Seljalandsfoss & Gljúfrabúi

Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. It is along Route 1 in between Skógafoss and Selfoss. It towers with a 60 metre drop over ancient sea cliffs and is fed by the Seljalandsá River. In the summer you can walk behind it, but I wouldn’t recommend it in the winter as it is dangerously covered in ice and frosted snow. The upside to this, is that in the right light it sparkles magically. 

Further down the path you can find another smaller waterfall called Gljúfrabúi. You might not see it right away as it is covered by its own canyon – the name actually translates to “Canyon Dweller”. Gljúfrabúi sits down the cliff from Seljalandsfoss and is slightly smaller at 40 metres drop. So far, this one is my personal favorite waterfall I’ve visited for its seclusion.

 

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Seljalandsfoss

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Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

 

By: Kelsey Heide

Skógafoss

I visited this waterfall in the winter, which meant the trek across flat land to get up close was a sheer piece of ice. The result of this is tourists slipping around and falling, all the while laughing uncontrollably. Before you reach the majesty that is Skogafoss, your belly hurts from giggling so much! To get to the top requires walking up a very long, steep staircase but totally worth it. Not only do you have a great view of the cascading waterfall, and of the people sliding on the ice below you, but you are also able to see far into the distance to make out the black sand beaches along the coast. If you walk further up, and climb over the fence, you will a smaller version of the fall below you, and get a better view of the mountains that surround.

Skogafoss is known for making loud, unexplainable “bangs”, which have been rumored to be a captured half troll- half human in the wall trying to get out! The reason he got caught between the human life and the troll life, was that he was trying to bring gold into the troll life which is just not allowed. Every once in awhile people claim to have found pieces of this gold in the base of the falls.

And if you look at the waterfall with the right light you can almost always see a perfect rainbow.

Kelsey Skogafoss

By: Kelsey Heide

The Glacier Lagoon

One of my favourite places that we can take you to by Helicopter is the Glacier Lagoon, or Jökulsárlón. It is a large glacial lake in Southeast Iceland that lays directly on the edge of the biggest glacier in Iceland, Vatnajökull. The Glacier Lagoon is known as one of the natural wonders of Iceland, often filled with bright blue icebergs and seals happily lazing on the shore. This lake developed 60 years ago and is now the deepest lake in Iceland at 248 metres.

The most impressive part of this natural phenomenon in my opinion is that it is right off of Route 1 if you are travelling by car, and, if you are travelling by helicopter you can overfly the beautiful shore line and view aerially how this lagoon joins land and sea together.

My personal visit to the Glacier Lagoon included both a beautiful sunset over clear, calm waters. And a stormy morning where I was greeted with playful seal pups and fast moving icebergs.

This is a place you can return to a thousand times and it will never look the same as the last.

 

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By: Kelsey  Heide

 

Bolludagur

Bolla or “bollur” meaning buns, and “dagur” meaning day, traditionally on this day children would eat buns, until the Bolludagsbollur was introduced and things got a lot tastier. The Bolludagsbollur consists of pastry filled with whipped cream and jam, and topped with a chocolate glaze, so basically cream puffs.  Yes, you heard me right… there is a holiday in Iceland called Cream Puff Day! Just another reason why Iceland is my favorite place in the world.

It happens the Monday before lent, 6 weeks before Easter. The good/bad news, is that they are only available at this time of year, good for the diet but bad because they are so delicious. I feel very lucky to have been here to experience this tradition. At the beginning of this tradition, if the children woke up before their parents they would spank gthem with special bolludagur paddles and for each spank they would be given an extra bun. Of course this does not happen anymore, although it is one of the more whimsical Icelandic traditions I’ve learnt about so far!

You’re probably wondering what could make this tradition even more memorable… I say next Bolludagur, book yourself on a helicopter tour and eat this delicacy in the sky or up on a mountain summit.

 

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By: Kelsey Heide

The Iceland Weather

The past few days in Iceland have been stormy, mild, rainy, snowy and also full of sunshine. Mother nature just can’t make up her mind over here! In my opinion, one of Iceland’s best qualities is the ever changing weather forecast. For those of us who thrive on the element of surprise, this is the best place to be.

Icelanders are notoriously laid back, there is a saying here that goes, “Þetta reddast” which roughly translates to “what will be will be.” I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to describe this country, in the best way possible. With this attitude comes a respect and patience for the weather, as it is the one thing we legitimately can’t control.  You don’t even have to be outside to see this happening – you can simply watch the weather change within minutes outside your window. Often, I sit on my couch and marvel at the fact that half the sky is blue and the other half is dark and stormy. And, with no exaggeration, this can go on in rotation for an entire day. The blue skies are slowly taken over by snow clouds and all of a sudden I see nothing but white out my window… That is until 10 minutes later when I feel sunshine seeping in once again.

It is no secret that Iceland is fit for the adventurous type. And the weather just adds to the excitement! While the stormy winter weather can be extremely fun, it is sometimes dangerous too. Of course we will never fly our helicopters if there is any possibility of risk, so with flights booked this is the only time the Icelandic weather can be unfair. But think of  it this way… It just gives you another reason to make your way back to this country! And I don’t you can say you’ve truly experienced Iceland until you’ve had to deal with the elements.

 

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Half blue skies, half incoming snow storm…

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Beautiful sunrise…

 

And an Icelandic blizzard.

 

By: Kelsey Heide

Into the Glacier

There have been tours to go hiking over glaciers, you can view glaciers from above and  you can even to stand right at the bottom – gazing up at these majestic natural occurences – but not often do you get the chance to go INSIDE a glacier. I had the absolute pleasure of making this unbelievable dream a reality. This is all possible at Langökull, which is Iceland’s longest glacier – the name literally means “long glacier”! Here at Norðurflug we’ve become experts at flying above this landmark and even landing on top of it. Now, the company Into The Glacier have made it possible for us to now go inside this very glacier.

I ended up on this tour in the middle of a hardcore Icelandic blizzard, making it hard to pick out the opening to the man made tunnel amongst the vast white backdrop. But don’t be fooled by this tiny looking cave entrance… Once you make it inside you are greeted by silence, fresh air, and a spacious area to explore.

Thinking about the fact that there is 250 feet of pure glacier above and below you is truly unfathomable. The mere idea seems crazy, but to actually put yourself this situation is exhilarating. For me, it was definitely a satisfying check mark on the bucket list! Inside the glacier you are able to see the markings of all the sand, dust and dirt that gets compacted with the snow into each layer of glacier from year to year, just like the rings in a tree trunk. You see pockets of pure water that stand out bright blue where water has flash frozen, and giant cracks in the glacier called crevasses. They even have a “chapel” room where someone proposed and where a wedding is set to happen in the next coming months! I guess you just haven’t seen it all, until you attend a wedding in Iceland inside their longest glacier.

While it is absolutely incredible to fly over a glacier, it makes the experience all encompassing to add the exploration inside of the massive piece of ice.

 

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Fun Facts About Iceland

Did you know….

  • The population of Iceland is just over 300,000 and about two thirds of them live in the capital, Reykjavik, and its suburbs.
  • Iceland moves 1-2 cm to the West every year.
  • It is the youngest country in the world.
  • Here, in the telephone book, everyone is listed by only their first names.
  • They have rerouted roads and avoided building plans that have threatened to disturb rocks where elves might live.
  • Mosquitoes do not exist in Iceland. (This one was especially for my fellow Canadians)
  • Iceland has no army, navy or air force. It only has a coast guard!
  • There are no forests in Iceland.
  • There is an app in Iceland that tells you if you are related to someone.
  • Icelandic police do not carry guns.
  • Iceland was one of the last places on earth where humans settled.
  • The three colors of the Iceland flag represent the 3 main elements that make up the country. Red for volcanic fires, white for the snow, and blue for the ocean.
  • It is illegal to own a pet snake, turtle or lizard in Iceland.

Geothermal Energy

There is something brewing underneath the surface in Iceland… a raw energy with such a force it can power the majority of the country. It’s geothermal energy. Environmentally friendly, naturally occurring and something this country has plenty enough to go around.

In plain terms, geothermal energy is heat from the earth. It is clean and sustainable, and historically has been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. So that’s where Iceland comes in, as it was formed during the separation of North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You can even see this rift in the earth at the Þingvellir National Park in Iceland! But I’ll save that for another post.

In the winter it can be hard to get to these geothermal hot spots by car or by foot, but by helicopter? Well that we can do!

As you fly over volcanoes and rolling mountains you can see pockets up steam rising up from the ground where the primeval energy is escaping. On really sunny calm days you can even see it in the far distance from the Reykjavik coastline, but it is much better to witness this up close and personal! As you approach closer to the ground, the force from the helicopter wings cause the bubbling to rift in mini waves enough to remind you that this is not a scene from movie it is real life. The colors caused by sulfur and microorganisms beautiful and real, and the intense nature of this phenomenon can only be experienced in real life. I highly suggest you make it to one of these naturally occurring wondrous sights.

 

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Written by Kelsey Heide

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral

One of the most popular Reykjavik sights to see is the Hallgrímskirkja cathedral right in the city center.

Towering 73 metres into the air, this church is visible throughout the entire city. The unique design of this Iceland landmark is said to resemble the basalt lava flows of this country’s landscape. If you get the chance to go inside, I highly suggest getting a glimpse of the majestic and still operational pipe organ that occupies the whole back wall of the main room. Of course what makes this church so very special is the viewing tower at the very top of its peak. Pay the small fee to take the elevator up most of the way, and walk the few flights of stairs to catch a glimpse of Reykjavik city from relatively high up. You’ll have the pleasure of witnessing the city’s brightly colored rooftops and watch as the ocean and mountains meet in the distance.

As if all this isn’t enough of an adventure, how about seeing this monument from a true bird’e eye view?

In Iceland you have the opportunity to experience everything you see on the ground, also from above in one of our helicopters. There is something so special about witnessing this truly magnificent piece of architecture from the sky. You get a sense that it is important, as it is the first thing that captures your eye when you leave the tarmac. Hallgrímskirkja sightseeing for me, was an all encompassing experience when it included a helicopter ride.

As you’ll see in my pictures, you can only get a sense of its absolute grandeur when you see it in comparison to everything that surrounds it on the ground. Something that, in my opinion, you can only experience in a helicopter tour. You can imagine what it looks like from above, if it can even be seen from most areas of the city!

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Hallgrímskirkja- view from the ground.

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Hallgrímskirkja – view from the top.

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And finally.. Halllgrímskirkja – from the sky.+

 

By Kelsey Heide

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