Now, this was one of the most exciting experiences of my life - I got a phone-call from Norðurflug Helicopter Tours where they asked me if I would like to join one of their tours - in half an hour!! I kind of panicked as I was supposed to be elsewhere, but very quickly said "YES" as I had been dreaming of going on a helicopter ride for ages.
It was sunny and just a few clouds in sight on an almost clear sky - the perfect weather for a helicopter ride.
I hurried down to the Reykjavík domestic airport and got there just in the nick of time - and didn't even know where we were headed. I was very happy to find out that we were headed for the geothermal area of Hengill, as I had never been there before. I love visiting geothermal areas, especially in sunny weather as then the vivid colours of the geothermal areas come out just right.
We flew over Reykjavík and this was only the second time in my life that I had seen my home-city from above. Back in 2007, I got the chance to fly over Reykjavík in a Jumbo jet on my way to China. It was much more scenic in a helicopter :)
I couldn't stop taking photos as I wanted to cherish every minute of this ride. Taking photos when you are inside a helicopter is a bit tricky, but I think they came out quite nicely.
Doesn't Reykjavík look pretty from above with all the colourful houses and rooftops?
We flew east and I must say that I lost my bearings for a while as I had never seen Iceland from above like this - what were all these lakes and volcanoes doing there... ;)
The pilot pointed out to us various places of interest, the lava fields and volcanoes - and showed us the biggest geothermal power plant in Iceland, Hellisheiðavirkjun, with massive geothermal steam rising from it.
After a short while, we landed very smoothly in the Hengill area in a hidden away geothermal area, which I had never seen before. I was so thrilled and the adrenaline was rushing through my veins.
The geothermal area at Hengill is ever so beautiful and I cannot believe that I had never been there before as it is very close to Reykjavík - I love such hidden gems of nature :)
The pilot told me that the best way to get to this geothermal area, Ölfusvatnslaugar also called Hagavíkurlaugar, was by helicopter and that a hike up to the geothermal area would take hours.
Close by is the ever so popular Reykjadalur valley, where it is possible to bathe in a warm river. I adore that place and so do our foreign visitors. See also my travel-blog on Reykjadalur and the warm river:
There is no bathing in this geothermal area though where we landed, and you will see steam coming from various location; the water is bubbling and boiling, so caution has to be taken here. I was amazed by the vivid geothermal colours which were made even more vivid by the sun.
All of a sudden another helicopter appeared - also from Norðurflug - we had been flown in by a bright red helicopter, but this one was pitch black. It was surreal seeing it hovering above and when it landed it looked like it was landing on top of a volcano with the backdrop of the steam from the geothermal area. It looked really cool :)
Notice the mud pools in my photo above. You can see how the earth is boiling beneath our feet. One false move and an accident can occur, which will make the skin boil and peel off, so don't take any risks in such areas! The safest bet when visiting geothermal areas for the first time is to always have a guide with you.
Our pilot, Gísli Matthías Gíslason, was so lovely, he had visited this place so many times before; yet, he joined us in our excitement of being in this beautiful geothermal area. I guess joy and excitement is infectious :)
Gísli has a blog on Facebook called My life as a helicopter pilot, do check it out for more footage and videos of his helicopter rides.
I also couldn't believe how smooth the helicopter ride was, I had always thought that it would be a bit bumpy and that I would get motion sickness, as I always get car-sick. Nothing of the sort, it was smooth "sailing" all the way.
On the way back we flew a slightly different route than before and again I saw volcanoes from above which amazed me, they look totally different from above. Some of them look nothing like a volcano from below, but seeing the crater from above makes one realise just how many volcanoes there are in Iceland.
I saw some new possibilities for a good hike in the track of the lava and up to the volcanic crater. It is always very good to have a bird's eye view of things :) See also my travel-blog about my favourite volcanic craters in Iceland:
I could also see Rauðhólar pseudo-craters from the helicopter. I didn't realise immediately what I was looking at, so my photo is a bit blurred, but you can see better photos of the beautiful maroon pseudo-craters in my travel-blog on Rauðhólar, the pseudo-craters at the outskirt of Reykjavík.
I am ever so grateful for having joined this helicopter ride. It was totally invaluable for me to see my country from this perspective and I hope that I am representing it to you justly. I can only say that this 1-hour helicopter ride was an absolute thrill and should not be missed!
It was like entering another world for an hour, highly recommended. And of course, now I want to go again ;) Check out more information on the Geothermal helicopter ride here.
At Nesjavellir geothermal area
And if you want to visit a geothermal area on your own then I have written a travel-blog about a hike through the Hengill geothermal area just a 30-minute's drive from Reykjavík:
Have a lovely time in Iceland :)