“We tell the stories of all types of exploration – from inner caves to outer space and many places in between”

“We tell the stories of all types of exploration – from inner caves to outer space and many places in between”

By Mike Klein @mklein818

 

Thirty miles from the Arctic Circle, in Husavik, a town with 2200 souls, a small but ambitious museum invites visitors to experience stories of exploration – including the most complete explanation of Iceland’s own “lunar mission” as a training location for the Apollo astronauts.

 

“The Exploration Museum tells stories of all types of exploration – from the Vikings to caves outer space.  The common themes – human curiosity and the desire to uncover something new,” said Örlygur Hnefill Örlygsson (Orly), the museum’s founder and leader.

Orly explaining the geology of the Askja region to the family of Neil Armstrong during a visit in 2015.

 

The story of “Iceland’s Lunar Mission”

 

Orly’s own interest in exploration dates back to his early childhood, to the time of NASA’s Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster. In spite of the tragedy, Orly began to develop an interest in space and in the reasons why people were interested in heading there.  “My mother bought me a book, I was so interested – in space, planets, space suits, and even though I focused on other things when I was 10-25, my interest was re-sparked when I found out that the Apollo astronauts had trained here.”

 

“I was reading a book of old newspaper articles and saw an article, but also noticed there was not an effort to put the whole story together, which dated from two training missions in 1965 and 1967. So I started to gather the oral history of the event – locating the people involved, the drivers, journalists, and caterers, and they had a lot of stories to tell.”

 

 

“I managed to get some good stories and some amazing photos, which form the heart of the exhibit,” Orly added.

The family of Neil Armstrong unveiling a monument in Húsavík, Iceland honoring Iceland’s part in the Apollo program.

 

In collecting the stories, Orly noted a number of themes:

  • The astronauts themselves: “It was very powerful to get to know the astronauts. The stories about them were still vivid fifty years later. The astronauts were expected to be role models, and they had to be very discreet about their partying activities. And they partied a bit in Iceland too. In order to purchase liquor, they created a coded language with a local journalist to radio in orders. ‘Blue shirts’ was code for Vodka, ‘white shirts’ was code for whiskey. They also went fishing and did the touristy things one did here in those days.
  • Why they selected Iceland: “It wasn’t just that Iceland bore a resemblance to the moon, but that the types of geology were relatively similar compared to other locations around the world. As most of the Astronauts were trained as test pilots, they needed to learn geology and learn to pick the best rocks to return with.  It’s a common misconception that they came here to practice moonwalking.”
  • Connecting with local history: the mission was not secret, and the Astronauts even had a press conference when they arrived. One of the first things they mentioned is that the Icelandic Loftleidir airliner they had flown from the US was named for Leif Eriksson, the Viking explorer said to have been the first European to land on North American soil.

 

The Exploration Museum’s exhibit is built around these stories and photos, but also includes personal items from the astronauts, an Icelandic coin from the astronauts’ first trip, rock samples used during the geology part of the training and even a small moon rock.

 

 Exploring beyond the museum

 

As part of the Exploration Museum’s mission, Orly and his team also offer interested travelers opportunities to visit some of the locations where the astronauts trained. “We can take people to all of the places, and we have actually had eight of the thirty two astronauts come here with their families.”

 

The mission of the museum also focuses on stimulating the spirit of exploration more broadly.  Every year, the museum hosts the Explorers’ Festival, where up to eight explorers from around the world come to exchange their stories, be they astronauts, cave specialists, or even scuba divers. Aside from sharing their stories, they share their art, sketches, poetry and music, and the Leif Eriksson Awards are given for life exploration achievements and for young explorers.

Here is a video focusing on how Iceland and the area near Husavik can be used for training purposes for future astronauts.

 

For those who make the six-hour trip from Reykjavik to Husavik (or the faster but pricey AIr Iceland Connect flight), there is much to explore in the nearby area, including glaciers, fjords, bays and opportunities to get out onto the sea.  In the summer, it is also possible to drive across Iceland to Husavik through the stunning and largely untouched Icelandic Highlands.

Moon walker Charlie Duke visiting Ásbyrgi last year with Orly and his daughter Aníta.

 

 

If you are interested in being a part of an extraordinary trip visiting the highlands of Iceland and specially chosen locations, a cooperation of The Exploration Museum and Iceland Unwrapped, please have a look at www.moontrip19.com

Travel time can be in August and September 2019

 

This trip combines the wonders of Iceland with an adventure of a lifetime in the highlands and with a tailor made exploration trip in the Husavik area. This trip is for groups of families, friends, workplaces or anyone that would like to explore extraordinary nature, get to know the history of the exploration to the moon with experts in the field, don´t hesitate to contact us. All you need is a group of minimum four and a dream to do a trip like no other. 

 More information on the Exploration Museum can be found on their website www.explorationmuseum.com

More information on Personalized travel planning in Iceland with Iceland Unwrapped can be found here 

Photos by Helga Stina – Frida Hjaltested and courtesy of The Exploration Museum in Husavik.

 

 

 

Unforgettable experiences – Spectacular views and adventures

Last September I went to Iceland for a week to work and to enjoy the nearness of my family and friends.

Someone once said that the Icelanders are the most homesick people in the world and I believe that is true. The power of the nature plays a big part in me having to go home as often as possible, to recharge and connect.

The aim of the trip this September was to collect material, contacts and information about the upcoming Moon Trip 2019 in September of next year.

I decided to take a trip to the highlands of Iceland, to cross an old road called Kjolur, crossing from the south of the country to the north.

Geothermal highlight of Iceland in the middle of the highlands

As I am a believer in seizing the day and enjoying the moment as much as possible, I decided to enjoy the company off four of my best friends, including my sister, on the trip.

We rented a Land Rover, found an experienced driver and off we went in our hiking shoes and with a trunk full of material for an outdoor picnic in the wilderness of Iceland.

The weather was like a dream. We had a little stop at a road gas station, had a hot dog with everything and some coffee, surrounded by tourists in the Golden Circle.

Our Land Rover and a dry fish on a rock

But we were not staying there, in the massive crowds, as our adventure began for real when entering the challenging mountain road of Kjolur.

The road is an old pathway between the south and north of Iceland and it closes during winter because of weather conditions in the Highlands of Iceland. In the old days, people would walk over this road or go over it on horses. There are stories of people not completing the journey, as the weather can change very suddenly and there is no one living permanently in the Highlands.

On a day like we had, it is hard to imagine the weather changing fast. The Sun was shining, and the clouds looked like something out of a cartoon. There was no wind and no sound in some of the places we stopped at.

Total space, total silence, total peace.

The lunar landscape in the highlands of Iceland

It is an adventure I would wish everyone could experience. The landscape changing with each kilometer. From green and grown to total lunar like desert and again to beautiful colors of the Icelandic fauna and moss, that has been growing in these hard conditions for millions of years.

We forgot the champagne but we didn´t need it. The experience of this wilderness, connecting with nature, and being with people you love was enough to make this experience one of the most memorable in my life. Something I will share with my friends forever.

Precious memories with my childhood friends and my sister

Iceland Unwrapped is offering The Moon Trip 2019 in Iceland next autumn. Following the footsteps of the the astronauts that went to the moon in 1969, fifty year ago next year. It´s appropriate to celebrate that amazing achievement by visiting Iceland, where those brave men practiced for their landing on the moon.

More information and registration here

 

Experience the feeling of Iceland with Iceland Unwrapped when you get the chance.

Iceland Unwrapped

Gravity won´t pull you to Iceland – But this will

Going to the moon is still impossible for all of us.

But a trip to the lunar landscapes of Iceland’s highlands can bring you as close as possible.

50 years ago, Neil and his mates in the Apollo missions had an unprecedented experience when they were exposed only to the solitude of the emptiness of outer space and the odd landscape of the lunar surface.

It was something they had never seen, but it was something they prepared for. They prepared in Iceland.

Now you can walk in their footsteps as well.

For five days next September, Iceland Unwrapped can take you as close to the lunar surface as you can get on Earth. An exclusive tour of the very places in the Highlands where the Apollo Astronauts trained. Combined with many of the unique sights, sounds and tastes that only Iceland offers.

Come join us in September 2019.

More information www.moontrip19.com

(Contribution by Neil Jaschinski partnering on this trip)

EXCLUSIVE EXCURSIONS

Unwrapping Iceland’s gifts

If you think visiting Iceland is only glaciers, mountains and Northern Lights then think again! There is so much more to this unique and magical country than meets the eye. That is why I love showing visitors just how much they can get out of their stay in Iceland. The reason why I called my company ‘Iceland Unwrapped’ is because that is exactly what I do. Visiting Iceland is a gift no one will forget, but most people only see a small part of it… Through my exclusive excursions I reveal the best this wonderful country has to offer bit by bit.

And the best part? Every trip is tailor-made to your specifications.

What exciting and authentic treats do I have in store for my clients?

Connecting to a network of professionals in Iceland. Are you a company or an institution and would you like to get insights from the Icelanders and from Icelandic society? Please contact us for more information on what is possible.

Professional and educational trips

Tours for professionals in various fields. Iceland Unwrapped has planned trips for professionals in various fields. Iceland has a lot to offer for professionals that would like to be inspired by other professionals, and by the nature and culture of Iceland. Have a look at these options for the possibilities of connecting and being inspired in Iceland. And because Iceland is located almost half way between Europe and North America, you can have your team meet in the middle.

Unique experiences and adventures

Moon Trip – A possibility of stepping in the footsteps of the Astronauts that went to the moon 50 years ago.

Wool in Iceland – Knitting in Iceland and getting into the world of wool in Iceland.

Dining with the Icelanders – The very best food, hosts and produce the country has to offer.

Geothermal Health clinic – Read all about how our healing spas and lagoons can revitalize you and heal.

Female-empowerment trips – We connect successful women with the locals and teach you about Iceland’s fascinating history and how women have emerged as a driving force behind the country that you see today. This is a trip that both women and men should do, as gender equality can never be reached without the participation of all humans.

unique exclusive excursions iceland

Nature and wildlife

Nature photography – Join our local experts and learn how to capture the magic of the country.

Fishing, sailing and diving – You can’t escape the sea when you come to Iceland, and the surrounding oceans produce some of the freshest fish you will taste.

Animal and whale watching – Year round Iceland has some spectacular whale sightings!

Hiking, biking and extreme sports – From horse riding and biking to adventures in the wild windswept wilderness.

Family travel and culture

Iceland for families – Did you know we offer walks in nature where your little ones can discover elves in Hafnarfjordur? Not to mention some amazing days out, museums and family friendly outdoor pursuits.

Iceland and the arts – Meet local authors and artists and learn about how the amazing history and culture of the country has influenced their work. You might even be invited for a private concert in a musicians house.

Glamping and eco-travel – Immerse yourself in the beautiful countryside the responsible way.

And this is just the tip of the Icelandic iceberg!

Personalized travel

If you have a specific themed trip you would like to make alone, as a family, or with a group of people, please get in touch and my team and I will help you plan your dream Icelandic escape or work related dream trip.  We also cater for special needs and very specific requests… No request is too big or unique.

Your travel planner, Helgastina.