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Discovering Iceland

A country of great shakes and shivers, without even talking about its famous crime fiction authors.

Geography and climate

A few words about the Icelandic climate, which should not be a source of worry. For example, in Reykjavik, the capital city, temperatures barely go below zero in January! When talking about Iceland, geographers use the precise term of "temperate oceanic climate". There's nothing but the weather, which is very changeable, that can really surprise you, with rather frequent rain.

The geography of the island seems like something from the moon with its immense deserted stretches, essentially made of lava, evidence of its intense volcanic activity. There are more than one hundred active volcanoes on this island. Often located around the volcanoes, the geysers are one of the must-sees during a trip to Iceland. The most famous of those, the Geysir, projects its boiling water more than 60 metres into the air.    

A view of Toundra

Such natural conditions are not really conducive to blooming flowers. To have any hope of seeing vegetation, you must avoid the central plateau, clearly hostile to life, where only a few puny plants manage to grow.

It's the coasts that attract more plant and flower lovers, as there are more than four hundred of them to see. Away from your excursions, try to spot the eight petals "Mountain Avens", the country's national flower. The landscape at the edge of the ocean looks like Russian tundra. And even though it's not exactly picture postcard scenery, it is nevertheless gifted with a very unique, often austere, charm.

The kingdom of pelagic fauna

The fauna is also quite limited, particularly due to the fact that Iceland is so isolated. For example, you wouldn't have any risk at all of being bitten by a reptile, since this island that's been around for 15 million years has simply never been home to one. Contrary to what happens in other regions of the world, Iceland doesn't have a national animal either, unless you attribute this mascot role to the famous "Icelandic", the riding horses that were around at the time of the Vikings.

On the other hand, there are a lot of birds. During your discovery of the island, enjoy yourself by watching a very lovely species of a puffin with a multi-coloured beak. As for sea mammals, there are a lot more numerous: you can count no less than seventeen species of cetaceans, including whales. A trip to Iceland is the ideal occasion to see these fabulous mammals.    

Rodolphe Ragu
33 contributions
Updated 22 March 2018

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