After a long overnight journey via Edinburgh airport we arrived into Keflavik airport at breakfast time on Wednesday 24th May. It was straight into action on the Reykjanes Peninsula, with our first stop being the Bridge between Continents. This is a 15m footbridge spanning a fissure between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Next we visited the steam vents at Gunnuhver – Iceland‘s largest mud pool with a diameter of 20m. In the afternoon we drove across to Raufarholshellir and took a tour of the lava tube tunnel – an expansive cave, one of the largest and longest in Iceland. Our students were particularly fascinated by the ice sculptures inside. We finished off the day at our countryside base for the first 2 nights – Hotel Vatnsholt.
We started off the second day with a visit to LAVA, Iceland’s volcano and earthquake museum. There was a lot of interesting Geography and Science here! The students learned about the volcanic eruptions that have taken place in the last 100 years and were fascinated by the amazing footage in the museum’s film, along with the interesting multimedia activities. Next stop was our first waterfall, Skogafoss – one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. With a wide, thundering curtain of water 60m high, Skogafoss is unique as it comes directly from two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. The next activity was a highlight of the visit for many of us – exploring the frozen glacier tongue of Solheimajokull. The experienced glacier guides taught us how to use basic ice equipment, crampons and ice axes. After the glacier, we headed to the coast and took a walk along the black volcanic beach at Reynisfjara to see magnificent basalt columns, cliffs and caves. Our final stop on day two was a second waterfall – Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall’s plume spills 60m over a former sea cliff, now sited far inland. Many of us enjoyed a walk behind the waterfall.
First stop of day three was Lake Laugarvatn. These geothermal springs have provided locals with respite from the cold climate for almost a century. We enjoyed bathing in tubs of different temperatures and depth. On our final afternoon the weather took a turn for the worse, but that didn’t stop our adventures! After lunch we visited our final, and arguably most spectacular waterfall, Gullfoss. One of Iceland’s most photographed waterfalls, this magnificent two stage waterfall marks the edge of the highland shelf where the Hvita River plunges 33m into a mile long gorge. A short drive along the road brought us to the site of Geysir, a spouting hot spring that gave its name to all the world’s geysers. On the way to our final stop, we called in to Efstidalur, a working dairy farm, where the barn has been converted into a restaurant with windows into the cow shed. The farm makes its own milk products such as ice cream, skyr and feta cheese. Many of the students enjoyed a few scoops of ice cream. Our last stop was Þingvellir. This national park is where Iceland’s parliament was established in 930AD. The site straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, its rift valley forming where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates pull apart at an average of 3cm a year. We celebrated a successful visit on our final night with a visit to The Hamburger Factory where we ate a hearty meal in preparation for an early start the next morning for the journey home.
Both the students and staff thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Iceland. Thanks to all involved for ensuring excellent behaviour and conduct, which enabled us to make the most out of this amazing opportunity!
Mrs Glass, Ms Watson, Mr Leary, Miss Sotheran and Mrs Laing.
Team Iceland 2023