This picture story was submitted by Helen Mason from Caledon, Ontario
Our first view of Iceland was that of foreboding hills intersected by various sizes of waterfalls. Many of these waterfalls are used by local farmers to provide private sources of hydroelectricity for their own use.
Our first day included a visit to Skalanes Nature Reserve which is 3000 acres and family-run. There are Arctic terns and other species of birds frequenting the cliffs. Lupins imported from Alaska are used to prevent soil erosion. Eider ducks nest in the undergrowth and from there the down is harvested by hand.
On the way to the reserve, we visited pre–Christianity Norse burial grounds and several abandoned farms were settlements proved impossible even for the hardiest Icelanders. We visited many other towns whose names I will not attempt to spell.
Akureyri is Iceland’s fifth largest municipality. Settlement here dates back to the ninth century. During World War 2 the town hosted Allied units partly due to a mild climate and an ice-free harbour. The church here was built in 1940 to the plans of the famous architect Gudjon Samuelsson.
The town also hosts the world’s northern-most botanical garden. This was the undertaking of a group of women that began in 1910. It showcases the ability of shrubs, flowers, and trees to flourish so close to the Arctic Circle.