Iceland Tomorrow: Planting for the Future & the Ancient Ring of Fire
This is a predominantly green-focused tour that circles the active 2,635-foot Hengill Volcano, located just a couple of miles from Reykjavík. Hengill last erupted approximately 2,000 years ago, but its numerous natural hot springs, colorful steam vents and fumaroles still dot the surrounding landscape. Hengill produces hydro and geothermal power, which provide the capital with plentiful hot water and electricity. You’ll stop at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Visitor Center to learn a little about volcanoes, geosciences, and geothermal technology. Continue to the town of Hveragerdi, located on top of an old magma chamber. Hot springs bubble and hiss all around this unique community. Take a short, scenic drive past the town’s trademark greenhouses and a short walk to the new hot spring area. Refreshments will be served; then, you’ll follow the River Sogid past the Ljóssafoss Hydro Station to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir. Approaching Thingvellir, you’ll literally drive from one continent to another as you cross the neo-volcanic rift zone that slices through Iceland from northeast to southwest. Pause at the viewpoint to soak up a little of the nation’s history, for it is here that the world’s oldest existing parliament was formed in AD 930. At the time of Iceland's settlement (in the 9th century) an estimated one fourth of the country was covered by birch woodlands. Today, forests cover just a little over 1% of Iceland. The forests were felled for timber, cleared for agriculture, and grazed by domestic animals brought by the settlers. Since 1950, the emphasis has been on reforestation and afforestation—planting of forests where they didn’t previously exist. On this Cruise With Purpose shore excursion, you have contributed to Iceland's afforestation program by the planting of one tree in your name. You will receive a small, boxed souvenir containing a piece of lava from the 2010 volcanic eruption. The road leading past Iceland’s largest natural lake at Thingvallavatn takes you to a viewpoint on the lower flanks of the volcano. Take in the fascinating sight of the countless hot springs that continuously belch their sulfur-rich deposits over the amazing scenery. The drive back to Reykjavík takes you through a lunar-like landscape of volcanic phenomena.