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Since 2011, millions of people around the world have regularly watched the wilds of Iceland flash across their screens. The scenery of Iceland has always been that of almost another world in its untouched perfection and the makers of the hit TV series Game of Thrones obviously thought the same thing. Although much in the series is created through CGI, the landscapes are genuine, even when they appear so breathtaking you'd be forgiven for believing they aren't.
For those fans among us, add on some of the real life locations to your expedition cruise or follow our Beyond the Wall five day itinerary. This itinerary takes you to the filming locations of Game of Thrones with local guide Jon Thor Benediktsson, the guide of the crew on set in the third season.
Situated in the Lake Myvatn region, it is at the foot of the Hverfjall volcano that many of the scenes beyond the Wall are filmed. This half collapsed mountain got its slope shape 2000 years ago when the volcano erupting caused a landslide.
The crater of Hverfjall is 999m wide and can be hiked up to. This is, however, a walk for experienced hikers as there is loose rocky terrain and a steep ascent to conquer. From the top of the enormous crater, steam plumes of the nearby Namafjall geothermal area can be seen.
The gorgeous lava cave of Grjótagjá is where Jon and Ygritte have their first intimate encounter and although showed only briefly in the show, it is a beautiful spot to visit. The cave shelters a thermal spring of a turquoise blue and was used for bathing until the mid 1970s when a nearby volcano eruption sent the temperature of the springs soaring. In the 1700s, an outlaw Jón Markússon evaded the authorities by living here.
Today, the temperatures are slowly coming back down sitting around 50 degrees.
Dimmuborgir (i.e. Black Forts) is a volcano rock formation shaped like a disintegrating fortress where Mance Rayder etsablishes his community beyond the Wall. In Icelandic legend, this structure is thought to be a hell city where murdering trolls run rampant, proving a lot more scary than even a few Wildlings.
In some legends, these trolls are the parents of the 13 Yuletide Lads, mischievous lads who put rewards or punishments in children's shoes every evening for the 13 days leading up to Christmas eve.
To fully appreciate the desolately beautiful volcano fields and other interesting rock formations, take a hike through the area towards Hverfjall. If you are up to it, this can be incorporated into the walk mentioned earlier up to the edge of the crater.
Vatnajökull or the Vatna Glacier in English is one of Europe's largest glaciers. Panorama shots of this land are shown as North of the Wall. Like many glaciers in Iceland, under the icecap there are several volcanoes, creating a number of lakes across the landscape. Vatna glacier is said to have the world's longest sight line, according to the Guiness World Records, of 550km. This stretches from Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands.
The glacier was also the setting for the opening scene of James Bond film 'A View to Kill' where Bond kills a number of mercenaries before escaping to a submarine.
Höfðabrekka near Vík is shown in sweeping panorama shots as Jon makes his way beyond the Wall and towards the Frostfang Mountains. Höfðabrekka is at the foot of the Myrdalsjokull glacier which is on the Katla Volcano.
Vík is the southernmost city of Iceland and has famous black sand beaches, including the beautiful 'Diamond Beach' where fragments of icebergs litter the shore year round. According to legend, trolls stole the beloved wife of a husband and froze her. The husband threatened the two trolls and made them swear never to kill anyone again, so now the wife's free spirit is at home among the rocks, sea and ice diamonds.
Part of the Golden Circle, Thingvellir is the only place in Iceland where shooting occurred during the summer. This national park is an important spot historically, being the place where the first Icelandic Parliament was held in 930 and continued to be held there until 1798. It is also where the European and North American tectonic plates are ever so slowly pulling apart, creating a deep rent in the earth.
Scenes were shot here when Arya and Sandor Clegane were making their way through mid-Westeros between villages. It is also where you will find the treasured resource in the GoT universe, dragonglass, represented by obsidian (cooled lava).