24th - 29th October 2016
Writing: Matthew Dagnall (Year 12)
Photography: Jay Carter (Year 13), Ed Chaplin (Year 13), Max Hubbard (Year 13) and Matthew Dagnall (Year 12)
Editing: Jay Carter (Year 13)
This autumn half term, 50 of Challoner's finest geographers made the trip of a lifetime to the geographic cornucopia that is Iceland. Anticipation was high and all were excited for what is a notoriously memorable trip.
It wasn't long before we were stunned by the scenery, as straight upon arrival, we travelled up to the top floor of Reykjavik's revolving restaurant to witness the sunset. Then when we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted to our great surprise, by the aurora borealis (and a couple of hot tubs, of course). We had barely been in the country a few hours and had already seen the Northern Lights, so inevitably we spent our evening in the freezing cold taking photos of the phenomenon.
One of the highlights of the next day had to be a walk up to a volcanic crater. However when we set off, little did we know what was in store. The higher we got, the windier it got - to the extent that some of us were being pushed up the path by the wind - but it was definitely worth the effort for the view at the summit! The rest of the day included visiting some exquisite coastlines, a pioneering geothermal power station, and a great warm swim at the local pool at the end.
Day three saw us complete the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route in Iceland. First, we visited a massive caldera, with a small but intensely blue lake in the bottom - a truly stunning sight. We then went on to the Secret Lagoon, a geothermally heated pool, for a relaxing warm swim and a truly unique experience. Next, we paid a visit to what is arguably one of the world's most impressive waterfalls, Gullfoss. It's easy to see where its nickname, the Golden Waterfall, comes from. Students and teachers alike were taken aback by the sheer size of this behemoth of nature.
Next, we travelled to Geysir, perhaps Iceland's signature feature. With the geysers erupting every eight minutes or so, it was incredible to see such a great volume of water shoot into the air so suddenly. A remarkable day came to a close with a visit to Þingvellir, an area where the North American Plate and Eurasian Plate are physically moving apart. We were able to tangibly appreciate the area where the landscape had been pulled apart.
Day four brought us to the incredible waterfall of Selandjafoss, which we were able to go behind. It was extraordinary to photograph and was yet another example of the natural beauty of Iceland. This was followed by a visit to an Icelandic black beach, but here it was the waves that were truly amazing. They were the biggest any of us had seen, and every tenth one would be twice the size of the others.[IMAGE:10e7bcee]
A glacial walk followed, and was for many the highlight of the trip. Donning crampons and ice axes, we experienced the full spectrum of Icelandic weather, and were able to look back at the valley carved out by the glacier. It's a poignant reminder of the power of climate change. As well as being a place where we could sample the fresh meltwater of Iceland, the glacier also presented an opportunity for a now customary flight of Mr Abbas' insect-in-a-jar-come-drone, for some truly beautiful shots of a remarkable landscape.
Our final full day on the island saw us visit Thorsmork, a mountain ridge. Overnight snow allowed for a couple of 'eventful' snowball fights, especially special given how the scenery was a different kind of stunning: no less spectacular than everywhere else, just a little more elegant.
Snow was (literally) the icing on the cake in such beautiful surroundings
We were fortunate that the weather changed just as our final day came upon us, and that our final stop before some free time in the capital was an indoor one, at a revolutionary geothermal power station.
In all, huge thanks go to the Geography Team for a memorable and exciting week, which provided fantastic scenery and some awesome photo opportunities too, as well as a great opportunity to learn about what goes on behind the scenes at such a unique location.