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Akureyri, Iceland


Iceland is a land of delightful contradictions, where brilliant flowers and warm hearts flourish amid ice and snow. Here, some of nature's most powerful antics, from active volcanoes to geothermal phenomena, exist only a few miles from delightful cities and centers of cultural renown. For those in search of surprise -- the surprises are just beginning.

Taking advantage of the warmer climate, the Botanical Garden in Akureyri is the most northerly one of its kind, home to nearly 2,000 plant species. First opened in 1912, the gardens boast every species native to Iceland and others from foreign locations.

From the beginning of June until mid-July, a special time referred to as the Midnight Sun, brings bright summer nights to the northern regions. During this period of almost round-the-clock daylight, the Arctic Open takes place in Akureyri, on the most northerly golf course in the world.

The active volcanic district of Lake Myvatn features incredible flora, fauna and an amazing assemblage of volcanic land forms. On the southern end of Lake Myvatn, Skutustadir is an area of large craters along the shores and inlets that is simply unforgettable. Visit the sulphur pits and boiling mud pools at Namaskard, which are in full and constant action, roaring, splashing and sending forth columns of dense vapor.

The impressive Godafoss Waterfall, or "falls of the gods," was named in the year 1000 A.D. when Christianity became the religion of Iceland. Pagan idols were dumped unceremoniously into the grand and beautiful falls. Further east is Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. Only 50 yards high, one million gallons of water per second flow over the edge.

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