Contribute to ongoing glacier research and monitoring on your Iceland field trip

Our Solheimajokull glacier walk was already one of our most popular activities in Iceland, now it’s been improved even more thanks to an exciting new project in association with the Icelandic Glaciological Society (IGS).

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Solheimajokull is one of the most monitored glaciers in the world, with records dating back to the 1930s. Since the mid-1990s, the glacier has retreated by up to 50m a year. As with other glaciers in Iceland and across the world, scientists believe this retreat to be clear evidence of climate change and global warming.

From February 2017, your students will have the opportunity to use handheld GPS devices to collect primary data which is sent to the IGS as part of their ongoing glacier monitoring programme. Discover the World will also collate data from all of our groups and make it available so schools can access a fully comprehensive secondary data set for classroom analysis and debate.

The activity forms part of the existing glacier walk, which is already hugely popular with groups. One of the joys of travel is trying new experiences, and this is certainly one to tell your friends and family about. Strap on your crampons and helmet and, armed with an ice axe, take to the lower section of Solheimajokull for a guided walk on the ice. You’ll feel a sense of scale and power as the mighty ice creaks beneath your feet and the valley walls loom overhead as you’re shown crevasses, till and, if you’re lucky, ice caves.

Combine all three styles of learning to understand what a glacier is, how it’s formed, how it moves and the impacts on the environment. Look at the ice flow, mountains above and valley below; listen as your guide explains glacial features and behaviour; physically walk on the glacier itself to appreciate the sheer size of the ice and its destructive forces. A glacier hike truly encapsulates everything about learning outside the classroom!

The walk is sure to engage every member of your group as there’s something for everyone to enjoy – it’s a fun activity combining a moderate yet unfamiliar physical challenge with experiential learning to achieve clear and memorable educational outcomes for geography and science students alike. The walk now delivers even more educational value for money, with the opportunity to contribute to ongoing scientific research, opening avenues to discuss relevant 21st global and geo-political issues such as climate change and sustainability.

Interested in more fieldwork opportunities whilst in Iceland? Take a look at our FSC Iceland courses, exclusive to Discover the World Education.

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Posted on December 1, 2016 in glaciers , Iceland | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this


Has the price of your school trip increased following the EU referendum? Find out what our no surcharge guarantee means for you

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Picture the scenario, you’ve just paid the deposit for a once-in-a-lifetime school trip to realise further down the line the price has gone up drastically due to a weaker sterling.

Instead of dreaming of glacier hikes, milky blue lagoons and Northern Lights you’re frantically worrying about having to ask your students for additional payments, even after your chosen travel operator confirmed the final tour price!

This is a nightmare that no teacher should ever experience and thankfully, by booking a trip with Discover the World Education you can be sure to have complete peace of mind as soon as you confirm your booking with our fantastic no surcharge guarantee.

First things first, what is a surcharge fee? A surcharge is a fee that is added to a trip and may not be included in the originally quoted booking price. It may be a temporary measure to defray the cost of increased pricing such as fuel, changes in exchange rates, taxes or other unexpected costs. With sterling now at a record low, many operators are passing the costs to their customers.

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Therefore, be warned when looking to other providers for your quote; most travel operators reserve the right to surcharge for a variety of reasons, some even up to 30 days prior to departure, which could cause a huge bill to settle when you should be getting excited about your trip. In recent months, as a result of the weak sterling, many school groups have found themselves in this very position. However, those who have booked with Discover the World Education have been fully protected by our no surcharge guarantee.

Discover the World Education’s brilliant no surcharge guarantee means from the moment your booking is confirmed, we will give you our 100% guarantee that there will be no price increases or additional fees to be paid. Whatever happens to the pound, oil prices, and taxes anywhere in the world, it will not affect the cost of your study trip! No 'ifs' or 'buts' – that’s our guarantee and we’ll stick to it!

Not only do we offer the no surcharge guarantee, all our study trips are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority, meaning all educational trips to and from the UK are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When paying for your trip, you will be provided with an ATOL Certificate which confirms you have complete financial security for your booking. For study trips outside the UK, the ABTOT bonding also provides protection for your booking as set out in our booking conditions.

We are also members of ABTA Travel Association and AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators). Should the unexpected happen whilst your group are away, our simple Travel Disruption Charter ensures you will be looked after when travelling with us.

Our no surcharge guarantee and complete financial protection make up just two of the twelve unique reasons why we’re a specialist tour operator. You can read all twelve reasons why you should choose Discover the World Education for your next study trip here, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much more we offer you.


Posted on October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this


5 Reasons to visit Azores now

The Azores. The name may sound familiar, but how much do you really know about these islands? How many are there? What are they like? Can you name any? Where even are they? 

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Here are the top five reasons you should visit the Azores now.

1.Because you’ve never heard of them 

Think about a famous city and a famous holiday destination you’d like to visit. Odds are you know a fair bit about them already; you’ve probably seen photos, you may know people who’ve been there and told you all about it and you'll likely have a strong sense of familiarity despite never having visited yourself. 

Not so with the Azores. And that’s exactly why you should go. 

A visit here is a journey of discovery and adventure, of exploring unknown exotic lands and experiencing the unfamiliar. The 9 volcanic islands are not a popular mass market destination and that’s a very good thing - it means no crowds, no queues and the sense that you are stepping beyond the norm and venturing to a very special place which few others know anything about.

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2.Modern and forward-thinking

This sense of exploration doesn’t come at a price. The islands may be far-flung and unknown to many, but are an autonomous region of Portugal; the infrastructure is first-class and standard of living is good. You won’t want for home comforts here!

The islands are self-governed and the clear focus has been to develop the islands in the modern world, whilst ensuring the protection of their natural resources and cultural identity. Sustainability is an ever-present theme and the Azores became the world’s first and only Platinum sustainable tourism destination in late 2014 having received the Quality Coast Gold Award for four consecutive years from 2010 onwards.

The islands are a remarkable demonstration of how a sustainable, high quality modern lifestyle can be achieved by careful planning and development.

Azores - Capelinhos volcano panorama

3.Full of unique experiences 

One of the joys of travel is to experience the unfamiliar and unusual. The Azores deliver in abundance and will reawaken your sense of wonder at the world. 

Marvel at scarcely believable views of shimmering lakes of green and blue, nestled inside the vast craters of volcanoes. Visit a volcano which didn’t even exist just 60 years ago, with an award-winning visitor centre buried inside. Bathe in natural geothermally-heated rock pools underneath a forest canopy. Sample food slow-cooked for hours underground by volcanic energy. See flora and fauna unique to the islands, including the world’s only non-nocturnal bat.

One of the real joys of a visit is island-hopping between the main island of Sao Miguel and the quieter, more remote islands of Pico and Faial - by ferry or aeroplane it’s incredibly easy and the views are astounding, whilst each island is very different in character.

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4.Nature at its most natural

Man has had such a dominant impact on the environment it’s sometimes hard to reconnect with nature. For example, there are few places in the UK from which you can’t see or hear some sign of civilisation - a town, road or railway, or even a power line - and it’s almost unfathomable to imagine the UK covered in its native forests, as was the case only a few centuries ago.

The Azores reconnect you with nature in a very real and visceral way. Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and spanning three tectonic plates, the islands were formed from powerful volcanic activity and are a constant reminder of the potent natural forces beneath our very feet.

It’s easy to get away from the towns and villages and to see the islands in their natural setting, exposed to and forged by the elements. Forests, lakes, mountains, waterfalls, cliffs and deep ocean can all be found in the Azores and are home to a wonderful array of plant and animal life.

The Azores are one of the best places in the world to go whale-watching and bird-watching, offer world-class trekking and walking and act as a living classroom for geographers and scientists alike.

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5.They're surprisingly accessible

The Azores are on the very edge of Europe, lying 900 miles west of Lisbon in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Despite this, they’re surprisingly accessible. Direct flights from London take less than 4 hours, whilst even flying indirectly via Lisbon can be done comfortably in a day.

A visit is also surprisingly good value for money. Whilst the air fare isn’t budget-airline cheap it’s certainly not expensive considering the distance, and once there you’ll find the cost of living is cheaper than most places in Western Europe. Which means your group can experience the Azores for a similar price as a trip to Iceland.

Finally, Azoreans are passionately proud of their home and incredibly welcoming and open to visitors. Locals welcome visitors as friends and you won’t feel like just another tourist. People are genuinely curious as to why you’ve visited and will go out of their way to ensure you leave with the best possible impression of the islands and their inhabitants. 

Are you interested in the Azores? Click here to find out more.

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Posted on October 4, 2016 in Azores | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this


Thinking about travelling to the Iceberg Lagoon, Iceland?

Are you thinking about visiting the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland on your next study trip? We have a brand-new opportunity for you to visit more parts of rural, rugged Iceland whilst saving yourself time for more activities for your group. This is an unmissable experience, read on for the details...

From October 2017, we are offering an exclusive opportunity to continue along the magnificent south coast trail and fly out of Egilsstadir, instead of driving back along the same route to fly out of Keflavik. Groups will now be able to explore the lesser visited region of East and North Iceland, whilst significantly reducing their travelling time.

How does it work? Until recently, nearly all school groups had to fly in and out of Keflavik. Groups would drive approximately 420 km to Jokulsarlon and then drive all the way back along the same route. Whilst the scenery is certainly breath-taking and there are many amazing stops en route, driving back along the same route is time-consuming and all too familiar.

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Fly in from Keflavik and travel East to Jokulsarlon and Egilsstadir from October 2017!

But the adventure doesn’t have to end there

Scroll down to reveal a snapshot of some of the spectacular sites you can witness if you take the road less travelled up towards Egilsstadir and even to the north. (which are certainly not to be missed) 

Hengifoss (One of the highest waterfalls in Iceland!)

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Vatnajokull (Europe’s largest icecap)

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 Husavik (Europe’s Whale Watching Capital)

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Neskaupstadur (A fishing port, with the largest population of any of Iceland’s eastern towns)Blog55

Hofn (A small harbour town known for its diverse fishing opportunities)

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Skaftafell  (A geographer’s wonderland and one of Iceland’s primary areas of natural beauty)Blog77

Nature Baths - (Milky-blue geothermal waters)

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Krafla (an active volcanic region)

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The flights are exclusive to Discover the World and are the only direct flights to Egilsstadir and Keflavik from London. For more inspiration of the East, you can view some suggested highlights here. For 5 day itineraries click here, 6 days click here and 7 days click here.

Inquire with one of our friendly Travel Specialists here to grab this fantastic opportunity to make your trip a once in a lifetime experience for you and your students.


Posted on September 30, 2016 in Iceland | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this


Off The Beaten Path: Top Ten Unmissable Locations in North and East Iceland

When you think of the “must see” sights in Iceland, you would be forgiven for listing the sights found in the South West - Reykjavik, Geyser, Gulfoss, and the Blue Lagoon; after all, most visitors to Iceland visit this popular region.

With Discover the World’s direct flight from the UK to Egilsstadir in the east, from October 2017, it will be easier than ever before to get off the beaten track and explore what North and East Iceland has to offer.

During the Easter holidays, Sarah, Helen and myself were lucky enough to go and explore this lesser known region, and it is no overstatement to say that all three of us were blown away by the beauty of the landscape on this unforgettable road trip.

Our excitement grew for the journey ahead on our short internal flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri, when we were blessed with clear skies and a spectacular sunset over the Langjökull ice cap and remote Iceland hinterland.  As we flew into Akureyri at the head of the Eyjafjörður fjord, carved out by Ice Age glaciers, I knew that the north wasn’t going to disappoint.

Akureyri

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I hadn’t heard much about Akureyri, despite it being Iceland’s second largest city, apart from it being named the number one place to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet. With a population of just 18,000, we found this compact city to be surprisingly cosmopolitan and it was easy to see why it had earned the accolade from Lonely Planet. Situated at the edge of the Arctic Circle, at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord (60km), Akureyri is surrounded by breath-taking mountain scenery and is a well worthy stop off for school groups. At the end of an action packed day the outdoor geothermal pool rivals those in the south with its slides and hot pots. I will definitely return to experience the ski slopes and hiking trails surrounding this beautiful city.

The Diamond Circle

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The 260km long ‘Diamond Circle’, the north’s answer to the Golden Circle, offers a wealth of fascinating and beautiful natural attractions and really is a geographer’s dream. We travelled this route during the peak Easter break and yet we only had to share the sights with a handful of other tourists. At times hours went by before we saw another person. Given the choice, the Diamond Circle wins hands down for me, and these were some of our highlights.

Godafoss

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Goðafoss, ‘Waterfall of the Gods’, or ‘The Beauty’ in contrast to ‘The Beast’ (Dettifoss), is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. The 30-metre-wide waterfall, situated on the Skjálfandafljót glacial river, falls elegantly into a horseshoe shaped canyon carved into the 7000-year-old lava field. It certainly lives up to its name, and is not done justice by my photo skills!

Husavik

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The whale watching capital of Iceland, Husavik, is a quaint fishing town with a population of around 2,500. With spectacular scenery and a higher chance of seeing whales than anywhere else in Iceland, a boat trip from Husavik is a great year round activity. The most common species seen in Skjálfandi Bay are the white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and humpback, minke and blue whales. Unfortunately our time didn’t allow for a boat trip; however we did stop by the Whale Museum, located in an old harbour slaughterhouse. This fascinating museum, works in partnership with the University of Iceland, and houses an impressive display of skeletons from a wide range of whales, including a huge blue whale. The friendly and enthusiastic museum team offer talks and guided tours to help you understand more about whales, their conservation and the controversial history of whaling. Highly recommended!

Mývatn

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Situated on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, Mývatn has a landscape unlike anywhere else in Iceland, with an incredible variety of geothermal and volcanic features. The beauty of this area is that all the sights are just a short drive from each other, so more time can be spent exploring and learning about this unique landscape, with less time sat on a coach.

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We found the first of these features, a group of pseudo-craters, and a short stroll from our hotel at Skútustaðir, on the southern edge of the enormous Lake Mývatn.  The lake is Iceland’s fourth largest at 14.5 square miles; it is serenely beautiful with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. We took one of the shorter walking routes through the craters, formed by steam explosions when hot lava encountered the water, and stumbled across the film set of the latest Fast and Furious film. A variety of tanks, sports cars and monster trucks had descended on the frozen waters of the lake, which was apparently the cause of some local controversy when one car fell through the ice. Despite a detour via the trailers sadly we didn’t bump into Vin Diesel.

Dimmuborgir & Hverfjall

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A short drive from Mývatn brings you to the impressive lava formations at Dimmuborgir. A choice of walking trails of different lengths (10 minutes to 1 hour) lead you through the twisted pillars of rock in this completely unique lava field. Lava formations like this can’t be found anywhere else in Iceland, in fact the only known feature similar to this is under water, off the coast of Mexico; no wonder we were impressed! According to Icelandic folklore, Dimmuborgir is home to a homicidal troll named Grýla, her husband and mischievous sons, The Yule Lads. Originally told as a story to stop children misbehaving, the Yule Lads are now associated with Christmas. I must remember to bring a homicidal troll into the stories I tell my boys to see if it has the desired effect!

A longer trail takes you to the top the Hverfjall volcanic crater, which looms over Dimmuborgir in the distance.  Hverfjall is a tephra crater about 1 kilometre in diameter, 1,300 feet high and 140 metres deep. A steep path leads to the top where you are rewarded with spectacular views over the crater and Lake Mývatn beyond.

Namaskaro

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A little further from Mývatn, at the foot of the steaming Námafjall mountain, close to the active Krafla volcano, we stopped off at the geothermal area of Námaskarð.  Over a large expanse of red and brown steamy ground we found an array of fumaroles, hot springs and boiling mud pools; an exciting visual reminder of the energy under our feet. Numerous trails lead you through the thick clouds of steam and if you have time you can hike the steep trail to the top of Námafjall, where you can fully appreciate the other worldly and contrasting landscapes surrounding Mývatn. The beauty of having all these extraordinary sights almost to ourselves made the trip even more special, and made us feel incredibly lucky.

Mývatn Nature Baths

 

At the end of a long day we ventured to the Nature Baths, nicknamed the ‘Blue Lagoon of the North’, and yet so very different, not only in price (£10 versus £40 per person). The Nature Baths offers a smaller, more intimate lagoon, with the most stunning long distant views. The 40°c soothing water was in great contrast to the -7°c air on the outside when we visited, and frozen hair is something of a first for me. The Nature Baths are not on the same grand scale as the Blue Lagoon, and therein lies their charm; however, they offer groups ample changing facilities and a small café with viewing gallery. We loved the Baths and were in agreement it was definitely our favourite swimming spot in Iceland and a must for anyone visiting the north.

Dettifoss

Our last stop in the north, before heading onwards to the eastern fjords, was Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall; hence the nickname ‘The Beast’. Situated on a river flowing from the Vatnajökull glacier, the waterfall is 100 metres wide and drops 45 metres down into a canyon that leads north to Ásbyrgi, with its great hiking trails and rich vegetation. The backdrop and power of Detifoss are breath-taking and we were amazed to hear that during our visit the water volume was just one eighth of that in the summer months. ‘The Beauty’ and ‘the Beast’, two stunning waterfalls on the lesser visited Diamond Circle of spectacular natural wonders.

 The north has so much to offer our school groups that want to get off the well trodden path and experience another side of Iceland; I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Posted on September 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this


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