• Iceland northern lights

    When They Aren’t Guiding: Kommi Tells Secrets to Seeing Aurora Borealis

    When solar winds collide into our atmosphere, layers of gases combine with particles carried in the winds to reveal a dance of chemistry that creates the Aurora Borealis, the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/how-to-see-northern-lights-iceland/" target="_blank">northern lights</a>. Greens and pinks shimmer as layers of oxygen and nitrogen become illuminated in a way that only a natural phenomenon could display—until now.<br><br>Kormakur “Kommi” Hermannsson, a Classic Journeys guide in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-tours/" target="_blank">Iceland</a>, has engineered real-time displays of solar winds running headfirst into the same gases from our atmosphere. Contained in plasma tubes, Kommi has found a way to track and replicate the entire supernatural process and put it on display for the public. But this was not exactly his intention.<br><br>Kommi, 49, rearranged his life in 2011 when he devoted himself full-time to work as an outdoor guide in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank">Iceland</a>, after already establishing himself as a top search and rescue person in the nation. Possessing an engineering background of more than 20 years (inventor of the <a href="https://noxmedical.com/" target="_blank">Nox Medical home sleep monitor device</a>), it didn’t take long for him to identify opportunities for improvement in his new industry. <br><br><img alt="Kommi and Classic Journeys founders Edward and Susie" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyF" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>The most significant opportunity being improving the experience of witnessing the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/wonders-of-iceland/" target="_blank">northern lights.</a> Kommi said that most guides during the winter are involved with the northern lights in some way. But the process to see them can take a combination of time and withstanding the elements of nature, something that can be difficult for travelers.<br><br>“The most surprising factor was how insecure people were in the dark,” observed Kommi. “A lot of people aren’t all that comfortable being cold and alone in the dark while in a strange country.”<br><br><img alt="Kommi and Classic Journeys founders Edward and Susie" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyK" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>That became the goal and driving force behind the <a href="https://www.aurorabasecamp.is/" target="_blank">Aurora Basecamp Observatory</a> - to create the best possible experience of seeing the northern lights. In December 2019 it was in full swing and open to the public, and already in a few short months, they have delivered the visual masterpiece to approximately 2,000 people.<br><br>“We asked ourselves, ‘where would be the best place to take a guest?’ and that is basically where we started.” From there, Kommi explained, the difference was going to be in the education factor. “Nothing I have seen focuses on teaching people how to experience the northern lights.”<br><br>Three geodesic dome-shaped buildings sit off in the distance of an undeveloped lava field located 15-20 minutes south of Reykjavik. They form a small observatory campus, far away from any chance of urban light pollution. The experience visitors leave with is truly otherworldly.<br><br><img alt="Northern lights observatory Aurora Basecamp" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyU" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>“I have seen the craziest displays myself, but what you see of the northern lights on time-lapse videos…that is not something that I want to show to people.” Kommi was adamant that he wanted to provide real experiences, not photoshopped versions. “The normal northern lights you see is a nice arc, and if you are lucky you will see the lights dance—that is usually what people are looking for.”<br><br>According to Viking lore, the way to Valhalla required death in battle. If chosen, fallen warriors were then escorted by Valkyries to the heavens, which would in effect create the northern lights.<br><br>According to Kommi, though, the lights are a matter of science. A science that he has managed to not only understand and recreate with plasma tubes, but track and showcase to the public in real-time.<br><br>The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/how-to-see-northern-lights-iceland/" target="_blank">northern lights</a> are formed on the edge of the magnetic field associated with the North Pole. When solar winds cross that area, layers of nitrogen and oxygen mix with the charged particles in the solar winds to create a shimmer, or dancing, effect. <br><br><img alt="Northern lights aurora borealis" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRz8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>This was the process that Kommi was able to reconstruct inside plasma tubes. After a curious two years of experimenting with conductors to mix various gases with charged particles, permits were filed and approved to build perfect, protected land. Today Kommi is replicating the magic of the cosmos in front of groups, exactly as he set out to do.<br><br>A brief understanding of the celestial experience begins when people first enter the Aurora Lounge. Around a wood stove, visitors take a seat and enjoy either hot chocolate or tea. This room allows everyone to truly ease their way into the eventually dark, harsh conditions. <br><br><img alt="Aurora Lounge Basecamp Observatory for the northern lights" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyj" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Next, you enter the Dark Park, which is a guided experience through various rooms, each set with different images and information. The tour begins with a photo of very weak northern lights, almost undetectable. This is to explain exactly how difficult they can be to spot on your own if you do not know what to look for. Light pollution is the topic of the following area, where you learn how light can either add to or take away from your viewing experience of the northern lights. <br><br>“We have to teach people how to look for it,” says Kommi. “We have to then teach people how to see it.”<br><br><img alt="Northern lights aurora borealis Iceland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRzX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>You continue to learn by unlearning everything you thought you knew about seeing the northern lights, with a compilation of the most popular disinformation or confusing information that leaves everyone making the same mistakes. Finally, you come to find six plasma tubes filled with gases and charged particles that artificially display the same show happening outdoors before you exit the building to witness it in nature.<br><br>At this point of the Aurora Basecamp Observatory experience, your eyes have fully adjusted to dark areas and low light. After you exit the dome, you are instructed on how to take the best pictures of what you are seeing. Then, it is up to you to just enjoy the night, with Kommi, and his return customers, which he says most become.<br><br><img alt="Northern lights observatory Aurora Basecamp" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lRyo" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>“The northern lights are a natural phenomenon. Sometimes you have activity that produces crazy moments of really nice light,” explained Kommi, calmly, like he does. “That is what makes the northern lights exciting for me as a guide. I can never tell you exactly what is going to appear.”<br><br><i>Skyler Wilder is an award-winning journalist with a Sports Emmy in “Outstanding New Approaches” at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games; a digital producer for the International Surfing Association, Dew Tour, Toyota, Red Bull and NBC; and an independent photojournalist with stories published in Men’s Journal among many publications. Follow him @northwestwilder</i><br><br>Also written by Skyler: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/vatnajokull-national-park/" target="_blank">Chaos theory explains trolls, French Revolution and Europe’s Largest Park</a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Iceland read more" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Fjir&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lS14" style="height: 177px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><i>Photo credit: Aurora Basecamp</i>

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  • New Zealand sunset

    Passport to New Zealand: How to keep traveling virtually

    Whether you call it the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ as the Maoris, or ‘Godzone’ as the kiwis, there’s no debate that year after year, New Zealand is one of the top 10 places in the world that people aspire to travel.<br><br>And for good reason. With the alternately volcanic and lush green North Island and the rugged, mountainous South Island, New Zealand offers you anything you can want to give your passport a workout.<br><br>For culture, you’ve got a rich Maori heritage, an acclaimed food and wine scene, and a myriad of Lord of the Rings filming locations. For nature, you’ll find craggy coastlines and beautiful beaches, geothermal spas, primeval forests, snowcapped mountains and impressive geysers. Kiwi birds, penguins, whales and seals abound. And the Maori have been here for 800 years and still retain their distinct and fascinating customs, now fused with colonial European and Asian cultures that create a vibrant urban life.<br><br><br><b>Make a Flat White </b><br>Starbucks caused international debate when they declared it an Australian invention, but Kiwis claim Wellington barista Fraser McInnes to be the true father of the Flat White. <br><b><img alt="How to make a New Zealand flat white coffee" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYi9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></b><br>This delicious type of coffee was born in Café Bodega on Willis Street in the summer of ’89, after a failed attempt to make a cappuccino. McInnes’ creation came out more ‘flat’ than ‘frothy’ and he apologetically served it to his customer, saying “sorry it’s a flat white.” The name stuck.  <br><br>Sharper than a latte and silkier than a cappuccino, the Flat White is one third espresso, two thirds steamed milk. Here’s how to make it:<br><br>Ingredients:<br>Double espresso<br>3oz full fat milk<br><br>Tools: <br>Espresso maker <br>Milk steamer/frother<br>Your favorite coffee cup<br><br>Method:<br>Pre-warm your cup with hot water<br>Add a double shot of espresso<br>Steam milk to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit<br>Tap it on a countertop and swirl around to achieve signature smoothness<br>Slowly pour the milk over the double espresso, tilting the cup<br>Get creative with coffee art, or simply drink! <br><br>Coffee made, take a seat and join our armchair travels as we journey down under to one of the most incredible countries on earth.<br><br><b>Fun Facts </b><br><br>There are more sheep than humans. New Zealand’s first flock arrived in 1773 courtesy of Captain Cook and the national ratio was 6 to one on last count. Flock size has been shrinking considerably since the ‘Peak Sheep’ days of 1982, when the ratio was an incredible 22 to one—increasing population size and decreasing demand for lamb are believed to be the main culprits. <br><br><img alt="Field and flock of sheep" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYiT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Only 5% of New Zealand’s popular are humans. The rest is animals, forming the highest animal:human ratio in the world. This includes the aforementioned sheep, the emblematic kiwi birds and more penguin species than any other country. But not snakes—there are no snakes in New Zealand whatsoever! <br><br>Over 30% of New Zealand is covered in protected areas, including 13 national parks. Classic Journeys favorites from our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-north-south-island-tours/" target="_blank">North &amp; South island tours</a> include Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (for its skyscraping peaks and spectacularly starlit starry skies), and Mount Aspiring (hiking heaven with a hundred spectacular glaciers.) <br><br><img alt="New Zealand Mount Cook National Park Lake" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYhC" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand. While it does have (tiny) wings, it cannot fly. Kiwi feathers are more like fur, and though it has no tail feathers, it does have whiskers, like a cat. And since this is the only bird in the world with nostrils at the end of its beak, its sense of smell is second to none. In honor of the bird, New Zealanders have been called &#39;Kiwis&#39; since they were given the nickname by Australian soldiers in WWI. Pro tip: never leave your shoes or hiking boots outside, as kiwi birds love to eat the laces!<br><br><img alt="Kiwi bird sign in New Zealand" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYsn" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Kiwi fruit is not actually from New Zealand. It originates from China and was initially nicknamed the Chinese gooseberry. A returning traveler brought seeds into the country after an expedition to the Far East in 1904. In 1959, because gooseberries weren’t the most popular fruit, produce company Turners and Groves re-christened the fruit. They named it ‘kiwi’ after New Zealand’s national bird which—like the fruit—is round, brown and fuzzy! <br><br><img alt="Kiwi fruit" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYmV" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Rotomairewhenua, otherwise known as Blue Lake, is the world’s clearest lake. Found in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, it’s scientifically proven to be nature’s clearest natural body of water, with an astounding visibility of up to 80 meters. Famous for its vivid violet and blue hues, its spring-fed water is considered sacred by the local Māori tribe and human entry is forbidden. <br><br>On September 19, 1893, New Zealand became the first ever country to give women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. <br><br>Thanks to the slender nature of the islands, wherever you are in New Zealand, you are never more than 80 miles (or just over an hour’s drive) from the ocean. <br><br><img alt="New Zealand beach mountain backdrop" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYin" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>New Zealand has the longest place name in any English-speaking country. Deep breath: Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungah-oronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu<br><br>There’s an official national wizard! In 1990, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Mike Moor, wrote to the ‘Wizard of Christchurch’ suggesting he become the Wizard of New Zealand. The national Wizard’s duties include protecting the Government, blessing new enterprises, casting out evil spirits and cheering up the population. <br><br><img alt="New Zealand official Wizard" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYmp" style="height: 678px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Travel through the TV</b><br><br>Undoubtedly the most famous movies to come out of New Zealand are the Lord of The Rings movies, showcasing the nation’s spectacular scenery in over a hundred different locations. Watching all three (you can stream them on Amazon Prime) will take 11.2 hours in total, which is certainly one way to fill your free time during #stayathome! For an extended movie marathon, begin by watching The Hobbit trilogy, which was all filmed in New Zealand and will add another 8.5 hours of viewing time!<br><br><img alt="Hobbiton from the movies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYjM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Available on Hulu, Mystery TV drama Top of the Lake is set in the fictitious New Zealand mountain town of ‘Laketop’ and was shot on location in Queenstown and Glenorchy.<br><br><b>Travel through reading</b><br><br>For children, whether read in person or through a videocall story time, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Hairy-Maclary-Donaldsons-Dairy-Lynley/dp/1582460590/" target="_blank">Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy</a> is a New Zealand children’s classic. <br> <br><img alt="Read at home during coronavirus lockdown" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYjg" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>For compelling adult reads, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Bone-People-Novel-Keri-Hulme/dp/0140089225/" target="_blank">The Bone People</a> by Maori Keri Hulme is an award-winning story of a part-Maori, part European artist living in a lonely tower on the New Zealand sea. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Luminaries-Novel-Man-Booker-Prize/dp/0316074314/" target="_blank">The Luminaries</a> by Eleanor Catton is a Man Booker Prize-winning ghost story, based in New Zealand’s 1866 gold rush. <br><br><b>New Zealand Department of Conservation YouTube<br><br><img alt="Albatross live cam by New Zealand Department of Conservation" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYjb" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></b><br><br>The New Zealand Department of Conservation has an amazing YouTube channel, where videos transport you into the striking surroundings of the nation’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9AD3D947429BEBD6/" target="_blank">Great Walks</a>. They have a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/DeptOfConservation/videos/" target="_blank">Meet the Locals</a> series, which introduces you to native species, natural spaces and the people who protect them. There’s even a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9XNKQY4tQc/" target="_blank">Royal Albatross Cam</a>, which live-streams a Northern Royal Albatross nest at Taiaroa Head on the southeast tip of South Island.<br><br><b>Call friends and family with our Zoom Travel Backgrounds</b><br> <br>Video conferencing tools such as Zoom and FaceTime have become an important part of social distancing life, letting us communicate with colleagues, catchup with friends and check in on family members. <br> <br>To incorporate armchair travel into your video calls, we’ve developed some <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/new-zealand-zoom-travel-backgrounds/" target="_blank">Zoom travel backgrounds of New Zealand</a>!<br><br>Click <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/new-zealand-zoom-travel-backgrounds/" target="_blank">here</a> for instructions and you can soon be speaking to your sister from the Southern Alps or hosting a conference call on the banks of Lake Tekapo…<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/new-zealand-zoom-travel-backgrounds/" target="_blank"><img alt="Zoom Virtual Background by Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FqSH&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lYlr" style="height: 305px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>More in our <i>Passport To The World</i> series: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/passport-to-usa-travel-virtually/" target="_blank">USA National Parks</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/passport-to-morocco-travel-virtually/" target="_blank">Morocco</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/passport-to-canada-travel-virtually/" target="_blank">Canada</a></b>

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  • VPark Iceland

    Chaos theory explains trolls, French Revolution and Europe’s Largest Park

    A historic hotbed for global catastrophe with a rich Nordic culture of folklore, the bond between Iceland’s powerful nature and its people is built on a mystic respect.<br><br>“I am as Icelandic as a person can be,” said Atli, 53, Classic Journeys guide and local expert. <br><br>Atli possess a rich historical knowledge of the land, and his bloodline traces back 1,200 years to the very first group of settlers. From volcanic eruptions with global repercussion to tales of Iceland’s great unknown, his heritage gives him a unique understanding of the area.<br><img alt="Luxury Iceland tour guide Atli" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq5O" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>“My father grew up in a real turf house, like what you imagine for a hobbit hole,” explained Atli, setting the scene. “When you talk about the mythology of these lands, if you ask my father who grew up under those circumstances, the actualities of elves, trolls and the hidden people are absolutely real.”<br><img alt="Turf house traditional Iceland home" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nqAO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>For hundreds of years his ancestors were shark fisherman that provided oil to kings and queens around the world to burn in their lamps. During those times major volcanic eruptions in Iceland caused global repercussions to weather patterns, blacking out the sun with ash.<br><br>“Marie Antoinette said ‘let them eat cake’ because there was no bread. The reason why there was no bread in France, or anywhere in Europe, was because ash from an Icelandic volcano’s explosion blocked the sun in most of Europe, so there were no crops and almost no summer. The resulting crop failures likely triggered the starving people of France to rise up in the French Revolution.”<br><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq7K" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Not only did ashy summers play a role in triggering events such as the French Revolution, but those harsh summers from volcanic fallout would result even more severe winters.<br><br>“I grew up listening to fascinating stories, such as one time when he was lost in a snowstorm and something grabbed him by the hand and led him home without him ever seeing what it was. He is absolutely convinced something is out there that he really can’t explain.”<br><img alt="Iceland tour guide Alti" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq6X" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Icelandic mythology today has possibly become weakened with the younger generations, Atli thinks. But it was because of stories like these that his family raised him to have the respect and appreciation for the natural landscapes of his homeland. A land that Atli stresses is still under constant pressure for corporate development.<br><br>The Vatnajökull National Park is a perfect example of such important but vulnerable terrain. Absolutely massive, the park is centered around Europe’s largest glacier, totaling 5,460 square miles, and captures 14 percent of the country. Iceland is lucky to call this park its very own national treasure.<br><img alt="National Park Iceland waterfall" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq8x" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Although he admits quite a few people can follow their ancestry back to the 9th century, only a select group can say that they played an active role in the development of the Vatnajökull National Park. Through his participation as a member of the Icelandic Nature Conservation Association, Atli was called upon to be a leader in the initial creation of the park.<br><br>From the ocean you can find caves created entirely of ice and lagoons full of icebergs surrounded by glaciers.<br><img alt="Iceland ice cave national park" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq5T" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Going inland there are more glaciers to be found but also volcanoes and boiling hot geysers. These unique mixtures of fire and ice make the Vatnajökull National Park one of the most interesting places in the world— all of it, protected and available to be experienced.<br><img alt="Iceland National Park Volcano" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq5Y" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>An obvious location to be recognized on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, it was not until as recent as July of 2019 that is was. Thankfully, the natural environment was inscribed for its unique value to humankind, noted for its incredible features as well as the ability of those features to tell “an incredible history and at the same time reflect the current climate crisis.”<br><br>Not long ago that the Vatnajökull National Park was at great risk for development, but it 2008 it became officially recognized and protected. It was due to the dedication of passionate, local individuals and a few environmentally-focused organizations working together campaigning, protests, writing letters and articles that preservation of this part of Iceland was possible.<br><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq8N" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>But without the promise of tourism, Atli explains, the initial efforts may have been left moot. <br><br>Simply stressing the image of untouched land, full one-of-a-kind displays of nature at its most extreme, was not enough to get the job done. It took more than just awareness. It took economic justification.<br><br>“Tourism helped a lot. People don’t understand but money talks,” explained Atli of the process to gain momentum. Going up against major industrial corporations proved difficult until they found a common ground. “Because we could make the argument that it was valuable, money-wise, to preserve a big area like this. As it turns out now, the biggest industry in Iceland is tourism.”<br><img alt="Atli leading Iceland tour" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq8S" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Ice caves, glacier lagoons and waterfalls are just a few of Vatnajökull National Park’s incredible features that Atli feels privileged to share with Classic Journeys tourists from around the world. <br><br>“I guided the first tour in Iceland,” recalls Atli, thinking back to when Classic Journeys reached out to him to curate their Iceland tours with them seven years ago. “I also guided the last tour before we hit the pause button [due to the coronavirus], and I will guide the first one once we start again.”<br><img alt="Tourism in Iceland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000nq6H" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><i>Skyler Wilder is an award-winning journalist with a Sports Emmy in “Outstanding New Approaches” at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games; a digital producer for the International Surfing Association, Dew Tour, Toyota, Red Bull and NBC; and an independent photojournalist with stories published in Men’s Journal among many publications. Follow him @northwestwilder</i><br><br>Also written by Skyler: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/aurora-basecamp-observatory-iceland/" target="_blank">When They Aren’t Guiding: Kommi Tells Secrets to Seeing Aurora Borealis</a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Iceland read more" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PV2r&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lS14"></img></a><br><br><br> 

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