Five Highlights of Iceland
“So, how was Iceland?” That was a question I got time and again after being a part of the Oak Hall expedition to Iceland this summer. Around every corner is a new landscape, view and wonder of God’s creation… if I had to pick my top five highlights, here’s where I might start:
Iceland is full of amazing geological features: volcanoes, geysers, glaciers… but the waterfalls are some of the most impressive. Gulfoss is one of the biggest, but for me Skogafoss was my favourite. Water comes cascading down from far above you, creating a light water spray and beautiful rainbows you feel you can almost touch. A set of stairs winds up the side of the waterfall, allowing you to look down on the beauty too, and the walk along the river at the top provides plenty of other smaller waterfalls to admire. At another waterfall just close by, you can even walk behind the cascading water (but make sure you wear your waterproofs as it can get pretty damp on the other side of a waterfall!)
A short boat trip from the south of Iceland takes you to the collection of small islands called Vestmann, only one of which is inhabited. Look out to sea and you might get a glimpse of Surtsey, the newest island only 55 years old. You can feel the heat as you walk up an active volcano, and see the devastation of the most recent eruption. The stars of the island are the puffins, with a huge puffin colony nesting in the hillsides. You can spend hours just watching the birds flying back and forth, especially since puffins always look as if they are about to crash land! Sometimes the baby puffins (adorably called ‘pufflings’) can get lost when they take their first flight, so the children of the island go out to rescue them. If you are there at the right time, you can see queues of local children with shoe boxes housing the confused pufflings, getting them ready to return back to the wild.
Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly capital city and houses about half of Iceland’s population. Despite this, it’s a small city with a laid-back attitude. You can enjoy a harbour-side walk, go whale watching, or just enjoy a good cup of coffee. Iceland can be an expensive place to eat out, which is probably why one of the favourite things to do is enjoy a take-out hot-dog! You can go up the tower of the main church which gives you spectacular views over the whole city. Or you can enjoy a cafe with Star Wars themed toilets (for no reason any of us could understand!) Reykjavik is certainly an eclectic city!
Pronounced ‘thing-feller’, this is a national park close to Reykjavik. It was once the outdoor national parliament of Iceland (back in 930 AD) but is now a beautiful park of rivers, waterfalls, and greenery. It’s a place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, so it’s possible to stand with one foot on one plate, and one foot on another! It’s a wonderfully peaceful place, with lots of easy walking routes and incredible scenery everywhere you go. Make sure you have plenty of space on your camera, as you will be taking lots of pictures!
Icelandic people are laid back and friendly – and almost all of them speak English, which is good since Icelandic is fiendishly difficult to learn! They are also a people in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church in Iceland is small so they appreciate our prayers and partnership in the gospel. It was a joy to join with a local church on the Sunday (including singing them a few songs in English), and to see the work of the Christian centre where we stayed. For all the wonder of God’s creation that surrounded us every day, it was the joy of the gospel in people’s lives that moved me the most.
Written by Dan Wells
You can book onto our next Iceland trip here.