Ski Safari's Victoria Shilston and Andrea Selig make a truly remarkable Iceland stopover:
Adding Iceland to our programme in the form of a stopover to the US was a new and exciting venture for Ski Safari this season. And of course somebody had to make the sacrifice and go out there for a bit of research – a task Andrea and myself bravely volunteered for.
OK who am I kidding? It was a fantastic opportunity and, if I’m honest, a destination that had barely come on to my radar until 6 months ago but one which I am now promoting to everyone I meet! From the minute we arrived at the immaculate airport in Keflavik we knew we were in for an incredible trip.
Iceland is a real country of contrasts. Unless you have been living under a rock it has been difficult to ignore the stories of their economic difficulties and although many of the tour guides are brutally honest about the state of their finances, they are an incredibly positive people and fiercely proud of their country. This enthusiasm and optimism is evident everywhere and makes a refreshing change from the sometimes wearisome tourist destinations in other countries.
Our trip was designed to mirror the stopovers that our customers will experience and was impeccably orchestrated. For every tour you are picked up from the lobby of your hotel and, at worst, dropped off across the street. All of the hotels are able to recommend, book and reschedule any of the tours making for a very easy and streamlined experience.
After a morning of viewing our new hotels – all of which are great properties and within easy reach of the centre of Reykjavik – we went on a city tour of the capital itself. With only about 4.5 hours of daylight at this time of year, the entire city is lit up with thousands of fairy lights in the lead up to Christmas, giving it a warm and magical feel.
Our Northern Lights excursion that evening was postponed as the weather was not playing ball. The beauty of these tours is that if you are unable to see the Lights on the night you have booked, be it due to the weather or because they don’t make an appearance, you can reschedule and try again the next night. So after a delicious sushi dinner (fresh fish being one of their specialties) we had an early night – not very rock and roll I know but we were still suffering from the lingering effects of a day travelling post-Ski Safari Christmas Party...
The following day we went on the Golden Circle Tour which took in the Gullfoss Waterfall, the geysers and hot springs, the Fontana Steam baths and the gap between the Tectonic Plates at Þingvellir – þ being pronounced like ‘th’. I don’t want to spoil the trip for anyone by revealing too many details, however if you have limited time I strongly recommend this tour to pack in as much as possible during your trip.
That evening was our rescheduled Northern Lights tour. I have one tip for this trip – dress warmly. Standing outside and looking at the sky gets very cold, very quickly. No matter how warm you think you will be, take another layer with you! However what incredible skies! Stars shining like you would never see in the UK. We didn’t see the Lights but it was still an amazing experience.
Finally our trip back to the airport included a stop at the Blue Lagoon before heading home. Just wonderful. I have never felt so relaxed travelling as I have after a couple of hours here. And the bar in the middle of the pool makes it even easier...
Iceland really is an incredible destination with friendly people, stunning scenery and wonderful food. I cannot recommend it enough. So much so that I am planning a trip back out there in the summer to experience the 24 hours of daylight instead!
Click for Iceland stopover details