The following comes from the Iceland Tourism Office Newsletter and touts some of the more unusual spots to check out while visiting Iceland. I can vouch for Lake Myvatn and for the the island as a whole. I spent six incredible weeks there about ten years ago and I am due back!
The favorite word of most tourist boards seems to be unique. You’ll read about places that are most unique, very unique, and of course, our favorite, truly unique. But you’ll have to forgive our use of this over-used term when we describe four Icelandic experiences that are well, one of a kind.
Raft Under the Midnight Sun
HestaSport in North Iceland, near the town of Varmahlid, offers a midnight rafting expedition down the West Glacier river. Experienced river guides imported from Nepal for the summer help you dress in full drysuits, booties, gloves and helmet, then provide instruction in English before a rip-roaring trip through the rapids. Not unique enough for you? Well, midway into the trip, the rafts stop along the shore where you can enjoy traditional sweet Icelandic pancakes and hot chocolate and rum made from piping hot fresh water that bubbles up from a thermal spring next to the river. (For more information: www.riding.is).
Go on a Puffin Cruise – in a Hydrogen-Powered Boat
Just a short walk from some of the hottest nightclubs in Europe is the harborside ticket stand for Elding where you can take a guided one-hour puffin tour now through mid-August. Warm overalls or raincoats are provided free of charge in case you experience a dose of Iceland’s famous quirky weather (which if you don’t like, just wait five minutes). The tour guide will lead you to a small island teeming with the funny-beaked creatures. As an added bonus, the trip is on one of the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger boats. Containing a clean, safe hydrogen fuel cell, it allows the captain to run silent during whale watches. (For more information: www.elding.is).
Visit a Water Library
You won’t find many of these places around the world: a two-hour drive from Reykjavik will take you to the Vatnasafn Library of Water in Stykkisholmur. The American artist Roni Horn, in collaboration with the London-based arts organization Artangel, has created a permanent sculpture installation and community center that includes glass columns containing glacial water gathered from around Iceland. Natural light shining through water columns is refracted and reflected onto Icelandic and English words on the floor, absorbing the visitor into a world of weather, water and light. The room doubles as a space for solitary reflection and a place for community activity from writers, readings to women’s chess clubs, yoga classes and town meetings. (For more information: www.libraryofwater.is).
Tour a Secret Cave
When you stay at the nine-room Hotel Reykjahlid (pronounced: Reyka-cleve) in North Iceland’s Lake Myvatn region, general manager Petur Gislason, 40, will size you up. Not everyone can fit into the cave he offers as a sidetrip to his guests. For about $138, the package includes a 4WD Jeep trip to the spot of the secret Lofthellir Cave, lights, helmets gloves and boots, and an expert guide. The five-hour tour is not for the weight-challenged and requires some crawling. As far as his hotel with the drop-dead gorgeous view of Lake Myvatn is concerned, he says, We’re small, personal and friendly. We’re not looking to attract the Jet Set. Don’t come if you plan to watch sports all day on a flat panel TV in your room. (For more information: www.reykjahlid.is)