Aug 19, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer

We awoke to blue skies and sunshine! After a windy, rocky sail from Grimsey, everyone was excited for a day of land-based adventure as we split up into a few different groups.

Some adventurers opted for the long day explorations, which went to the famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon; others chose the Superjeep ride, which went off-roading into the mountains to see impressive landscapes and waterfalls.

Those of us on the coastal walk were treated to amazing views of Djupivogur and the island of Papey from a lookout point. Then we walked down to the gorgeous black-sand beaches that the south coast of Iceland is famous for. Flowers were still in bloom—Alaskan lupine, bluebells, thrift, arctic thyme, and Iceland’s national flower, mountain avens. After a walk among the dunes, we made our way past a freshwater marsh to a sweet spot, protected from the wind, where we were snacked on crowberry juice and traditional Icelandic donuts called kleinur.

After a delicious lunch in the ship’s dining room, many of us joined the cultural tour which included a visit to an amazing rock collector’s workshop that was transformed into a small museum. The exhibit included an incredible sample of local rocks, each one cut and polished to expose a cross section of the beautiful patterning hidden under the surface. The grand finale of the tour was an a cappella concert by a singer who invited us to sit in an old oil drum, lit by candlelight, and listen to her Icelandic folk songs bouncing around the space with the most amazing acoustics.

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About the Author

Karen Velas


Karen Velas cares deeply about protecting the environment and its wildlife.  Over the last 15 years, she has been involved with numerous conservation projects, including working as the Lead Project Coordinator on the California Condor Project with The National Audubon Society, managing projects in the flooded rice fields of California’s Central Valley with The Nature Conservancy and surveying the distant cliffs of Iceland to aid in puffin recovery with the South Iceland Research Centre.

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