Iceland Untouched – surrender to the power of nature
By Signe Hansen | Photos: Iceland Untouched
Raw lava fields, erupting volcanos, vast glaciers, powerful rivers and serene valleys – the landscape of Iceland is one of mystery, adventure and, if you seek it, solitude. But to discover and explore it all safely, you need local knowledge of the island and its secrets – that’s what Iceland Untouched offers.
After more than a decade of experience as a tour guide, in 2018, Andrés Úlfur Helguson founded Iceland Untouched. But though he knows all of Iceland’s most spectacular attractions intimately, Helguson’s tailor made tours are principally about experiencing the nature of the untouched. “We’re trying to fulfil that ‘alone in the world’ experience – as soon as you enter the highlands, that’s what the days are about – you might meet some vehicles on the roads, but everything in between is nature. When you have the knowledge, you can take routes where there is no one else,” says Helguson.
Having lived several years in New York where he studied anthropology, he appreciates this is a truly unique experience. “Of course, I have certain activities that are favourites – many on glaciers, such as hiking or snowmobiling or going into ice caves – but essentially it’s the same experience – it’s that feeling you get from knowing that you are on a glacier that could swallow you whole, but that it’s all for you to enjoy as long as you are careful and experienced.”
Additionally, an Iceland Untouched tour may comprise whale safaris, hikes, northern lights, volcanoes and more. When it comes to highland hikes, Helguson is especially well-connected as his wife, Matthildur Philippusdóttir Patay, runs the island’s oldest trekking tour company Fjallabak Trekking.
The unbound nature of the Icelandic landscape makes for a truly authentic experience. With no or very few fences or boundaries, everything is accessible, but that also means you must recognise your own limits, stresses Helguson “That‘s the charm; that’s why people have extraordinary experiences – we go to look at waterfalls and basically just walk into them,” he says and rounds off: “Experiences like that – being completely surrounded by nature – makes you humble, and it’s good to remember who is in charge, who is most powerful.”
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