Iceland, land of fire and ice. While this country has seen a recent surge in tourism, there are still many places where you can travel off the beaten path and experience the interior of the country as its residents do. One of those places is Husafell, where we will be taking guests for a new post-voyage extension involving heli-hiking, lava caves, and ice tunnels. Sound adventurous? It most certainly is, and I’ll be here for the next week scoping out all of the details with Iceland guide and Lindblad Naturalist Dagny Ivarsdottir.
Husafell, located two hours northeast of Reykjavik, has long been known as a favorite summer camping spot for Icelanders—and for good reason. It is right on the edge of the highlands, tucked alongside glaciers, lush green valleys, and dotted with hot springs. We are a planning a 3-day/2-night adventure in the region, with our base camp at the newly finished Hotel Husafell. Hotel Husafell is the first 4-star countryside hotel built specifically for the intrepid traveler who also happens to enjoy a glass of fine wine by a cozy fireplace, or a dinner of fresh lamb while overlooking snow-capped peaks.
Today we visited two places that will surely become a part of this program. Our first stop was to Iceland’s largest lava tube (by volume), just 20 minutes from the hotel. After putting on our hard hats, we were guided into the depths of the tunnel, and learned about the fascinating geologic phenomena that allowed for such an incredible structure to form. Walking along the cave floor where hot lava and gases once flowed, we marveled at the ice stalagmites, ribbed tunnel ceiling, and columnar basalt. After a quick picnic lunch, we made our way to the bottom of nearby Langjokull glacier, Iceland’s (and Europe’s) second largest glacier. Our destination was 25 meters down inside the glacier, by way of a man-made ice tunnel. Constructed by a team of geologists and glaciologists, this was a true adventure that can now be enjoyed by curious travelers. It began with a 30-minute ride over the glacier in a large ice-jeep to reach the opening of the tunnel. Once there, we strapped our crampons over our boots and followed our guide through LED-lighted tunnels carved deep into the interior. Over the next hour we saw features of glaciers one is not accustomed to seeing by simply walking on top: chasms, the deep “blue ice,” and glacier strata rings that reveal the country’s long history of volcanic eruptions.
To cap off the day, Dagny and I made our way back to Hotel Husafell for a pre-dinner dip in the property’s geothermal pools—as the Icelanders do.