KITESURFING HOLIDAYS - ICELAND
Imagine just you and your friends 1350 metres up on a glacier with nothing but untracked powder snow and a steady 12 to 15 knot breeze for extra company. No ski lifts, restaurants filled with families queueing for miles for plates of pomme-frites and no groups of ski schools snaking their way around the slopes. Iceland is a truly magical place. If you're up for getting as far away as emotionally possible from the hordes on the Costa del Sol, then Iceland in summer will fit the bill on just about every level. Just two and a half hours flight time from the UK (and five hours from New York), Iceland offers an unparalleled combination of snow, wind and 24 hour sunlight during the summer months. So if you're after adventure, Iceland is the destination of choice from May through July. If for some reason the wind doesn't blow, or you're tired from earlier sessions, then there's much more on offer in Iceland. Simply driving across Iceland's back country is a real treat, taking in the incredible bleak expanses of the landscape in the north. Head south and you'll be greeted by surprisingly abundant lush greenery. Explore Thingviller, where the two continental plates meet (it's also the seat of Iceland's first parliament) or take an excursion to the huge waterfall of Gulfloss, taking in the hot geysers en-route. Then of course there's Reykjavik. A beautifully clean and welcoming city, filled with people who like to party like there's no tomorrow (and as it can remain light all the time you could argue that there actually is no tomorrow!).
The Langjökull Glacier is the second largest icecap in Iceland, offering nearly 950km² of untouched powder as your personal playground. It makes for a more comfortable landing than you might expect on the snow, with the added benefit of not getting wet! After an initial steep ascent, the glacier leads to a shallow, sloping and undulating landscape that eventually reaches a distant summit at an altitude of 1382 metres. The journey offers stunning views of the barren volcanic landscape, and once at the top you'll see snow for as far as the eye can see, punctuated only by distant views of mountain tops and active volcanoes. Ideal for advanced and beginner snowkiters alike, the wind on the glacier is pretty constant, averaging between 12 and 20 knots (which is more than enough for snowkiting remember!). The glacier generates katabatic winds that flow downwards towards the lava fields below. The wind is often stronger at the summit, allowing riders to position themselves wherever they feel comfortable, using the lower slopes to get used to going uphill before braving it and making their way up for a real blast at the top. There are no obstacles in your way here, and the katabatic effect gives extraordinarily smooth winds. Previous experience of skiing or snowboarding is an advantage for snowkiting, but isn't absolutely necessary. If you're an average kitesurfer it will take you a matter of minutes to get the basics of snowkiting dialled. The strangest thing is getting your head round just how vast the riding opportunities are. Suddenly the mountains open up into a huge 3-D playground and everywhere is fair game. Nevermind your downwinders, snowkiting is always an adventure and discovery session.
WIND & WEATHER:
Variable directions: 12– 20 knots.
During the summer season, the glacier offers vast tracts of soft powder snow as far as you can see.
OFF THE SNOW:
The main thing to remember with Iceland is that it is very expensive, from accommodation to food to drink. Having said that, Reykjavik is one of the most fun cities to spend time in. There is plenty of choice in standards of accommodation in the city and you'll find almost any food you fancy, even if it does push the bank overdraft up somewhat. However, you really can't come to Reykjavik and not party. All the kids in Reykjavik are heavily into their fashion, so look out for lots of skinny jeans and mop top hair dos, but they are always up for a beer or two. If you're not bothered about exploring the city, you could stay in a log cabin 90 minutes from Reykjavik but only a 20 to 40 minute drive from the glacier - which is really what this trip is all about.
Steaming hot geysers.
The huge waterfall at Gullfoss.
Vibrant nightlife of Reykjavik.
Keflavik international airport (KEF) - regular Flybuses will transfer you to Reykjavik in 40 to 50 minutes.
Hire cars are available and aren't as expensive as you might expect from a place like Reykjavik. Try Hasso: www.hasso.is
Iceland in Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland
Riders who have included Iceland as one of their Top Places to Ride are: Sigve Botnen