Saturday, 21 October 2017

How to see Iceland without the crowds

My latest travel story for Traveller in The Sydney Morning Herald was so well received I thought I'd share it here in case you (a) don't live in Australia or (b) didn't see last weekend's Herald.

Our ship was a time-capsule
back to pre-tourism Iceland
It's about the Lindblad Expeditions circumnavigation of Iceland I did in July (read my previous post about it here: 10 reasons to love Iceland) and the tourism boom that has seen 2.3 million visitors flocking to this island nation in the North Atlantic - why it happened, how Icelanders feel about it, how the country is changing and what's ahead.

It turns out that expedition cruising is a great way to sidestep the crowds at popular waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers.

Here's an excerpt, and you can read the full story here: How to see Iceland without the crowds.

Iceland cometh
It's an overcast morning when our ship, the National Geographic Explorer, drops anchor in a quiet fjord in northwest Iceland. Those of us at the breakfast buffet peer out the windows at a world of stillness. 

One of the 10 milion North
Atlantic puffins in Iceland
While the crew readies a dozen inflatable kayaks, my shipmates and I dash to our cabins, throw on thermals, fleeces, waterproofs and lifejackets and head downstairs to the "mud room" where we're given EPIRB-like necklaces that remind us where we are: in a faraway corner of one of the world's wildest countries.

This is no follow-the-leader paddle. Instead we pair up, lower ourselves into two-person kayaks and push off into the view, free to go where we like.

At first my paddling partner and I drift, wowed my our surroundings: a U-shaped glacial valley, green walls curving upwards from sea level into a ceiling of low cloud, a speck of a farmhouse on the far shore. Behind us is the Greenland Sea, the water polished steel.

Then, movement: a North Atlantic puffin, a few silvery sand eels clamped in its harlequin beak, takes flight, red feet running on water, until, in a frenzy of flapping, it's airborne.

Watching it fly off into the empty landscape, I start to wonder: where are all the other tourists? 

Read on...


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