At 5am on Saturday 24th March, 38 students and 5 Geography teachers from St. Mary’s began their journey to Iceland for the Geography trip of a lifetime. What an amazing start to their Easter break!
They travelled by bus to Dublin airport. From there they flew to Keflavik airport. It was an action packed 3 day trip to the “Land of Fire and Ice” as it so famously known; a country of extreme geological contrasts. The first stop on their trip was the incredible Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. The students were well equipped with their water proof phone cases to get plenty of selfies at this popular tourist hotspot. Bathing in geothermal water of over 30 degrees celcius, while sipping freshly made smoothies and taking in the spectacular scenery surrounding the lagoon, was the perfect way to unwind after the early flight.
On Sunday, there was another great line up of events with beginning of the tour of the famous Golden Circle. Thingvellir National Park, an incredible place where Iceland’s stark geological processes can be witnessed first hand, was the first stop of the day. The group walked through two tectonic plates and saw the place where Iceland’s first parliament used to meet. The rock formations and waterfalls were also a sight to behold. The next stop along the Golden Circle was the highly active Geysir Hot Spring area where the group witnessed boiling mud pits, exploding geysers and the lively Strokkur which spouts water 30 metres into the air every 5 minutes or so. This was followed by a trip to Gulfoss Waterfall, one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls, situated in the upper part of the Hvita River. This was truly a sight to behold and the sound of the masses of water which cascade down in two stages into a long crevasse below was incredible. Later that day the group visited Kerid Crater Lake, a completely frozen lake sitting in a volcano surrounded by rare red volcanic rock. The final stop of the day was the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station (the third largest geothermal power station in the world). The interactive displays were highly informative and it was fascinating to learn that 90% of houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy. On Sunday night, the group attempted to see the Northern Lights but it was not to be. The locals told the group it is a bit of a lottery whether you get to experience the Northern Lights or not.
On the final day of the trip, the group were faced with severe wind and rain, but it didn’t dampen the spirits! Reynisfjara black sands beach was the first destination of the day. This was a really unique place to visit. The sand was jet black and was created when lava flowed into the sea and cooled almost instantly. The black sand wasn’t the only spectacular lava creation witnessed here. There was also an enormous natural pyramid made of basalt columns that looked like a staircase into the sky. Skogafoss Waterfall and Seljalandsfoss Waterfall were the next stops of the day with a stop at the famous Eyjafjallajokull Volcano (which was responsible for that 2010 ash cloud) along the way. The final stop of the evening was to an Earthquake Experience Centre where the group got to experience what it feels like to experience an earthquake of 6.6 magnitude. They also got the opportunity to straddle two plates here: the North American and the European.
It truly was a trip of a lifetime. Both the students and the teachers had a wonderful time experiencing a really unique and spectacular country. The group returned home on Tuesday evening with lots of great memories and some incredible photos. The trip was a massive success!