36 of our GCSE and A level Geographers had the privilege of visiting Iceland over a long weekend at half term. It was the most amazing trip and the pupils were lucky to see so many remarkable places and experience so many wonderful things. They even saw the Northern Lights!
There was a full 4 day itinerary starting with a visit to the Bridge Between Continents. The Reykjanes Peninsula lies on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, one of the world’s major plate boundaries, between the Eurasian and North American plates. As the tectonic plates diverge, fractures and fissures form in the rock. The Bridge Between Continents is a symbolic footbridge spanning one of these fissures, representing the connection between Europe and North America. The bridge is 18m long and covers a gap 6m deep. It is named “Leif the Lucky Bridge” in honour of Icelandic explorer Leifur Eiriksson, famous for being the first European to land in America, 500 years before Columbus.
Day 2: They visited the Secret Lagoon, where everyone bathed in naturally heated water. Located in the small village of Flúðir , the Secret Lagoon is a naturally occurring hot spring which remains warm all year round at 38 – 40 Celsius. The Geothermal pool also boasts a small Geysir which erupts once every five minutes. Whilst at Geysir they were able to see the Strokkur Geysir erupting every 6 to 8 minutes with its boiling water and steam emerging from the ground and shooting a spout skyward to a height of 15 – 18 metres.
This was followed by a trip to Gullfoss (The Golden Waterfall) which is Iceland’s most famous waterfall. It is located on the mighty glacial river Hvita (White River). The enormous white glacial cascade drops 32 metres into a narrow canyon which is 70 metres deep and 2.5 kilometres long. Its spectacular two – tiered cataract hangs in the air like fine drizzle, which in turn forms a rainbow in the sunlight.
Thingvellir National Park & the Mid Atlantic Ridge – nowhere else in Iceland is the rift between the European and North American plates more obvious, with long deep cracks running from the north-east to the south–west giving the landscape the appearance of a crevassed glacier.
The Kerid Crater – The explosion crater Kerið is the northernmost one of a crater row called Tjarnarholar, which together with the surrounding lava field dates back 6000 years. In the late 19th Century a concert was held on a raft on the crater pond with the audience sitting in the grassy slopes inside it.
Day 3: The Kerid Crater – The explosion crater Kerið is the northernmost one of a crater row called Tjarnarholar, which together with the surrounding lava field dates back 6000 years. In the late 19th Century a concert was held on a raft on the crater pond with the audience sitting in the grassy slopes inside it.
The Lava Centre – The epic forces of nature were on full display at this high tech, interactive, educational exhibition. Dedicated to explaining the science behind Iceland’s powerful inner forces, the exhibition depicts past and present volcanic activity, explains the country’s frequent earthquakes and the creation of Iceland over million s of years, in a fascinating and accessible manner.
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – In the river Seljalandsá the Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall spilling from the high Basalt Cliffs, as a result of isostatic rebound of the land and its lava flows. It is 65 metres high with a footpath behind it at the bottom of the cliff, but with a thin cascade. It is the only known waterfall of it s kind, where it was possible to walk behind it.
Solheimajokull Glacier – This massive black glacier comes from the Myrdalsjökull icecap and was extremely impressive. Towards the snout various moraines and moraine ridges are crossed with kettle hole lakes. One of the dominant features of the glacier is the dirt cones that cover the lower snout area.
The coastal town of Vík – Reynishverfi Beach – Here the group walked along the black basalt sands where you can see columnar basalt on the cliff faces. According to legend the Reynisdrangar needles were formed when two trolls were trying to drag a three-mast ship to land. When daylight broke they turned to stone. The Needles can be seen clearly from the village of Vík and are 66 metres above sea level at their highest.
Skogafoss Waterfall – The impressive 60 metre – high Skógafoss is the greatest attraction in the Skógar area. As the waters thunder down into the pool below, huge amounts of spray react with the sunlight to create a myriad of rainbows for all to see.
Before returning home on Day 4, the group visited the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant and the Blue Lagoon, where they again had the opportunity to bathe in naturally heated water.