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Jerry and Carolyn - Jun 21, 2017
I was able to add 25 new birds to my life bird list
Dear Disa and Nordika Travel,
I finally got a chance to sit down and give you some feedback on our Iceland trip June 6th to June 21st. To try to sum up the experience in words is difficult. The entire country is like being in a national park. Literally everywhere you turned there was another photo moment. The mountains, the coastlines, the fiords, the volcanic landscapes, the glaciers, and the waterfalls will cause your senses to go on overload. We found the country to not only be beautiful, but safe, friendly, and white glove clean.
The accommodations were spaced perfectly throughout our trip and we found them to be exactly what we needed at the end of each day. Each place provided us with a place to unwind, rest, edit and post all of the day’s pictures, and enjoy unbelievable gourmet meals. I can not complain about any of the guest accommodations. The room at the place we stayed at Myvatn Lake for two nights was pretty small, but I think we had our most memorable meal there.
We did the “Into The Glacier” tour in the beginning of the trip and found it to be a different experience, but we both found that we liked the natural things around the country better than the man made tunnels into the glacier. They told us that they will take 250 to 300 people through the tunnels in one day. The tour was everything they said it would be, its just that we appreciated more sitting on an island cliff watching the sea birds coming and going with the luxury of very few other people around.
I especially enjoyed the Northwest Fiords and if I go back I would spend more time there as well as all of the Northern Iceland areas. We found that getting more than a day away form the capital provided us with experiences with less tour buses and people. We booked a tour to Drangey Island above Saudarkrokur, on our own, to see Puffins and found the father and son guide team to be exceptional. The climb up the side of the island involved some ropes and landers to hang onto, but even my wife was able to make the climb. You might consider adding that tour to someone else’s trip. Another good puffin stop for us was in Borgarfiordur about one and a half hours out of Egilsstadir.
We used the Ambassador Whale Watching Company out of Akureyri, on their first trip of the day using the RIB boat and saw seven different whales. They were exceptional and the city of Akureyri was a place I would go back to and spend some extra time.
We found the Jarobodin Nature Baths to be perfect. Not as crowded or a commercial as the Blue Lagoon.
The birds were just awesome during the entire trip and I was able to add 25 new birds to my life bird list.
We found the whale museum in Husavik to be a must stop for anyone getting to that area.
One of the highlights for my wife was the Iceberg Lagoon trip. That whole glacier area is breathtaking, but to take the Zodiac right up to the glacier and the ride around the glaciers is also a must. I would definitely recommend the Zodiac over the Duck Boat company because they cover much more area. We even drifted up to a number of seals on the icebergs.
All of the waterfalls were inspiring and it is hard to pick a favorite because they are all so different, but the one that will over powered you was Dettifoss and Selfoss.
The black beaches at the end of 215 past Vik, probably was one of the most inspiring landscapes. If only there had not been a new restaurant and an invasion of tour buses there it would have rivaled what we found in the north. Even with those distractions these black beaches must be seen by anyone traveling to iceland.
The Great Geysir area was okay, but after traveling extensively in Yellowstone it does not compare. The Gullfoss waterfall on the other hand is a must even if once again you have to deal with the tour buses.
Probably our favorite harbor area was Stykkisholmur and the view from the lighthouse hill back over the town makes for a tremendous photo opportunity. We drove back to the Ondveroarnes area at Snefellsjokull and discovered just breathtaking cliffs and beach areas as well as the cliffs at Arnarstapi. Time would not let us go to the cliffs a Latrabjarg, but next time that will be a priority.
The RAV 4 we rented worked out perfectly and we adjusted to the driving conditions of some of the roads pretty quickly, although I must say the two-way traffic in the one lane tunnel going to Isafjordur caught us a little off guard. We found also planning for gas became as important as planning our accommodations and we made use of the N 1 gas cards exclusively. Warn people about credit cards from the states without pins and tell them about these gas cards. Disa explained all of that to us before the trip and we were prepared. Also the sheep on laying on the main highways created some interesting moments.
There were only two hiccups in the trip. The first one was that Hertz did not give us a portable GPS and we didn’t discover that the onboard navigation system was not activated until an hour out of the airport. I didn’t question them at the desk when we picked up the car, because I thought the car navigation system was what we were to use. I had planned everything so well with satellite printouts and research of hotel sites and tour spots that our maps were all we needed. Hertz did ask where the GPS unit was on return of the car, but I explained to them that the counter person never gave us one. They apologized and we left it at that.
The second hiccup was the Inside The Volcano Excursion that we were to do on June 20th. When we woke up that morning it was pouring with 35 mph winds blowing the rain sideways. My wife refused to go under those conditions and we called their office number starting at 7:00 AM. Finally at 8:00 AM we got a live person. They told us to put the cancelation request in writing as an email. We included the voucher number, our names, and the Nordika Agency name as our suppliers. As extreme as the weather was that morning I doubt that they took anyone up that mountain. Anyway we were aware that we had prepaid the tour and we don’t know if they would have by chance refunded the money to you. It was the only disappointing thing about the trip, but we were able to use the time to go into the Iceland National Museum.
Disa did a tremendous job setting this trip up for us and she did it on fairly short notice. She was able to get two awesome hotels when they suddenly became available and rearranged the itinerary to make use of them. Everything was spot on from the suggestions for side trips to supplying us with the materials we needed to make this all run smoothly. The booking of Iceland Air directly out of Philadelphia made the trip easy with no hassles. I would hope that the airport soon catches up with the volume of traffic moving through it on a daily basis. The airport is a little scattered, confusing, and provided no seats at the gate area, which really was not a gate since our plane was parked at the outskirts of the airport leading to a late arrival of the fuel truck.
To put things in perspective I would say this was a trip of a lifetime and definitely should be on everyones bucket list. I will recommend Nordika to anyone who asks me about our experience. Hopefully Disa will see this and know how much we appreciated her hard work.
With utmost thanks,
Jerry and Carolyn