Vietnam – A Fascinating Experiences

Vietnam – Introduction

Vietnam is a country with astonishing and breathtaking natural beauty with a unique heritage. Every visitor leaves the country with unforgettable experiences. Sail over the seascape of Limestone islands from the deck of a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay to worlds most spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to witnessing a solitary grave in the cemetery of thousands of war victims to walking through the evergreen hills and scenic villages of Sapa mountains, Vietnam offers different experiences.

A Brief History

Vietnam went through a long and costly armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies known as the Viet Cong against the South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The war ended with the withdrawal of U.S. Forces in 1973. The Communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975 and the country was later unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Today Vietnam is a self confident and fast developing country. Country’s progress is evident in the booming metropolises.

Culinary Paradise

Vietnamese food offers incredibly subtle in its flavours and outstanding in its diversity, the local cuisine is a fascinating draw for traveller’s. One can enjoy the local streed food or try their hand at learning the local cuisine at one of the many cooking schools. Chinese flavours influence the soups of the north and the spices add flavours to the southern cuisine along with the herbs adding flavours to the central coastline. One can visit the countryside, mingle with vaillagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam’s many local markets.

Top 5 places to visit in Vietnam

  1. Halong Bay was designated a World Heritage site in the year 1994, it is located in north-east Vietnam and is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. The bay is dotted with 1600 islands and islets and covers an area of 1,500 Sq Kms. Typicaly visited by Junk Boats, one can either do a day trip or a overnight trip. Ideally a overnight trip is highly recommended.
  2. Hanoi the capital City of Vietnam. The city blends with the new vibe and offers a charm of old Asia. Chaotic Old Quarter is at the heart of Hanoi with its narrow streets and local vendors set up shops near the street. One will find the locals in conical hats pass by on their bicycles, or a tourist enjoying a Cyclo ride in the old quarter. Hanoi is where the paradox of modern Vietnam comes alive and the capital has a ancient history, colonial past and a modern outlook.
  3. Hoi An is located in Central Vietnam and known for its well-preserved ancient town, cut through the canals. Hoi An a former port city reflects the same in its architecture with mix of eras and styles from wooden chinese shops and temples to colourful French colonial buidlings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses ana a iconic Japanese covered bridge with its Pagoda.
  4. Ho Chi Minh (earlier known as Saigon) is a city in southern Vietnam and played a very criticial role in the Vietnam war. Famous for the French colonial landmarks including the Notre-Dame Cathedral, 19th Century Post office and the food stalls lined in the streets around the famous Ben Thanh Market. Independence palace known is Reunification palace is also a important landmark of the city.
  5. Sapa a mountain town in North Western Vietnam, is a popular trekking base. The town overlooks the rice fields of Muong Hoa Valley. Sapa offers spectacular mountain views on clear days. Fansipan Legend Cable car near Sapa offers breathtaking views of Hoang Lien Son Range and Muong Hoa Valley.

Jay Kantawala, Founder of WIYO travel said, there are endless reasons to travel to Vietnam, the country has fascinating history, picturesque landscapes, lip smacking food, a trip to Vietnam can be serene, thrilling and relaxing.

Article featured on 10 Nov 17 : http://www.freepressjournal.in/travel/vietnam-a-fascinating-experience/1168133

 

 

Where Do We Go Next?

“It’s no coincidence that the word ‘holiday’ suggests a holy day, or that the longest book in the Torah concerns the Sabbath. If you wish to advance in any sphere, the best way is to take a retreat.” – Pico Iyer

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The beauty of our world is that no matter how connected, how globalized, or how informed we are – there is still serendipity in hidden places. There is infinitesimal joy in that first sunrise over Kilimanjaro, or the taste of that first mouthful of Mangostein. As the soft accents of your yoga instructor with their unusual local intonation fill your ears, you take that deep breath and inhale the air of a different place, with all its earthy fragrances, rare or humid – and with it, a different way of being.

Where do we go next?

Everyone’s talking about Cuba!

My friends just got back from Iceland!

I adore South East Asia but have been so many times already!

When we travel we need to know where we want to eat and put that down on the itinerary!

I just need a break. I want to sit on a beach and not have to think!

I’ve always wanted to learn how to scuba dive!

I love cruises but my husband loves trains! How can we combine the two?

Where do we go next?

This is the ultimate question that springs to mind as you evolve as a traveler – and a person, for when you were 25, you saw the world through a different pair of eyes, than at 45. Will it be the Douro valley of Portugal or the Loire valley of France? And what’s the difference? This is where WIYO Travel makes the difference.

Where do we go next? Are you seeking inspiration? You know that you need that digital detox and need to unplug – badly. You feel that stiff knot forming at the base of your neck from too many hours at your desktop. You close your eyes and daydream of unwinding somewhere tranquil…you wonder where would be ideal for you. This is where WIYO Travel makes the difference.

Where do we go next?

Your 10 year old is enamoured after watching Jungle Book and wants to see his first tiger in the wild. What’s the right time to go? Will Ranthambore be a better option in March, or Pench? Which safari lodges are the most child friendly? How do I get from the airport to the park? Are morning game drives better than evening ones? This is where WIYO Travel makes the difference.

But… booking.com is so convenient! It gives you a list of hotels, at the best price points and you can choose based on budgets, reviews, amenities…and then you just KNOW that everything is in place because you’ve got the confirmation directly… but we love all your knowledge and information and expertise – can you share that with us?

Where do we go next?

Yes – we know. There is a deep sense of comfort about being able to curate the trip yourself. So we’ve embraced the concept and created a unique travel portal for you at www.wiyotravel.com. Our re-launched website marries the best of our expertise with the convenience of cutting edge technology. There’s no need to go back and forth on the phone if you don’t want to (though our expert team is just a phone call away). You can browse by category, by destination, by price, and by interest. You can play with different options and see the alternatives. You can add on a transfer, or a guide or opt for days at leisure. You can just include breakfast or go the whole hog and turn your trip into a gastronomic fantasy. You can pay online. It’s that simple. We leave the joy of exploring the options with you, while taking away the hassle of the planning nitty-gritty. We seamlessly merge your ideas with our expertise, and translate them through our contacts across the world into ground realities – trips that create memories of a lifetime.

So hmm… your dad’s 60th birthday is coming up and you want to do something special? Your daughter’s graduating college and you’re want to gift her a rewarding moment? You’re getting married and you want to plan a killer honeymoon (who doesn’t?).

Now all you’ve got to do is pick up the phone – or just log on to www.wiyotravel.com to plan where you are going next – your way.

 

Wanderlove

Would you rather gift the love of your life an object or a moment of wonder? With Valentine’s day just a month away – it gives us something to chew on, so we’ve coined our own term –

wanderlove: [falling in love with moments of wonder across different parts of the world, with the person you love]

We thought we would share what it means to us with you.

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Wanderlove 1: Never Miss A Sunrise…

There’s something magical about a sunrise. It’s a moment of wonder when time hangs in the balance between the old day and the new. It’s a moment of rebirth, a new lease on the day to come.

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Head to Darjeeling (or rather, just outside it) in the North East of India, to watch the exquisite beauty of a sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjunga. Rising out of the folds of the Himalayas, it almost appears to have a halo surrounding it. If you’re looking for a cozy getaway, head beyond Darjeeling into the warm embrace of The Glenburn Tea Estate. Graceful living at its best, this boutique heritage property is truly magical.

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Wanderlove 2: Island Romance…

There’s nothing sweeter than diving under the surface of the ocean and being kissed by a giant seaturtle (even if it startles you at first). It’s almost a cliché but islands have a certain charm that’s hard to beat. The laid-back vibe, whispering wind, and gentle lapping of the lagoon lull you into a sense of wonder. As fish skim the soles of your feet, vibrant coral turn into a marine kaleidoscope.

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Tahiti has its own charm. If luxury water villas are your style then head to Bora Bora, but if you’re looking for something a little different and just slightly off-beat, then we prefer Moorea. Literally a heart-shaped island, just 40 minutes by ferry from Papeete, Moorea has a vibe that you’ll immediately fall in love with. If you’re done with luxury resorts and want a more local ambience, then Moorea’s stand-alone hotels, like Les Tipaniers, have a cheeky charm of their own.

 

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Wanderlove 3: Animalust

There’s something very raw and real about being out in the jungle. In a man versus nature scenario, it’s human instinct to draw closer to one another. As human beings, we learn profound lessons from nature on how to nurture one another, and the ephemeral beauty of love at first sight. Whether you’re lucky enough to watch hippos in lust or catch the dance of the Sarus Cranes that mate for life, one can fall in love with our planet’s wildlife over and over again.

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Kenya draws us back time and again. The trumpet of an elephant, the roar of a lion, is an adrenaline rush unlike any other. The forest gives off a heady scent as you head across its grassland. We love the intimacy of Porini’s private campsites – cozy and small in size, they allow for a unique level of privacy and customization, with subtle and unobtrusive service to make your stay superlative.

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Wanderlove 4: At the Roof of the World…

A trip to the roof of the world is both, a triumph of the spirit and a humbling of the heart. As you stand atop the mountain kingdoms of our planet you realize how small you are against the backdrop of the earth. It’s a miraculous moment that you’ve made it here at all, a moment to hold on to forever.

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The mountains hold a special place in our hearts and there are so many kingdoms in the clouds to choose from. But one of the places that will never cease to amaze us is Ladakh. This last shangrila is a place of immense beauty and spirituality. It’s here that you really feel the power of the planet coursing through your body as the ice-fed rivers thunder over boulders. And as you step out of the diamond-brilliance of the sun and across the threshold of its Buddhist monasteries, or for those who seek a true sense of adventure, follow the pugmarks of the snow leopard and you will be infused with a sense of one-ness with the universe. In Ladakh, we love the stark simplicity of Nimmu House – or for an uber sense of hospitality, the contradiction of the Ultimate Travelling Camp’s tents that are housed all summer on the grounds of the Thiksey Monastery.

 

Wanderlove 5: A City to Fall In Love With…

Some cities are pervaded by a sense of wonder. It’s in the smell of its air, the way the streets wind, the side walk cafes, the art galleries, the boutiques and bars and bistros, and of course it’s people. There’s romance in its history, an empire lost or founded on its shores, or ships that docked in its harbors that brought exotic treasures from lands afar. There’s passion in the way it comes to life at dusk, the music in its streets, the whispers at its corners, and the vibrancy of its atmosphere. You’re caught up in the buzz and swept off your feet in a whirlwind of headiness.

As you descend the ancient limestone steps into the pudding basin of Old Dubrovnik, you feel like you’ve stepped back into a fairytale. If there’s a piece of living history in the world – it is this. The many influences that have kissed its shores swirl together like the creamy gelato its so famous for. Wander through the old Venetian loggias, throw a penny into the fountain, sip on a shot of local grappa, catch the notes of a church chorus on the wind, watch the sailboats as they sail into the old harbor and before you know it, time has flown past like the pigeons that flutter around the steeples of the city. You can choose to stay within the old city’s walls, or just a short walk up the hill beyond the Old Harbour, in villas of graceful antiquity and unmitigated charm. You’ll never want to leave.

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Wellness on Wanderlust: The Natural Element

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” said Mark Twain.

But did you know that travel also makes you healthier? Scientists have recently proven that travel can help to boost immunity, lower your stress levels, improve your mental health, decrease your risk of heart disease. Now that gives you reasons to travel!

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Our ancestors have long known about the energy power centers of the earth. From Macchu Picchu to Stonehenge, when the earth’s energy is harnessed in various cultural traditions, it is known to have a profound effect. Whether it is the summits of the Himalayas, or its peninsular coasts, ancient rock-caves of the Deccan Plateau, or thick rainforests of the southern subcontinent, India has always been one of the most spiritual places on the planet. Nature and nurture are intrinsically intertwined with one another.

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The Indian ethos is replete with holistic healing traditions. From Yoga to Ayurveda, Vedic Chanting to Vipasana (silent meditation), holistic healing is integral to the fabric of India’s culture.

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According to ancient Vedic tradition, the five elements of nature are fundamental to the human spirit. They form the crucible in which our physical, emotional and spiritual being evolves and by consciously drawing upon their power, we elevate ourselves.

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Earth. Water. Fire. Air. Ether.

Known as the five Mahabhutas, they are intrinsic to all forms of being. According to ancient yogic tradition, each element can be called upon through a series of mudras, to leave their imprint upon our mind, body and soul.

As Pico Iyer rightly says,

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

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When the team at WIYO Travel decided to curate a retreat, we focused in on the spirit of wellness that is evoked by both nature and travel. We truly believe that the combination of wellness and travel with likeminded people will evoke the most unique form of discovery. We honed in on Samanta Duggal, a leading practitioner of yoga and wellness traditions who embraces the same ethos of discovery through wellness in travel as we do, to integrate India’s ancient wellness traditions into the fabric of its landscape. And so The Natural Element was born.

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Bhumi – Earth Element

The earth manifests itself in the muscles and bones of the physical body. The organ associated with it is the nose. It represents a solid state of matter and is responsible for the physical constitution of our body. Bones, tissues and teeth are linked to the earth. The earth element can manifest itself in a feeling of heaviness, total comfort or discomfort, depending on the circumstances. Earth is associated with the Muladhara chakra or Root Chakra represents stability and support, as well as with the Kapha dosha.

Jala – Water Element

Water manifests itself in our blood and other bodily fluids. It is represented by the tongue which is used for the dual function of taste and speech. It denotes the liquid matter in the human body and is responsible for fluid metabolism. It expresses itself in a feeling of oneness, togetherness, floating or flowing feeling. The water element is also linked to the Kapha dosha and the sacral chakra in our bodies which evokes wellbeing and pleasure.

Agni – Fire Element

Fire manifests itself in your body’s temperature or temperament. The eye is the organ associated with the fire element. It represents form without substance and is responsible for digestion and perception. The fire element is dominant in the feeling of passion and it is associated with the pitha dosha and the manipura or solar plexus chakra.

Vayu – Air Element

Air denotes our breathing – the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, and it dominates the respiratory system. Air denotes the feeling of movement, of wanting to run away or escape. The skin is the organ associated with it and it manifests itself in our touch. It is associated with the Vata dosha and the Anahata or Heart chakra and represents love and forgiveness.

Akash – Ether Element

Ether is the most esoteric of all the elements. It is linked to a sense of space in the inner being, a spirit or soul. Ether is associated with feeling expansive or light, a higher state of consciousness. Ether is associated with not one, but three chakras: the Visuddha (throat) chakra which is indicative of faith, trust and creativity; the Ajna (brow) chakra which evokes dignity, intuition and knowledge; and the Sahasrara (crown) chakra which indicates a perfect balance and feeling of oneness with the universe. It is associated with the Vata dosha.

Fire, Air and Ether are light and push the energy upwards, producing a sense of lightness of being, while Earth and Water are heavier and flow downwards producing heaviness in the body.

The three doshas are a combination of the elements and the elements are the building blocks of everything in the universe. Therefore, the forces of each dosha manifest themselves in everything the universe has to offer, be it the seasons of the year or the times of day. The presence of the doshas can not only be felt, but also observed in our physical and emotional being. Vata is the force of wear and tear that results in destruction or degeneration of the universe, Pitha maintains the creation and Kapha is the creative force.

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The Natural Element Retreat revolves around these five mahabhutas and is set amid the beautiful scenery of the Nilgiri mountain range in a pristine natural environment. Lush foliage, gushing streams, and open skies filled with natural light and the stars will be our base for the retreat.

Integrated Yoga By Samanta Duggal

 The retreat will be lead by Samanta Duggal, a leading practitioner of wellness and holistic healing techniques. As you breathe in the fresh air and serene natural surroundings, Samanta will guide us through a series of wellness experiences that include yoga, vedic chanting, mudras, meditation and Thai massage.

Samanta’s particular brand of integrated yoga blends classical Hatha yoga with Vinyasa, while incorporating Vedic Chanting, Mudras, Pranayama, and Thai Osteo Bodywork. Samanta has a vast range of experience and her yoga style adapts traditional practice to fit into the rhythm of a modern lifestyle. She also specializes in creative dance expression and combines elements of her yoga practice with a free flow of creative expression to really delve into the essence of the mind, body and spirit.

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The Kurumba Village Resort – Vanakkam!

The Kurumba Village Resort is the ideal environment in which to explore your natural surroundings and in addition to the wellness experiences, enjoy tranquil nature walks, bird watching, star gazing, and simply relax and decompress in the lap of nature. Kurumba is a true “refuge for the senses” a place to restore once sense of wellbeing and equilibrium, far removed from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Your accommodations are full of light and space with an ethnic touch and all the creature comforts. Nestled within a ten acre private spice plantation one is surrounded by cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and pepper, while gorgeous rosewood, jacaranda, and jackwood trees soar towards the sky.

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WIYO Travel – The World Is Your Oyster

At WIYO Travel, we believe in making things happen. We don’t just say it. We do it. We know what that it takes a well-tuned ear to really listen to what you are looking for, and interpret it in ways that exceed your expectations. We understand that you are looking to be inspired, so we bring you the best of what the world has to offer. We appreciate that you are a savvy, smart and sophisticated traveler, so we allow you to make your own choices, with our help and suggestions. We relate to your desire to be in safe and reliable hands, and have honed our attention down to the last detail of your journey. We know you know what you want and we want to take you around the world to find it.

The Natural Element Retreat is lead by Samanta Duggal and organized by WIYO Travel. It will take place from March 1 to March 5, 2017.

 

Wellness with Kids…

As you hover between post-Diwali and pre-Christmas (and for some, exam time) stress, the idea of a relaxing wellness holiday sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Mind cleansing and pollution free nature walks, stretching those muscles with some yoga, and letting yourself drift to the sound of waves or energizing local music… but wait – what will you do with the kids?

Take them! Don’t think that you’ll get any downtime if you have the kids with you? Trust us – they’ll love these ideas.

Wildlife Digital Detox

We live in the electronic era – and let’s face it, not only are our kids are as hooked on their gadgets as we are, we also use them as a means of distraction. But we also know that it’s not the healthiest thing for a child to be screen-struck all the time. So instead of watching the Lion King (for the hundredth time) on that IPAD – how about a trip into the wild?

Natural air, natural light, no bandwidth, morning and evening activities that keep them awe-struck with wonder as you come across wild elephants, tigers, lions, hundreds of birds, monkeys… the list is endless.

And when they’re not on the game-drives? How about bathing the local elephants? Learning to fish? Pottering around in the kitchen garden? A bike ride through the grounds? The possibilities are endless.

WIYO Picks? India and Kenya are two of our favorites!

Spa & Beach Breaks

Every child (including the child that lurks in our adult soul) loves the beach. There’s just something so invigorating about the sun, the surf and the sea. Add in a safe lagoon where one can go snorkeling, feed the fish, watch the turtles hatch, and even the odd banana boat ride – all while you get a deep tissue massage. Everyone wins. WIYO Picks? The Maldives. 

Yoga Retreats

Are you and your kids frazzled in post-exam mode, tempers slightly frayed and fried? How about an uplifting yoga retreat to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul – and catch up on some bonding time with the kids that doesn’t involve text books. Test yourself on a different level.

Get into shape, mentally and physically as you stretch your body and spirit in unison. Too slow for the kids – you’re wrong. Try a vinyasa or a power yoga class that will literally leave you feeling breathless – and get those happy hormones flowing. You’ll come back glowing and ready to take on the world. If you’re still not convinced, how about a surf and yoga break? While you yoga, your kids (and you) can battle the waves.

WIYO Picks? South India, South East Asia

 Ski or Scuba Breaks

You’re an adventure junkie – and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which means that your children need three times the adrenaline that you do. Ever thought about a ski or a scuba break?

You’re either on top of the world or beneath the ocean – and that’s two of the best places in the world to be. Never tried either before? That’s part of the fun – you can learn something new, in a different environment, and even make new friends. Your takeaway isn’t just a new skill but an all-time high. Try it. WIYO Picks? Europe for Ski and the Indian Ocean/South East Asia for Scuba. 

Want to learn more? Call us today and we’ll get you started on that journey to wellbeing.

 

Iceland: Scratching The Tip of the Iceberg

The soul stirring harmonies of Bjork… the lava flowing out of its volcanoes… the steamy waters of its lagoons… and the pyrotechnics of the Northern Lights…

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It is somewhat ironic that both the natural and nurtured landscape of Iceland is painted with broad strokes of such fiery passion. Even as you wallow amid the vapours of the Blue Lagoon’s healing waters, the northern sun shines with a white gold brilliance that only comes from being at a latitude that is practically in the stratosphere.

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Reykjavik…

Iceland’s capital city is on a rapid trajectory to become Europe’s next cultural hot spot. A short hop from London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Stockholm, Reykjavik is rocking (literally). Music festivals, art festivals, food festivals, holiday festivals… there’s no shortage of the festive spirit in Reykjavik.

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The Old Harbour is a great place to get your bearings and take a deep dive into the history and culture of Iceland. The city has a bit of a snowflake quality – a delicate elegance as it sparkles like a jewel in the bright light of the northern hemisphere. From its Viking roots to the avant-garde cuisine, and its hectic nightclubs, if you want to tap into the pulse of the country – start here.

The Icelander’s like to celebrate their artistic spirit and Reykjavik features more and more prominently on the cultural calendar of Europe.

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Iceland is full of artists and music seeps out of every pore. Iceland has produced some of the most loved musicians of recent times and there’s music in the air – everywhere. And what better place to start than at the Rokksafn – the Icelandic Museum of Rock n Roll? Situated just a short ride out of Reykjavik in the suburb of Reykjanesbaer, the Rokksafn tells you the story of Iceland’s meteoric crescendo on the world’s music scene. Be it Sigur Ros or the Sugarcubes, Bjork or OMM (Of Monsters and Men), this is where Iceland sets the score for its artistic trajectory.

Of Geysers & Glaciers

Iceland’s artists and dreamers draw infinite inspiration from its gorgeous landscape. Iceland isn’t a country of half measures at all – so go west and throw yourself into the raw beauty of its wildest and most beautiful landscape.

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The gorgeous Snæfellsnes peninsula is sometimes called a “miniature Iceland” because it encompasses the entire diversity of the country in its environs. Cascading waterfalls erupt out of lava fields to create a surreal landscape of stupendous beauty, which give way to faceted geometry of the basalt columns that dot the landscape. Stand at the edge of the Snæfellsjökull glacier and walk into the dark depths of a lava cave, before you hit the fine black sandy beaches of Djúpalónssandur.

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Craggy cliffs and shiny rock formations give it a stark and surreal sense of beauty. Stroll among the tectonic plates at Pingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and witness the Strokkur geyser spewing its steamy waters from the dredges of the earth. If you’re there at the right time, take a boat ride out on the water to see the Northern Lights – a once in a lifetime phenomenon not to be missed.

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The Jökulsárlón lagoon is a sight not to be missed. Pristine and serene with massive floating icebergs rising out or the lava rock, it’s no wonder that it has been the choice of location for many film shoots.

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Winter wonderland in Iceland takes on a different meaning – raw and beautiful to an extreme. The crystalline texture of the ice caves create sculptures out of ice and a prism like quality that renders it into a Technicolor canvas made of ice. Depending on the season, you may also want to head out and watch the whales or simply soak yourself in the geothermal baths.

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Inspired? This is only the tip of the iceberg…Iceland: your adventure waiting to happen.