Category Archives: Iceland

10 Year Anniversary Photo Contest!

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We are very excited to announce, that in honor of GreenSpot’s 10th Anniversary, we’re running a photo contest! The winner will be rewarded with 500 Green Bucks, toward their next GreenSpot trip ($500 off). Choose from any one of our destinations! From the entries, we will also select a top 10 and feature them on our blog.

To enter, please send us your favorite travel photo that celebrates culture or nature, and be sure to tell us what the photo means to you. Post your photo on Facebook or Instagram and tag us @greenspottravel. Also use the hashtag #GreenSpotContest.

Don’t forget to share with friends! Submission deadline has been extended to: March 24th.

Please see our terms & conditions below:

1. The promoter is: GreenSpot Travel

2. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

3. Closing date for entry will be March 24th, 2016. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.

4. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

5. The rules of the competition and the prize for each winner are as follows: Top 10 photos to be used on our blog. One winner will receive $500 off their next GreenSpot trip to any one of our destinations chosen by the entrant.

6. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in any event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.

7. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.

8. No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prizes are not transferable and are subject to availability.

9. Winners will be chosen based on entry rules:

  • “A travel photo which celebrates culture or nature and gives a description of what it means to you”
  • The promoter will appoint an independent judge of photos submitted.
  • Photo must be an original – the entrant must own the rights to the image.

10. The winner will be notified by email and/or letter within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.

11. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

12. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

13. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by United States law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts.

14. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material related to the competition (without payment) by GreenSpot Travel. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current U.S. data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.

15. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to GreenSpot Travel and not to any other party.

 

 

Icelandic Stories & Passionate People

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Recently, GreenSpot’s destination specialist, Mandy Haakenson was interviewed by Pink Pangea (a community for women who love to travel) about travel to Iceland. Read that interview here and be sure to read on for a more in depth look at her Icelandic experience.

While I was in Iceland, one of my guides told me that Icelanders “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. I love that quote, although I admit to being a little dubious of everything I was told thereafter. The little girl in me adores hearing stories of trolls and elves. Much to my delight, they are abundant in Iceland, and Icelanders tell them with vigor and charm.

I had expected the striking landscapes, wildlife viewing opportunities, volcanoes and geothermal activity. Less expected, but very much appreciated, were the cultural and historical insights I gained by talking to the hospitable Icelandic people. They seem reserved at first, but there is tremendous passion to be found within the 300,000 inhabitants of this Nordic island nation. Finding time to chat, over a cup of steaming coffee or while sipping Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps) is worth your while.

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My time in Iceland was full of activities. I took a food tour of Reykjavik, bathed in natural hot springs, dipped in the Blue Lagoon, walked on a glacier, rode an Icelandic horse, hunted for Northern Lights, traveled west to Sneafellsness Peninsula, toured a lava tube, took a jet boat ride, and completed a 3-day trek of the southern interior from Thórsmörk to Skógar.

For most of these activities, a guide in an all-wheel vehicle picked me up. This allowed us to travel over some rugged terrain. One evening, we drove right onto a black sand beach, where we toasted Brennivín at sunset, after dining on delicious local lobster at a seaside restaurant. We were waiting for darkness to arrive, so that we could hunt for northern lights.

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An all-terrain bus took us through barren land, where we drove through rushing rivers and bounced over lava fields. Once we reached the middle-of-nowhere, we disembarked and ventured through the woods to a mountain hut. For the next couple of days we hiked through some of the most breathtaking landscape I have ever seen. Although Thórsmörk to Skógar is a popular route, we saw very few people. This is one of the advantages of going in September, when high season is dying down.

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There are iconic spots in Iceland that everyone wants to see, but if you wish to avoid crowds, you can venture to the slightly less visited Snæfellsnes Peninsula. With a looming glacier and jagged cliffs bursting with birdlife, this western peninsula is quintessential Iceland. You can visit a farm to help sheer or gather sheep, take a jaunt on a graceful Icelandic horse, bathe in secluded hot springs, or strap on a headlamp and climb down into a lava tube.

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If you are willing to sacrifice wide-open space for an abundance of charm and hospitality, I would recommend staying at Hotel Egilsen, in the seaside town of Stykkishólmur. Before you head out to explore, enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast made by the inn’s proprietor, Greta. If the elegance of an old-world hunting lodge is more your style, you may want to book into Hotel Budir. Take time to walk along the craggy cliffs and find the unique black church. Be sure to have dinner at Budir’s renowned restaurant.

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Above all, allow the Icelandic people to guide your journey. After all, they know their country the best. They will happily share the legends of this ancient land with you. They also know how to pronounce words like Eyjafjallajökull – and let’s face it, this might come in handy.

To learn more, be sure to check out our sample itineraries for Iceland or contact us if you have questions.

Iceland: A Year-Round Destination

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It may be no  surprise that Iceland has a condensed high season which runs from mid-June through August. After all, the country sits on the brink of the Arctic Circle, and even its name implies that it might be a cold place to visit.

What most people don’t realize is that Iceland experiences a cool, temperate climate that doesn’t reach extreme highs or lows. In spite of this, high season is high season for good reason. Many people venture to Iceland to experience its incredible natural beauty and take part in outdoor activities, so it’s no wonder that the summer months are a popular time to visit. Still, Icelanders believe it’s a mistake to rule out visiting during off-peak season.

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No matter when you go, Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable and you often experience multiple seasons in one day. Locals love to say: “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”. This is especially true during spring and autumn, when strong winds blow weather in and out at a ferocious pace. In the spring, you’re rewarded with longer days and slightly warmer temperatures. If you’ve ever wanted to see the phenomenal midnight sun, May through June is an ideal time to be in Iceland. The experience of nearly 24 hours of daylight is a great way  to extend your vacation hours!

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If you’re hoping to check the Northern Lights off your bucket list, a winter visit is your best bet. But don’t rule out March, April, September and October, when there is plenty of dark hours for vivid sightings. Overall, in spring and autumn, you might get variable weather, but you will also experience golden light, fewer crowds and lower prices than you would during the summer.

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Yes, winters in Iceland are long (November through March) and dark (with only 3-4 hours of daylight at its peak). However, Icelanders know how to make the winter cozy and festive, especially during the Christmas season, when lights twinkle and the aroma of mulled wine fills the air. This is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, and it’s also the perfect time to purchase (and wear) that wooly Icelandic sweater you’ve always wanted.

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During an off-peak trip, it isn’t possible to venture all over the country. Many interior roads are closed and it’s unlikely you can do a lot of hiking or trekking. Still, with charming Reykjavik as your base, it’s possible to soak in the geothermal spas during the day, go looking for Northern Lights in the evening, and take plenty of day trips to see magnificent waterfalls. You could also include an activity such as horseback riding or snowmobiling, for an unforgettable day.

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Iceland has been working hard to keep up with its growing tourism demand, however the compressed high season can make it difficult to find  suitable accommodations. So if you do plan to travel to Iceland during your next summer holiday, consider planning well in advance. Contact us to get started on designing your perfect visit – any time of the year.

Ten Incredible Things to do in Iceland

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Ten Incredible things in Iceland

Situated on the fringe of the Arctic Circle, Iceland’s abundant and diverse natural wonders are enough to make your jaw drop. The destination is sometimes called the Land of Fire and Ice because of its rumbling volcanoes, bubbling earth and shifting glaciers, which are still shaping the unique and stunning landscape. Combine this striking natural beauty with crisp, clean air, and you have an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true.

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However, Iceland is not only for adventure-seekers. The people who inhabit this Nordic country have a fascinating culture that embraces literature, music, fashion, cuisine, ancient sagas, and even a few mythical creatures. Read on to see the incredible things visitors can see and do in this country of vivid beauty and intriguing culture. And keep in mind, this list only scratches the surface!

Visit Natural Hot Springs

There is no denying that the Blue Lagoon deserves to be among Iceland’s top attractions. The steamy, aquamarine water, set against the contrasting black, volcanic landscape is too alluring to pass up. However, if you desire hot springs but are averse to crowds, there are numerous spots where you can soak in a mineral-rich bath while taking in a  stunning view.

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Walk on a Glacier

Secure a guide (that’s important!), strap on some crampons, and grab an ice pick, for a thrilling and gorgeous stroll over a massive ice formation. It’s not something you get to do every day. Although glaciers are impressive from far away, they are truly extraordinary when you’re right on top.

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See the Northern Lights

This bucket-list-worthy phenomenon is never a guarantee, but your chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is quite high. This is especially true in the shorter, darker, winter months, though don’t rule out April or September.

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Ride an Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic horse is sometimes referred to as a pony, yet that doesn’t aptly define the combination of grace and power that this unique animal possesses. Beautiful and a real treat to ride, this hardy breed has mastered a special gait that helps it navigate over the rough Icelandic terrain.

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Watch Great Geysir Explode

If you’ve witnessed the blast of a geyser in the past, perhaps you didn’t know that its namesake originated in Iceland. Great Geysir is the oldest known geyser in Europe and the word geyser comes from the Icelandic verb geysa, meaning “to gush”. It’s a timely and extraordinary sight, for young and old alike.

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Hike Behind a Waterfall

It’s true that Iceland is covered in magnificent waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, and you’ll never tire of their splendor and beauty. At Seljalandsfoss, it’s possible to get up close and personal with one of the best, as you walk behind the powerful force of cascading water.

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Indulge in Authentic Food

Icelandic cuisine has a long history and is an important part of the country’s culture. Like many other Nordic countries, the necessity of preservation during long, harsh winters made pickling and fermentation a popular ritual. Dried and fermented shark are specialties in Iceland (pictured below), though I much prefer the small, delicious lobster (also pictured below). You can read more about Icelandic food here.

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Take a Boat on a Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is a result of the rapidly retreating Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. Gleaming blue ice drifts through this spectacular spot, creating astonishing ice sculptures, which can be seen from shore. Better yet, hop on a boat  for a tremendous ride across the other-worldly lagoon.

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Hike Around Landmannalaugar

Adding to the list of must-see places that are difficult to pronounce, Landmannalaugar is a wondrous nature reserve, consisting of mountains and valleys of swirling earth tones unlike anywhere else in the world. Whether a day-trip from Reykjavik or part of a multi-day hiking itinerary, it’s a favorite with locals and visitors alike.

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Visit Thingvellir National Park

Located in a rift valley along the Mid-Atlantic ridge, it would be amiss not to mention Thingvellir National Park. This location is home to the Icelandic parliament, which is the oldest in the world, established by Vikings is AD 930. It is a place of immense natural beauty, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical, cultural and geological importance.

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To start planning your dream trip to Iceland, have a look at our sample itineraries or contact us.

GreenSpot.travel kicks off tenth anniversary celebration, welcoming new president and managing director

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Press Release:

GreenSpot.travel, a leading experiential travel designer for custom eco-luxe vacations, has kicked off its tenth anniversary celebration with the announcement that the company has expanded its team, welcoming Jeremy Sampson and Selena Solis to senior leadership positions.

Other announcements for this year include the recent expansion of trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, the planned unveiling of a reimagined website featuring GreenSpot’s growing list of destinations, and a special-access custom anniversary trip to be announced in coming weeks.

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In his new role with GreenSpot, Sampson oversees operations, destination development, and implementation of the company’s marketing strategy. A travel industry veteran who has worked in more than a dozen countries, Sampson balances a diverse set of cross-functional management skills with experience in sustainable tourism, social enterprise development, and community engagement. Sampson joined GreenSpot after a five-year stint at international NGO Sustainable Travel International, where he was most recently vice president of partnership development.

Solis, a native Costa Rican born and raised in San Jose, has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years, focusing on trip operations and travel planning for upscale travelers and special interest guests, making her an essential asset to the team. Before joining GreenSpot, Solis managed an inbound tour operator and spent time exploring Nicaragua while working at Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge. In her new role, Solis oversees in-country operations for GreenSpot Costa Rica.

Ecuador HummingbirdSampson and Solis join a staff that includes company founders Irene and Richard Edwards, both of whom are Conde Nast Top Traveler Specialists for Costa Rica and continue to play integral roles at the company. GreenSpot is also a 2016 Trusted Travel Expert for Costa Rica on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List.

“We are thrilled to have Jeremy and Selena join the team,” says Irene Edwards. “Their expertise in the tourism industry, strong leadership skills, and deep commitment to meaningful personal and professional relationship building make them both valued assets to our team as we evolve.”

While Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua have been GreenSpot’s geographic focus to date, the company is thoughtfully expanding based on customer demand and enthusiasm for exploring new places. New destinations recently launched include Iceland, the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico), and Ecuador and the Galapagos. All destinations were selected based on extensive research and relationship building that align with GreenSpot’s values, including high standards of quality and social responsibility.

GreenSpot was founded on the idea that travel should support conservation and the well-being of destination residents. The GreenSpot team has deep experience in sustainable travel including community engagement, enterprise development, and best practices in responsible tourism.

“Our wish is that travelers are able to learn about conservation, biodiversity, and culture while experiencing just the right mix of adventure and relaxation they desire from a getaway,” says Sampson. “GreenSpot makes a point of getting to know the communities, companies, and local business people we work with, and we only recommend accommodations and activities that we have experienced and are aligned with our values.”

About GreenSpot.traveltree frog, Costa Rica

GreenSpot partners with travelers through its patented Trip Design approach to design customized vacations and unrivaled ecotourism experiences in destinations like Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Iceland. GreenSpot trips inspire meaningful exchanges with people and places, and leverage the top-rated boutique hotels, eco-lodges, and activity providers. As a result, GreenSpot clients embark on vacations that align with their values, including high standards of quality and social responsibility. GreenSpot has been a Condé Nast Traveler Top Costa Rica Specialist since 2006 and is included on Wendy Perrin’s 2016 WOW List as a Trusted Travel Expert for Costa Rica. www.greenspot.travel

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Snack Stops: an exceptional local guide stops the car at her family's working grape field on the way to the day's hike and let's you find red and white samples, full of taste and texture and juice, and brings a few for later.
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#Karpathos #greatguides #grapes
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Being invited into a local family's home, like Evangelia's, to share in tradition creates the most lasting travel memories, doesn't it?
Yesterday we didn't know how to make Greek pasta, today we do (sort of).
It was delicious.
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