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Iceland Circumnavigation

Arctic Iceland Cruise Information

Summary : Situated in the Atlantic Ocean and with Greenland as its western neighbor, Iceland is a remote volcanic island with mind-blowing landscapes and fascinating culture and history to please even the most discerning traveler. With most of the country uninhabited, much of Iceland’s terrain consists of plateaus, mountain peaks, and fertile lowlands. The landscape is characterized by volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, geysers, geothermal hot springs, black sand beaches, bubbling mud pools and lava fields. With many deep fjords that are ideal for kayaking and Zodiac cruising, and glaciers to explore including Europe’s largest, Vatnajökull, combined with splendid birdlife and friendly locals, a circumnavigation of Iceland is an experience not to be missed.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins


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Day 1
Reykjavik, Iceland

Arrive in Reykjavik and make your own way to the group hotel.

Day 2
Reykjavik / Embark / Hvalfjordur

After breakfast at the hotel, a transfer is included to the pier to board the Greg Mortimer. Sail into Hvalfjordur, just north of Reykjavik with wide areas of flat verdant land along majestic mountains, and beaches cut with creeks. The fjord is approximately 19 miles long and 3 miles wide. The area is rich in bird life and is home to seals—perfect for Zodiac cruising, kayaking and hikes.

Historically, Hvalfjordur was home to one of the main whaling stations in Iceland, with ships heading out into Faxaflói Bay. It was one of the most important naval stations in the North Atlantic during World War II, when Iceland was occupied by the Allies after the Nazis conquered Denmark. The old whaling station and a war museum can be found in the fjord.

Day 3
Stykkisholmur / Látrabjarg Cliffs

Stykkisholmur is the starting point of your adventures on the Snaefellnes Peninsula, gateway Snæfellsjökull National Park. One of the defining landmarks in Stykkishólmur are the old houses in the old city center, some of which were owned by Danish traders. The area is crowned by the magnificent, ice-capped Snæfellsjökull volcano, a 700,000-year-old dormant subglacial volcano, immortalized in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Columnar basalt, ravines and grottoes surround the Arnarstapi pier. There is a large arctic tern colony in the village itself, and a walk along the coastline is a great way to see birds such as kittiwake, Arctic tern and fulmar. Mount Kirkjufell is certainly one of the most famous mountains in Iceland, if not the world. It is not unusual for photographers from all over the world to make their way to Grundarfjörður.

En route to Isafjordur, we sail past the immense Látrabjarg cliffs, Iceland’s westernmost point and home to a huge population of razorbills and puffins.

Day 4 – 5

Over the next two days, explore the Westfjords region featuring outstanding landscapes with jaw-dropping views of dramatic fjords carved by ancient glaciers, sheer table mountains that plunge into the sea and pristine North Atlantic vegetation. The region features attractive towns such as Isafjordur, the famous Dynjandi waterfall, and spectacular fjords offering kayaking excursions, hiking trails, and bird-watching.

In true expeditionary style, the itinerary is kept flexible to allow for spontaneity based on weather and sea conditions. Plan to visit Hornstrandir Peninsula, one of Iceland’s remotest and most pristine regions filled with many deep and dramatic fjords, towering bird cliffs, stunning natural beauty and opportunities for wildlife encounters. Enjoy the bountiful silence and magnificent landscapes seen only by the few adventurers that make their way here.

Day 6
Akureyri / Mývatn

Picturesque Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest city outside the capital area with a superb snow-capped mountain backdrop. Explore the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses before heading inland to nearby Mývatn region, an area said to be the most geologically active area in Iceland.

Shore Excursions (choose one of the following)

Option One:
The Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. In the year 1,000 the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion, Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall earning the waterfall its name—waterfall of the gods.

Námaskarð is well-known for its sulfurous mud springs. The beauty of the colorful minerals and the gigantic mud craters are truly impressive.

Dettifoss is a waterfall in northeast Iceland and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The falls are 328 feet wide and have a drop 144 feet down to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.

Option Two:
Akureyri Public Parkand Botanic Garden is one of the northern most botanical gardens in the world. There are about 6,600 different species of plants grown in the garden, of which, 430 species are native to Iceland.

The Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. In the year 1,000 the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion, Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall earning the waterfall its name—waterfall of the gods.

Dimmuborgir is an area of strewn with enormous lava rocks and cliffs. The most famous of these formations is "The Church", aptly named, as this is a cave, open at both ends and with a dome-like ceiling.

Námaskarð earns its well-known for its sulfurous mud springs. The beauty of the colorful minerals is impressive and the gigantic mud craters are truly impressive.

Mývatn Nature Baths is a tastefully designed complex offering bathers a completely natural experience that begins with a relaxing dip amidst clouds of steam rising up from a fissure deep in the Earth´s surface, and ends with a luxurious swim in a pool of geothermal water drawn from depths of up to 8,200 feet.

Both options will end with a transfer to Húsavik, where you can explore the small town at your own leisure before re-boarding the ship to sail to Grímsey Island.

Day 7
Grímsey Island / Húsavik

Located approximately 25 miles off the mainland, Grímsey is a verdant grassy island, probably best known for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which cuts across the island. Many people travel to Grímsey just to say they have stepped across the imaginary line. With a tiny population of approximately 100 inhabitants, it’s a fantastic place for Zodiac cruising, kayaking, and photographing seabirds such as guillemots, gulls and puffins.

Leaving Grímsey to return closer to the mainland, spend time scanning the waters of Skjálfandi Bay around Húsavik, a town known as the Iceland’s ‘whale watching capital’, home to up to 24 different whale species, as well as dolphins and 30 variety of birds. The largest animal on Earth, the blue whale, has also been spotted in Skjálfandi Bay, and if you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of this magnificent creature as well as others, such as orcas, fin whales and pilot whales.

Day 8

Mjóifjördur is an 11 mile narrow fjord on Iceland’s east coast, and a little-known gem cherished by locals. Hidden between Nordfjördur and Seydisfjördur mountains that provide shelter and pleasant weather, the fjord is known as an excellent place to soak in the peaceful surroundings and for its spectacular waterfalls—ideal for kayaking and Zodiac cruising.

Mjóifjörður is an exceptionally beautiful, tranquil and remote area with spectacular cliffs, and because of the fjord's still weather it has lush green hills and exceptionally rich flora lining its shores. It also has the impressive Prestagil (The Priest's Ravine) and the Hofsárgljúfur Canyon with delightful rivers and waterfalls. If it weren’t for the weekly ferry that comes here once a week in the winter, the local people would be completely isolated.

Day 9
Vatnajökull National Park

Höfn is a lively fishing town with a healthy population of 1,800, and gateway to Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull.

Inside the national park you can find glacier tongues resting on the green fields of the lowland, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, a glacial lagoon open to the ocean and filled with floating icebergs that wash up on shore and stand gleaming on the black beach, dubbed Diamond beach. The park also boasts colorful mountains and deep valleys, as well as rich birdlife, reindeers and seals.

Day 10
Westman Islands

Located off Iceland’s south coast, the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) were formed by volcanic eruptions around 10,000 years ago. Sail past Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site that emerged from the sea in 1963 and is one the youngest land masses on earth. Westman Islands are considered to have the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world, and when sailing around the islands it is not uncommon to see puffins as well as whales and seals.

Heimaey is the main island in the archipelago and it has the population of around 4,200. Ashore on Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the archipelago, see half-buried houses that remain from a violent 1973 eruption and visit the impressive Eldheimar Museum to learn more about it.

Day 11
Reykjavik, Iceland

After breakfast, bid farewell to your newfound friends as you disembark in Reykjavik. A transfer to downtown Reykjavik or to the airport is included.


Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $250,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Exploration by kayak is an ideal way to surround yourself in the sights and sounds of the Arctic - paddling among icebergs and brash ice, observing wildlife in an unobtrusive manner. Some kayak excursions may be long in duration and on choppy water, so a reasonable level of kayaking experience is required to participate in this activity. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.

One pre-voyage hotel night in Reykjavik; transfer from hotel to ship on embarkation day; transfer from ship to downtown Reykjavik or airport on disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; printed photo book from your voyage (post voyage, one per booking); gear to keep (expedition jacket); gear on loan (boots); all meals onboard ship; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with dinner onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; passport and visa expenses; optional activity supplements; alcohol and beverages not mentioned as included; items of a personal nature such as Wi-Fi, laundry service, spa charges, medical expenses; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport arrival or departure taxes; gratuities (NOTE: Gratuities for crew will automatically be added to your bill. Please advise at the time of settlement if you would like this to be removed); fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos ©: ExpeditionTrips, Wolfgang Kaehler

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