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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

Part 2: The country

ICELAND - even the name itself suggests there are better places to spend a summer holiday.

In reality, however, there is very little difference between the climate here and in the UK.

The main ski resort in the country has been closed since last year because there was no snow - we had it all instead. Rolling hills with trees and grass are just beginning to show their summer colours.

Maybe the early mapmakers mixed-up Iceland with Greenland.

Many paralells can be drawn between the dramatic landscape here with that of the Lake District, but the difference is that there are huge scars of black rock and earth across much of the countryside, glaciers on the mountains to the north, and of course, volcanoes erupting on the horizon.

Almost every natural feature has been formed by one of Iceland's many active volcanoes. Today I have seen the scale of the blasts, with ash and debris literally miles away from the nearest eruption site.

On a side note, I saw some pictures last night taken by one of the country's most famous figures - a stand-up comedian/pilot called Omar, now in his seventies - that showed the huge lumps of rock being spat out of Eyjafjallajokull at present and showering a group of geologists who were stood within 800 metres near the mouth. I've felt the weight of this molten rock, and I know that if that hit you, you'd know about it.

Around the base of every volcanic mountain there are spectacular waterfalls formed by the glaciers being melted by the lava underneath. Spectacular geysers spring up all over the south west were the pressure from the heat forces the water to jet upwards.

The black beach, which I mentioned yesterday, is obviously a side-effect of the eruptions too.

Of course there is snow and ice - that is all to the north at the moment and in a country of almost 40,000 square miles, I have only seen a fraction of what is on offer.

I would need a month to really get to grips with this fascinating place, which will have 24-hour daylight from the end of May until July, and conversely three hours of daylight in December. Right now it stays light until around 11pm and gets light again about 3am.

There is no doubt that I will return here again, maybe in winter 2012 when Aurora Borealis will be at the height of its 11-year cycle. From the pictures proudly on display around this amazing hotel, it is something special.

Now it is time to return for one last dip in the natural jacuzzi under the shadow of the most famous volcano in the world.
 

By Karl Steel
Published: May 12, 2010

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