Invigorate Yourself in Another World
Alkemia at Lake Mývatn
Alkemia is the first travel agency, to specialise in wellbeing holidays in the Mývatn area and in organising workshops (Qi gong, yoga, meditations, massage…) in the heart of the elements in Iceland.
Lake Mývatn is located in the northern part of the country at latitude of 65.6°N, exactly over the active mid-Atlantic Ridge that emerges in Iceland. The rift is gradually widening at a rate of slightly less than an inch per year, continually pushing the European and American continental plates further and further apart. Hence the great volcanic activity in the region, which is in constant formation. This beautiful lake is a sanctuary for waterfowl (ducks, swans and geese), of which seventeen American, Eurasian and Arctic species all come here to breed: a paradise for the bird-watcher. For the contemplative spirit, the site offers exceptional variety, one of the most beautiful but strangest places on the planet. The imagination is continually drawn to the bizarre shapes of the landscape and the trolls, elves and fairies who, no doubt, live there. A stay at Lake Mývatn is an immersion in a very powerful primeval natural environment, where man has developed and maintained traditions such as baking bread on the hot ground, fishing below the ice, etc. The Mývatn region offers incredible diversity within a limited area, so there is no need for long trips by car.
You can stay with Alkemia for periods in any season. Depending on the time of year and the prevalent conditions, you can trek with snowshoes or cross-country skis or on foot, and if the weather prevents your going out, you can take advantage of the opportunity to meet the local people with their age-old traditions. Without a doubt, every outing provides an opportunity to discover the rich and subtle features of the lake: its legends, culture and culinary traditions such as peat-smoked trout or lamb, and many others just waiting to be discovered…
Mývatn in the winter
The dominant colours are white and blue, often with magical skies
For those who encounter Mývatn in summer with its lava chaos, winter provides an opportunity to experience a landscape “smoothed out” by the snow, from which only the most chaotic lava peaks and major craters emerge. Crossing the Krafla caldera or the frozen lake on cross-country skis is an unforgettable experience. Hiking is done on snowshoes, cross-country skis or on foot, depending on the snow conditions. The air is extremely pure at this time of year and the skies are often magnificent, exhibiting the famous “glitský” (multicoloured clouds) and the aurora borealis. The frost glistening on the trees creates a fairytale landscape. It is not uncommon to come across a flock of fine ptarmigan or to catch sight of an Arctic fox. In December we are likely to meet “sausage-swiper,” “door-slammer”, “candle-beggar” and other Yule lads, the 13 Icelandic Father Christmases, little pranksters who can be quite startling, and who do not have much in common with the globalized red Santa Claus. (Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Lads). The aurora borealis, Christmas, and New Year’s Day fireworks all contribute to bringing light and explosions of joy during the darkest moment of the year.
Green and black now emerge from the snow, their rebirth after the long winter! Now is the time for the return of large flocks of migratory birds from Africa, Europe and America that converge at the lake sanctuary. Wild swans, greylag geese, fifteen species of duck, grebes, great northern divers, wheatears, phalaropes, snipe, all are enthusiastic to start their new lease of life. Courtship is the order of the day, and these birds, which have not yet fully acquired their wild habits, are more trusting than they will be in a few weeks once they start raising their broods. This is also the lambing season, which comes into full swing before the snow has completely disappeared and winter still seems to have trouble admitting defeat before the eternal summer light invades the roof of the world.
This is the season of green and black. The northern summer has come at last, full of life and light. But its duration is short, and with all its outpouring nature senses that its days are numbered… The snow has disappeared, also from the peaks, and almost all the paths are accessible on foot. This is a great time for bird-watching. Life spills over on and around the lake and we can admire the last male harlequin garrots in their nuptial plumage on the rapids of the Laxá, and observe the first hatching of their broods, while waders freeze at the slightest alarm, requiring their chicks in the foam to remain absolutely still and trust in their powers of mimicry
The colours are flamboyant, with red and yellow dominating.
With the arrival of September, the spectacular aurora borealis begins to light up the starry night sky. Night is gradually taking more and more of a foothold over the summer light. With the early night frosts come the first mirrors of morning ice. The peaks become powdered over with icing sugar and the sheep come down into the valleys to be gathered together by men on horseback. The light now falls obliquely and the fiery tones of autumn light up the Arctic vegetation: dwarf birch, wooly willow and rowan now offer us their resplendent colours and redwings feast on red berries and blueberries. The tundra with its thousand shades of colour hosts gatherings of large flocks of geese for their dress rehearsal before their great flight southwards. The world is once again preparing to sink into the storms and the night of the northern winter, but first the ephemeral beauty of the autumnal season assures its place in the natural cycle, thrilling our senses and desire for harmony.
Our trips are first and foremost an art of living
Alkemia is a fully licensed incoming travel agency specialises in organising holidays and workshops (Qi gong, yoga, etc.) with the aim of getting in touch with Iceland our way – with our knowledge and joy of it’s beautiful nature. Alkemia is the first to be specialized in Myvatn area and in Iceland with initiatic and wellbeing trips. Harpa Barkardottir and Jean Marc Plessy, the founders, have associated their lifestyle and competence to offer you a rare and unique experience. Jean Marc Plessy is French, an Aikido and Qi gong teacher, Shiatsu practitioner, musician with the indian bansuri flûte and photographer. Harpa Barkardóttir is Icelandic. She has studied Anthropology and took her guiding diploma 10 years ago and has since accompanied groups in Iceland – often within the theme of geology. Harpa is a Kundalini yoga teacher, specialised in the field of pregnancy. She is also a musician and a singer, talents that she puts to great advantage in these trips. Harpa and Jean-Marc like to accompany people into the sacred dimension of nature, they have a sensibility and respect towards the « unseen world » – and a solid knowledge of the material one. Encountering nature is for them first and foremost the encountering of your own nature.
Alkemia’s guides love to take time (‘slow travel’) to feel, encounter and explore hidden places off the beaten track. Whatever the season or type of holiday, we always include hiking, practice, contemplation, bathing in geothermal water and encounters with people, legends and traditions. We emphasize quality over quantity in our trips by choosing to do as little overland driving as possible. The menu is as much local as possible – with a vegetarian tendency, accomodation is chosen with respect of character and tranquility.
Guiding is possible in English, French and Icelandic. The hikes will depend on the weather and the inspiration of your guides. They may be gentle or energetic, mysterious or dazzling, but they will always finish in the evening with a wonderful relaxing bath in the milky blue silica-rich water of natural hot springs (between 37° and 42° C). To bathe like this in winter under the starry sky, the body warm as toast, and the head in the cool air, virtually alone in the midst of an immense natural landscape is an unforgettable experience, which has become an essential for some. This is a sort of thalassotherapy at the origins of time. The immensity of the landscape, the low density of the population, the quality of the water, air, silence and light make Mývatn a perfect place to recharge one’s batteries.
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