Location spotlight: High Octane Iceland
Iceland is one of the most remote, volcanically active and sparsely populated countries on the planet. It rests on the edge of the Arctic Circle and has an incredibly diverse topography that includes mountains, lava fields, glaciers, farmlands, fjords, lakes, and rivers.
With a craggy coastline a little over 3000 miles long, Iceland has plenty of potential for surf exploration, but without crowds to push the search for empty breaks further afield much of the Icelandic surf scene is centred around the Reykjanes Peninsula. This peninsula points southwest into the North Atlantic and plays host to a range of surf spots, from lava reefs to boulder points and black sand beaches
What kind of experiences are there to enjoy on a luxury yacht charter in Iceland?
A must for a YACHTZOO charter in Iceland is The Troll Peninsula. It is every skier’s dreamland with about 90% of the mountains skiable, meaning there are not many cliff faces or flat spots. The mountains are the perfect mix of steep to very steep couloirs and faces, to wide open low-angled glacier runs. What really sets the Troll Peninsula apart from any other heli-ski destination is the fact that you can ski up to 1300m, with runs all the way down to the ocean. There are plenty of slopes for skiers of all abilities from very extreme terrain suitable for the pro riders to nice, gentle areas for the first time heli-skier. The Mountains of the Trolls are up to 1500m (or 5000ft) high but you can in many cases ski that entire vertical all the way down to the ocean. The average heli ski run is around 900m or 3000ft in vertical drop. Due to the northerly position there is no tree skiing in Iceland, in fact the local joke is that if you get lost in an Icelandic forest, you just have to stand up!
For another high-octane option, we can organise with Pelorus to take you to explore the national parks of Iceland in specially modified 4WD vehicles for use in rough environments; in the mountains or on glaciers. These re-engineered trucks can tackle the most extreme conditions in Iceland. Re-building the body and the frame to fit engineered 38-inch tires plus upgrading suspension and drive train. The trucks were used to drive to the Magnetic North Pole with the British TV show Top Gear in 2007 where they carried the presenters and film crew over 1400km over sea ice, boulder fields and small islands.
Whilst cruising onboard your yacht, keep a weather eye out for over 20 species of whale, from the prolific humpbacks to the more elusive fin whale, the second largest whale species after the blue whale, therefore the second largest mammal on the planet. Other species such as dolphins and minke whales are common but occasional visitors are blue whales, orcas, pilot whales and sperm whales.
When to go?
Whilst the summer is the easiest time to cruise Iceland, the Westfjords are cruise-able all year round and it is safe to do so.
Where to visit on a trip to Iceland?
Langjökull (the Long Glacier) is the second largest in Iceland. It covers an area of about 950 km² and most of it rises to between 1200 and 1300 m above sea level. Until now, what lay beneath the surface of the Langjökull glacier had been a mystery, known only to a small group of scientists and glaciologists. You will reach the foot of the glacier by helicopter and meet a world-renowned glaciologist, who will bring you into the heart of the tunnel where you’ll learn about this massive undertaking. You will enjoy lunch beneath the glacier, in specially heated tents. The setup will be a cosy affair in a unique location with a beautiful view over the Eiríksjökull and Langjökull glaciers.
Silfra, one of the world’s most exceptional snorkelling and diving sites is located on top of the tectonic plates between Europe and America. The Silfra Fissure runs through Thingvellir National Park which is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iceland. Discover this spectacular underwater landscape as you float in crystal clear water for a true bucket list experience. The captivating underwater colours of Silfra are sure to leave you thirsty for more. The endless varieties of blue along with the amazing visibility make Silfra a unique site all year around. Snorkelling and diving in Silfra will give you the opportunity to explore the depths of the crevasse as you float peacefully through the waters.
There are hot springs all over Iceland, not only the famous Blue Lagoon, but also smaller secret ones across the North and inside the national parks. The Icelandic tradition of bathing outdoors in volcanically heated pools dates right back to Viking times. A few of these old pools survive today – often sited in spectacular locations – whilst almost all settlements here, however tiny, have installed geothermally heated swimming pools with
accompanying hot tubs.
The characteristics of this water are unique in many ways. It contains a large amount of minerals, is alkaline and well suited for bathing. Due to its chemical composition, bacteria do not survive in the lagoon meaning that it is naturally pure and hygienic water.
What are the major yachting ports in Iceland?
Of course, no trip to Iceland would be complete without a visit in Reykjavik, a great yachting entry port that showcases some stunning restaurants and charming streets. Not only this but it is also home to Mjolnir gym where you can train with superstars of the UFC and try your hand at mixed martial arts. One of Iceland’s most famous athletes, UFC mixed martial artist Gunnar Nelson, trains at the club and his father, Haraldur Dean Nelson is one of the founders of the gym. Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor also trains at the gym.
Isafjordur is a small, friendly, ice-free port on the northern side of Westfjords. It is a useful staging post for a trip to Greenland, allowing extended cruising there.