Swans are ruining the corn fields in Iceland
Favorite thing: Swans are such a beautiful sight in the Icelandic nature, but at the same time they are ruining the fields where the Icelandic farmers are trying to grow their grain. The farmers have all but given up and are seeking permission to shoot the swans, even though they are like totally preserved in Iceland.
The farmers will give up trying to grow grain here as it makes no sense when the swans eat up all of their crop. They cannot be driven away as they always come back, everything has been tried to drive them away. The geese are doing the same thing. One of the farmers estimated that his loss was at least ISK. 3.000.000.
In 2013/2014 the land used for growing grain was cut down by 424 hectares, because farmers cannot cultivate it any more as they are only feeding the swans.
So this pretty swan is doing more harm than good, what a pity :( Of course the swans only see this as their food, so this is a difficult situation to handle.
The Icelandic goat
Favorite thing: The Settlers of Iceland, the Vikings, brought the goats with them, but to see a goat in Iceland has always been something out of the ordinary for me. There are no sources of goats being imported to Iceland after the Settlement, so it is believed that the goats left in Iceland are descendants of the "Viking" goats.
In the mid 20th century the number of goats in Iceland was down to below 100 goats, but then the Government stepped in and thought it was right to save the Icelandic goat from distinction. From 1965 goat owners got a set amount of money for each goat, up to 20 goats per farmer. This worked to save the goat and in 2011-2012 the number of goats in the whole of Iceland was 818, owned by 50 farmers! The number is up to ca 1.000 goats now in 2015. But for the goat to not go extinct it is estimated that ca 5.000 female-goats (lack the English word) will be needed, so there is a long way to go still.
Goats are friendly towards us humans and can be kept as pets. I did not know this, I thought they were unfriendly and was kind of afraid of them, so when I ran into the goats on the path in Mývatn, I was astounded. They acted like cats and allowed us to pet them and we had to step over them as they were not moving away from the path.
There is one farm in Iceland which is purely a goat-farm. It is the farm at Háafell in Hvítársíða, run by the farmers Jóhanna B. Þorvaldsdóttir and Þorbjörn Oddsson. They run the biggest goat-farm in Iceland, with 186 goats in 2011-2012. They have had goats since 1989 together with the more "normal" Icelandic farm animals, but decided on only raising goats in year 2000.
It is possible to visit the goat-farm and see how the breeding and raising of goats has developed at the goat-farm. And get to know the goats against a small fee. I am going to do that next summer and will tell you more about it.
The goat-farm at Háafell.
Fondest memory: Contact Jóhanna if you want to come for a visit to the goat farm by e-mail email@example.com or by mobile +354-8452331.
Road directions: GPS 64° 42,842’N, 21° 15,375’W. Drive on ring-road 1 to the west, turn right on road 50 in Borgarfjörður. Drive for 35 km and turn right on road 522 and then right on road 523. Drive for 8 km to Háafell.
Visa to Iceland in Seydisfjordur
Favorite thing: Being european I was not asked a visa, but passport is needed to enter Iceland. They gave me 30 days entry permit.
Fondest memory: Hitch hicking was easy. I boarded a ferry in Bergen, Norway, and stopped on the way to Faroe islands. I flew out of Iceland from Reykiavik, flying to London.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
The tourist industry in Iceland.
Favorite thing: The tourist industry is now (2015) the largest industry here in Iceland, it just recently changed places with our fishing industry. In 2009 we got 155 billion ISK from the tourist industry and in 2012 we got 238 billion. It is estimated that we will be earning 342 billion ISK in 2015 or 29% of the export revenue.
In the first 11 months of 2013 ca 739.328 tourists visited Iceland, never before had we had so many tourists visiting us during the winter months.
In 2015 it is estimated that 1.350.000 tourists are going to visit Iceland, not counting the people from the cruise ships. That means that 4x as much tourists visit Iceland as there are inhabitants in my country.
If it weren´t for the tourists Iceland would not have recovered so fast from the global crisis. Unemployment was ca 11% back in May 2010, but is now 4,4% in January 2015 and of the 10.000 new jobs which have been created in Iceland since 2010, half of them are in the tourist industry.
I remember back then when the only tourists visiting were back-packers in tents who even brought their own food so they left almost no money in Iceland. Back then we Icelanders were almost the only ones travelling here during the summer time. Now it is getting very crowded here, even so crowded that it is causing damage to some of our natural treasures so some steps must be taken to preserve the nature.
Fondest memory: There are 14.000 rental cars in Iceland, but back in 2006 there were only 4.756, so the increase in 10 years has tripled.
There are more than 150 car rentals in Iceland, but back in 2003 there were only 51 car rentals here.
42% of the cars sold in Iceland are bought by the car rentals. Almost 9 out of 10 rental cars in 2014 were younger than 5 years old and 30% of them were new cars.
All of these rental cars drove over 300.000.000 km last year (2014)!
Links to adventure tours.
Favorite thing: I will be adding here links to adventure tours and all kinds of interesting trips in Iceland. I am having a hard time keeping track of everything that is going on here, so when I come across and interesting article in the newspapers or a pamphlet I will add the links to the websites in this tip.
Mountaineers of Iceland offer various interesting glacier tours on Langjökull glacier. They own big changed jeeps and trucks which one can see on the roads in Reykjavík and Iceland heading out of the city and returning late in the evening. They also own 100 snowmobiles and two cottages on Langjökull glacier. They sometimes offer glacier banquets.
Snilldarferðir or Brilliant tours are run by a married couple with a base at Þórisstaðir in Hvalfjörður bay. They offer ATV or quad bike tours. They own 8 Polaris quad bikes and can offer more if there is a large group. And they offer the gear, 66 degrees N overalls and all the safety equipment for the guided tours. They also offer laser-tag at Þórisstaðir. In the summer time they offer boat trips on dinghies where one can go fishing for cod. They claim to know of a secret spot where there is a huge catch of cod.
Trees in Iceland.
Favorite thing: The Vikings said that there was great vegetation and a lot of trees here when they arrived, but after centuries of letting the sheep roam free here the ground is barren. Which then causes sandstorms, and as the Icelanders put it - our land is being blown out to sea.
When the Vikings came to Iceland they talked about the island being green and covered in forests (which is certainly not the case nowadays). So they cut a lot of the forests and overused it. But the forest is slowly growing back.
Now almost 40.000 hectares are covered with trees/forest, but in 1990 only 6.600 hecares were covered in trees. So that is quite a change.
There is a popular joke here in Iceland: "What should you do if you are lost in the forest? Stand up!" ;)
Icelanders in general like open land and great view and sometimes complain about not being able to see anything if a tree is blocking the view. This is because we are used to barren landscape. But then on the other hand we have a lot of wind, which we are not that fond of - so more trees, less wind.
Fondest memory: Woodland now covers almost 2% of Iceland.
The most common trees in Iceland are:
Larch (lerki) - 25%
Birch (birki) - 23%
Pine (stafafura) - 14%
Sitka spruce (sitkagreni) - 14%
Black cottonwood (Alaskaösp) - 18%
The cultured woodland here is divided into 2 section - old forests and younger forests. The old forest has got trees over 2 meters high and 15 years old and the younger forests are below that number.
Favorite thing: In the Sagas there are tales about the farm-animals which the Vikings brought with them to Iceland. The Vikings brought with them sheep, so there have been free-roaming sheep here since the Settlement - and now they greatly outnumber the population of Iceland. And they are slowly eating up our land.
And they brought goats with them as well and cattle and eating beef was very common back then.
The Vikings brought horses with them and horse meat was eaten - and still is today. The Icelandic horses are direct descendants of the horses that the Vikings brought and have still not been mixed with other breeds. And they also brought with them wild boar, which we don´t have here today.
They also brought with them colourful chicken, which we now call "Landnámshænur" or Settlement chicken.
Fondest memory: So the livestock that we see when driving around our country in the summer time are heaps of sheep, which are let loose to roam in the mountains, happy cows, which are so happy when they are let out of the cowshed in summer time that they jump around, and horses, called the Icelandic stallion - not a pony ;)
In winter time the only livestock that is to be seen outside are the sturdy horses.
The Icelandic census from 1703.
Favorite thing: The Icelandic census from 1703 is now on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. The census is one of the most precious gems in the Icelandic Hall of Records "Þjóðskjalasafn Íslands".
The census is registered in 92 books all in all 1709 pages, the largest one being more than 100 pages from Snæfellsnessýsla county.
The census from 1709 is the oldest preserved census in the world and includes all the inhabitants in the country. Listed is the name, age, address (in most cases) and social status. No other country in the world has such accurate demographic information on their citizens.
In 1709 Icelanders were 50.358. Back then Guðrún and Jón were the most common names.
One can look up the census from 1709 and more censi here manntal/census.
BJÖRK Guðmundsdóttir - the singer.
Fondest memory: Björk Guðmundsdóttir is Iceland's most famous international singers. She had an outside concert here in Reykjavík in Laugardalur walley in June 2008 for the conservation of the environment. It was very well attended as you can see from the photos. At least two VT-members attended, that I know of, myself and Ove who was in Reykjavík for a visit.
Björk and I went to school together from the age of 8-15 as we are born in the same year 1965.
Björk owns a house by Ægissíða (see my tip on 107 Reykjavík). It was painted totally black and stood out in that street. It has now been painted white.
Her official site is Björk.
A few statistics about Iceland.
Favorite thing: Our main export is not fish but aluminium.
6,8% of the population in Iceland were foreign citizens (January 1st, 2010).
Most foreign citizens travelling through our international airport are British citizens.
95% of all 16 year olds are in college.
Two out of three graduates from University are women.
79% of all our electric power usage goes to the heavy industry.
7 Icelandic movies premiered in 2008.
95% of the nation uses the Internet daily (2013) which is the highest percentage in Europe. A little less than half the users connect to the Internet on their mobile phones.
5% of the Icelandic nation support UNICEF, which is the highest percent of supporters per capita in the world.
0,01% of the nation is deaf - ca 300 people.
8,2% of the nation are immigrants (2010) or 26.171, most of them Polish immigrants (10.058). The second largest group of immigrants are Lithuanians.
Iceland is in the second place for the countries with the best democracy, right after Norway.
83% of Icelanders are on Facebook.
Icelanders have the longest working hours compared to Scandinavia and many other European countries.
The fishing industry - one of the main industries
Favorite thing: One of Iceland's main industries has always been the fishing industry seeing that we live on an island. The fish (along with the sheep) has kept Icelanders alive through the centuries. It counts for more than half of Iceland's exports with ca 26,3% of our foreign currency coming from the fishing industry. In 2012 we earned 269 billion ISK from the fishing industry.
In 2nd place is the tourist industry - it moved up above the heavy industry last year with 23,5% or 238 billion ISK in 2012. Heavy industry - aluminium - is now in 3rd place with 225 billion ISK in 2012.
For two summers I worked in a fish processing factory cleaning, weighing and packing fish for export. I was 13 and 14 years old and sometimes we worked from 7-19. This was a popular job due to the long hours and more pay than in other jobs. Most of Iceland's inhabitants have worked in the fishing industry in some regard, especially people living in the country side by the sea-shore. In Reykjavík there are many fish processing facories and some days you can smell the fish in the air, when they are making fish-oil.
Before the crizis hit us there was not a news program without a least one news on the fishing industry.
Car Rentals in Iceland
Favorite thing: Car Hire in Southern Iceland: here's my experience; research for the hire was conducted the month of February & early March 2012. For our 20-day trip in March/April 2012 (minor snow, rain, clear roads) I researched all the car rental options I could find on line and narrowed it down to the least expensive at the time (Viking, SADCar, Blue Car Rentals and Sixt). Pre-arrival on Iceland, online, we booked a SADCar (Subaru Legacy) for 3 days; and then online once in Iceland we booked a Blue Car Rental (Hyundai Tucson small SUV) for 8 days. The Blue Car was only slightly more expensive than the SADCar rental and yet we had an SUV vs. a Subaru Legacy. The Blue Car was in much better shape.
I would highly recommend using Blue Car Rentals. Blue Car also has an "older model" option, which we used, making the price more closer in line with SADCar.
SADCar's one rear passenger door didn't work properly, it was in all around poorer condition, one wheel rim missing, the engine check light went on twice, and there was rust. We didn't have a lot of faith in it at one point but only used it for the golden circle and blue lagoon area. We picked it up in Reykjavik where they have an office. We also dropped it off at the SADCar office at 4:30p and no one was there (they told us to toss the keys in the mail slot if no one was there). This made us feel a little uneasy so we took photos of it and emailed them the photos and the time we left it. We thought we would not use them again even if we did save a little money. HOWEVER, if you are into the very cheapest but usable rental car, you need to check and maybe hire a SADCar.
Blue Car Rental was in perfect condition inside and outside. The only thing is that the older models do not get as good gas mileage as the newer so we may have ended up paying a bit more all in (all in=rental+gas). We paid a small bit more to have them deliver it to our hotel since they didn't have an office in Reykjavik proper. So when planning your trip, be sure to figure out where pick up/drop off offices actually are located. All are at the international airport; not all are in the city.
SUV 4-wheel v. regular car: We felt, no doubt, hire a SUV 4W regardless. It was worth it for the peace of mind since many of the secondary (non-F) roads were not completely paved (stone filled with large potholes) and yet many of the sights we wanted to see were slightly off (not more than 2-3 miles) the ring road. We felt so much more secure having the extra clearance and ability to 4W which we did need once to back out of some black sand).
I saw where there was some SuperJeep rentals (3 days / bet. $650-$700) and if you are seriously doing F roads and can afford it you may want to seek out this option.
Insurance: I also liked Blue Car b/c their pricing includes insurance. We also took out additional insurance via Travelex (add-on option when you purchase trip cancellation/interruption insurance). Check/ask carefully about whether gravel insurance covers windscreen hits/cracks--happens easier than you'll think in Iceland). Also note that most insurance doesn't cover chassis undercarriage damage (hence the recommendation for a higher clearance SUV). There is so much more to the whole insurance coverage options and I recommend you pay close attention when deciding your insurance options. I will say that we had no extra costs associated with damage.
Car Hire in Northern Iceland: There are EuroCar, Avis & Budget. We hired an Avis SUV in Akureyri. Car rentals costs are higher and there are fewer options. The Avis rental in Akureyri is a combo Avis/Budget (but still check both Avis and separately Budget websites b/c I got a better deal from the Avis site--go figure).
Car Hire Before Or After Arriving on Iceland: We prebooked the SADCar b/c it was the best pricing after I researched all options. Oddly, and it may have been our off season timing, I got a better price online while I was on Iceland for the Blue Car than when I was in the middle of researching and planning a month earlier. But I'm not making a recommendation on that; it's just an observation/personal experience point.
Fondest memory: Fond Memory: there are so many great memories to be had on Iceland. Visit Regina1965's pages on Iceland since they are so amazingly helpful in planning your fond memories. Her pages helped me greatly in planning.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Transport and accommodation in Iceland
Favorite thing: http://www.jokulsarlon.com/
And lot of other places :)
Fondest memory: I miss the nature at summer :)Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Road Trip
- Horse Riding
Snow and hot geothermal water.
Favorite thing: There is something so fascinating about geothermal activity in winter time. Everything is covered in snow and then all of a sudden warm water and steam come from the ground. You will see this in several areas, but the photos I add here are from south Iceland relatively close to Reykjavík by ring-road 1.
But take care while visiting these areas in the snow (or at any other time) as even though the hot geothermal water melts the snow away then one never know what lies beneath. Way too many people have burnt themselves badly in these areas.
This is one of the reasons why Iceland is called the land of fire and ice. There is so much volcanic activity here and volcanos are just all over the place, innocent looking mountains might be dormant volcanos in disguise.
The best time to visit Iceland.
Favorite thing: The best time to visit Iceland is end of June when daylight lasts for 24 hours, so mid June-mid July I would recommend you to come for a visit so you can make the most of your stay and enjoy this magical time when the sun almost doesn't set. Spending time in nature in the middle of the night in daylight is the best thing about Iceland and makes up for the months of darkness during the winter time.
The normal temperature in June-July is 12-15 degrees, but with the global warming we have been getting periods of "heat-waves" here, in the summer of 2008 there was a day here in Reykjavík with 26 degrees C! And for about half a month it was around 20 degrees C. One summer a couple of years ago it was 8 degrees C and raining for the whole summer in Reykjavík. So one never knows what to expect, but a "safe" bet would be 12-15 degrees C. In the summer of 2010 we had many days of 20 degrees C - I love this change in Icelandic weather. And for the fist time we have been having an autumn here in Iceland, it used to be only 2 seasons; summer and winter but now we have been having two digits in September and October. The winter of 2011-2012 has been a very snowy one, making it difficult for tourists to stick to their travelling plans.
Have a look at this website daylight in Iceland it shows you how much daylight there is from month to month and day to day.
We have just returned from a long weekend break in Reyjavik and thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the...more
Why do I say 'thanks Icelandair' ... ? Well, our 1 night stay in this hotel was paid for by...more
Hafnarstraeti 67, Akureyri, 600, Iceland
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