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Blog Overview - Southcoast Adventure

December and Christmas

24th December 2020
December is absolutely one of our most beautiful months of the year in Iceland. It's hard to beat icy cold crisp winter days, with snow everywhere you look and only warm Christmas lights to light up the day.  Then, of course, after the lights go out, you might see the dancing Northern Lights above you to keep the night lit up as well. Weather in Iceland in December December is when we have our shortest days. In other words, December is the darkest month of the year in Iceland. Since our beautiful northern most capital of the world is located so close to the arctic circle, the days get very short in the winter. And of course, it's the opposite in the mid summer with 24 hours of daylight!  Normally only a few hours per day. The 21st. of December is our winter solstice. The shortest day of the year – Or the longest night. Normally the amount of actual sunlight hours from rise to set is around 4 hours, from around 12pm to 4pm, although the daylight hours are a little longer as the sun takes a long time to rise and set.  Now we enter the full winter month. December is one of our coldest months in Iceland and the 21st of December the darkest day throughout the year. The sunrise takes place around 11:30 am and sunset is around 3:30 pm. Daylight doesn't change a lot during December, on the 1st of November you will have about 5 hours of daylight but the 30th about 4 hours. This is very important to keep in mind when making your travel plans for December in Iceland.Temperatures in December in Iceland are usually very cold but as everything concerning the weather in Iceland, it's quite hard to predict. The average low is about -2°c or about 28 F and the average high is about 4°c or 49 F. What to do in December Snowmobile tours If snowmobiling is on your Icelandic bucket list then why not go zooming across the infamous Eyjafjallajökull glacier? The meeting place for this incredible ride is right by Seljalandsfoss waterfall's neighbour, the hidden little canyon dweller Gljúfrabúi.  Southcoast Adventure will take you in their powerful super jeep to the ice cap where you can gear up and jump on a snowmobile to zoom across the glacier. This tour is a total of 3-4 hours, depending on the season, with an hour on the snowmobile riding across the glacier. However, that's only a part of the experience as the view from atop Eyjafjallajökull is quite incomparable with the entire south coast with the  Westman Islands on one side and the central Highlands on the other. Scheduled departure is twice a day at 10:00am & 2:00pm every day. We recommend arriving an hour earlier to check out the waterfalls before meeting SouthCoast Adventure at their Gljúfrabúi base 20-30 minutes before departure. Their groups are small so make sure to book in advance. If you are interested in a private departure this can be booked below with flexible departure times. Þórsmörk Super Jeep Tour  "Þórsmörk has a spot in every Icelanders heart. There's just nothing like it..."Þórsmörk is an incredibly beautiful nature reserve, situated in the heart of South Iceland nestled among the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull. This tour is one of our most popular ones, with so many spectacular hiking options and adventurous rides over various unbridged glacial rivers. This is the perfect tour to explore the wonders of Þórsmörk while experiencing an adventurous 4x4 Super Jeep drive! Þórsmörk is magical all year round. Winter can be an incredible experience. When the landscape is covered in ice and snow, the only access to Þórsmörk is by highly-modified super-jeeps, as part of a guided tour. After our scenic drive, you will see Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall is breathtaking enough from the front, but it gets better. You'll have the chance to follow a path behind the cascade and see this natural beauty from a unique angle. Make sure that you bring a raincoat, though, because you are definitely going to get wet. The next stop is Þórsmörk, which is the "valley of Thor" in Icelandic. This beautiful valley is surrounded by glaciers and mountains, among which is Gígjökull, a glacier tongue. You'll also get the chance to approach the edge of the famous Eyjafjallajökull that you were able to see from the vehicle earlier. The eruption of this glacier-volcano in 2010 interfered with air traffic all over Europe, making itself and Iceland famous at the same time. Stakkholtsgjá canyon is next on our tour. The cliffs in this breathtaking canyon tower 100 meters (328 feet) above all that lies beneath them. For the Game of Thrones fans out there, this canyon was one of the filming locations for the HBO show, so come and check it out for yourself! Driving further into Þórsmörk valley, we'll have to cross through some rivers in our jeep to arrive at the campsite. Here we'll stop to give you the chance to go enjoy some short hikes, relishing the fantastic views of the glacial river beds along with the backdrop of the surrounding glaciers and mountains. There will be some additional stops, depending on the time remaining as well as the weather conditions on the day of the tour, of course. One possibility is a visit to Nauthúsagil, a beautiful ravine with a waterfall at the end. We are sure when the time is right that the restrictions will be eased slightly to allow travel to be easier, for instance a 'softer' quarantine between the two tests. If you're looking for a tiny bit of reassurance before you start putting plans in place. Iceland is one of the safest and least polluted countries in the world. Icelandic Christmas The eve before December 12, everyone who believes in the Yule Lads will put a shoe on the window sill and keep it there for 13 days. This very specific number has to do with the number of Icelandic Jólasveinar. Every night until Christmas, a new Yule Lad will visit the window and place a small gift in the shoe. For many, the Yule Lads are the best part of the days leading up to Christmas Day. The family actually consists of the 13 Yule Lads (who are all brothers), their mother Grýla, their father, Leppalúði, and then there is the cat. And it's no extraordinary cat The Mother of the Yule Lads. A scary troll-like mother, you know the type. She has the uncanny ability to detect when children are not behaving all year around! During Christmas, she leaves her home in the mountains to hunt the naughty children and makes stew out of them. According to legend, there's never a shortage of food for this feisty troll-ess. From a relatively young age Icelandic children are told the story of Grýla the ogress living in the Icelandic mountains. She is a dreadful character, described as part troll and part animal and the mother of 13 precocious boys (the Yule Lads). Grýla lives in the mountains with her third husband, her thirteen children and a black cat. Every Christmas, Grýla and her sons come down from the mountains: Grýla in search of naughty children to boil in her cauldron and the boys in search of mischief. She can only capture children who misbehave but those who repent must be released. Grýla's husband and father to the Yule Lads. Known for not doing much around the house. But not much else is known about this big-nosed man. He's never been seen kidnapping or cooking children, but he does eat what Grýla cooks. The Christmas Cat A vicious black hairy animal that hunts children who don't receive something new to wear for Christmas – and then EATS them! Make sure you get at least a brand-new sock this merry eve. On to brighter things.... Now as this extraordinary and strange year comes to a close, we would like to extend our gratitude and thanks to all of you for your support this year in what has been tumultuous at times with circumstances challenging.  However, we have a very positive feeling and are sure of better times in the future. We are eagerly looking forward to brighter times and a continued good working relationship. If you have any questions regarding the situation in Iceland or want to start planning your trip to Iceland  2021, you can get in touch today. Our team of local guides cannot wait to show you our country's unforgettable natural beauty and adventures. We would like to thank you all for a really enjoyable partnership in the past year. We appreciate your confidence in the company and hope that our co-operation will remain beneficial  and faithful. We wish you a merry Christmas and look  forward to a successful new year! Christmas greetings Southcoast Adventure Team

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!”

1st November 2020
Arctic Fox in Þórsmörk valley/ Picture taken by Jallen. November is here –referred to Ýlir according to the old Norse traditions.  It is the second so called month of winter and traditionally begins in the fifth week or around about the 20th to the 27th of November.  This is then taken over by Mörsugu in late December.  To quote Snorri-Edda´s saga, : „From the equinox of autumn until the sun sets when it rises, winter will be the same day.  It continues into the spring months and until summer arrives and back to autumn again."  From the middle of November until the end of January the daylight is only about 4 – 6 hours. Fostinn & Stella in Þórsmörk Valley. Picture taken by Tomas Tonon A very popular topic in Iceland is the weather – understandably as it affects our daily lives with great fanfare in the forms of blizzards in winter and 24 hours of sunshine in the winter.  There are many instances of snow in May and June!  We therefore have many words to describe snow .... snjór, snær, hjarn, mjöll, fönn, lausamjöll, nýsnævi, krap, snjókoma, bylur, drífa, él, fannkoma, fjúk, hraglandi, hríð, kafald, kóf, ofanbylur, skafrenningur, snjómugga, hundslappadrífa  to name a few 😉 November in Iceland is a special and wonderous time.  Winter has arrived and so manynew activities are waiting to be enjoyed and partaken in.  The "busy-ness" of Christmas is still a month away.  Many of the lowlands are still snow-free and the mountains and glaciers thick with fresh new snow and so it makes an ideal time to still travel relatively easily around Iceland.   Care still needs to be taken as roads will be slippery at times – the air is crisper and winter coats, hats, gloves and warm woolly scarves become best friends! In November the amount of daylight really starts to become noticeable – at the beginning of the month, we have about 8 hours of good daylight. By month end, we are down to about 5 – something that travellers need to keep in mind when planning trips.  The temperatures drop rapidly as well, often adding a very "fresh" wind chill as we get more storms and winds from the cold Arctic.  The average temperature is 4°C /40 F – our advice to you is dress warm friends, dress warm!  Layers are also a good idea as we often get snow, rain and fog in the same hour – as the famous saying goes, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!" Winter time activities and the new adventures awaiting you are very broad: super jeep tours, hiking, relaxing in geothermal pools cocooned in warmth.  There are many activities that are possible throughout the year leaving you with unforgettable memories and your adrenaline coursing through your body.  Glacier hiking and ice climbing gets you up close and personal with the majestic Icelandic nature.  Glacier hiking has really become popular in the last few years.  All hiking tours are operated by very experienced mountain guides whose top priority is your safety.  No experience is needed and you can choose a tour depending on difficulty levels....so strap on your crampons and be ready for anything!  This activity is a lot of fun, suitable for all levels of experience with our guides.  Glacier hiking and ice climbing is available all year round and is based out of Sólheimajökull, a tongue of the massive Mýrdalsjökull- glacier. Of course then there is snowmobiling  Iceland has many glaciers and  snowmobiling is a breathtaking way of seeing their vast beauty – an opportunity not to be missed! It is weather dependent but we provide all the right gear. Difficult to find a better way to experience the tranquility of Icelandic nature and to escape the hustle and bustle of busy lives....swopping instead for a snowmobile ride on a glacier! The only thing required for these tours is a valid drivers license and a desire for adventure. We will provide snowsuits, gloves, helmets and boots.  During the winter months, we advise that you dress for the weather.  Each tour is anything from 1 to 3 hours depending on what you are looking for. Snowmobiling tour on Eyjafjallajökull / Picture taken by Magnus Thoroddsen Now for some very exciting news.... It is always a cause for celebration for a company to achieve it´s projected goals and make a profit...especially in 2020 which has been a year of extreme hardship for companies around the entire globe. To be successful and achieve these goals, many strict conditions need to be met. A vital part of the success is linked to high achieving staff that the company feels will help them attain the success they are looking for.  The company including the staff, needs to be able to withstand the extra pressures and stresses when the market itself is under extra pressure and stress. Creditinfo conducts annual analyses of Icelandic companies and their operations and based on the outcome, awards are offered to those companies who have met their criteria.  These awards also help towards building a stronger credit foundation in the companies and it is therefore a very desirable goal to strive towards and achieve. Companies therefore need to be stable and show a progressive and steady profit and above all conduct themselves in a professional manner. To be considered an outstanding company, many standards need to be met. Southcoast Adventure ehf has recently received recognition for their operations in 2020 from Viðskiptablaðið and Keldun here in Iceland.  A notable achievement as only 2% of companies achieve that list annually. The conditions that needed to be met are similar to those of Creditinfo.  As mentioned before, staff play a vital role in the success of a company.  Southcoast Adventure ehf are very proud of our achievements and our growth in satisfaction, experience as well as providing an excellent service to our clients. We hope that you are enjoying our monthly blog posts....we wish you all well and look forward to welcoming you back again in the future. Our warmest regards Southcoast Adventure team

Kornskurðamánuður senn á enda. / Harvest time is coming to a close.

1st October 2020
Dear friends We hope that you are well during these unprecedented times.  Southcoast Adventure follow all guidelines and instructions, imposed by Directorate of Health and The Icelandic Tourist Board. All of our vehicles are sterilized with a steam machine after every tour. We put the safety of our guest first!   This has proved to be an unfamiliar and uncertain time for the world as we face this global pandemic. Our thoughts and support are with anyone that has been affected by the virus. We are monitoring the situation closely and making our best efforts to keep our visitors and staff safe. We warmly welcome guests travelling during these unusual circumstances and are eager to offer them a comfortable stay and a pleasurable trip. Tvímánuður/ Twin months  In traditional Viking times, the months were named according to the seasons and festivals and not as we know them now....so as you can see from the title of this blog, we are now ending the autumn harvest, sheep and horse round ups and the farmers are readying their stock and supplies ahead of the long, harsh winter. The "twin months" is the fifth so called summer month according to the old Norse calendar.  This time always begins on the Tuesday of the 18thweek of summer around about 22 – 28thof August.  In Snorra-Eddu (manuscripts from the Prose Edda), the months following are known as Kornskurðarmánuður or Harvest months. The Viking or Norse calendar was recorded in 2 manuscripts.  A manuscript called Bókarbót written in 1220 and another one known as Snorra-Edda and the months were named in accordance to Skáldskaparmálum (Prose or manuscript scribe).  The time frames for the months of the Viking and Norse calendar are not the same in both manuscripts.  In Bókarbót the fifth summer month falls between the 4thand 7thmonth of summer.  The name kornskurðarmánuður (Harvest months) is self explanatory as it is the time, as explained above, when the farmers bring the harvest in and do the livestock round ups. Páll Vidalin one of the writers of the manuscript, called them the "twin months" as there were 2 months left of the summer months as opposed to "one month" which marks the time when there is one month left of winter. Gormánuður was the first month of winter and always began on the first day of winter which traditionally fell on a Saturday between 21stand 27thof October .  The name is loosely based on the slaughter time of livestock which were grass fed.   Once the slaughter was done and the first winter nights and the actual official first day of winter had arrived then it was time to celebrate and good food and homemade alcoholic drinks were consumed in vast quantities. So, a little history and some interesting facts for you! Southcoast Adventure specializes in day trips as well as multiple day travels throughout Iceland.  Many options are available combining both the southern coast and the interior highlands.  Our superbly experienced guides are mostly based here in Hvolsvöllur and have an incredible amount of knowledge of the area as for many of them this is where they were born and raised and know the land very well. We use specially upgraded and designed super jeeps for most of our trips and have all the equipment on board to tackle even the most challenging landscapes both in the summer and winter months. We are up for most anything – the more exhilarating the better!  The trips we offer or tailor make are very often based on trips that we ourselves love to do or have interest in – places that we love and activities that thrill us as locals.  Taking our guests to both popular areas as well as hidden gems.  Our trips and itineraries are therefore both enjoyable for us and we are proud to offer them to friends, family and new guests. Summer 2020 started off quieter than normally due to Covid 19, but then took off to a flying start once the borders were opened in mid June.  Our guests this summer also changed as many Icelanders were encouraged to travel "home" this year and this was also an exciting change for us.  These trips with locals put us in a good stead for the coming autumn and winter months and especially so when the country´s borders were tightened again and extra restrictions were put into place in late August.  Onwards and upwards as the saying goes and we are preparing for our winter guests. Winter is often considered to be the best time of year to catch a glance of the magnificent Northern Lights.  We never get bored of the Northern Lights!  They are a must see whilst in Iceland and is one of the top reasons why people make a visit to Iceland in winter. However, please be aware that this natural phenomenal cannot be controlled or guaranteed.  This time of the year is always a fantastic time to go on a glacier hike or visit a ice cave . This early in the winter the glaciers are transforming with the changing season. They begin to show their incredible bright blue colors again with the approaching cold weather.October- November is when the ice caves become accessible, but our great Katla ice cave is open all year around. The blues, textures and colors will leave you in awe.  We are eagerly looking forward to brighter times and continued good working relationship. If you have any questions regarding the situation in Iceland or want to take full advantage and start planning your trip to Iceland later this year or 2021, you can get in touch with your travel expert today. Our team of local guides cannot wait to show you our country's unforgettable natural beauty and adventures. We look forward to meet you all again when times gets better. On behalf of Southcoast Adventure Ársæll Hauksson (Sæli)-Owner Hvolsvöllur- 01.10.20