Despite Iceland’s northern location, it is an unusually warm country, both in weather and in the hearts of its people. Active volcanoes provide natural spas throughout Iceland, glaciers and mountains dot the country providing many rivers flowing to the ocean, and the Gulf Stream warms the island. Discover this warmth for yourself in Iceland’s famous natural spas, on the trails of its mountains, waterfalls and volcanoes, and in the culture of its people. This trip is sure to leave an indelible impression, and fill your heart and soul with a type of Nordic happiness only Iceland can provide.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
Iceland’s weather is cool and the Icelandic climate temperate. The warm North Atlantic Current ensures generally high-er temperatures than in most places of similar latitude in the world. Iceland’s winters are mild and windy while the summers are cool. There are some variations in the climate between different parts of the island. Often times the south coast is warmer, wetter and windier than the south. Snowfall in winters is more common in the north of Iceland. There’s a seasonal change in length of day and night, creating unique weather phenomena. In midwinter, there is a period of no sunlight, and darkness prevails, called the Polar Nights. This is perfect to view one of the most beautiful phenomena: The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights.) In mid-summer, daylight takes over and there is no night darkness during June and July – this is called the Midnight Sun. For our tour, the best time is May through September.
Fly overnight and arrive at the Keflavik International Airport in the morning. Your first stop will be at the Blue Lagoon to enjoy an authentic “Icelandic” breakfast buffet and the pleasantly warm, mineral-rich water. The lagoon is a natural geothermal pool in the middle of a large and dramatic lava field. After the overnight flight, a dip in the Blue Lagoon is a great way to unwind and relax. Depart for your hotel in Hveragerdi, a geothermal active area from the Hengill Volcano. Have your cameras handy for the magnificent sites you’ll see while driving along the coast, including waterfalls, a sudden burst of a nearby geyser, glaciers, impressive mountains and possibly a herd of Icelandic Horses lunging along the road. In the afternoon, visit the Friedheimar Farm to see how this family has developed an indoors greenhouse to grow tomatoes all year long. A brief introduction will provide an insight into the history of Icelandic horticulture. Then, meet the “Icelandic Horse” and enjoy a special presentation exhibiting how the horses of Iceland “tolt.” Besides the traditional walk, trot and canter, the Icelandic Horse performs two extra gaits, the tolt and the flying pace. SELFOSS HOTEL. (B,D)
Begin your tour of Iceland proper, by driving to the stunning Seljalandsfoss waterfall. From there your journey continues towards the interior to Thórsmörk, or Thor’s Woods, so named after the Norse God Thor associated with thunder and lightning. Take in the breathtaking scenery with its multitude of small gullies and valleys turning into green mountains. Hiking routes suitable for all levels of expertise are available. On the way back, stop at the rugged gorge of Stakkholtsgjá and hike up several large boulders to reach a picturesque waterfall. SELFOSS HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Today you experience a true wonder of nature. Board a ferry in Bakkafjara and sail to Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands, and one of Iceland’s best kept secrets. Visit the puffin nesting area in Stórhöfði and walk up to the crater of a volcano that erupted only a few years ago, allowing the new lava fields to cultivate and create new flora. After lunch, by boat see astounding nature, colorful ocean caves, thousands of seabirds, and occasionally during the summer, groups of whales, and sail by Elephant Island, a massive rock formation that resembles an elephant. Enjoy traditional instrumental music as it echoes through the ocean cave Klettshellir. SELFOSS HOTEL. (B,L)
Explore the interior of Iceland as you drive along the Kjölur Mountain Road. This fascinating drive takes you by plateaus, lakes, and rivers, and is a feast for the eyes. The next day explore Lake Mývatn, a shallow eutrophic lake close to an active volcano. The lake boasts a variety of water birds, particularly ducks. Gaze at the fascinating pseudo craters Skutustadir, so named because they appear to be impacts or volcano eruptions, but are actually formed when lava crosses over a wet surface like a swamp, pond, or lake, causing an explosion of steam. Visit what is called Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall and also known as the waterfall of the gods – Goðafoss, and explore Dimmuborgir, a large area featuring unique rock and cave formations. Dimmuborgir translates to ‘dark cities’ or ‘dark castles/fortresses’ and in Icelandic lore is said to connect Earth with infernal regions. HOTEL AKUREYRI. (B,L,D Daily)
Your day starts with a tour of Vidimyri Church, a classic example of Icelandic architecture during the 19th century, when wood was in such short supply due to the lack of trees. The roof is instead turf or sod, and it is this unique roof style that gives these type of buildings their name – turf churches. Vidimyri is one of the best preserved turf churches in all of Iceland. Continue to the old volcano Bifrost and climb a path circling the volcano and into its center, which instead of magma is now filled with moss and heather. Next stop is the luxuriating Deildartunguhver Thermal Spring for a quick rejuvenation, then it’s off to the small fishing village of Stykkisholmur with fewer than 1,100 people living there. HOTEL STYKKISHOLMER. (B,L,D)
Drive across the Snaefellsnaes Peninsula, a diverse and beautiful land of volcanoes, fjords, and sheer cliff peaks. The peninsula is one of four national parks in Iceland, and best encapsulates Iceland’s unique beauty, offering a variety of sights in a small area. Continue your journey to Reykjavik for a city tour. The rest of your afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, gather for one last Icelandic treat – a Big Fish Buffet! GRAND HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Bid Iceland goodbye as it is sadly time to return home. Transfer to the airport for your flight to New York. (B)
Discover the rich land of Viking legend as you board your afternoon flight to Greenland, an autonomous country, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the world’s largest island and least densely populated country in the world, with a surface that is about 80% ice-capped. Land in Narsarsuaq, located in the middle of the old Viking settlement. Many of the remains are a testament of the Vikings who lived here for 500 years from 983 to the 1,400’s. It was from this area that Leif the Lucky started his voyage west in the year 1000 and is reputed to be the first European to discover America. South Greenland is a nature experience second to none with its In-land Ice Cap and the glaciers and floating icebergs in a dramatic arctic setting, opening up to farming in the fertile valleys. Enjoy a boat ride through Eric’s Fjord to Qaqortoq and embark on a guided walk focusing on the art installation ‘Man & Stone’ by 40 Scandinavian artists throughout the town. Stroll around the Qaqortoq Lake, and by boat tour the best preserved ruin from the Viking period – the Hvalsey Church, and the dramatic Qoorooq Ice Fjord.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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