Summary : Take in this stunning island nation on an unforgettable journey that spans volcanic landscapes, thermal swimming pools and glacial rivers, ancient Viking villages and coastal towns rich in tradition. Experience the north, south and west of Iceland, discovering the island's fascinating geology, culture and contrasts. Make a Culinary Connection when you try Icelandic fishing and let a chef prepare your catch for dinner. Drive on Europe's second largest glacier before descending into man-made ice tunnels for an unparalleled look deep inside. Drop into an extinct volcano to explore a huge magma chamber. Cruise the northern coast to look for a myriad of whale species on this trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
Arrive in Reykjavík and transfer to your historic 56-room hotel on the city’s main square. Tonight, join fellow guests for a welcome dinner. The next day, explore this colorful coastal capital, starting with an Artisan Connection at a small workshop, where a local craftsman reveals the tradition of Nordic knife making. Continue to the National Museum of Iceland, Hallgrímskirkja church with its basalt lava flow-inspired design, and Icelandic design shops. Take a private tour of the Harpa, a new performance center. Later, join local pros in the Norse tradition of fishing. Turn it into a Culinary Connection when you bring your catch back to shore for a chef-prepared feast.
Stay at Hotel Borg.
Meals: D (Day 1); B D (Day 2)
After breakfast, drive to Blafjoll mountain and set off on a vigorous hike to the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano. After a safety briefing, descend with expert guides via an open-air elevator into a former magma chamber, discovering its jewel-like colorations. Back at the surface, continue to Hellisheidi Power Plant to tour one of the largest geothermal power plants in the world, this one harnessing energy from three volcanic systems. Enjoy dinner at your rustic 51-room hotel in the countryside.
The next day, embark on a Super Jeep tour through Thórsmörk, a vast forested nature preserve webbed with glacial rivers — some of which you cross in the hands of skilled driver-guides.
On the third day, drive the exotic, photogenic south shore, stopping to explore waterfalls, black sand beaches and glaciers. Visit the family-run Thorvaldseyri Volcano Museum and the Skogar Folk Museum.
Stay at Hotel Ranga. Meals: B L D (Day 3); B L (Day 4); B D (Day 5)
Visit Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament. Continue to Friðheimar, a geothermally heated organic greenhouse, for a tour and freshly prepared lunch. Next, visit the regularly erupting Strokkur geyser and stunning Gullfoss, where milky green glacial water plummets down Iceland’s most famous waterfall. Dine tonight at your sustainable boutique hotel surrounded by Icelandic nature.
Stay at Hotel Husafell. Meals: B L D
Begin today’s adventure at Deildartunguhver, the highest-flow hot spring in Europe, followed by stops at Hraunfossar and fabled Barnafoss waterfalls. After lunch, ride in a specially equipped 8-wheel truck on the colossal Langjökull ice cap — Europe’s second largest glacier — which, at its highest point, sits 4,760 feet above sea level. Descend into man-made tunnels carved deep into the glacier, exploring stages of glacial formation, blue-hued dens, and even a restaurant and chapel.
Stay at Hotel Husafell. Meals: B L
Journey to Siglufjörður, stopping en route at Skagafjorður Heritage Museum followed by lunch in quaint Blönduós. Continue to Hofsós for a dip in a thermal swimming pool, set on a hillside overlooking the sea, and designed by the same architect behind Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. Dinner tonight is at your new boutique hotel in the heart of a small fishing village. Icelandic waters are home to some 20 species of whale. Seek them out the next day in Dalvik on a whale watching cruise. Enjoy time at leisure to explore pretty Siglufjörður.
Stay at Siglo Hotel. Meals: B D (Day 8); B (Day 9)
Venture to Akureyri, Iceland’s buzzy small city on the north coast. Visit its botanical gardens, among the northernmost of its kind and home to over 400 species of native flora. After lunch at a local restaurant, take a walking tour of the beautiful old town. Depart for the airport and fly to Reykjavík, where you check in to your hotel. Tonight, gather for a farewell dinner featuring traditional Icelandic dishes. The next day, enjoy breakfast before your flight home.
Stay at Hotel Borg.
Meals: B L D (Day 10); B (Day 11)
Accommodations and itinerary are subject to change at any time due to unforseen circumstances. Every effort will be made to operate tours as planned, but alterations may occur after the final itinerary has been issued.
Accommodations, meals and guided sightseeing (including park and entrance fees) as noted in the itinerary; airport transfers to/from hotel in the first/last published city regardless of day of arrival and departure; coffee/tea/soft drinks/water at included meals; local wine and beer at welcome dinner; local bottled water during sightseeing; porterage of two (2) pieces of baggage; complimentary Internet access (where available on land; service levels are not guaranteed); hotel taxes; and gratuities except to the Tour Director. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; passports and entry visas expenses; reciprocity and other border fees; airport departure taxes; excess baggage charges; gratuities to the Tour Director; meals other than those specified in the itinerary; beverages other than those noted in inclusions above; sightseeing not included in the published itinerary; and personal expenses such as laundry, communication charges, hospitalization and medical expenses, and optional activities and extensions (which are subject to availability).
Photo Credit: © A&K Image Library