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Iceland Winter Adventure

Iceland Adventure

Summary : Discover Iceland — a land of otherworldly landscapes, closer — and perhaps warmer —than you imagine. In this land of snowcapped peaks and glaciers, steaming hot springs, active volcanoes, impossibly blue ice caves, thunderous waterfalls and colorful wildlife, this distinct itinerary captures it all.  No “bucket list” is complete without Iceland and its spectacular features impress even the most well-traveled of visitors. Small in size but big in “wow,” this island nation can also be both traditional and modern, lava and ice, lush and frozen, stimulating and relaxing and dramatically light and dark. Fulfilling experiences and unique activities in Iceland make it a top tour destination for lovers of natural history and culture.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking

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Itinerary
Day 1
Depart Home to Reykjavik

Depart your home city on independent overnight flights to Keflavik, the international airport for Reykjavik.

Day 2
Keflavik / Reykjavik

Upon arrival in Keflavik you’ll be met and escorted to your hotel in Reykjavik where rooms have been pre-blocked to ensure immediate occupancy. After breakfast and rest, spend the afternoon exploring Iceland’s capital on a guided excursion. Enjoy a hardy lunch before you stroll the old harbor, a growing and colorful part of the city. See Hofdi House where Reagan and Gorbachev held an historic summit in 1986. Visit Hallgrimskirkja church, designed to mimic basalt lava columns, a common formation found throughout the island. Explore the old town center with the Icelandic parliament Althingi and the town hall. Join your fellow travelers for dinner this evening. Spend two nights at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina, a restored historic property in a privileged location on the waterfront of the old harbor. Perhaps book one of the northern lights excursions by boat this evening. This excursion (at additional cost) is available from the hotel.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 3
The Golden Circle / Reykjavik

Today you’ll explore a collection of Iceland’s greatest natural attractions, the iconic Golden Circle. Stop in Hveragerdi where you see the powers of geothermal energy at work. Try Icelandic black bread, baked using the warm ground as an oven. Next, visit family-run Fridheimar Farm where you tour the greenhouse and enjoy lunch. A demonstration of the power and ability of the majestic Icelandic horse is next. When you witness first-hand the warm personalities, intelligence, sure-footedness and unique gaits that make them a special breed you’ll understand why the locals are fiercely proud. Continue to Geysir to find amazing geological forces at work as you stroll the geothermal park sitting atop a vast boiling cauldron of steam and lava. Belching sulphurous mud pots of unusual colors, hissing steam vents, hot and cold springs, warm streams, and primitive plants can all be found here. Continue with a stop at Gulfoss, a waterfall dropping over 100 feet into a canyon over a mile long. Stop in Thingvellir National Park, site of one of the oldest parliaments in the world. Parts of Thingvellir form a fissure zone running through Iceland and are situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This might be the only place in the world where you can walk on ground not part of any continent. Your evening in Reykjavik is at leisure to reflect on the wonders you enjoyed today and the adventures to come. Local staff will have restaurant recommendations and ideas for you to enjoy your night in this vibrant and friendly city. If conditions are right, you may join the optional boat tour to see the northern lights.

Meals: B, L

Day 4
Langjokull Glacier / Ice Tunnel / Lava Cave / Husafell

A scenic drive northeast brings you to Husafell and the base of Langjokull Glacier, the second largest in Iceland. Here you’ll embark on an experience unlike any other as you venture onto the icecap and into the very heart of the glacier via a man-made tunnel. The Langjokull Ice Cave gives you a first-hand look at the interior workings of a glacier. Next you explore Víðgelmir lava cave for a “Journey to the Center of the Earth” experience. Víðgelmir, the largest lava cave in Iceland, is about 5,250 feet long. The lava field where this cave is found was formed during a destructive eruption in the 10th century that originated under Langjokull. The cave is mentioned in writing as far back as 1398 and evidence of human presence dating back to the Viking Age (983-986) was discovered here in 1993. You’ll enjoy viewing remarkable cave formations and learning about its features. Check in at Hotel Husafell this afternoon and enjoy some time to rest. Join your fellow travelers for dinner and then, if conditions are right, view the northern lights from your hotel. With less light pollution than Reykjavik and no need to take a boat to avoid it, chances are higher in locations like this.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 5
Reykjavik / Godafoss / Lake Myvatn

Return to Reykjavik to visit the new Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights Center). This small but educational museum gives you info on what creates this mesmerizing phenomenon and even tips on how to photograph it. Next door is the Saga Museum where informative exhibits walk you through the hedonistic and violent history of the Vikings. Take a scheduled flight to Akureyri and a new world of Icelandic wonders to encounter. Visit a dairy farm where cows are so well-taken care of they have automated back-scratchers and calves have music played to them. See the laser-guided milking machine before enjoying some coffee (with fresh milk of course) and a snack. Visit Godafoss, or “Waterfall of the Gods” into which Viking Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði cast statues of Norse deities upon acceptance of Christianity in the year 1000. Continue over and through the mountains to Lake Myvatn, one of Iceland’s most scenic and geothermally active locations. Lake Myvatn is the setting for mass bird migrations in springtime. In winter, it’s equally amazing as a frozen expanse of Arctic beauty…also a fun place for locals and visitors alike to enjoy some unique activities. You’ll have three nights at the family-owned and operated Vogafjos Guesthouse, in spacious, cozy cottages. Also a working dairy farm, through the windows at reception you can see the cows giving milk in the very next room, and perhaps watching you right back. From this rural location you will have the best chances of the trip for viewing the northern lights, if conditions are right. Even without the northern lights, the start-filled sky of a clear Icelandic night is breathtaking; the stuff of legend.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 6
Lake Myvatn

What began as a hobby has become a popular way for locals and adventurous visitors to get well off the beaten path and experience otherwise inaccessible attractions. “Super Jeeps” are what locals call various models of 4x4 vehicles designed to ride high and to muscle though and climb over the snow and ice, allowing guests to visit pristine places otherwise completely inaccessible during this time of the year; places that include thunderous waterfalls, lava fields, and countless volcanic cones and craters. It’s a unique and glorious thing to see these areas in winter, hopefully covered in snow, almost washing away the reality that just kilometers below this serenity lay unfathomable forces that have many times erupted, and will again, with fire and sulfurous anger. Spend the day exploring the area to places where you snowshoe for even more up-close experiences. All the while your local driver/guide will amaze you with stories of the incredible geothermal activity in the Krafla area, the unmatched skills of the Icelandic volcanologists, and even stories of the trolls and elves that keep a close eye on you along your journey. Careful not to disturb their homes or unfortunate events will follow at the hands of these vengeful and mischievous creatures! Enjoy a well-deserved dip in the Myvatn Nature Baths. Geothermally heated pools allow you to relax and soak in restorative water no matter what the ambient temperature, and enjoy full views of the frozen countryside. It’s a relaxing way to end a day of spirited adventure.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 7
Lake Myvatn

Today you get the chance to experience the countryside by horseback; on one of the world’s finest breeds of horse. This fully guided and easy-paced excursion takes you out onto frozen Lake Myvatn (if environmental and safety conditions are right) and lets you see the area as the Vikings did, and like many Icelanders enjoy today. Your senses will be enveloped by the majesty of snow-capped mountains, the open-air, the sound of your horse’s gait and all the beauty that is Lake Myvatn in winter. But, the adventure is not over yet. Next you step from the past to the present, from traditional to modern as you board snowmobiles to continue your exploration, at a faster pace, as you whisk over the frozen landscape and continue the fun. Explore more of the Myvatn area for great vistas and pictures and the chance to spot rock ptarmigan, locally known as Rjupa. This elusive bird is a favorite food of the snow owl and the gyrfalcon, also found in the area. To protect itself the bird has evolved to change plumage from brown in the summer to white in the winter. Look for their distinct tracks and you might be lucky enough to spot one. Your reward for a day of adventure is a home-cooked meal at a guesthouse. Savor traditional Icelandic dishes, reflect upon and share with locals your mutual experiences in the area and learn even more about the Icelandic way of life. Get a good night’s rest but not before, if conditions are right, witnessing the awe-inspiring northern lights.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 8
Hauganes / Ekatafiskur / Siglufjordur

Head north to the tiny town of Hauganes to board a typical Icelandic fishing boat on Eyjafjordur Bay. Though not the season for whale watching, there’s a chance some will be in the area. Drop a line into the icy water, as generations of Icelanders have done, and try your luck at cod fishing. Local fishermen show you how it’s done. Visit Ektafiskur, premier cod fishing and processing company, owned and operated by the same family for generations. Elvar Reykjalin hosts as you tour the facility. Those brave enough may become card-carrying members of “The Rotten Shark Club of Hauganes” by sampling fermented Greenland shark and washing it down with a shot (or two) of schnapps produced from a family recipe of local ingredients. Staff cleans your catch and then it is incorporated into a traditional Icelandic lunch. Next, visit Bruggsmidjan Brewery, makers of Kaldi beer, to sample current varieties and to hear a wonderful story of family, determination, and perseverance. Head north to Siglufjordur, at the far end of the Troll Peninsula, for one of Iceland’s most beautiful and remote regions. After the collapse of the herring fishing industry, Siglufjordur became a sleepy village until recently when tunnels in the mountains were opened and the town was rediscovered. The Herring Era Museum is the only museum in Iceland to win the European Museum Award, naming it the best museum on the continent for 2014. It has been painstakingly and lovingly restored by local donors, artists, architects and volunteers to be a time portal, taking visitors back to the days of the herring boom through displays that bring to life every detail of what it was like to live and work here in those times. Check in at the new and posh Hotel Siglo, a warm and comfortable property right on the waterfront. Enjoy a farewell dinner and then perhaps a relaxing sauna and thermal pool just outside the hotel on the harbor. Chances for seeing the northern lights are good if the right conditions exist.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 9
Siglufjordur / Reykjavik

Fly via scheduled air from Akureyri to Reykjavik where you connect with your independent flights home, taking with you lasting memories, fun photos, new friendships and the pride of knowing you explored one of the most exciting and adventurous destinations in a most unusual and engaging way.

Meals: B, L

Notes

Itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Included:
Accommodations and meals as per the itinerary; Iceland airport transfers; a soft drink is included with each group lunch and dinner, one per person; coffee and tea are included with each group breakfast; some gratuities. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; travel protection; passport and visa fees; taxes and reciprocity fees; optional excursions; some gratuities; items of a personal nature, such as equipment rentals, laundry, phone calls; alcoholic beverages.

Photo Credit: © International Expeditions

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