As featured in the Daily Mail, August 12, 2015
As I devour my burger, a piercing glare comes from across the table. My son points to the window, reminding me we have company: a dozen prized cows. I feel a pang of guilt as I sink my teeth into Daisy’s less fortunate friend, but I don’t feel too bad — these are some of the luckiest cows alive.
Their home is the family-run Efsti-Dalur II farm in the wild Icelandic countryside, on the path of the famous Golden Circle and 90 minutes’ drive from Reykjavik. We stay in one of its ten log cabins overlooking sprawling farmland and mountains. My six-year old Magnus loves it.
Dining with farm animals is just the first of our unusual culinary experiences. Next day, we lunch at Friheimar, a colossal greenhouse in Reykholt, filled with row upon row of tomato vines. The sweet tomato soup with tangy cucumber salsa and sour cream is a far cry from a tin of Heinz.
Iceland is famous for its hot springs, geysers and volcanoes. Strokkur Geyser erupts every five minutes or so, and even the most impatient of spectators is rewarded. It certainly gets Magnus’s seal of approval.
The same cannot be said for whale-watching. For three sickly hours aboard a boat called Andrea we wait like expectant One Direction fans, yearning for a glimpse of Harry Styles, only to be told he’s already left the building.
The mood is lifted when we chance upon a pod of dancing white-beaked dolphins. We run from one side of the deck to the other to catch that all-elusive glimpse. Multiple whale sightings are guaranteed, however, at Reykjavik’s newly opened Whales of Iceland exhibition. In the comfort of a heated warehouse you can walk among full-scale models of 23 species.
For those more interested in people-watching, Iceland’s hot pools are worth a visit. We jostle for space in the warm geothermal waters of the popular Blue Lagoon. Magnus says it’s the best ‘swimming pool’ he’s ever seen. But if you’d rather shun the crowds then the Secret Lagoon, near Fludir, is a shrewd option.
There are countless tour companies operating in Reykjavik, but hiring a car is easy and far more exciting. Cruising down an empty Route 37 in blazing sunshine, with volcanic rock to left and right, you can’t help thinking you’ve fetched up on an alien planet, albeit one where the locals are forever welcoming and the menu of activities is perfect for adventure-seekers of all ages.
Scan Adventures (020 7529 8759, Scanadventures.co.uk) offers a seven-day itinerary, from £899 per adult and £329 per child, including return flights, B&B, arrival dinner, and car rental.