Meet the Culture Trip Team: Hanna Kristín Másdóttir - Local Insider, Iceland

Alex Allen

Commissioning Editor

Akureyri native (and our Iceland Local Insider) Hanna knows the Land of Fire and Ice like the back of her hand. When she’s not showing Culture Trippers around her favourite places, she’s out finding new ones – on camping, hiking and fishing expeditions with her friends and family. We talk to her about her love for her home country, her job and all things outdoorsy – and ask the big questions, such as “does anyone in Iceland really enjoy eating fermented shark?”

Fancy an action-packed escape to this country-sized adventure park? Join Hanna and a group of like-minded co-travellers on our five-day Volcanic Iceland tour, featuring highlights such as bathing in the Blue Lagoon, snowmobiling across a glacier and sampling local delicacies.

Hanna feels most at home in Iceland’s wild landscapes

CT: Hi Hanna, thanks for talking to us. So, let’s start at the beginning: how long have you been working as a guide in Iceland for?

HM: It’s been two years now – last year I was also working full-time as a teacher and with an office job, so it was pretty busy! But since June this year I’ve been working full-time as a guide, and I’m loving it.

CT: What’s the part you love the most?

HM: It’s the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world – from Malaysia to Florida – I really enjoy the chit-chat, getting to know everyone and feeling like I’m travelling with a group of friends.

CT: The last group of Culture Trippers you took happened to be all female. Was that something new for you?

HM: It was really interesting – it was just six of us girls on the route, and right away it just felt like we were all friends who’d known each other for years rather than strangers who’d just met. Because it was just ladies, the conversations – and the jokes – were a little bit different. Some things we said that I don’t think would be said amongst a mixed group!

CT: Did you have any particularly memorable moments from the trip?

HM: The snowmobile tour across Langjökull glacier was really good. The girls were really up for it, and we all had a great time.

CT: As someone who knows Iceland very well, is there anywhere you haven’t been that you really want to see?

HM: Haha, well I’ve seen a lot! For many years I’ve travelled a lot across Iceland, on camping trips with my daughter and my boyfriend. But of course, there are always mountains that I want to climb, recently discovered waterfalls I haven’t seen – it’s what I love about living here. There’s so much natural beauty, it would be almost impossible to see it all.

CT: If we only had one day in Iceland, what would you show us?

HM: One day!? Oh my God. There are so, so many places… but I really love the highlands. My favourite places are Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk – few other people, no cars, you go hiking and take in nature. It’s wild, but beautiful.

CT: Where would be top of your list if you could travel anywhere tomorrow?

HM: I have so many places on my list, but I would really love to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl”, and Africa feels like the ultimate adventure. I would love to climb Kilimanjaro, for example, although it’s pretty expensive. Or maybe Everest base camp? Or India, China or Japan!? There are too many places left to see.

CT: If you had to sum up Icelanders in three words, what would they be?

HM: We have a popular saying in Iceland: “Þetta Reddast!”, which means “everything will be ok”. So I think we’re optimistic. I’d say we’re also friendly, or welcoming – I personally love showing people the country I’m proud to live in. Although I have friends who say there’s no way they’d have the energy! Which is typically honest – I’d say honesty as the third word.

CT: Final question. Do you really like eating hákarl (the Icelandic delicacy of fermented shark meat)?

HM: Hákarl? Yes, I love it! I was partly raised by my grandmother, and she used to give it to me as a child. And dried fish, I grew up eating that sort of thing. Put some butter on it, and it’s really good energy for hiking and camping, so I usually have some with me! I can eat chunks of hákarl like M&Ms!

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