A tourism powerhouse, Iceland was featured at No. 34 on the New York Times’ 52 places to visit in 2018 list, and West Iceland took the second spot on Lonely Planet’s 2016 Top 10 Regions in their annual Best of Travel series.
It’s also the subject of an upcoming presentation in the Lawnchair Travel Series in Bouchie Lake.
Joan McNaughton, who visited Iceland in September 2018 with her husband and two friends, will be piloting the presentation.
The Lawnchair Travel Series works like a flight, complete with a flight crew comprised of flight attendants, security and people working the gate, as well as snacks at takeoff and “in-flight service.”
The flights are hosted by the Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society and will take place in a new venue this year, with the tarmac changed to Rocky’s General Store.
“[The travel series] is quite fun,” says McNaughton, who has presented in the series several times before. “It’s very social.”
She says her presentations typically follow her trip through chronologically and show a broad spectrum of places and activities.
In the past, her presentations have typically focused on the diverse wildlife she’s found on safari in southeast Africa. Her Iceland presentation, however, will focus on the “amazing scenery, fantastic scenery. If you don’t like waterfalls, cliffs, ice fields and all that stuff, you’re going to be quite bored. But we loved it. It’s a beautiful country.”
While McNaughton wasn’t able to travel all around the country — something many visitors do on Ring Road, the highway which circles the country — Iceland made such an impression on her that she will be returning in September 2019 to see what she missed.
She says they spent most of their time in the West Fjords, a remote, northwestern region of the country, and northern Iceland, with a few days in Reykjavik. Altogether, they travelled approximately 3,000 kilometres in two weeks.
Although many of the classic tourist areas can be a “zoo,” with many tourists, she says things like the Golden Circle — a route through Thingvellir National Park, near Reykjavik — and the waterfalls, parks, and sites of Iceland’s south coast, from the Ring Road, are all things you can’t go to Iceland and not see.
She says the country’s landscape is fascinating: “I mean they call it the land of ice and fire. You drive along and there’s just steam coming out of the ground. And here, that would be like ‘fire!’ but oh no, the ground is just doing that … It’s really neat. The ground there is almost alive.”
The country is also covered in large fields of an incredible green moss, which rolls over black lava rock and can take decades to form. The moss is also very fragile, something tourists are discouraged from touching or walking on, lest they cause damage which could take years to fix.
“[The moss] is amazing to see. It’s a whole little ecosystem, and there’s miles of it,” says McNaughton.
People often ask McNaughton, who herself has travelled to approximately 15 different countries, if places are safe to visit.
With Iceland, she says she would confidently tell her friends that it’s a safe space to travel, solo or otherwise. It’s only dangerous, she adds, if people don’t use common sense when they drive.
Roads in Iceland go over mountains (and sometimes through them), and the country even has “F” roads, where rental cars are not allowed to drive, and those that can must be four-wheel drive — and be prepared for a bumpy ride.
As for the food, McNaughton says she never had a bad meal.
McNaughton’s flight is the first of seven, which include Views from the Yellowhead, Vietnam, The Easter Islands, Mount Everest base camp, Sri Lanka (also by McNaughton), and Nicaragua.
McNaughton’s presentation will take place Monday, Feb. 18 at Rocky’s General Store in Bouchie Lake at 7 p.m.
Gates open at 6:30 p.m.