Adventurer of the Week: Roger and Ria Brave the Swell

Three people wearing red standing on a glacier in Iceland
Roger and Ria

Welcome to our “Adventurer of the Week” series! Each week we will feature individuals that were inspired to make every moment an experience in Iceland by going out on epic tours with us that allowed them to interact with nature.

This week's instalment of our "Adventurer of the Week" series tells the story of Roger and Ria, two bipolar (because they have been to both the North and the South poles) crossed some of the roughest waters from Svalbard  just to get to Iceland! Here, we present them together as they talk about how they made their time in Iceland with us.

What motivated you to visit Iceland?

Having thoroughly enjoyed an Antarctica expedition on a small ship last year, and learning that it repositioned each summer to also do an arctic adventure, we decided to follow it north this year and undertake that adventure as well.  We spent 14 days sailing in the arctic including along the east coast of Greenland. In Svalbard, we were looking for the elusive polar bears in and out of the fjords.

It ended in Reykjavik, Iceland. We were already interested in visiting Iceland following everything we had heard and read about it; we also heard about the volcano blowing up [Eyjafjallajökull] in the news, and it’s obviously becoming a very must-go-to place. What better motivation did we need to stay a few days and check it out? And we are glad we did. We would love to go back and spend more time there. 

How long was your stay? Did you travel solo or with a group?

We booked four nights accommodation in a two bedroom Apartment at Guest House Sunna within the city limits of Reykjavik.  We are a family group of three…myself (Roger) Ria (my wife) and Rocus (my brother-in-law).

Roger and Ria

Which tour did you take and why did you choose it?

Before departing Australia, we researched tour operators seeking assistance with our visit. We looked on the internet, we looked at the operators, and Icelandic Mountain Guides offered what we wanted, so we asked for their suggestions for both accommodation and how we could get the most out of the three days available.  They presented us with a program that we were very happy with. 

For our three days they arranged three one day tours.  Glacier Walk and Northern Lights for day 1; for day 1; Golden Circle and Magical Nights for day 2 and Essential Iceland for day 3.  We could not have asked for a better way to see a lot of the spectacular  highlights Iceland has to offer in only three days.

What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?

Our guides were enthusiastic, professional and obviously proud of their beautiful country. We enjoyed all of the places and natural wonders visited, but would probably rate our glacier climb on Day 1 as the highlight of the three days, and the special support and assistance given to us by our guide Margrêt. She was enthusiastic, she was thorough and so helpful. My brother-in-law isn’t the most adventurous person, wanted to quit the glacier walk and go back, but she said: “no, we’ll get you there” and she really put confidence in him. He did something he had never done before and he absolutely loved it!

Not only this, but the day was just so different from our other glacier experiences: we got to walk on it, and the fact that it was receding at such a rapid rate, the soil and sand from hundreds of years ago puts to bed the idea that there is no such thing as global warming or climate change. 

Roger and Ria

What is something that you learned about Iceland that surprised you?

Roger and Ria: We were amazed at the innovativeness of Icelanders with such novel ideas as Fridheimar, growing incredible tomatoes and cucumbers in the middle of the least likely place in the world you would expect it, and Efstidalur with their incredible Ice Cream Barn where you can see the whole process from cow milking to ice cream manufacture in one place..with some interesting flavors like “salted caramel(!!)” to enjoy. We have been to lots of farms in the past, but this was done in such a different way that we really enjoyed it. Of course, the scenery is also beautiful and the history too. We were also very taken by the viking parliament area [Thingvellir National Park], we thought that was very interesting, the history of the whole place and how it was the meeting point throughout the centuries.

If you had more time in Iceland, what else would you like to see and do?

The rest of Iceland would be great if we had the time: there is just too much to do and see in a few days.  Take the time to see it all if possible. Or at least as much of it as possible. There are a lot of places that we have read reports of, and seen photos of, and read about places that we would prefer to avoid. Next time, we would like to take a car, stop for a couple of nights, no fuss  and no hurry, a nice easy cruise around the place. 

Land Rover on a glacier
Roger and Ria

What tips do you have for people who want to visit Iceland?

Simply go there; it is a special and unique piece of our World. From our experience we can highly recommend using local experts to help you plan and provide a program of things to do and places to go, and I can’t think of anyone better to do that than Icelandic Mountain Guides.

Get a good guide to show you the basic things, be familiar with the place, to give you all the historical and cultural background: it’s a really good thing to know WHY people are used to built houses in they way they did, WHY do they eat rotten shark. A person who has good information is really important. On our tour, our guide explained the naming system, and all about how the horses have been so important out here. She had a lot of that set of information. Our guide on third day focused more on the environmental issues, which really opened up my eyes as well.

Iceland isn’t special for the waterfalls and the ice: we have seen all of that in other places. From new Zealand, and the other places we have been, there are plenty of them around, but it’s just the location and the size and sometimes you don’t see anything for miles, it’s pretty spectacular in Iceland. There are a few others I’d like to go back and see, but take the time: but make sure you take the time to do it justice. Get out of Reykjavik! If we were going to Iceland as a destination, we would have probably spent two weeks there, rather than just pass through, but we made the best out of the time we had.

Roger and Ria

What adventure are you off to next? What is your next dream adventure?

I will be traveling to China in May 2017 to Trek remote sections of the “Great Wall” and my wife is joining one of our daughters for time in a Villa north of Phuket in Thailand. We are both looking forward to those experiences.

Roger and Ria’s triple-whammy adventure is only one of the many features that make for an unforgettable experience. Book your tour and join us for an excursion that is guaranteed to make memories that last a lifetime.  

Have you been on a tour with us in Iceland and would like to be featured as an “Adventurer of the Week”? Feel free to email us at [email protected].

About the Author

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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