Traveleads ‘ Walk Around the World Challenge’ this week we’ve reached…
by Traveleads | January 23, 2019 | CSR
Those of you who have been following our journey will know we last caught caught up with our team in the fast-paced, action-packed, city of New York. This week the skyline of concrete and sky-scrapers has been replaced by spectacular mountains and a rugged landscape that is Reykjavik – Iceland’s capital, and most visited city.
Iceland is a country of extreme contrasts. Widely known as “The Land of Fire and Ice”, it is home to both some of the largest glaciers in Europe, and some of the most active volcanoes in the world. Iceland is also the land of light and darkness, where long summer days with near 24-hours of sunlight are offset by short winter days.
The country formed around 25 million years ago, making it one of the youngest land masses on the planet.
When the Vikings first arrived in the late 9th century, they found an uninhabited island. An island strategically located in the middle of the North Atlantic. The country was settled by immigrants from Scandinavia and the British Isles in the tenth century, and due to its location, remained an isolated nation of mostly farmers and fishermen until the early 20th century.
The Icelandic language has always been a vital part of the island’s national identity. Compared to the modern day languages spoken by its Nordic brethren, Icelandic closely resembles the Old Norse once spoken across the Nordic countries. This is due to years of isolation, in addition to the nation’s conscious struggle to preserve its language.
Today Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It has a latitude of 64°08′ N, making it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state.
Steam from hot springs in the region is said to have inspired Reykjavík’s name, which loosely translates to ‘Smoke Cove’.
During the Ice Age, the city was buried beneath an immense ice-pack. As temperatures began to climb the land rose as the heavy load of the glaciers fell away, and the landscape began to look as it does today.
The country continued to be shaped by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and even recently the wrath of mother nature was felt across the globe when the almost un-pronounceable ‘Eyjafjallajökull Volcano’ erupted in 2010. The eruption sent a huge cloud of ash into the air that caused travel chaos to an estimated 10 million travellers, as 20 countries closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic.
During this period Traveleads created an emergency management centre in which our teams worked around the clock, to ensure every Traveleads traveller was taken care of, and returned home safely. It wasn’t until October 2010 that Ármann Höskuldsson, a scientist at the Institute of Earth Sciences, stated that the eruption was officially over – although the area is still geothermally active and could erupt again at any time!
Volcanic activity is a fact of life in Iceland, people have learned to live with both its drawbacks, and considerable advantages, such as geothermal energy and the wonderful hot-springs and therapeutic lagoons that exist.
The most famous of which is Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. The geothermal spa is the most visited attraction in Iceland.
It’s waters originate 2,000 metres below the surface, where freshwater and seawater combine at extreme temperatures. On its way to the surface, the water picks up silica and minerals. When the water emerges, its temperature is generally between 37°C and 40°C (98-104°F)
Why is it blue?
The geothermal water has a unique composition, featuring three active ingredients – Silica, Algae & Minerals.
The blue colour comes from the silica and the way it reflects sunlight. During summer there can also be a hint of green in the water. This is the result of the algae, which multiplies quickly when exposed to direct sunlight.
However, and this might come as a surprise to you, the water is actually white. If you pour it into a transparent cup, it will always maintain a milky white colour.
The extreme darkness of the Icelandic winter has a few perks. Between September and April, Iceland is treated to a magnificent natural display: the phenomenon of aurora borealis.
Named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. The Aurora Borealis is what we commonly refer to as the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights are formed by particles emitted by the sun during solar explosions. When these particles interact with the atmosphere in the Earth’s magnetic field, energy is released, causing these peculiar luminous green streaks to appear across the skies.
Direct flights to Iceland take approximately 2hrs 50 minutes – Iceland Air offer departures from several UK airports. Flights arrive at Keflavík International Airport – located 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Reykjavík city centre. The airport is small and convenient with Flybus and taxis waiting to transfer you to the city centre.
But Iceland is much more than just its capital city! There’s the remote Westfjords, the picturesque northern town of Akureyri and the nearby geothernal area of Mývatn. The lovely Westman Islands in the south, or the islands of Grimsey and Hrísey in the north, all populated and each having their own special lifestyle. Or the east coast where you’ll find some of Iceland’s most spectacular and varied landscape. Iceland Air offer domestic flights to all these wonderful places.
With just 1,178 miles left to go on our ‘Walk Around the World Challenge’ we expect to welcome our team back into the UK at the end of next week, by which time they will have circumnavigated the globe …on foot!
As our journey to raise funds for two fantastic charities reaches its final stage, we have seen an increase in donations coming in – for which we, and our chosen charities are truly grateful. We are supporting an air ambulance charity and a children’s charity, who depend entirely on the kindness and generosity of people just like you, to deliver the life-changing and life-saving services they provide.
Traveleads has very generously agreed to match any donations we receive, therefore whatever you give will be doubled – and will go directly to the charity of your choice. You can choose to support to our air ambulance charity, or our children’s charity and donating couldn’t be simpler.
Just text TRAV56 followed by £2.00 to 70070 – to donate to our air ambulance charity.
Or text TRAV62 followed by £2.00 to 70070 – to donate to our children’s charity.
(£2.00 is our suggested donation but please feel free to donate whatever you can)
Thank you on behalf of all those whose lives you will help to save.
If you have missed any of the exciting destinations we have passed through on our journey, or would like to revist any of them, please select from the list below: