A COUNTRY of extreme contrasts, Iceland and Greenland are usually described as breathtaking and yet disorientating – all in the same breath. Known as the “Land of Ice and Fire”, it juxtaposes its frozen terrain above ground with fiery volcanic activity within its bowels, giving rise to an environment most Malaysians see only in pictures, on the TV or in the movies.
Its rugged landscapes, mountains and glaciers, the flora and the fauna have a magnetic influence on the visitors. And like most northern countries, it experiences several natural wonders found only in near- polar regions – it experiences almost 24- hour sunlight or darkness during deep summers and winters, and its skies get lit up with the Aurora Borealis.
Parlo Tours is offering a 10D/ 7N excursion into Iceland, courtesy of Lufthansa and Icelandair. It has four departures during the summer months. Priced from RM17,388 onwards, the journey begins from Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt, via Singapore on Lufthansa.
From there switch to Icelandair to Reykjavik ( pronounced Rey- kya- vik, “j” is always a “y” in Icelandic) the capital of Iceland.
There visitors can visit the Hallsgrimkirkja church, the largest and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland; see the pearl of Reykjavik, the Perlan building with its large glass dome; the historically significant Hofdhi House; the City Hall; and the new additions of the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. But when it comes to natural wonders, Iceland has its own unique signature sights.
None is as striking as Iceland’s kinship to the Earth.
Thingvellir is a rift point between two continental plates and site of Icelandic’s ancient parliament, while the larger geyser spouts 15m to 30m plume into the air Geysir.
There is also an educational tour on the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, which erupted in April 2010 causing a virtual standstill in the economic, political and cultural activities in Europe and across the world.
There is also the fumarole fields of Hverarond, where groundwater is heated by an underground magma intrusion and has a strong smell of sulphur. The lava labyrinth Dimmuborgir was a partially cooled lava lake drained out leaving magnificent basaltic pillars and sculptures. And around Lake Myvatn are regular- shaped pseudo- craters formed in a volcanic eruption approximately 2,300 years ago.
Iceland also has its share of amazing waterfalls, from wide- spanning panoramic falls to high- plunging cascades. There is the roaring Gullfoss, that plunges into a crevice obscured from far, giving the impression the waters tumble into nowhere.
The 63m Seljalandsfoss is Iceland’s highest waterfalls that visitors walk behind around its back.
Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls on the island with an astounding width of 25m and a drop of 60m. And while not the highest, Dettifoss is the largest by volume, measuring 100m wide and have a drop of 45m down to the Jokulsargljufur canyon.
Ice is another characteristic of Iceland, hence its name – Iceland itself is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe.
Visitors will walk close to the Skaftafellsjokull glacier, sail among huge ice floes of Jokulsarlon, taste a piece of a 1,000- year- old ice and maybe spy some seals.
Other attractions include whale watching at Husavik, experience the expanse of Iceland’s longest fjord at Akureyri and its environs, and a visit to the Blue Lagoon for a premium package, with enhanced lagoon entry, all accessories and use of bathrobe, towel and slippers, first drink of choice, skincare trial pack, a reserved table and a glass of spar- kling wine at the LAVA Restaurant.
As well as Iceland, Parlo has a special package that has travellers segueing to Greenland.
This 10D/ 7N trip will cover most of Iceland with two days dedicated to Greenland. After viewing Reykjavik upon arrival and second day, visitors will leave for Ilulissat, Greenland, on the third day. It is the largest city in Greenland and means “icebergs” in the local tongue.
Visitors here will experience the Icefjord at Sermermiut, considered a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a large collection of icebergs that was calved from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier.
Visitors are also invited to a warm Greenlandish tradition of “kaffemik” – it is having coffee but in a grand scale, that it becomes communal.
It is the concept of being together to the kaffemik that special and lots of people gather for several hours.
Visitors also get to view the icebergs and glaciers – during the golden hour of the midnight sun. And with a midnight cruise in the Ilulissat Icefjord, visitors can observe the changing hues of the icebergs as they twinkle in blues and deepen to shades of yellows, golds and fiery orange as the evening deepens.
Greenland is also a great place to sight whales and seals, especially along the Pakitsoq fjord, while Ataa Straits’ steep mountains hold a large aerie of birds and cascading falls. Parlo’s 10D/ 7N Iceland package leaves on June 3 and 24 and July 1 and 22; the Iceland and Greenland package leaves on Aug 26.
Visit Parlo Tours at Booth No. 1373 and 1412, Hall 1, PWTC during the MATTA Fair. Call International Tour Group Departures ( 03- 2726 6088 / 03- 2274 7877), FIT/ Ticketing ( 03- 2726 6077 / 03- 2274 7896), Muslim Departures ( 03- 2726 6055), Corporate Ticketing ( 03- 2726 6022 / 03- 2274 7899) and Malaysia Inbound Tours ( 03- 2726 6044).