This morning after breakfast the adventure begins. Our Leader plans to meet us in the hotel reception at 9am for the welcome meeting, before we check out and head into town.
Driving out past the university, drive to a viewpoint to get our first orientation of Reykjavik and its natural harbour. Continue to the 'white beach' and take a stroll along the waterfront to blow away the cobwebs. Later in the morning we head downtown on foot, visit Reykjavik's striking cathedral and stroll around the lake known as Tjornin where duck, geese, swan and arctic terns can be observed at close quarters.
Following our walking tour there is time to explore the city centre under our own steam and get some lunch. An Icelandic speciality is a hot dog served on a warm, steamed bun and topped with raw and crispy fried onions, a sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade; a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. Just ask for a hot dog with 'all the works.'
Leaving the capital after lunch we make a brief stop at the harbour, which is always busy with trawlers and other vessels. Continue to Thingvellir National Park, with Lake Thingvallavatn bordering it on the south side and a mountain range to the north. The setting is spectacular, being featured in the popular TV series Game of Thrones. Thingvellir National Park is of great interest to geologists, as it sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the great cleft in the Earth's crust that separates the Eurasian tectonic plate from the North American plate. We take a walk along the rift valley separating the two continental plates and learn about the Viking history of this ancient land.
En-route to our yurt camp, make a stop at Laugarvatn to witness traditional bakery, where rye lava bread is pot baked for 24 hours using ovens powered by geothermal activity. Next door is a warm lake, a local swimming pool with hot tubs heated geothermally and the upmarket Fontana Spa. There is time for a swim before we continue.
Our base for the next three nights is Nattura Yurtel, built in 2019 and set on a working farm, close to Gullfoss Falls. The accommodation comprises of 10 custom-made yurts, which are traditionally Mongolian in structure but have been designed and furnished with an Icelandic twist. These round tents are comfortably furnished with twin beds, toilets and sinks with the added comfort of under-floor heating. Showers are located in a separate block and there are two large communal yurts to relax in.