Iceland - Fjords, Glaciers and Hot Springs

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Day 1: Arrive in Keflavik, Reykjavik City Sightseeing

Upon arrival in Keflavik, you are met by your Icelandic guide and our adventure begins. We will drive along the lavafields of the scenic north coast of Reykjanes Peninsula, a land version of the North Atlantic Rift Zone, to the colorful capital Reykjavik for breakfast. Then we go for a tour of the city and head for the downtown area. We enjoy a gentle walk around the city's central lake, and through its adjoining streets and parks to see the Parliament House and the City Hall. From the downtown area, we take a short drive to the western seashore of Reykjavik to see great views of Snaefellsness Peninsula and the surrounding mountains. We will also make a stop at Perlan, Hallgrímskirkja church and Harpa Music Hall.

After the city tour we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before checking in to our hotel. The afternoon will be free to spend at own leisure, until dinner.

Overnight in Reykjavik.

 

Day 2: Golden Circle With a Taste of Iceland and Friðheimar Visit

Today we take an excursion of the so-called Golden Circle. Our first stop is Thingvellir National Park, the site of the oldest democratic parliament in the world. We go for a walk in the park and explore the sights of the old parliament. Thingvellir became Iceland's first National Park in 1928 due to its important social heritage and natural beauty. The park is also the location where the North Atlantic Rift dividing the American and European tectonic plate is the most clearly seen, through its canyons and large cracks. In 2004, Thingvellir National Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

After our exploration of Thingvellir we head to Laugarvatn Fontana where we visit the “geothermal bakery”. You will get to see where a pot of fresh traditional Icelandic rye bread is dug out from the hot black sand and you will of course get a chance to taste the warm bread with some Icelandic butter. Next we head for the famous Geysir, the geyser from which all geysers derive their name. After earthquakes shook south Iceland in 2000, Geysir now erupts only once in a while, but its faithful deputy Strokkur ("churn") shoots water every 10 to 15 minutes, over 100 feet into the air. A short distance from Geysir is the famous Gullfoss waterfall and below it the Hvitargljufur Canyon, a huge canyon formed after floods from the nearby glaciers, thousands of years ago. From Gullfoss we head back to Reykjavík with a stop at the interesting Friðheimar greenhouses. There we can see how the Icelandic farmers use the natural geothermal power to grow vegetables the whole year round. The greenhouses, warm and bright whatever the weather, offer a friendly welcome!

Overnight in Reykjavik.

 

Day 3: Historic Borgarfjörður & Waterfalls With Ice Cave Adventure

In the morning we start our circle tour of Iceland, beginning with a drive along Hvalfjörður fjord where one of the most important naval stations in the North Atlantic during World War II was located. We visit Reykholt, one of Iceland’s most historic sites and former home of the Saga writer, Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) from 1206-1241. We stop at the splendid waterfalls of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, and at Deildartunguhver; Iceland ́s largest hot spring (in terms of water production per second).

In the afternoon we kick the action into a higher gear and make our way to Langjökull glacier for a visit to the Ice Cave. We travel by monster trucks that can accommodate as many as 40 people to the entrance of the cave, 1200 meters above sea-level. The Ice Cave leads from the surface of the glacier down to the deep undergrounds, where you will be able to view ice which has taken hundreds of years to develop. As you go deeper, the ice gets older and the color changes from white to deep-blue, perhaps the closest thing to travelling back in time to the Ice Age.

Overnight in Reykholt.

 

Day 4: The Wonders of Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Today we discover the mystical Snæfellsnes peninsula which is almost like a miniature of the whole country. There are white and black beaches, bird cliffs, spectacular mountains and volcanic craters, incredibly rich trout lakes and salmon rivers, lush valleys, unique harbors in charming
fishing villages and a world-renowned glacier. We stop at the fair sandy beach at Búðir and then onwards to Arnastapi for a short walk along its magnificent columnar basalt formations teeming with birdlife in summer. We then circle the legendary Snæfellsjökull glacier which covers a
powerful central volcano and is unquestionably the crowning jewel of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. We continue along the northern shores of the peninsula driving through tiny fishing villages towards the picturesque town of Stykkishólmur.

Overnight in Stykkishólmur.

 

Day 5: Breiðafjörður Bay, Látrabjarg, Patreksfjörður

From Stykkishólmur we take the ferry Baldur and cross the Breiðafjörður Bay. After approximately 3 hours sailing across this scenic bay with its innumerable amount of small islands we reach the West Fjords. We drive to Látrabjarg, the westernmost point of Iceland and one of Europe’s biggest bird cliffs, before checking in to our accommodation for the night in the southern West Fjords area.

Overnight at the southern Western Fjords.

 

Day 6: The West Fjords & Dynjandi Waterfall

Today we continue our journey of the West Fjords, one of the most remote regions of Iceland. The landscape is breathtaking as we cross mountains and heaths and drive along the dramatic fjords at the foot of steep cliffs. We stop at Dynjandi, a beautiful waterfall that lies in the northern arm of the fjord Arnarfjörður and see the measures taken to protect the village Flateyri against avalanches. We make a stop in the charming town Ísafjörður and from there we drive along the numerous small and isolated fjords of Ísafjarðardjúp where we see abandoned farms and driftwood laden shores often teeming with seals.

Overnight at the Western Fjords.

 

Day 7: Horse Farm Visit and Culinary Workshop at Brimslóð Guesthouse

From the West Fjords we continue our drive to the northern part of Iceland with a stop at Gauksmýri farm where we will enjoy a short horse show and visit the stables. Next we drive to the small village of Blönduós where we will find our accommodation for the night at Brimslóð Guesthouse. There we will take part in a private culinary workshop with the guesthouse owner, Mr. Gísli Egill, who is also a passionate food and cookery enthusiast and a trained tour guide. The workshop takes approx. 3 hours and ends with a delicious 3-course group dinner.

Overnight at Brimslóð Guesthouse.

 

Day 8: Akureyri and the Marvels of Lake Mývatn

Today we begin with a drive through the Skagafjördur region, an area known for horse breeding and many Icelandic horses can be seen grazing in the fields of the Skagafjörður valley. We visit the lush botanical gardens of Akureyri, the capital of northern Iceland and the biggest settlement outside Reykjavik. Then we cross the mountains east of Eyjafjordur and stop at the famous Goðafoss falls where the law speaker of the ancient Althing – the Icelandic parliament - threw the statues of the Nordic gods, after the forced adoption of Christianity in AD 1000. The falls and its surroundings are considered of mystical nature. From the mist of the falls we head to Lake Mývatn, famous for its birdlife and volcanic formations. Lake Mývatn has the largest duck colony in Europe. Many other bird species are also found there, such as the great northern and red-
throated divers, arctic terns, red-necked phalaropes, the gyr falcon, merlin, various waders and other water birds. The lake is a true bird paradise and its natural beauty is really magnificent, with pseudocraters, lava fields, volcanoes, hot springs and lunar like lava formations. We visit Skutustadir pseudocraters, Dimmuborgir, lava labyrinths, the explosive crater in Hverfjall with its many geothermal pools of the area and the steaming sulphur pits of Hverarond, east of Mt. Namafjall. After exploring the wonders of Lake Mývatn we drive to our accommodation for the night in the Mývatn area.

Overnight at Mývatn.

 

Day 9: Húsavík, Whale Watching, Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon, Egilsstaðir

The waters off the Húsavík coast are some of the best in the world for whale watching so in the morning we begin with a whale watching tour (weather permitting) on beautifully restored and seaworn oak boats, once used as fishing boats. Then we drive along the Tjörnes peninsula to Ásbyrgi, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped rock formation, and then on to Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. We continue our journey to the east and cross the vast northern highland
before our visit to a reconstructed farm called Saenautasel. The old farm is one of Iceland's best examples of its old Nordic heritage. The farm is one of the most remote in Iceland and highlights the harsh lives of these hardy people. Further to the east is a lush, green valley named Fljotsdalsherad, center of Iceland's forestry industry. The high and colorful mountains that divide Fljotsdalsherad from the East Fjords are 18 million years old and reveal the oldest rocks in Iceland. During the last ice age they were carved by huge glaciers. We stop at the town of Egilsstaðir, the biggest town of eastern Iceland.

Overnight in Egilsstaðir.

 

Day 10: East Fjords, Höfn Area

A relaxing day as we head for the south coast, passing through charming fishing villages of the East Fjords. We stop in the small town of Fáskrúðsfjörður, famous for its French heritage and in Stöðvarfjörður we visit the interesting Petra’s Stone Collection. In Álftarfjörður we may see thousands of whopper swans in their season. In the afternoon we have the magnificent Vatnajökull glacier as a backdrop today as we explore the wonders of the southeast. We drive up Hoffellsdalur valley to one of the outlet glaciers from Vatnajokull before we head for the village of Höfn, the largest village on the southeast coast. The village is in a beautiful setting along side an estuary, with a magnificent view to the Vatnajökull ice cap. We have a relaxing afternoon to explore the town.

Overnight in the Höfn area.

 

Day 11: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Skaftafell National Park, Vík Area

Our day starts with a scenic drive along the Vatnajökull glacier, which is the third largest icecap in the world and the largest one in Europe. We head to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, a spectacular area where icebergs breaking off from the glacier float on the lagoon. Here, you will find the world's shortest glacial river that travels only 1,000 yards from the lagoon to the ocean. We will enjoy an amphibian boat tour on the lagoon. Our next stop is at Skaftafell National Park, a breathtaking area right under Vatnajökull glacier and known for its unique natural features and numerous hiking oportunities. Many wild flower species thrive in the shelter of the birch forest found on the lower slopes of the mountains, and if weather permits, you may get a view of the highest mountain in Iceland, Hvannadalshnjukur. We continue our journey across Skeiðarársandur with its vast stretches of black sand formed by mighty glacial river to the charming village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Then onwards across the enormous Eldhraun lava field and the black desert sands of Mýrdalssandur before we arrive in the small village of Vík where we find our accommodation for the night. Enroute, we stop at the beautiful Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon.

Overnight in Vík.

 

Day 12: South Coast With Lava Show, Blue Lagoon, Reykjavík

This morning we begin with a refreshing walk at the Reynisfjara black sand beach where you have a great view of the Reynisdrangar pillars that rise from the sea just off the shore. We then enjoy a unique Lava Show in Vík – the only place in the world where you can safely experience
hot molten lava in close proximity! The founders of the Lava Show, Júlíus and Ragnhildur (husband and wife and parents of three), wanted to create a safe environment where people can experience real flowing lava after witnessing up close and personal the 2010 volcanic
eruption in Fimmvörðuháls (Eyjafjallajökull). The show recreates a volcano eruption by pouring molten lava (1100°C / 2000°F) into a showroom and over ice and is a unique opportunity to get close to red hot lava, see it flowing, hear it sizzling, and feel the intense heat that radiates from it.
Our continued exploration of the south coast includes a stop at Skógar where we visit the interesting Skógasafn Folk Museum and see the 200 feet Skogafoss waterfall. We also stop at Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you can actually walk behind.

In the afternoon we will reach the famous Blue Lagoon where we enjoy a healing and relaxing bath in the mineral-rich pool of geothermal heated water, nestled in a lava field. Afterwards we will enjoy a farewell dinner at the Lava restaurant, before we drive to our hotel in Reykjavík.

Overnight in Reykjavík.

 

Day 13: Depart Reykjavík

The morning is free to spend at own leisure. Transfer to Keflavík International Airport for your flight homeward.

 
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