we did the hut to hut so we also had a roof over our heads and we're out in a tent somewhere within ticket. Quite windy, very windy. Okay. And now, so I won't let you butchered the name of this trail. I'm going to try it and I want to tell you a funny story about the language to or done it sounds or it looks like it's going to say love of neighbor track, which is the most popular, most beautiful trek in Iceland. Was I even close? Yes, sure. I have no idea. I know I actually, we went over it so many times and I still just. Americans aren't built to speak Icelandic but yet log, log in something. What it is, it's the most popular trek, but even being the most popular, we hours and hours without seeing other people on the truck. It was not one of those where it's a hundreds of people are out on the trail. It was very, very peaceful out on the trail.
Kit: 12:05 My sister Terry and I went to Iceland a few years ago to try to see the northern lights, which we were very lucky that we did. We went late February, early March, and I always try to, when I go to a new country to learn at least a couple of the key phrases, the thank you that pleases the common courtesies in a couple of sentences. Just the locals know I'm trying, but with Icelandic there's just too many consonants and vowels and my best efforts were just ridiculous. The incomprehensible. But anyway, nothing I'd like to do when I travel is to try to meet locals and on go to the meetup boards and see if there's anything going on that I might be interested in going to so that I can get to hang out with some of the locals and I saw that during the week that we were going to be there, that there was a local meetup of locals to practice speaking English.
Kit: 12:50 I was like, perfect. So I write, the organizers say, hey, how would you like to practice with some native speakers? And she wrote back, sure, that'd be great. And they arrange to get together and we get there. They speak more proper English than Terry. And I did. It was ridiculous. But anyway, we had a wonderful time with them and it was made for a special evening. The language is not a barrier over there. Even though I slammed, it gets incredibly difficult for the tongues of English speakers. Everybody over there speaks excellent English. So there's no barrier whatsoever.
Donna: 13:18 Exactly. Yeah. We didn't have any troubles at all when you fly into Reykjavik, everything from the u. s is pretty much an overnight flight. So we on purpose flew from San Francisco to Boston and we gave ourself a day in Boston and then took the overnight to Reykjavik and we got there I think 6:00 AM. So we really wanted to do something to keep us awake and keep us up. So we did a walking tour the first day in the city and like you, they tried to teach us some words and we just kinda laughed.
Kit: 13:51 It's just too many continents and our tongues just don't work that way.
Donna: 13:54 Exactly.
Kit: 13:56 Tell us your impressions about Reykjavik and then we'll get back to the trail.
Donna: 14:00 Yeah. Reykjavik is just a. It is a really super fun city. It was pride week while we were there, so that would have made it even more interesting. We decided to do an Airbnb, which there are literally hundreds of airbnbs in the city, great locations, all types of accommodations. There's everything from the church, which again, I'm not going gonna try and say it because it's very hard. There's a beautiful concert hall called Harper. One of the really cool things too is there's a lot of graffiti art, so murals around the city, so one of the things we had fun kind of chasing around the murals, seeing what they meant and the local artists did that and I think one other thing, a couple of other things. We did. We did the and tour. I mean you kind of have to do it when you're there. It was. I think it's just one of those special things that you're like, wow, touristy, but we have to do it and it was totally worth it. And then the Saga Museum, which is the Viking Museum, was also really fun, but it's really a small city. It's super easy to walk around. People are really friendly. Um, and I know everybody says this, it is expensive, but I live in San Francisco so I wasn't shocked. But my friends from Texas, we're beyond shocked with the pricing. So it is costly.
Kit: 15:15 Islands tend to be because they have to import so much.
Donna: 15:18 Exactly.
Kit: 15:20 They also have a social welfare system and low taxes, not to mention cheap electricity.
Donna: 15:24 Right.
Kit: 15:25 So they paid for all that in their everyday purchases when they buy things. And as do we
Donna: 15:29 tourists. Right, right.
Kit: 15:31 So now you've turned the capital and you're getting ready to start your track. Tell us about how all that happened.
Donna: 15:36 Yes. So we do a meet up the night before they kind of go over what the truck's going to be, what it's going to look like. They look at your bag, they look at your clothing to make sure you're prepared. I mean once you're out in the mountains, there's really no where to buy anything or go back and get anything. So they wanted to make sure everybody was prepared so we get to the. It was the hut to hut. So the first day we did a trek, I think. Yeah, Marion bishop was our trek leader and this was our second height to be on with her. So she really wanted to test us. There were a group of 12 so. And her brother was the other trek leader. They're both French, so they spoke many languages and they wanted to test the group to see what our stamina was and how many miles we could do each day.
Donna: 16:23 So that was really the first day we got back to the hut. The huts have little kitchenette, so the huts, when I say a high, it's really like a hostel. So if you think of a large wooden building with, I think our first hut was probably a couple hundred people in there and they're literally bunk beds lined up right next to each other. So you're pretty tight quarters. So we, we knew to bring earplugs and so forth. Because you're gonna have a lot of noises when you have hundreds of people in the same room. But they had little kitchens are trek leaders prepared our meal and you can imagine it's lamb and fresh fish and just, you're not eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It was really amazing. So that was the first day and I think the things we learned that everybody likes to soak in the hot tubs and the hot, the natural hot springs. So we took advantage of that all the time. Um, so that was one of the fun things we kind of learned on the first day. It was the geothermal hot creeks,
Kit: 17:25 the hot springs are everywhere and I believe, if I remember reading correctly, that the geothermal energy produced is like 85 percent of the energy and they only bring an oil, just apparel, the ships to do the importing and exporting there.
Donna: 17:38 That's right. Yeah. It's, it's quite astounding how in touch with they are with the environments and their surroundings and just really understand the beauty of Iceland, you know, we're kind of used to, oh that's an old building, tear it down. And uh, they really are very outdoorsy and, and one with nature. So that was, that was really nice to see that
Kit: 18:00 and I believe I remember that when I was there that they don't even have to purify the water. I think it just comes straight out of glacial melt or whatever, but it's so clean that it wasn't even necessary.
Donna: 18:11 Yeah, we, we had our camelbacks each day and we filled them up with just either from the stream or right from kind of a faucet that was running like you said, glacial water. I can tell you the water was amazing and it was one thing that even the group of friends that went on this trip, they're like, oh, we miss Iceland water because it was so pure and so clean and just just really cold and refreshing. So it was good.
Kit: 18:37 One cool thing I remember is a place that Tara and I went to where two rivers met. One was a glacial river, so it was freezing cold and the other was fed by hot springs. So you can put your feet and feel hot and cold at the same time. Really cool. So your guide is now test you to see what you guys are capable of and Oh, before we get started on that, did you do any training beforehand and what would your recommendations be for folks that want to do this? I think
Donna: 19:03 if you're going to do this trek, I would absolutely recommend some type of training. Mark and I live in San Francisco. We've got plenty of hills and mountains around us. Super easy for us to do that. My sister lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Unfortunately they didn't really have anywhere to train. So what they did was they found, okay large parking garages and they would take a Saturday morning and just go up and down the stairs to get, you know that the steepness in there that they needed. So everybody trains how they want to. But yeah, we, I do recommend some level of fitness. There were parts that were strenuous I would say, you know, if you went in there doing no preparation, you would probably be hurting that.
Kit: 19:50 And it looks like your highest elevation gain in any one day was about 60 and a hundred feet. However, you did have some pretty long days.
Donna: 19:57 We did, we did so and some of them were even longer. So once they determined the fitness level of each of the group members, what they did is each day, um, we would all start together and because there were two track leaders, we would get an option to do either kind of the shorter or easier, um, to the second hut or do a longer track. And that was interesting. My husband and I mostly did the longer treks and we got to see some things the other team didn't see and they got to see some of the things we didn't see because we would always go a different way I think. I think the cool thing about using a trekking company is they know all the kind of hidden gems that if you're just looking at a hiking trail and staying on the trail that you would never see.
Donna: 20:45 So we did a lot of hikes and I, I, one of the, probably the most special ones was on day two where we did this side hike and we got to hike out. And it's not even on the brochure that you read from the trekking company. It, um, we got to go right up to the glacier and um, I think I have a picture that I sent you. We were almost to the glacier and Michael who was the other trek leader, said, okay, before we get to the edge of the glacier, I want everybody to, to drop their backpack. And there were probably five or six of us that did this side trip and we dropped our backpacks and he goes, okay, now close your eyes and run and I'm going to tell you when to stop and then you open your eyes. And we were literally on the edge of the glacier. And the cool thing too is they knew the history of the, you know, they knew the rocks and the formations and the history of the glacier and why it was named the rename. It was,
Speaker 3: 21:46 was it the MCA flocked golfer? Glacier. Oh brother, let's just not even bother with the names.
Donna: 21:55 Yes. Perfect. Yeah. That was it. And the cool thing about that is that we, that's where we stopped. We had lunch there and really talked about how the glaciers are melting faster than they ever have before in history and whether you believe in the reasons why they're evaporating and why they're melting so quickly is, is your own. But I do think that looking back on it, one of the reasons we wanted to go is we feel like the landscape is going to change pretty dramatically in the next 20 years and we wanted to see Iceland as it is with the glaciers in the landscape that it has now before it disappears.
Speaker 3: 22:37 Interesting. And then on day three, the itinerary says multicolored mountains. What exactly does that mean?
Donna: 22:47 So yeah, so you're going from glaciers now to kind of multicolored, I believe this is where we, it was more of a volcanic terrain.
Speaker 3: 22:58 It says here, obsidian, lava fields.
Donna: 23:00 Yeah. Yeah. This is the moon thing. I'm telling you it. It's crazy. Beautiful. And just the oddest thing you've ever seen. I'm not sure if you've ever been to glacier national park or you know, anything like that, or, or, um, arches or you know, just these weird formations and you know, you, you'd be hiking along this volcano and all of a sudden you would see this little pool of hot bubbling water and, and this is where we saw a little bit of snow and it was just, it was really crazy. Beautiful.
Speaker 3: 23:35 I've been lucky enough to go to both arches national park in glacier national park glacier recover in episode two of the Travel Adventures podcast. I'll put a link to that in the show notes, but uh, no. It's super
Kit: 23:46 cool. And when you were there, was it clear enough for you to see mountain heck blah? I don't know if I said that right. In fact, I'm sure it's safe to say I did not.
Donna: 23:55 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I said, we had pretty clear views the whole time, so we were able to see kind of all the mountain ranges, all the glaciers,
Kit: 24:06 and then the next day it looks like you're going to see some moss covered hills. So some very green landscape. So the landscape has changed yet again.
Donna: 24:14 Yeah. And you feel like now you're in kind of a rainforest. So again, another kind of micro climate within the short period of, of hiking. So yeah, that was I think our last day, but yeah, that was, that was probably the prettiest high views we had. They had a yoga class going on when we got there and we knew it was kind of the last kind of day that we'd be on the trail and that was a really, really fun night.
Kit: 24:44 And then it looks like on the last day you're hiking out across up the black sand desert. So now you're in the desert.
Donna: 24:50 Yes. Yeah. That was tough. That was tough. I, I, I pretty much felt like, is it ever gonna end? And it felt like it was forever and of course it wasn't, but it was, yeah, it was pretty, pretty tough last day. But again, we knew we were gonna get back to Reykjavik and had adult beverages and be, be happy that we accomplished what we did.
Kit: 25:11 So even though it was a difficult day, was it pretty?
Donna: 25:15 Oh my gosh, yeah, it was again, just a totally different terrain than what we had seen the other days, but know gone was the lush greenery that we had just seen the day before. Pretty much just this flat some canyons. But yeah, it was was like the sandy kind of terrain
Kit: 25:37 and finally before you get back on the bus to head back to town, I see something about some basaltic columns. Is that something you would see in Utah or what are they talking about there? That's the day we're heading back to Reykjavik and they put you on these huge buses with giant four wheel drive tires and you literally are four wheeling through the canyons to get back to the ring road. Basically you're going to go back and that's how you get back to Reykjavik.
Donna: 26:06 We just giggled and laughed the whole time on these buses because they're literally like just regular buses. You would see with giant tires on them that go through all these river crossings and it was. It was an interesting trip home, but also on the way home, there are waterfalls.
Kit: 26:23 Um, you stopped. The journey is not over when the trick is over,
Donna: 26:26 you actually get this extra little
Kit: 26:29 bonus at the end. On the, on the trip back. Let's talk about your overall impression of Iceland. When you look back on your trip, what memory comes to you first?
Donna: 26:37 Just the beauty, beauty and just the people. The people are, are welcoming and so warm and, and, and just had the beauty of the landscape, the front, you know, we went with family and you know, the first day of the trek we went around and said, you know, what do you, what do you want to accomplish? Or you know, what's your goal for the tracking? Some of us were like, we just want to be friends with. And we laughed and just had the best time. A lot of just Aha moments of just, you know, you cross a ridge and you're like, oh my gosh, just. You just can't explain it. They've gone up this hard mountain and it's worth it to get to the top for the view. And yeah, it was on the bucket list and I would absolutely recommend it to anybody to put it on their bucket list as soon as possible.
Speaker 3: 27:28 On a scale of one to five, with five being like month blank difficult and one being a couch potato, where would you rank this adventure? As far as difficulty rating?
Donna: 27:40 I would say three. Probably maybe two and a half. Three, because you had the options each day. You really could do, you know, your own pace. And the trek leaders were wonderful. There was never any pressure that you had to keep up. You had to do anything. There were some, you know, there were some river crossings we had to do with it. The water's pretty swift and you would know your leaders were right there to help you and even if you never used hiking poles before, how to go up a steep climb with your poles and just very, very helpful and understanding. And like I said, we had all levels of athletic ability on the hike and it was. I think everybody walked away having a good time
Speaker 3: 28:28 on the photos that you sent up, the river crossing, which you can see at http://activetravelaventures.com/Iceland, would that be typical of the rivers that you crossed or are some deeper? Tell us a little bit about that.
Donna: 28:40 I need deep. So you brought your river crossing shoes, sandals or I think everybody is wearing crocs now. Keens and so forth and so you would take all those your boots off and put them around your neck and you use your poles to balance yourself and you'd go through the water and it was cold, but nothing. I mean it just last for a couple of minutes. It's not a big deal. I think some people weren't those neoprene socks, but none of us did. It was fine.
Speaker 3: 29:10 Looking back, is there anything that you wish you had known before you'd gone on the trip that you could share with us?
Donna: 29:15 Oh Gosh. I think to be prepared for the food, maybe European cultures can be very different than American food, so I think to just be super specific with the trucking company, don't be afraid to say what you do and don't like because we had jeeps that took our stuff from hut to hut. We had the luxury of having some, some pretty great stuff, so I think the food is one. Just be prepared for the cost and the pricing and plan appropriately like things that you know, I read ahead on work. If you're going to buy alcohol, bottles of wine, do it at duty, free at the airport before you leave. Okay. If you're going to buy food and have an Airbnb, go to the local grocery store and buy bread and some cold cuts or whatever. Just little things like that that don't. Don't be shocked by the pricing because it is expensive.
Speaker 3: 30:14 Now since on this adventure you were with a tour company, most of your expenses once you got with the company are included. Is that correct?
Donna: 30:22 That's right, yeah, so we did two days on both sides of the trek in Reykjavik, so we had the airbnb two nights before in two nights after. So we did do some of our own food, but that's exactly what we did. Applicant manage, they have happy hours. I mean just look for the deals and the bargains and just be prepared.
Speaker 3: 30:42 Do you have a favorite story that you'd like to tell about your adventure in Iceland?
Donna: 30:46 Probably the glacier. One of just, you know, drop your backpacks and have the confidence that this guide's going to tell you when to stop. Um, so you don't jump over the glacier being far enough away where you couldn't really see it yet and then running up to it and opening your eyes and just disclosure glacier in the blue of it. And the, the, the, you know, knowing it's millions of years old and just the significance of kind of you're standing on. It was really beautiful. And then there was one, one trek that we did, it was one of those side hikes and it was very tough. It was that, you know, kind of Quick Sandy, where you took a step and you kind of went one inch back and you take another step and you'd go, you know, so it was just really hard to get momentum up the hill and we were all just like, oh my gosh, are we ever going to get there? And then you get to the top. And that was one of the, oh my gosh. Moments that the scenery and the beauty is just, it's breathtaking. I would just encourage anybody, if you're going to go to Iceland, um, and you're going to do the ring road, do a little bit of hiking as well because I don't think many people do the hike that, you know, that go there.
Speaker 3: 32:01 There are two Icelandic airlines that offer great deals, Icelandic air and wow. Wow. Wow Air. And they allow you to do layovers in Reykjavik so that you can actually get to vacations in one. For example, I went to Berlin, but I spent a week in Reykjavik in route. And so it doesn't cost you any extra to do that. But remember that a lease with the budget airlines, they will nail you with the excess baggage and if you're going to go hiking, you're probably going to have some excess baggage. So keep that in mind when you book.
Donna: 32:33 Yeah, that's exactly right. We flew from San Francisco to Boston, but Boston, Reykjavik, we took Icelandic air. But yeah, we um, knew ahead of time that there would be bank charges and so forth. So especially for the track you're going to need it because there's no way you can fit it in an overhead. Everything that you would need.
Speaker 3: 32:54 So how Icelandic air and wow air work is that you can go to Reykjavik and also to any other place that they go to on their fly routes at no additional charge. So for example, when Terry and I wanted to go to Iceland and I wanted to go to Berlin, Terry and I and my sister had the vacation Iceland and then she went back home to work and I continued on to Berlin. But my plane ticket didn't cost me any extra. It was just as if I was going directly to Berlin,
Donna: 33:22 a ton of people were doing that. I think it's an excellent idea because they do it from a couple of other cities, I believe in Europe as well, but Berlin seems to be a favorite.
Speaker 3: 33:32 So if you want to do this, you go to the website of Icelandic, Icelandic air or wow air and look at their flight plans, look at the map of where they go to and then you can pick your end destination. They all go through rick of x, so you can do your end plan b at Barcelona, Berlin or wherever else they want to go. And you just spend some time in Iceland either before or after your main trip to wherever else you're going to. It's kind of cool and it saves you from paying two airfares to get the two vacations. So Donna, on a scale of one to 10, where 10 means, oh my God, you cannot possibly top this trip, how would you rank your Icelandic adventure?
Donna: 34:08 Oh Gosh. Well I am still looking for my 10. So, um, I would say it was probably a nine. It was, um, it was one of those very, very special trips. A definitely a solid nine.
Speaker 3: 34:21 Our thanks to Donna for being with us on today's program. I've got a couple of key takeaways I'd like to share with you. I think it's interesting how Donna has built this tribe of people that are getting into adventure travel. It started off with her. She gets her husband Hook. Next thing you know, they've got nine people going on this group of 12, so that's kind of cool that it's really not that hard. Probably once you get people started to create your own private group without paying the custom charges, that's kind of Nice. If you wanted to do a tour like that. Number two, I don't know about you guys, but I'm kind of feeling my mortality, so I'm trying to pick my trips according to what I think my body can do versus maybe later I will be able to do it. Just like Donald was talking about when they're trying to plan their next trip, they're trying to figure out how our knees and our hips going to work and kind of ranking them by orders.
Speaker 3: 35:07 I do that and frankly also do a little bit by safety. If a country is getting to be a little bit dicey that moves up the list because I'm going to go there before there's any kind of troubles. Unfortunately one of my favorite places, favorite trips ever did Nicaragua is no longer safe and probably won't be saved for the foreseeable next few years for sure. And so anyway, so I'm kind of choosing a little bit about that sometimes as well. And Iceland, she talks about the expense. This is another good reason to use a tour company because you can kind of stay within your budget because it is shockingly expensive. I know that Terry and I made sure we only went to happy hours because just the beer was, I don't know, 10 bucks and this is several years ago, so it was probably 12 or $13 a piece and it's half price for the one or two hours, a happy hour and just everything just was expensive, so just brace yourself, try to go local as much as possible, like she says, go to the grocery stores, maybe do your breakfast at Airbnb or your hotel, make a lunch and then go out for dinner, something like that, and then once you're on the tour, generally speaking, they are providing the food for you so that way you have a pretty good idea of what you're nuts going to cost.
Speaker 3: 36:17 Speaking of using a tour company, there's a couple of things too. When you go to such an exotic landscape, the guides are local. They know what safe to do and what's not safe to do as far as river crossings, whether something's too high. They didn't have alternative plans because they know which ones might become an issue and they'll have a backup plan available for you and they can kind of help you build your own skills, be it with sticks or our crossings and help guide you to become a better adventure. They also know about specific cool things such as when she ran up to the glacier or Nicaragua when our guide took us to this hidden bat cave that we would never would have found in a million years on her own. Remember, you can get my recommended tour companies and all the details. I'm planning an adventure to Iceland in the travel planet that you can download at act active travel [inaudible] dot com slash Iceland.
Speaker 3: 37:09 If you are a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, that will come automatically, so don't worry about that. I'll be sending that with no extra effort on your part and again, it's free and it just has some of my recommendations and links so that you can see the weather and the best time to go and what to pack. All these kinds of things so that you have in one printer friendly, one to two page sheet of paper, everything that you need to know in order to plan your trip to Iceland. A cool thing about Iceland to is this is where the continents meat and that's one of the reasons for some of the cool landscape formations. There's a a center where you can actually straddle the continents and have one leg in Europe and one leg in North America. That's kind of cool. I'll see if I can dig up a photo of myself doing that.
Speaker 3: 37:57 Finally, if you want to take advantage of Iceland because of the layover rule that Icelandic Aaron, while air are doing that has made Iceland extremely popular, so to avoid crowds, and again, if you're going to go hiking, you're not gonna find the crowds because most people just tend to stay with the touristy things on the ring road. But nonetheless, Iceland has become a known place to go now. So if you're interested, I would recommend going sooner rather than later before it does get too crowded. It's a fabulous country that I want to go back again. Like I said, Tara and I went to go see the northern lights. We're very lucky generally speaking, see those in the winter or have a better chance of seeing them in the winter than in the summer, so we went in late winter to try to do so. I think there are the occasional appearance in the summertime, but I believe it is generally speaking the winter also, that's what it is.
Speaker 3: 38:49 Darker during the night so you have a greater opportunity for the clouds to part so that you can actually see the lights, which is other worldly. You feel like you're in heaven, but just seeing all these dancing lights, it's just amazing. I'm always looking for great adventure idea, so be sure to send me an email at kit, at actor travel adventures.com. If you've got some suggestions. I love to hear them all. So any comments at all about the show? I love hearing from you guys. I'll be back in two weeks with another great adventure. Until then, this has kid parks and adventure on and instead of our regular music, I am going to leave you with a hysterical youtube video that promotes Iceland that I will put the full video on the website and it's great to look at just to get an idea of the landscape. Plus you'll get to hear why don and I had such difficulty with the language. It pokes fun at itself. Show some amazing landscape and bills itself as the hardest karaoke song in the world.
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