11 nights/12 days
Reykjavik to Reykjavik

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Discover the sparkling colors and historical gems of the wondrous West and North coast of Iceland.  Tucked away in these amazing areas you´ll also discover cultural treasures bringing you closer to the fascinating heritage of this country.

West Iceland is one of the country’s most geologically diverse regions. Its natural wonders are a nearly exhaustive sampling of all that Iceland has to offer, ranging from slumbering volcanos and majestic waterfalls to a variety of flora and wildlife.

The north of Iceland truly is a land of contrasts. Its long valleys and peninsulas are interspersed with mountains, lava fields and smooth hills carved out by rivers. The deep and numerous indentations in the coast of the North are at times lush with vegetation, at others barren. As one nears the Arctic Circle in the northern latitudes, the midnight sun is invariably awe-inspiring.

Activities:Hiking, Kayaking, Whale Watching, Exploring Waterfalls, Soaking in Hot Springs, Wildlife Viewing
2017 Dates:June 14-25 $TBD
August 16-27 $TBD
Group Size:8-16 people
Travel Style:Basic/ Comfort
Physical Rating:Easy
Single Supplement: $TBD
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Highlights

  • Explore the Snaefellsness Peninsula, the Westfjords, and Northern Iceland with a small group of like-minded individuals
  • Explore some of Iceland’s most incredible waterfalls
  • Go hiking through lava fields, in the country’s first national park, and on the rim of the Hverfjall Crater
  • Drink the purest water on earth, straight from a mineral well in the ground
  • Search for Orcas, Sperm Whales, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, White-Beaked Dolphins, and Harbour Porpoises off the coast of the Snaefellsness Peninsula
  • Walk along the golden-sand dune beaches of the Northwest coast
  • Explore the Westfjords by kayak
  • Take a soothing dip in the waters of the geothermally-heated hot springs
  • Take a boat ride to Vigur Island to observe thousands of birds including eider ducks, arctic terns, and puffins
  • Explore the valley of Heydalur on horseback
  • Discover the history of witch-hunting in Iceland

Day 1: Reykjavik

Today is arrival day, so there are no activities planned. our hotel is located in the heart of Reykjavik, close to a variety of shops, galleries, restaurants, coffee houses and bars to suit all tastes. once you get settled in, get your bearings by visiting the observation deck of Hallgrimskirkja, or “the big white church.” Visit the church and take the elevator to the top floor for the best view in the city. Afterwards, take a stroll down to the Solfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture on the wa­­­terfront and then continue down to the harbor for lunch or dinner.

Overnight at City Center Hotel or similar

Day 2: Reykjavik to Snaefellsness Peninsula (via Borgarfjordur) (B, D)

In the morning, our guide will pick us up from the hotel to begin our journey to Hvalfjordur, the fjord of whales. We will travel over a mountain pass called “Dragi” to the valley of Skorradalur and continue on to the Deildartunguhver hot spring, which has the highest flow of any hot spring in Europe with water temperatures at 97 degrees and the flow rate of over 180 liters per second.

From there, we’ll make our way to the area of Borgarfjordur to explore two beautiful waterfalls, including one called Hraunfossar, which translates to “Lava waterfalls,” and Barnafoss, which means “Children´s waterfall.”

Hraunfossar Falls are not far from the cultural center (and former monastery) at Reykholt. The falls are formed by a series of rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 meters through a very porous lava field. It is quite the unusual sight and differs from other waterfalls.  It is best described as a collection of countless creeks and cascades small and big streaming out of the lava. The glacier Langjokull is visible from this point of view and this lava field is a construction from one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier.

Above Hraunfossar (lava falls) there is another famous waterfall called Barnafoss (children´s fall). According to legend Barnafoss takes its name from two children who fell into the waterfall. The story is something like this: A long time ago there was a widow living on a farm nearby with her two young children. one day the widow went to a Christmas service but left her children at home. When the widow came back from the evening service her children had disappeared. People went searching and found their footsteps leading to the stone arch over the river. Their mother had the arch destroyed promising that no one would ever cross the falls alive again.

As we continue our journey west, there is a mineral well in the valley of Hnappadalur called Raudamelsolkelda, which we’ll get to sample some of the best-tasting water on earth.

We’ll drive along the west coast to the beach in Ytri Tunga, which is a well-known seal colony. The seals are friendly and curious and will climb up on the rocks near the sandy beach. You will also visit Raudafellsgja, which is a narrow gorge, cut deep into the stone of the mountain Botnsfjall.

Next stop is Anarstapi, where we’ll take a walk along the coastline to view the birds and magnificent lava formations. The seaside and the cliffs between Arnastapi and Hellnar were made a Natural Reserve in 1979. See a myriad of birds including kittiwakes, fulmars, gulls, and the Arctic tern. The area offers stunning lava arches and beautiful cliffed coasts where Orca whales are regularly spotted swimming in the ocean.

As we enter into the Snaefellsjokull National Park, we’ll visit the Djupalonssandur beach before heading to our hotel for the evening. Like so many other places on the Snaefellsness peninsula, it is like stepping into a lava wonderland. The beach is made of small black smooth pebbles called Djupalonsperlur. There are also two small freshwater lagoons by the beach called Djupulon (The Deep Lagoons) and Svortulon (The Black Lagoon).  On the beach are iron remains from the British trawler, The Epine GY7, which was wrecked east of Dritvik on March 13, 1948.

Our hotel this evening is in the fishing village of Hellnar, also known for its beautiful beach. For centuries it was among the largest fishing villages beneath the Snaefellsjokull ice cap.

INCLUDED:

–Visit Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
–Visit Delidartunguhver hot spring
–Raudamelsolkelda mineral well stop
–Visit Ytri Tunga Beach stop
–Visit Arnarstapi stop
–Visit Djupalonssandur Beach
–Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Estimated travel time: 3 hours

Overnight at Fosshotel Hellnar or similar

Day 3: Snaefellsnes Peninsula: Snaefellsjokull National Park, Ferry to South Westfjords (B, D)

Today, we will explore Snaefellsjokull National Park, the first national park that was established in Iceland. The boundaries reach out into the sea. Standing at the foot of a volcano and glacier, Snaefellsjokull National Park is the only park that reaches from the seashore to the mountaintops. Undisputedly the main attraction here is the Snaefellsjokull Glacier — the beautiful magnet to the Western Peninsula. This active volcano, which stands 1,446 meters high, provided the setting for Jules Vernes’ famous Journey to the Center of the Earth. There are many hiking trails in and around Snaefellsjokull National Park to choose from.

The highlight of the day will be cave exploring in Snaefellsjokull National Park. Inside the lava tube, there are two main sections: 1. the upper section has great features and uniqe formations of lava statues curved on the side of the lava tube. 2. the lower part of the lava cave, which can be reached by a long and narrow staircase, takes us deep underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world for thousands of years. Vatnshellir was created in a volcanic eruption some 7,000 years ago. To end the day, we’ll visit the fishing village of Arnar­stapi before making our way back to Reykjavik.

This afternoon, we’ll board a ferry and cross Breidafjordur Bay from Stykkisholmur to Brjanslaekur in the Westfjords. The Westfjords of Iceland are one of the country’s best kept secrets. Isolation has preserved this region in relatively unspoiled wilderness. We will pass small fishing villages though the area is largely uninhabited, Iceland’s Westfjords are a must-see for any serious explorer.

INCLUDED:

–Hiking in Snaefellsjokull National Park
–Vatnshellir cave
–Ferry Baldur to South Westfjords – 3:45pm
–Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Estimated travel time: 2.5 hours

Overnight at Hotel Flokalundur or similar

Day 4: Westjfords: Flokalundur to Ísafjordur (B, D)

Today will be our longest driving day, but we’ll explore some of the most beautiful beaches and waterfalls in all of Iceland.

The first stop on our journey in the Westfjords will be to the red sand beach of Raudisandur, one of the most spectacular beaches in Iceland. The magnificent hues of the sand differ with daylight and weather, and the beach is the biggest pearl in a string of coves with sand ranging in colors, and in coarseness from very fine to sole-hurting chips of seashells. Surrounded by magnificent landscape, black cliffs and the blue Atlantic Ocean, this beach stretches for about 10km to Latrabjarg (bird cliff).

We’ll take a stroll along Latrabjarg, home to millions of birds including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and razorbills. This cliff is vital for their survival as it hosts up to 40% of the world population of some species such as the Razorbill and is Europe’s largest bird cliff measuring 14km long and up to 440m high.

Our next stop is simply enthralling; the Westfjords’ favorite front-page model for decades, and is never short of breathtaking. The Fjallfoss , also called “The Mountain Falls” is in fact a series of waterfalls, with a cumulative height of 100 methers, but the biggest and the most photographed one is Dynjandi waterfall. This waterfall came from the Dynjandisa river, a glacial river that dropped off a cliff, forming a bride’s veil shape that is approximately 30 meters wide at its top and 60 meters at its bottom.

Below the main waterfall, a series of 6 cascades connected the glacial water to the sea. The names of the other waterfalls are Haestahjallafoss, Strompgljufrafoss, Gongumannafoss, Hrisvadsfoss, Hundafoss and Baejarfoss. We’ll hike to the top to see all of these little falls downstream of Dynjandi!

As our journey continues, we’ll drive along the Dyrafjordur fjord, which many consider to be the most beautiful fjord in the whole of Westfjords. It has some distinct characteristics and inexplicably beauty. Majestic mountains surround Þingeyri village, often referred as the “Westfjord’s Alps.”

We’ll make a slight detour, on our way to the hotel, to stop at Holt beach. This is a golden-sand beach and dune system which curls out into the fjord and can be a bit like Spain for a few hot days in the year. The beach is a great walk and the dunes are a protected eider duck nesting area.

Our accommodation this evening is in Ísafjordur, the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula, with some 2600 inhabitants. Here, you will find some of the oldest houses in Iceland, dating back to the mid-18th century.

INCLUDED:

–Visit Raudisandur Beach
–Visit Latrabjarg
–Visit Fjallfoss and Dynjandi waterfalls
–Visit Holt beach
–Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Estimated travel time: 5 hours

Overnight at Hotel Ísafjordur or similar

Day 5: Westfjords: Ísafjordur, Vigur Island (B, D)

Ísafjordur has earned its reputation as the sea kayaking center of Iceland. The reason is the endless possibilities for kayaking in the fjords and bays that are close by but still so remote. This morning, we will set out on a kayaking tour in the calm waters around Ísafjordur. Paddling under the magnificent mountains towering over the town around Ísafjordur, experience the closeness of nature and the beauty of the landscape from an exciting angle and in a safe environment.

This afternoon, we’ll visit the picturesque Vigur island, which sits just 4 km from the coast of Sudavikurhreppur and just a short boat ride from the town of Ísafjordur. There is always something charming about small islands. Vigur is home for thousands of birds including eider ducks, arctic terns, puffins, black guillemot and more. This afternoon, we’ll take a half-hour boat ride and a leisurely walk on the island to see the abundance of birds in their natural environment. The only windmill in Iceland is also located in Vigur.

INCLUDED:

–Morning kayaking tour in Ísafjordur (2.5 hours) – 9:30am
–Ferry to Vigur island — 2pm
–Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Overnight at Hotel Ísafjordur or similar

Day 6: Westfjords: Ísafjordur to Holmavik (B, L)

As we continue our journey through the fjords, the drive is characterized by the staggering, dramatic fjords we will pass, as well as the towering mountains along our route from Ísafjordur.

There is a spectacular ravine near the small, charming and friendly fishing village of Sudavík with a mighty waterfall that is definitely worth checking out. Valagil ravine is located at the landward end of Álftafjordur. There is a marked footpath to the ravine from the road. Some say the ravine is named after the falcons (valur is Icelandic for falcon) which reportedly used to nest there. other people say it is named after a woman called Vala who is said to have fallen to her death in the gully (hundreds of years ago).

As we drive along the west side of Skotufjordur fjord, be sure to keep an eye out for the Hvitanes seal colony, one of Iceland’s largest easily accessible seal colonies, where large numbers of Harbour seals can be found sunning and relaxing on the rocks just meters from the shore.

We’ll travel through the Heydalur “Adventure” Valley, where we’ll go horseback riding and discover the valley as we ride along the river tol the seaside. Try to gallop on a black sand beach and observe icelandic birds and flora. Get acquainted with the Icelandic horse, their good temper and their five gaits. They are the only horses in the world able to tolt. Our professional guides will make you feel comfortable and safe.

Our accommodation this evening will be in the village of Holmavik. Holmavik is the largest town in this region with a history of witchcraft, witch-hunting and sorcery.

INCLUDED:

–Valagil ravine stop
–Hvitanes seal colony stop
–Horseback riding in valley of Heydalur (2 hours)
–Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Estimated travel time: 3 hours

Overnight at Guesthouse Steinhusid or similar

Day 7: Holmavik to Akureyi (B)

This morning, we’ll explore the town of Holmavik a bit, including a visit to the Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft, which takes visitors on a tour into the mystical world of the supernatural. Here, you’ll discover the history of witch-hunting in 17th century Iceland as well as various aspects of magic from more recent sources.

Travelling east, our journey takes us to a deep, rugged gorge called Kolugljufur canyon in Vídidalur valley. Here, we’ll discover several waterfalls, which bear the name Kolufossar waterfalls. Kolufossar are breathtaking, with the numerous falls plunging into a deep gorge. Legend has it that this was the home of Kola the troll and the waterfall inside the gorge was named after her.It is a breathtaking sight to drive across the bridge and watch the calm waters of the river suddenly leap and tumble onwards over so many impressive falls – a sight which will leave no one unmoved.

This evening, we’ll arrive in Akureyri, the largest city outside of the Reykjavik capital area. After doing some sightseeing in the area, you’ll have the evening free to explore one Akureyri’s many restaurants and if you thirst for nightlife, you are in the right place. Chefs in Akureyri have the advantage of cooking with pure and natural Icelandic ingredients. Vegetables are grown organically in greenhouses or in the pure nature and meat and dairy products are free of additives and growth hormones. Seafood is freshly caught daily from pollution-free waters around the coast. In a town with only 18,000 inhabitants you have an amazing variation of restaurants with international influences and local product. It topped Lonely Planet’s list of 10 places to visit in Europe in 2015.

INCLUDED:

–Visit Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft
–Visit Kolufossar falls
–Sightseeing in Akureyri
–Meals: Breakfast

Estimated travel time: 4 hours

Overnight at Icelandair Hotel Akureyri or similar

Day 8: Akureyri to Lake Myvatn (B)

This morning, we’ll leave the town of Akureyri and head to Lake Myvatn, with a stop at the grand Godafoss waterfall or “Waterfall of the Gods.” Godafoss is located in the river Skjálfandafljot, which flows through a lava field that is about 7000 years old. Rocky promontories in the horseshoe shaped edge of the falls divide it into two main falls and a few smaller ones, depending on the flow.

From desolate craters to bubbling mud pools and geothermal caves, the area around Lake Myvatn is a microcosm of all the natural wonders that Iceland has to offer. The lake itself is known for its rich birdlife, 13 species of ducks migrate to nest there.

Lunch will be at Vogafjos Restaurant & Café in Lake Myvatn area on a working dairy farm, which offers homemade local food.

This afternoon, we’ll take a hike in the Dimmuborgir area, a large area of unusually shaped lava formations. This is a great place for hiking, with well-marked trails that take you around these beautiful natural formations and to a beautiful, well-known elf church.

We will end the day with a luxurious bath at the Myvatn Nature Baths (Jardbod), the North’s answer to the Blue Lagoon. This is a great place to soothe your aching limbs after hiking around the lava fields. The baths here are easily one of Iceland’s finest geothermal pools. Arguably better than it’s big brother in the south, the Myvatn Nature Baths feel less touristy, lets you take pints of beer into the pool with you, and has magnificent views off the mountain, across the lake itself.

INCLUDED:

–Visit Godafoss waterfall
–Hiking at Dimmuborgir area
–Visit Myvatn Nature Baths
–Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Estimated travel time: 1.5 hours
Overnight at Hotel Myvatn or similar

Day 9: Lake Myvatn (B)

This morning, we’ll visit the Hverastrond Sulphur Springs in the Námaskard geothermal area. A decidedly lunar looking location, with scorched yellow earth and sulphuric fumaroles melting the ground into bubbling mud, Hverastrond Sulphur Springs are one of the most popular sites to visit in the area. Referred to by various names, it lies at the foot of Namafjall (Mine Mountain), is accessed via Namarskard (Mine Pass), but is actually called Hverir (Hot Springs) or Hverastrond (Hot Springs Beach).

To the North of Hverstrond, you can find the Krafla Caldera, an expansive cauldron shaped area where the Krafla eruption occurred in the 1970’s. At the end of the road is Viti Maar (The Crater of Hell), with it opaque teal green lake. After a short walk along the rim, you will get an overviewof Leirhnjukur, the recently active lava field, with amazingly diverse rock formations and sulphur fields similar to Hverstrond.

Next, we’ll take a hike on the rim of the Hverfjall Crater. The immense, charred black crater of Hverfjall looms as a constant presence across the east side of the lake. If wandering around the edge of a massive volcanic black hole sounds like your cup of tea, then this is definitely the place to do it!

We’ll end our day at the geothermal caves, Grjotagjá and Storagjá. Used by some for bathing in the wild, if you choose to take a dip yourself, make sure the water isn’t scorching hot, and keep your eye on the roof, as there’s been a recent tendency for bits to fall off. The geothermal caves here were featured in a recent Game of Thrones episode. (Please note: there are no changing facilities here)

INCLUDED:

–Visit Hverastrond Sulphur Springs
–Visit Krafla Caldera
–Hiking at Hverfjall Crater
–Visit to Geothermal Caves
–Meals: Breakfast

Overnight at Hotel Myvatn or similar

Day 10: Lake Myvatn/ Akureyri/ Reykjavik (B)

Early this morning, we’ll head to the town of Husavik, considered the Whale Watching Capital of Europe and easily the northeast’s prettiest fishing village. The first organized whale watching excursions in Iceland started from here in 1995. The bay of Skjalfandi seems to provide prime conditions for whales and several species are spotted here on a regular basis. Most common are humpback whales, minke whales, white beaked dolphins and harbour purposes. Blue whales, orcas, sperm whales, northern bottle nosed whales, sei whales, fin whales and pilot whales can also be found here.

The orcas are more often seen early in the summer, during April and June, but there is a chance of seeing them all the way through the summer months. Male sperm whales can be seen especially in June in deeper water.

It is a unique adventure at sea, watching the wonders of nature in the beautiful surroundings of Skjalfandi Bay, on a RIB boat. These speed boats are able to cover more areas in search for the gentle giants. A RIB is faster than the wind and makes it therefore more likely for us to find the big whales.

Afterwards, we’ll visit the Husavik Whale Museum, established in 1997 and moved into its current location by the harbor in 2002. Museum staff have been going out daily with the whale watching boats since 1998 to research and record data on the behavior of whales in the bay. Their purpose is to educate the public about whales, with emphasis on the species found in the North Atlantic. The exhibition provides informative and attractive displays that have the capacity to raise awareness about cetaceans and their environment.

In the afternoon, we’ll return to the Akureyri area before our flight to Reykjavik at 5pm.

INCLUDED:

–Whale Watching Tour – 9:30am
–Visit Husavik Whale Museum
–Domestic flight from Akureyri to Reykjavik – 5pm
–Meals: Breakfast

Overnight at City Center Hotel or similar

Day 11: Reykjavik (B) (without guide)

This is a full day of free time in the capital city with no planned activities. So have fun, explore and do whatever you want! There is much to experience and enjoy in Reykjavik depending on your interests.

If you are looking for things to do outside of the capital city, options include visiting the famous Blue lagoon using the convenient Flybus, take a Superjeep tour in a specially modified 4-wheel drive vehicle with extra-large tires that allow us to explore areas inaccessible to ordinary vehicles, or a hike to a nearby Reykjadalur hot spring valley.

INCLUDED:

–Meals: Breakfast

Overnight at City Center Hotel or similar

Day 12: Depart Reykjavik

Today is departure day and a free day to knock off those last minute bucket list items and possibly do some shopping. Flights are typically late afternoon/ evening so you’ll have free time to spend at will until departure. Now is also have the time to visit the Blue Lagoon if you haven’t done so already by taking an earlier Flybus. The Blue Lagoon is located about 15 minutes from the airport and a convenient stop on the way out.

Not ready to leave? Your trip leader can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.

What’s Included?

Combination of Mid-Range Hotels (3-4 stars) & Inns/ Guesthouses, 11 nights
Meals indicated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast L=Lunch D=Dinner)
Local, English & Icelandic speaking guide(s)
Private Transportation
National Park Fees
Vatnshellir Cave
Whale Watching Tour
Husavik Whale Museum
Ferry Baldur to South Westfjords
Kayaking tour in Isafjordur
Ferry to Vigur Island
Horseback riding in valley of Heydalur
Entrance to Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft
Entrance at Myvatn Nature Baths
Domestic flight from Akureyri to Reykjavik

What’s Not Included?

Roundtrip international airfare to Reykjavik
Airport taxes and excess baggage fees
Round-trip ground transportation from KEF to Reykjavik (Fly Bus is recommended)
Beverages & Meals not specified
Optional Activities
Gratuities
Personal Expenses
Travel Insurance

DOSSIER/ ITINERARY DISCLAIMER

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However, it is subject to change, and does not form a contract between parties. While it is our intention to adhere to the route described, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. Occasionally our itineraries change due to weather or other circumstances that are beyond our control. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary.

 

Trip Length
11 nights/12 days
Travel Style
Basic/ Comfort
Combination of Mid-Range Hotels (3-4 stars) & Inns/ Guesthouses
Physical Rating
Easy
Suitable for those who are comfortable being active approximately 2-4 hours a day. Includes walking and/or hiking for 4-6 miles/ day on rolling to hilly terrain with short ascents up to 600 feet. This trip may also include bike rides up to 10-15 miles/day on level or gently rolling hills, as well as canyoning, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, kayaking and other activities that require an average level of fitness to enjoy.
Price
Starting at $TBD