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There Is More to See and Experience than the Northern Lights in Iceland

Iceland’s extraordinary performance in the World Cup has drawn the attention of the world and more people become curious about the lives of Icelanders. Compared to other countries, Iceland is attractive in its own way – unique, mysterious and fantastic. Though superb views of nature are must-sees, Iceland offers more choices than merely a drive around the island, sightseeing and spas. To have a unique experience, capture the most exciting moments of Iceland and explore the unlimited possibilities of photography, you need to do what locals do.

Hiking on ice

Icelanders love hiking just as the European and American people love climbing. In Iceland, ice hiking is an activity for any time in a year. There are several locations to choose from. If you go glacier hiking in the Vatnajökull glacier as part of the Vatnajökull National Park in the southeast of Iceland, you can not only visit the sites where scenes of the epic fantasy drama A Song of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones and the Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar were shot, but also get a more hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of the island nation.

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Of course, majestic and beautiful as glaciers are, there may be dangers hidden in them because cracks are everywhere and the shapes of the glaciers are constantly changing. So there is no way for any tourist to walk into them without professional equipment and guides. But that is no big deal for the descendants of the Vikings. Icelandic people’s understanding of glaciers is remarkable. But even they need to be well equipped with professional equipment, including a helmet, crampons and ice picks, before setting foot in the icy world.

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You will feel the smallness of man against nature once you set foot on the ice. A two hour trek on ice will take you to the sight of varied fantastically-shaped glacier surfaces, which show varying shades of blue in different weather conditions. The strange sound from crampons is really fresh, turning the very act of walking into a pleasurable experience. A layer of volcanic ash adds a tough feel to the glaciers, too. Spectacular ice ridges and caves along the way may fill you with wonder at the magic power of nature. More brave adventurers can always opt for ice climbing, which is much more challenging, thrilling and exciting.

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Ice cave exploration

Love for adventure is in the DNA of Nordic people. But ice trekking can’t satisfy them. Ice cave exploration is one of the must-do outdoor activities for Icelanders in a year.

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Ice caves, which are formed naturally and thus are only available in winter, concentrate in the southeastern part of the country. They come in different forms and at different places every winter. No one knows where exactly they will appear, so looking for them is one of the fun things to do in the long winter for the Icelandic people. In the ice caves, you can see dazzling and fascinating blue light, which can be remarkably crystal clear when the conditions are just right. Each cave is unique and you can never enter the same cave twice. It is this nature of constant change and unrepeatability that drives Icelanders’ never-abating passions for ice cave adventure.

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Boat tours on the lake

Although the people of Iceland are generally tough, not all of them are the type for novelty and adventure. An excursion on an ice lake is a great time for relaxation for those who focus on the family. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lake in southeast Iceland that is full of magic and attraction. While you are there, you will feel as if you stepped into another world of fantasy or a wonderland in a dream. There, you can take a closer look at the icebergs of various sizes and ages floating on the lake. In the sunshine, glistening icebergs glide slowly, emitting icy blue light against the black sandstones on the shores and the snow-capped peaks in the distance. Such multi-layered dreamlike sights are sometimes interrupted by a lovely seal or two.

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Horse riding

When it comes to horse riding, the Icelandic horse is one of the purest breeds in the world. Since their arrival from northern Europe to the country about 1,200 years ago, the breed of horses has not interbred with other breeds. Riding a horse is part of Icelandic life, especially in rural areas, where farmers often shepherd sheep on a horse. Even in cities, it is not uncommon to see horses and cars go side by side.

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Compared to other breeds of the world, the Icelandic, as it is commonly referred to, is characterized by a small size and thick hairs, which give them a cute look. They are very approachable and are welcoming to human touches. Even those who normally stay off animals may be fond of Icelandic horses. Most importantly, these well-trained horses are capable of a variety of gaits and are mild-tempered, making them an ideal choice for first-time riders (kids or adult). It is one of the safest breeds of horses to ride on in the world.

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In Iceland, treks on horseback through mountains, meadows, rivers, lava fields or black sand beaches are part of authentic local life. They offer you a great opportunity to experience the richness of local terrains and the tranquility of nature.

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Helicopter tours

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see people have private jets, particularly in developed countries. Unlike other Nordic countries, Iceland has no extensive stretches of forest, which may block views. So for those Icelanders with a private jet, it is really a great time out to enjoy the scenic landscape from the comfort of their own jet. The landscape of Iceland is singularly beautiful and rich. To view the vast expanse of scenery from the air guarantees some discoveries that even personal visits may fail to make. An aerial view of Reykjavik and its glaciers, waterfalls, geothermal areas, mountains, highlands, canyons, volcanoes and craters is like a scroll of picture created from pure imagination. Take a helicopter tour and discover the different aspects of this “alien” land.

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As more tourists come to Iceland in recent years, the Icelanders include helicopter tours in the list of tourist offerings. Helicopters usually pick up tourists at certain points and then travel around so that the tourists enjoy the scenery or shoot photos from different points of view. Despite their much higher costs, helicopter tours offer a visually stunning once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Dog sledding

Dog sledding is definitely an activity that Icelanders do with much love! Look at these fluffy, chubby sled dogs. How cute they look! For animal lovers, to be surrounded by a bunch of cute dogs is definitely fun and happy!

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Cute-looking Greenland Husky dogs are good playmates of the Icelanders. They enjoy riding on a sleigh pulled by these dogs in the cold wilderness. But before a trip (or the Icelandic way of walking the dog), the owner will first interact or play with his or her dogs, and then put straps on them and tie them onto the sleigh.

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Many people might think that it is cruel to let dogs pull the sleigh. But let me get one thing clear: to let dogs pull a sleigh is not animal abuse. In fact, life for dogs in snow-covered areas is quite boring and lonely. For climate reasons, they cannot live on the plains. A good way to drive boredom away is to pull the sleigh and their owner around, which offers a great opportunity for them to please themselves and their owner. Most sled dogs belong to an exceptional breed of Husky – the Greenland Husky or the Greenland Dog, which is large in size and can endure temperatures up to forty degrees below zero. Each sled dog team consists of 7 or 8 Greenland dogs. One of them is the leader charged to take the lead and inspire other team members. From an ecological point of view, the use of dog-pulled sleighs can minimize the damage to nature because dogs are small and thus will least damage ice sheets or other natural landscape. Besides, all dog owners are fond of and are kind to their dogs!

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To sum up, Iceland is a country endowed with natural beauty, where people live a healthy life in harmony with nature and animals. It’s no wonder that Icelandic people are one of the happiest in the world!

Destination: Iceland

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