It’s just you, standing completely alone on an almighty glacier in Iceland, you can almost feel the ice shifting beneath your feet. The only light shines from your headlamp and the Northern Lights flickering majestically above. Just like in the Instagram posts and as you imagined it. Or is it?
The reality is that Iceland’s epic beauty is drawing equally epic tourist crowds. In 2010 Iceland received 500,000 international visitors. In 2018 it’s projecting 2.5 million tourists. There’s no-one more conscious of this growth and the impact that it has on the visitor experience than Nordic travel industry leader, 50 Degrees North and its native Scandinavian staff.
50 Degrees North has designed itineraries that purposely steer visitors away from the crowds. They encourage visitation in quieter months, bypass high-traffic roads and invite travel further afield, to the western side of the island for example. Here you can experience natural wonders and unique geology, see whales and waterfalls, hike mountains and explore ice and lava caves, all minus the tourist hoards. The new self-drive tours 50 Degrees North just released were purposefully designed just for that. While showcasing the destination’s iconic sites, the routes take you to the lesser known.
Iceland Westfjords self drive
This new inventive itinerary will please the purists, the travelers wanting to discover Iceland, just like it was, over a decade ago. The 11-day self-drive winds through the Icelandic countryside into the sparsely populated Westfjords region. Isolated, rugged and wind-shorn is the best way to describe the Westfjords, but this lonely peninsula harbors Iceland’s most secluded landmarks. There are the Dynjandi waterfalls, the bird cliffs of Látrabjarg and the wait for the returning fishing boats to unload the ‘catch of the day’. This itinerary takes you off the beaten track and into the oldest and wildest part of Iceland.
Snaefellsnes and Golden Circle self-drive
Free spirits will enjoy this 10-day journey into the Western Icelandic countryside. Starting in Reykjavik and ending with a soak at the Blue Lagoon, your drive gives you plenty of time to spend at many of Iceland’s best known natural attractions, including the Kirkjufell Mountains; beautiful waterfalls, bubbling hot springs, and the famous “Golden Circle” route. There is plenty of time to break free between the glacier hikes, ice tunnel exploration, Silfra snorkeling and sailing around the Breiðafjörður’s innumerable islands. All that is needed is a camera, sturdy boots, bathing suit and sense of adventure.
One of the best Iceland introductions for visitors that don’t have the luxury of time and yet want to experience the Northern Lights and the healing beauty of the fairy like island, must consider the classic, 5-day independent self-drive. An ideal adventure for travelers in need of a healthy escape to Iceland.
Fire and Ice at the Blue Lagoon
Back sand deserts, Icelandic horses grazing amidst glaciersand active geothermal areas. This is the land of fire and ice. See the most famous sights on the Golden Circle on this attractive tour of Iceland, and fingers crossed, dine under the spectacle of the Northern Lights. As a finale soak in the warm healing waters of the Blue Lagoon.
50 Degrees North operates a diverse range of self-drive or escorted tours year-round. There is something unique for visitors with various interests and budgets.
For more information on 50 Degrees North’s journeys to Iceland, visit:
Photo credit: Calvin Chou