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The first thing one notices when exiting Keflavik International Airport just outside Reykjavik, Iceland, is just how truly Icelandic everything appears. It is easy to believe the rumors that J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by Iceland for his setting of “The Hobbit” — craggy rocks poke out of neon-green moss, barely undulating fields extend in every direction and the expanse of the sky rivals that of Montana. And, of course, there is the sea — the backbone of Iceland’s industry, culture, cuisine and tourism.
After the explosion of the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in 2010 and its resulting disruption of flights across Europe, eyes turned to Iceland and people began to notice its impressive natural wonders. Presently, no sign remains of the ash, and enjoying Iceland’s nature is as easy as ever.
In a country of approximately 300,000 people, about 60 percent live in Reykjavik, yet it still feels quaint and uncrowded, reinforcing the feeling that the country has changed little since the Vikings dominated its seas.
To experience the seas, send clients on a whale- or puffin-watching trip with Elding Tours. Expert guides instruct passengers on the abundant wildlife and are able to answer almost any question about Icelandic culture. Roundtrip hotel transportation is available, and the boats provide binoculars as well as raincoats.
The Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura offers rooms themed around Icelandic elements, from water to volcanoes. The hotel recently underwent a renovation and now offers a lovely spa with a heated swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
Poet-themed rooms are also available at the hotel, which makes sense given the Icelandic people’s devotion to the written word and their own cultural history. The modern-day Icelandic language has changed so little over the centuries that today’s Icelanders can read ancient Viking texts, and they do so with gusto.
About a half-hour from Reykjavik is a steaming, bright-blue oasis set in fields of black volcanic rocks: the Blue Lagoon. It consists of geothermal hot springs made into a spa retreat with swimming pools and spa treatments. Visitors should opt for a package including transportation from Reykjavik hotels via Flybus (an operation of Reykjavik Excursions), a robe rental, slippers, a bright blue signature cocktail and volcanic mud masks.
For those who prefer to stay dry, touring with an Icelandic horse is another option. The small, extremely sweet horses are noted for their unique gait with which they run, managing to keep their backs perfectly still — ideal for arrow-shooting as Icelandic ancestors used to do. Tour operator Ishestar offers a variety of trips, allowing participants to cross lava fields and spot geysers from the back of a blonde-haired, four-legged friend.
No matter how your clients choose to spend their time in Iceland, the country’s bountiful natural wonders are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel Naturawww.icelandairhotels.com