Back in Feb 2018, we made our first trip to the Arctic when we celebrated Elaine’s birthday in Finland at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. As you may recall, we fell in love with the place and has since returned to the Arctic twice – once to celebrate Christmas (2018), and again last month to celebrate New Year’s Eve. To build on this Arctic momentum, we decided to celebrate Elaine’s birthday in yet another snowy destination, so we took Friday and Monday off and flew to Iceland.

Let’s be honest, Iceland is not a popular destination for South Africans mainly because as a nation, generally speaking, we hate the cold. In fact, I can only think of five fellow South Africans throughout my lifetime that’s ever been here, and for the rest, no one even considers Iceland as a holiday destination. So allow me a moment to shine some light on this country and hopefully inspire you to consider it for your next winter holiday in Europe.

Iceland is the 25th country Elaine and I are visiting together and has been on our bucket list for quite some time as it’s one of the youngest landmasses on the planet and home to some of the world’s most active volcanos. Due to all the historic volcanic activity (which created this island), the ground in Iceland is black instead of brown which kind of messes with your head when you first see it. It’s also a country that sits on top of two tectonic plates that are breaking away from each other, causing the country to grow by 5 cm every year. Iceland is also the least populated country in Europe with a population of just over 340,000 people. To put that into perspective, the city of Edinburgh in Scotland has over 150,000 more people than the entire country of Iceland. Due to its terrain that mostly consists of mountains, glaciers, geysirs, waterfalls and fertile lowlands, almost 80% of the country is uninhabited and over 60% of the population lives in one city – the capital city of Reykjavik. Lastly, if you don’t like the snow-covered mountains, hot pools and glaciers, you can always turn your eyes to the sky as Iceland is known as one of the best places on the planet to see the Northern Lights. We couldn’t think of a better place to spend the weekend, so at 08:00 this morning we departed from Heathrow in London and arrived in Reykjavik around 11:00.

After clearing customs, we had to take a shuttle bus to the car rental company but this was a mission like we’ve never experienced before. Someone out there clearly made mother nature very mad as she welcomed us to Iceland with winds gusting at 50 – 60 mph. It was the first time ever that a car rental company warned me to ‘please hold on to the door when entering the vehicle as the wind may rip the door off the car’. No, I did not make that up and after attempting to get into our car for the first time, I realised they actually had a point.

Our first stop was the grocery store where we stocked up for the weekend before making our way to the secret nature reserve in Hafnarfjörour where our cabin is situated. The strong winds played with our car, causing the same feeling you experience during turbulence when flying, so we drove slower and took a bit longer to get here, but we’re finally at the cabin, safe and sound. The cabin is stunning and the indoor fireplace makes it extra cosy. The official outside temperature is about -1’C but the wind makes it feel much colder. Tonight we will chill out in the cabin and hopefully, we’ll have better weather conditions tomorrow when we embark on our excursions which will include snowmobiles on the ice cap and a visit to Gullfoss and the geysirs.

Some pics of the cabin: