Summary : Explore Iceland's fabled Golden Circle—Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir Center. View vast colonies of breeding seabirds; kittiwakes, thick-billed murres, guillemots, fulmars, and comical puffins. Meet the residents of colorful fishing villages and stroll through archaeological sites that recall the height of Viking exploration. Photograph Iceland's stunning landscapes—bubbling hot springs, glittering glaciers, soaring volcanoes, and plunging waterfalls. Cruise by Zodiac in search of whales, seals, and other marine mammals that congregate here in the summer months.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
$10,980 to $40,780
Board your independent, overnight flight to Reykjavik
Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to your hotel. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure to enjoy this fascinating and colorful city. Gather this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner and overnight at your hotel.
After breakfast, set out to explore Iceland's classic scenic wonders known as the Golden Circle. Begin with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by mountains and encompassing a vast lava plain of green moss and wildflowers. Continue to Gullfoss Waterfall where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two voluminous cascades. The Geysir Center is a huge geothermal field of both boiling and tranquil, multi-hued hot springs and bubbling mud pools. Then visit a traditional farm where Icelandic horses are raised. After lunch in these picturesque surroundings, proceed to the pier, making a photo stop at a scenic viewpoint before boarding Le Bellot.
By Zodiac, trace the coastline of Flatey Island before going ashore for a walking tour of the village. View the uniquely painted island church and the restored houses of islanders who earn a living fishing for cod and lumpfish. This evening sail past Iceland's westernmost cape, the Látrabjarg cliff, a breeding ground for millions of seabirds.
After breakfast step ashore in Ísafjördur, the trading and cultural center of the West Fjords. A cultural tour reveals the history and daily life of one of Iceland's oldest fishing settlements and visits the region's scenic highlights. This afternoon, enjoy free time in town to browse the local shops.
In the afternoon, visit Siglufjördur, once the undisputed herring fishing capital of the Atlantic. The Herring Era Museum vividly depicts this period and a lively song and dance reenactment, accompanied by local delicacies, brings the herring boom era to life.
After an early breakfast, depart on a full-day inland tour of the Mývatn region. Thousands of years ago, volcanic eruptions created this dramatic landscape of labyrinthine lava formations, seething sulfur pits, and boiling mud pools. Oasis-like Mývatn sits on the edge of a vast highland lava desert; one of Europe's richest waterfowl breeding areas, it supports enormous numbers of breeding ducks and whooper swans. Continue to Húsavík to reboard Le Bellot. Be on deck this evening to watch for humpback, minke, fin, orca, and sei whales, along with dolphins and harbor porpoises.
Though Grímsey Island sits astride the Arctic Circle, it enjoys a mild climate and is covered with rich vegetation. Weather permitting, go ashore to visit the Viking hamlet of Sandvik, home to about 100 permanent residents who earn their living from fishing and fish processing. A Zodiac cruise along Grímsey's basaltic cliffs provides fantastic views of the incredible birdlife which includes kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, and puffins.
Explore stunning Thistilfjord Bay by Zodiac, cruising past chiseled headlands and dramatic sea stacks that rise from the bay.
The 11-mile cruise along Seydisfjördur showcases a scenic wonderland of stunning geology, cascading waterfalls, and soaring mountains. At its head, a natural harbor shelters the fishing town of the same name, renowned for its brightly painted 19th-century wooden buildings. Options this morning include Skalanes Nature Reserve to explore an important archaeological site and search for 47 species of birds, or a hike to the magnificent Hengifoss Waterfall.
Situated on a large, enclosed bay, the fishing community of Höfn is also the gateway to Europe's largest glacier. While most of Iceland is pastoral and green, its southeastern corner is covered by the shimmering white Vatnajökull Glacier, a 1,000-foot-thick ice field. A spectacular drive brings you to a fleet of waiting snowmobiles for an exhilarating guided excursion across the vast expanses of glittering whiteness. After lunch, set out on an unforgettable boat ride on Jökulsárlón Lake to cruise among aquamarine icebergs.
On Heimaey Island, visit the Herjolfsdalur Valley to view ruins of farmhouses dating back to 650 AD. From Storhofdi, the views over the island are simply breathtaking. You will also pass between two volcanoes, one that formed 5,000 years ago, the other formed quite recently in 1973. Drive right across the younger volcano's crater and into the town known as the "Pompeii of the North." Later this afternoon circumnavigate Surtsey Island, a fire-and-brimstone result of a 1963 eruption. Today, approximately 56 species of vascular plants grow on the island and seals haul-out to breed on its shores. Nearly 90 species of migrating birds use the island as a rest stop.
After breakfast, disembark for a fascinating tour of Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant where you will learn about geosciences, geothermal technology, and the environmental history of the area. Continue to the famous Blue Lagoon for lunch before departing for the airport and your independent flight homeward.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Reykjavik; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; shipboard accommodations; $80 gear certificate; Wi-Fi; all meals onboard ship; soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner onboard ship; gratuities; limited emergency medical and evacuation coverage*. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, spa, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above), Internet/fax/telephone charges; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.
Photos ©: Zegrahm Expeditions