Michael Battley, from our Sales team, travelled to Iceland on The Wilds of Iceland tour this summer. Find out his thoughts of this explosive island.
First impressions on arrival at the airport
Modern airport with cash machines and money exchange in arrivals. It was quick and easy through customs and then a 45 minute bus ride with the Fly Bus into Reykjavik. Bus tickets purchased in the arrival hall. I would recommend an extra day or two in Reykjavik to explore the city, hop on a whale watching cruise or take a trip to the Blue Lagoon to soak in the thermal waters there.
What was it like travelling in a group?
I really enjoyed the group experience even though our group was a small one. There were only four of us - a couple, myself and another chap.
What did you think of your tour leader?
Our tour leader was local and very experienced. He was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his country.
What were the highlights?
The highlight of the tour for me was the three day trek. Long days on your feet but worth it for the incredible views.
How much participation was expected of clients?
We were expected to put our own tents up, help clean dishes and pack our own lunches. The tour leader did most of the cooking.
What was your accommodation like?
The campsites were basic but all had flushing toilets and most had paid showers. We also had a cooking tent for shelter.
What was the transport like?
We used a 4WD super jeep which was best for the terrain we were in. It was never the most comfy of rides but that it is to be expected due to the type of ground we were travelling over.
What was the food like?
The food was tasty – smoked lamb was a popular choice. And no, I didn’t try the infamous rotting shark!
What was the weather like?
Really good. Clear skies and sunshine. It didn’t feel cold at all. It only rained one day out of the eleven we were there. And no volcanic explosions either…..
What grade would you give the tour ie physically tough or relaxing?
It’s a pretty physical tour, especially the last day of the trek as the ground was steep and it took about eight hours. The mountain hike wasn’t easy either but it was definitely worth it.
How did your fellow travellers rate the tour? Did they feel it was value for money?
Yes they did feel it was value for money although it can be hard to describe any trip to Iceland, an incredibly expensive destination, in those terms. We all felt it would have been difficult to do and see the things we did independently or for less money. There isn’t much of a chance to eat out on this tour and the only time you could have taken an optional excursion was on the last day – puffin-watching. I managed on £100 which I changed into Krona at the airport. You would need a fair bit more if you had extra days though.
Do you feel that you got under the skin of a country and really immersed yourself in the local culture?
Yes. Having a local guide and driver helped as they cooked us traditional food and told us local stories. Iceland is all about its wilderness and we saw plenty of it.
Do you feel your holiday benefited local people? Was it responsible?
It was responsible – we used wardens’ huts on the trek and the money they get from these bookings is used to preserve the trekking here.
What advice would you give to other potential travellers?
Pack light and take lots of photos!
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Walking through the sulphur fields and the view from the top of Mt Sveinstindur
What sets this tour apart from the others?
On this tour you get to experience a truly beautiful country with its unspoiled wilderness and very friendly people. The scenery is very dramatic and changes each day. You really do feel like you get off the beaten track. Perfect for hikers.
Sum your trip up in one sentence
Triple A - amazing, awe-inspiring and alien.
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