North­ern ex­po­sures

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MATTA FAIR -

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).

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