Iceland Trip 2017
50 Varndean GCSE Geographers and their teachers spent half term on the most awesome field trip to Iceland, this time we only spent 36 hours in Reykjavik and around the obligatory Golden Circle Tour then we headed to the North and East of the island. This year with the support from Discover The World we had a tailor made trip to the north and east of Iceland. Over the years having led many trips to Iceland and getting more and more frustrated with how busy and ‘theme-park’ like some of the beautiful destinations are, I wanted something more for our students and other parts of the island seemed perfect for a much more authentic Icelandic experience, like it was back in 2001 when I first visited on holiday. Here are my 5 top sights we visited whilst away. Further photos from our 2017 trip can be viewed on our Geography Twitter page @Varndean_Geog
1.) Detifoss waterfall and dry river bed to the east.
On arriving at Detifoss you could hear the rumble and thunder of the water cascading downstream, there are 3 excellent vanatage points to see and talk about the waterfall and see the splendid gorge that’s carved out the mountain downstream. As you walk over to Detifoss the track (from the east) takes you through an old river bed, an excellent opportunity to talk about physical processes on both the river bed and bank with students and they can see them as they walk over, a great way to visualise the power the water has on the landscape.
2.) Leirhnjukur volcano
Here students were blown away by the sight of the 1984 volcanic eruption of Leirhnjukur and being able to walk amongst ‘fresh’ lava fields; something that they struggled to comprehend as it was so recent compared to its surroundings. Here we walked up to the crater of the volcano, and could see the extent of the lava flows that spewed out across the valley. At the crater students were mesmerised by the heat form the ground from the lava and some were anxious she was about to blow, on waking up to the crater the colours of the minerals and rocks on the landscape were beautiful and provided lots of discussion on the way past
3.) Fossil hunting at Tjörneshreppur where the Jokulsa a Fjallon river meets the sea.
This excellent fossil hunt isn’t for the faint hearted, or those scared of heights as we drove down the steep mud track in a 70 seater coach. The layers of bedrock are phenomenal both on the cliffs as you drive down but also in the river valley. Students here were blown away by the amount of fossilised sediment that could be seen on the ground and on the bedrock. Clear layers of sediment in the cliff and valley sides was the talking point of the day, and even for a human geographer like me it was hard to be not impressed by what we were surrounded by. A must stop for all even if you have to walk down the track to reach the beach
4.) Dimmuborgi Lava fields
On arriving at Dimmuborgi you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer size and scale of this magnificent lava fields with caves and unusual rock formations, and even more special for any Game of Thrones fans as they have filmed on location here. The sheer size and scale of the rock formations is over whelming and reminds students the power that volcanic eruptions have. A stop here is made even more interesting as recent tectonic activtiy along a fault line has opened up several large cracks in the ground and shows students the dynamic nature of our planet. Any trip to
Iceland isn’t complete without some folklore stories and here you won’t be disappointed, hearing about the ‘13 Yuletide lads’ and what mischief these hidden people do in the 13 days before Christmas, you can even go into one of their caves and see what items they would have stolen, it they really existed!!
5.) Lake Myvatn Nature Baths.
No trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a geothermal pool. Myvatn Nature baths are the north’s equivalent to the Blue Lagoon, set on the edge of Lake Myvatn in natural surroundings you’re hard pushed to find a better way to unwind and relax after a hard days exploring (and a trip to the nearby Krafla PowerStation that feeds the baths) the 3 different pools along with hot tubs and steam rooms was the perfect setting for a couple of hours downtime, and after a cloudy few days the sun came out and we had the most wonderful sunset as we relaxed and bathed for a good few hours. Here is also an excellent opportunity to unwind and gaze into the clear night sky and at the right time of year try to spot the Northern Lights, thankfully we did see them over the lake, awe inspiring and breath taking to say the least.
A trip to the north was truly remarkable and would encourage schools to take their students to the North and East to see a less congested more authentic Iceland. Special thanks to the superb staff who kindly gave up a week of their half term to support the field trip.
Head of Geography