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Life lessons: Interview with Jón Ólafur Magnússon

3 min read

"Iceland’s nature holds a unique place in my heart due to its raw, untouched beauty and the harmonious dance between the elements."

Jón Ólafur Magnússon
Stories for... Lovers of luxury

Professional explorer Jón Ólafur Magnússon has always had a deep passion for the great outdoors. At 16, he was the youngest sea captain in Iceland. At 18, he had explored the entire Nordic island. He’s led expeditions to Greenland, the North Pole, and climbed Everest.

Then, in 2000, he founded HL Adventure with his wife Joanna to share his homeland, Iceland, with people far and wide, taking them to the wildest places in refined luxury.

Tell us, where does your love of being an explorer come from?

Pushing myself in the natural landscape, whether through Arctic expeditions or mountain climbs, is a reflection of my reverence for nature's challenges. It’s a way for me to become at one with the environment, to understand my own limits and capabilities during my life on this earth. I never feel as good as when I have traversed harsh terrain and I’m humbly reminded of how small I am.

Has being surrounded by the wilderness in this way changed you as a person?

Being in Iceland’s epic landscape has transformed me into a more grounded and mindful individual. It has taught me patience by observing the slow changes that shape the land. It reminds me that we are just a small part of nature, interconnected with it. It always deserves our deepest respect and care.

Jón Ólafur Magnússon hiking
A man carrying a big camera on a tripod
Jón Ólafur Magnússon wearing a hood

So, what is it about Iceland that makes it different to any other place in the world?

Iceland’s nature holds a unique place in my heart due to its raw, untouched beauty and the harmonious dance between the elements. It’s a land of glaciers and geothermal springs, volcanoes and vast lava fields, roaring waterfalls and serene fjords. The wildlife here is a testament to the resilience of life in extreme conditions.

How does nature that untamed effect those who experience it?

It’s like embarking on a journey of self-discovery. The volcanoes remind us of Earth’s creative power. The geysers provide inspiration within us. The lava fields speak of transformation and rawness. The thermal lagoons offer rejuvenation. And the waterfalls symbolise the power of life itself.

Mentally, it’s humbling yet empowering. Physically, the therapeutic touch of hot springs or the brisk, strong wind against your face awakens your senses and invigorates your body. The landscapes demand mindfulness, as if nature herself is talking to you. It’s a pure, confrontational language.

Of these epic and varied panoramas, if you had to choose just one, what would it be?

The highlands in the summertime, surrounded by vast landscapes that stretch into eternity. It's a humbling journey where you witness the raw power of the land, the delicate dance of life, and the quiet strength of solitude. It’s like a pilgrimage to Iceland’s soul.

You believe that cultural history and traditions are linked to nature and wellbeing, why is that?

For me, personally, Ancient Viking history offers invaluable lessons. Their respect for the land, their understanding of the rhythms of seasons, and their resourcefulness in the face of adversity are timeless teachings for us in this modern world. It’s a reminder that a sustainable relationship with nature is not a new concept but a wisdom passed down through generations.

And how about the present day – can the wilderness connect with luxury experiences?

They coexist harmoniously. Our sustainable accommodations blend seamlessly with the surroundings. These spaces become sanctuaries where one can disconnect from the chaos of modern life and connect with the land’s deep tranquillity. True luxury lies in the embrace of nature.