If you want to explore Iceland in a way most people don’t get to, go off the beaten path and ride up Hekla Volcano with Moonwalker Tours. Our guide, Bessi, picked us up from our apartment in his Land Rover. (He told us that it is a very bad idea to call it a Jeep.) So off we went in one of the most fun cars, umm…Jeeps…um. LAND ROVERS I’ve ever been in. Okay, it was the only Land Rover I’ve ever been in. And it had REALLY big wheels, so I think it could go over just about everything. That is pretty much what we did. Bessie even had to let some air out of the tires before going up the mountain to make the ride more comfy. Be prepared to laugh and scream a lot if you go on this tour!
The waterfall was beautiful. It looked like it was from The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or something from another time. It was pretty cool. (Besides my mom yelling at me to stay away from the edge!) There were actually two waterfalls that formed one and a lot of really tall stones … it was incredible!
The Drive On Hekla Volcano
After we left the waterfall, Bessi told us we were going up a volcano … one that still erupts every seven years or so. The problem was that the last time it erupted was 16 years ago. So, we were a little bit nervous. The drive up the volcano was beautiful, but I think I mentioned this, EXTREMELY bumpy! It was so fun to go up and down. Bessie said some rental cars try to go where we went and get stuck … no way would I ever do that.
We made it! We stopped at one beautiful destination after another. Along the way, we learned that the volcano grows moss so that other things can grow on it. You can’t step on the moss or it will break apart and take another THOUSAND YEARS to grow back. Pretty interesting fact!
On the way down, we visited some craters that looked like the surface of Mars … they were bright red! We went flying into some rivers which made HUGE splashes (Which didn’t help the bumps at all.) My brother said “yeehaw” a lot.
Landmannalaugar Natural Hot Springs
After all that exploring, Bessi took us to some natural hot springs where two hot rivers from the volcanos and one cold river from a glacier combined to make one big warm soaking area. Warming up in the natural hot springs was incredible! The water felt so nice and warm. There were a lot of people camping outside because a lot of people come there to go hiking before relaxing in the hot springs, or maybe to soak their muscles after riding on bumpy roads. It isn’t fancy, but it felt really, really good.
Finally, we stopped at a cobalt blue lake that was really colorful. It’s also a crater in the middle of a volcano. It’s name means “ugly puddle,” which doesn’t describe it at all.
The journey was amazing! Moonwalker Tours is so much fun! If you ever go to Iceland, you’ve got to go on the tour. And if you go on the tour, you have to ask for Bessi!
On our first full day in Iceland, it was my mom’s special day–her birthday! To celebrate, we went on a wonderful puffin island tour, which left from the Old Harbor in Reykjavik. The puffin tour was puff-riffic! We went onto a dock while we waited for the tour to start. In the cold water below, we saw jellyfish of all shapes and sizes.
We hopped on to the boat (not literally) and put on a tight life vest. To me it was cozy. I climbed to the top of the boat and waited for the tour to start. It was extremely cold for us, but for Icelanders it was a warm day. Little did we know it would be the coldest day of our stay.
We all had to snuggle together on the boat to keep warm. When we got as close as possible to the island, I saw why they call it Puffin Island. There were puffins EVERYWHERE! It was puffin mating season. Puffin island is a really great place to start a family and lay eggs. There is only one natural predator on the island, and that is the seagull.
We could see the puffins dive into the water and come back with a mountain of small, delicious (to a puffin), yummy fish OR a nice chewy bundle of baby eels. There weren’t just puffins, though! There were also the bullies of the sea, the seagulls. (Luckily, there weren’t also the bullies of the bay, the baygulls). The nasty old seagulls would try to attack the puffins and steal their food (just like the cartoons)!
The tour was 90 minutes long, but to me, it felt a lot shorter. (I was having too much fun). When we had to go back (sadly) to land, everyone was hungry. We asked someone what restaurant they recommended. They said, "All of them! Because if it wasn’t good, it wouldn’t be able to stay in business.” We finally decided to go to a place called Kopar. I had a nice, warm shrimp soup.
WARNING! MANY RESTAURANTS SERVE PUFFIN IN ICELAND!
Puffin is like an unusual chicken in America, and is sometimes on the menu at restaurants. I did NOT try puffin because they are cute and because I’m a picky eater. Luckily, the puffins leave the island, which is their breeding ground, at the end of August to return to sea. Almost 60 percent of all Atlantic puffins breed on islands around Iceland. I can definitely see why everyone gets very excited when they return each year!
Fun Facts About Puffins
Welcome to Iceland!
Header Credit: See Authors' Website