Shannon and Arnold Kozak love to travel and over the years, they have methodically fulfilled their travel bucket list. Their destinations have included: Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Hawaii. When they travelled to Ukraine, they connected with Arnold’s family. They’ve also toured historic Israel, witnessed the splendour of Europe, cruised the Panama Canal and camped in Alaska.
In 2017, the Kozak’s next adventure led them to Iceland with WestWorld Tours. Iceland was of interest to Shannon as she wanted to meet with members of her paternal side of the family. Shannon contacted a cousin from Iceland prior to the trip and planned to get together during their travels. “The trip really came to life when we met not just one but 15 family members. It was amazing,” exclaimed Shannon. The Kozak’s visited the places where the family homesteads once stood, and learned how the families lived in this diverse climate and landscape. Shannon’s grandparents immigrated from Iceland to Canada in the summer of 1892.
The WestWorld Tours group journeyed across the picturesque island on the “Ring Road” which is the main highway reaching the iconic landmarks at Reykjanes Peninsula, Northern Iceland, the Eastfjords, Jokulsarlon, and Skaftafell (Vatnajokull National Park). “Iceland has a little bit of everything - volcanoes, sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, rivers and waterfalls, coastal views and quaint fishing villages, as well as geysers, mud pools, and geothermal pools and springs,” explained Arnold. He was particularly interested in the geography, fauna and culture of the island. “At the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, we boarded an amphibious vehicle where we toured on land and sea viewing the monstrous chunks of magnificent blue-coloured ice,” said Arnold. “We also saw seals and whales that had migrated into the fjords.”
At Gauksmyri, they attended an Icelandic horse show. Arnold commented that the horse’s famous “tolt” gait (unique to the Icelandic horse) was so smooth that the rider could easily carry a glass of water and not spill it. Speaking of water, the cascading Dettifoss waterfall in northern Iceland is Europe’s most powerful waterfall where up to 1,500 tons of water, mud and sand fall 44 metres into the canyon below. This is just one of the many waterfalls that the Kozak’s saw on their island adventures.
There are approximately 800,000 sheep in Iceland. They graze in the mountains over the summer and in the fall, they are brought back to the lower lands where they are housed during winter and spring months. The approximately 330,000 Icelanders benefit from the sheep’s wool and meat. Another interesting fact that Arnold also shared is that Icelanders use geothermal energy to heat their homes and to generate electricity. This makes it possible to grow fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes in the green houses all year. Fresh cold water comes from the glaciers. Shannon and Arnold were astonished at how soft their hands were from washing in the water.
A trip to Iceland would not be complete without a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. One of the 25 wonders of the world, the geothermal lagoon contains unique water and silica mud which is great for your skin. Shannon commented that the water was “warm and welcoming”. When you arrive at the lagoon, guests are given an electronic wristband which acts as a key for the electronic lockers, and an in-water credit card to buy refreshments while you are at the spa which you pay for when you leave.
“Our vacation to Iceland was fabulous,” said Shannon. “WestWorld Tours did a great job of organizing the tour and the tour guides were wonderful. We will always remember the beautiful scenery, fine food and friendly people.”
To fulfill or start your bucket list destinations, visit westworldtours.com or call 1-800-564-6222 (Press 4).