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Sleep In a Mongolian Yurt on a Secluded Island in Iceland

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There are few places in the world where you can spend time on an islet that's located within another, larger island. Iceland is one of those places.

A bit of history: When the country was first settled in 1676, there were a series of floods that created an islet, called Traustsholtshólmi, situated in the south of the main island. And thanks to a generous host who's lived in the area his whole life, you can visit it.

Like most of Iceland, you won’t find the area crammed with buildings. In fact, there’s only one structure on the 1-square-mile island—an old, renovated stone house occupied by the island’s sole inhabitant—aside from the yurts, of course. If you’re looking to get away (and who isn’t), this area along one of the country’s largest glacial rivers, Þjórsá, is the place to do it.

The river bank where you’ll be picked up is a 90-minute drive from the Keflavík Airport. There, you’ll be greeted by Hákon—the island’s sole dweller—and his sheepdog, Skuggi. Hop in a boat for a quick 4-minute ride, and you’ll find yourself on this strangely off-the-grid island.

Aside from the traditional Mongolian yurts (think: warm, cozy tents), there are plenty of other activities that draw visitors from around the world. The area is excellent for wild salmon fishing, Northern Lights spotting, and both seal and bird watching. Speaking of fishing, you can join Hákon in catching the day’s dinner when you arrive, according to the Traustholtshólmi website.

About that dinner: Each guest is invited to partake in a three-course meal featuring the day’s catch paired with wild herbs and vegetables (local lamb and vegetarian options available, upon request). Those who help procure dinner get a “sashimi treat” on the river bank—a taste of the delicious meal to come.

The yurts are available from mid-spring through mid-fall—and for good reason. Iceland’s weather is known for being unpredictable and being stuck in a remote area during a snowstorm sounds way cozier than it actually would be. It does get chilly, even during the warmer months, so each yurt comes equipped with wool-insulated walls and a wood-burning oven. The yurts are private, but guests share a bathroom and shower that's within walking distance, as well as a communal yurt for swapping stories with fellow travelers.

Don’t forget to ask your host for his own stories. According to his website, Hákon grew up in the area, and the island has been in his family for generations. (There truly is no better person to give a history lesson on this river region.)

Nightly rates begin around $300 for a single night (dinner and breakfast included). For more information on booking your stay, head to the Traustholtshólmi booking website.


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