“You definitely think it’s this way?” I ask Mr. Twos, as we pass at least a dozen off-duty sled dogs in large runs by a solitary house. They’re barking the hallelujah chorus like it’s the end of days, as our explicitly ‘not-for-offroading’ rental car continues down the offroad. We’re searching for a man and his boat.
We find the pick-up point right where we were told we would. Exiting the car, we see that the man we seek, Hakon, has arrived via skiff to ferry us to our much-anticipated destination, Traustholtshólmi. We trade him our overnight bags for water repellent ponchos which we don before embarking on the quick journey. “Hang on”, he tells us, and we are off.
For two sweet days, we are here to experience seclusion, quiet, connection to nature- and to each other, on this middle-of-nowhere island within an island. The luxury here is the breadth of raw beauty and the simplicity of every well thought out detail.
Traustholtshólmi is the domain of Hakon and Skuggi, his black sheepdog. (You should know that Skuggi is kind of a big deal and has been in several Japanese music videos, but #nopawtographsplease) The tiny private isle has been in Hakon’s family since the early 1940’s and the two live here when the weather is hospitable enough to allow reasonable off-grid comfort (primarily in the summer.) Hakon is a big believer in a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle, and in order to live on his Icelandic Walden, he welcomes guests from June – September. Accommodations are intimate but spacious Mongolian Yurts with wool walls, marshmallow-fat feather bedding and plush pillows. Each heated by an ‘oven’, there are only three of the luxe teepee’s on the island, and Hakon raises and lowers them each year. The bathroom is the most charming ‘outhouse’ ever known to man. You’ll positively gape over the view there. Like everything in Iceland, it’s both practical and exquisite. Hakon built it. He does everything and he does it well.
Pre-dinner, fresh salmon is on offer. FRESH salmon, as in just past flipping. It’s the best you’ll ever eat. If Hakon asks you to go with him while he forages dinner, and he will, GO. He ensnares them without a hook in the local traditional way and when those blushy-fleshed fish, large and glistening, find his net, it’s as though they’ve volunteered to do so. Savor every bite as he fillets them and serves them with lemon and salt flakes right there on the dock. Like butter, they’re soft slices melting on the tongue. It’s impossible not to close your eyes as you delight in the simple privilege of the opportunity. You’ll nod your head when he asks if you’d like more.
Dinner proper is served in the communal yurt. You’ll be drawn into the warm bonfire with the smell of wood and the promise of heat. A feast awaits you; there are organic veggies fresh from the garden, roasted salmon, lamb and wine. The food has been seasoned with foraged herbs, and if you’re lucky, you may get a rhubarb pie, homemade of course. You’ll have a chance to be as social (or not) as you’d like, but with a maximum of 7 people on the island at a time, there is plenty of room for alone-time.
“Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores.”-Henry David Thoreau
The views are not to be missed, and the stars, oh how they shine in such separation from light and noise! Keep in mind that the sun will be up almost all night in the summer months, and it never really gets dark-dark, though it’s otherworldly to partake in a midnight daylight stroll through the tall grasses. If you’re brave (and well insulated) a dip in the river may be your thing, otherwise, there is hiking and exploring to be done. Keep an eye out for seals and birds. And, yes, there is wifi in the communal yurt should you really need it.
When you leave, you’ll feel brand new. You’ll feel as though the two of you have shared something that you can’t really put into words: A reinvigoration and perhaps a bolstered appreciation for the simplicity that is both love and luxury.
- Traustholtshólmi is located about 90km south of (55mi) from Keflavik International Airport.
- The island is all-inclusive, though feel free to bring along your favorite beverage if you’re picky.
- Book quickly, don’t delay. Demand far exceeds supply.
- Contact via website: https://thh.is/