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page 60 Talk to the experts 01737 214 257 2121For years there has been a trend to modify 4WD vehicles in Iceland enabling the locals to visit areas previously out of reach during winter time. This 6-day tour is one-of-a-kind as it offers participants a real hands-on self-drive adventure using specially modifi ed Land Rover Defenders, the ISAKs, in convoy and accompanied by expert guides. In addition to exploring the Highlands, you'll visit the famous Golden Circle route: Gullfoss; Geysir and Þingvellir, together with the capital Reykjavík. Spend four nights at Hotel Highland, located at the start of the Sprengisandur Route. From here, take challenging day tours which allow you to get well and truly off the beaten track and explore breath-taking parts of the southern Highlands. The hotel offers comfy yet simple accommodation. There is a restaurant which serves high quality, locally-inspired dishes, and it also has a sauna and an outdoor hot tub, ideal for relaxing in after the day's adventures - possibly with the aurora making an appearance overhead as you soak! The ISAKs are modifi ed Land Rover Defender 110's with elevated suspension and trademark oversized tyres, generally 38". The engines are diesel, they have onboard GPS, VHF radios for car-to-car communication, and all the modifi cations required for a safe, secure and surprisingly comfortable assault on Iceland's demanding terrain. Part of the driving technique on some of the more gnarly lava tracks and over snow and ice, is to reduce tyre pressure so the vehicle effectively 'fl oats' over the surface. Then, once back on more stable ground the tyres are re-infl ated using the onboard compressor - not a cigarette lighter, Jeremy Clarkson take note!You'll soon get used to driving these robust machines - it can become quite addictive! Take it in turns to do the driving with your fellow passengers, there will be plenty of time for each of you to test your skills. During the three separate day tours in the Highlands you'll head north to Jökulheimar and the edge of the Vatnajökull glacier; head east to Landmannalaugar and possibly go hiking in its distinctive rhyolite mountains as well as take a dip in a geothermal pool; head south to explore impressive Mount Hekla and its volcanic surrounds with some hiking and a visit to the Highland Centre included. And at this time of the year, sightings of the aurora, especially in these remote locations, are a real possibility.After leaving Hotel Highland follow the Power Line Trail, crossing several rivers and visiting Iceland's second highest waterfall. Continue on the Golden Circle route and see the waterfall Gullfoss, the fascinating spouting geysers at Geysir and the rifts and ridges in Þingvellir National Park, where converging tectonic plates defi ne the landscape. Head for Hafnarfjörður and a fi nal evening of fun! After days of feeling empowered having mastered a superjeep like a true Icelander, how better to end the trip than with a lively and tasty Viking feast and an overnight at Hotel Viking, where else! This brilliantly-themed hotel offers 'Viking style décor' although thankfully much more civilised than you might think, and you won't have to sleep in a Longhouse!Outline ItineraryDay 1 Fly UK to Kefl avík, transfer to Reykjavík. After a safety briefi ng and a familiarisation with the controls, drive to Hotel Highland in time for dinner.Day 2 Tour north to Jökulheimar.Day 3 Tour east to Landmannalaugar.Day 4 Tour south to Mount Hekla.Day 5 Tour west then take the Golden Circle tour en route to Hafnarfjörður.Day 6 Transfer to Kefl avík, fl y back to the UK.Please note: If you wish to extend your stay or perhaps include any additional activities, or if you want to rent the Defender exclusively, please give us a call.Trip DetailsScan with your smartphone for more holiday information on our website (see page 4).Highlands

22 All our holidays are bound by our Terms & Conditions, which can be found on our websiteThe IcehotelThe Icehotel is literally breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed! With an ingenious mix of ice and snow, otherwise known as 'sni-ce', plenty of engineering know-how and supreme design fl are, it is created each winter then left to melt back into the river Torne in late April, with no two designs ever the same. The 2012/13 incarnation celebrates the 23rd anniversary - each year heralding more inventive and even quirkier designs. Consisting of a variety of sleeping accommodation (the top-of-the range Art Suites never ceasing to amaze) and a spectacular Icebar, these rooms radiate from a magnifi cent central hallway, complete with ice crystal chandeliers. Close by, but with a separate entrance, is the magical Ice Chapel for those truly white weddings.When fi rst hearing about the Icehotel you're likely to have a lot of questions such as what is actually there, where do you shower and isn't it too cold to sleep? Answers to all these questions can be found on our website or ask one of our travel specialists - they've visited personally so their advice is spot on. The answer to that last question by the way; many people fi nd that the silence, cool fresh air and of course a cosy thermal sleeping bag, gives them the best nights' sleep they have ever had!Although the main part of the hotel is built of 'sn-ice' there is a separate building alongside which houses plenty of warm showers, WC's and sauna facilities. Also housed in heated buildings are a couple of lounge bars and an excellent fi ne dining restaurant, which also serves the daily breakfast buffet. There is also a log-cabin style restaurant just far enough away for you to walk off your meal afterwards, perhaps with the northern lights illuminating your way home.You may have seen the Icehotel on TV or in photographs, or know someone who has visited. In our opinion nobody can quite convey how special the Icehotel really is - it isn't just about a stay in the world's coolest hotel (literally!), it is about a complete experience and one that you really need to try fi rst hand.SWEDENRetro Drive © Leif Milling/Artists N Chistyakova & K Ile