Past Trips

ICELAND - Land of Fire & Ice!

Trip At A Glance

  • Trip type: International
  • Category: Easy
  • Dates: February 1-8, 2017
  • Duration: 8 days (7 nights)
  • Booking Deadline: January 11, 2017
  • Price: $2,033.00
  • Single Supplement: $720.00
  • Deposit: $850.00 (41.8%)
  • Group size: 12

Iceland is a country like no other. It’s amazing that this little-visited, small island (about the size of Virginia) is such an unbelievable, incredible natural wonderland packed with awe-inspiring landscapes. Everywhere you look, a smorgasbord of expansive and odd lava fields, ice formations, volcanoes, mountain ranges, ancient glaciers, thundering waterfalls, unusual geothermal areas, boiling mud, ice and lava caves, enormous craters, fumaroles, ash deserts, hot springs, glacial rivers and lagoons, and all sorts of fjords, cliffs and peaks. Your senses will be on overload!

Just about all the pictures in the photo slider above were taken by people who went on our Iceland adventure last year – personal, direct evidence of some of the amazing natural attractions of Iceland!

And while nature reigns supreme in Iceland, the English-speaking cities and towns of the country are fascinating sights in their own right. From the modern and cosmopolitan capital of Reykjavík to the small, sparsely populated remote towns, fishing villages, farms and islands full of history and character that dot the countryside and coasts.

You can experience and witness this all for yourself by joining us when we visit the intensely beautiful, Nordic island nation of Iceland! Take a walk on the wild side on this one-week (10 day/9 night) custom Iceland trip designed just for us!

Our visit will be full of fairly easy outdoor adventures – only extreme in the uniqueness of the experiences. Not many people can say that they have walked with glaciers beneath their feet, trekked across jet-black lava fields, watched active volcanoes at work, stood behind thundering waterfalls, boated on a stunning, a bright blue glacier lagoon journeying past huge icebergs, hiked atop cliffs to go Puffin watching, relaxed in the milky-blue, mysterious waters of The Blue Lagoon.

But if you seize the opportunity to visit this extraordinary little country, you will have the very good fortune of having these experiences! Neither you nor your friends will believe the awesome photos from this vacation! (By the way, bring a good camera. And this does not include your cell phone!) This will be a memorable, not to be forgotten trip!

Since words really just cannot do justice in describing this staggeringly beautiful part of the world where Mother Nature’s stunning power is on full, magical display… the only thing to do is to mark your calendar and smile, knowing you’ll be joining other cool kids on this truly, never to be forgotten adventure!

Even though this exotic, seemingly far-flung destination seems much too far away, it is much closer than you think! You’ll find yourself there quickly and conveniently with a speedy 6-hour nonstop flight from Dulles/BWI airport.

Remember, Iceland is not a destination. It is an adventure. So join us in August for an adventure of a lifetime!

All the hotels we are staying at are high-quality 3-star accommodations with onsite restaurants serving locally sourced food. All breakfasts are included in your stay. All rooms have private bathrooms (many Icelandic accommodations do not).

Internet access is available at all the hotels to send those all-important trip pictures to your friends and post your Facebook status as you travel throughout Iceland.

In addition, the hotels we are patronizing are locally owned (so that the money we spend stays in the local communities), highly rated from previous travelers, and most are certified eco-friendly (to minimize our impact on the environment & support sustainability efforts).

On many trips to Iceland, you’ll get driven all around the country staying in a different hotel every night to maximize time and see as much as humanly possible. Racing around like this is a very tiring way to travel – checking in and out of places every day. For our trip, we are focused on a high-quality, well-paced, enjoyable vacation.

We have carefully and thoughtfully chosen an itinerary and plan that allows us to travel at a more relaxed pace and stay at least two nights at each accommodation (except for the final night in Reykjavik) and still see a significant sampling of the different regions of Iceland.

We are staying at six different hotels during our trip to Iceland:

Lambastaðir Guesthouse – night 1

Sólheimahjáleiga Guesthouse – night 2

Hali Country Hotel – night 3

Hótel Eyvindará – night 4 & 5

Sel – Hótel Mývatn – night 6 & 7

Hótel Óðinsvé – night 8 & 9

Please click on “Accommodations” under “Details” on the right sidebar of the trip page for more information on each hotel including photos.

Summary

  • Day 1. Day 1 Southwest and South Iceland - Flúðir
  • Day 2. Day 2 South Iceland -­‐ Vik
  • Day 3. Day 3 Southeast Coast
  • Day 4. Day 4 Eastern Fjords
  • Day 5. Day 5 East Iceland
  • Day 6. Day 6 Northeast Iceland
  • Day 7. Day 7 North Iceland
  • Day 8. Day 8 North Iceland -­‐ Reykjavík

Details

Wed, Feb 1 Day 1. Day 1 Southwest and South Iceland - Flúðir

Arrive into Keflavík Intl airport early morning. Relax and get ready for the day with a breakfast stop.

Tour of Reykjanes. We’ll explore the remote and colorful landscape of the Reykjanes peninsula, the most southwesterly point in Iceland and the youngest part of the country. The North Atlantic ridge comes ashore here and visible signs of volcanic activity, created by that ridge, can be seen all over this peninsula. Lava fields, lava tubes, rifts and hot springs can be found in a number of locations. Reykjanes is also known for its small fishing villages that line the coast around the peninsula – the only inhabitants of the area.

Lunch at Efstidalur dairy farm. Enjoy a farm to table meal. Watch the farmers at work, young cattle & cows in their daily environment, and the making of milk products such as ice cream, Skyr and feta cheese.

Secret Lagoon. An amazing alternative to the busy, tourist-­‐trodden Blue Lagoon, these natural, unique hot springs are located in the small village called Flúðir. This “hot pot” gives you the opportunity to get the true Icelandic feeling of hot springs in their natural surroundings.

Dinner & overnight at Lambastaðir Guesthouse.

Thu, Feb 2 Day 2. Day 2 South Iceland -­‐ Vik

The drive leads us through agricultural lowlands, but this is the day of volcanoes and glaciers. Driving through the farmlands you’ll be able to see Hekla, Iceland’s most active volcano. The south coast is mostly sand and so no harbors or fishing villages, but we’ll have a view of the famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier. Fun, memorable adventures for today include Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Seljavallalaug hike, Skogafoss waterfall, and Dyrhólaey promontory or Reynisfjara black sand beach as we make our may to the village of Vik.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This picturesque 200-­‐foot waterfall, located in the middle of green field, is considered Iceland's most famous waterfall because of its unique feature – it’s the only known waterfall of its kind where you can walk back behind the cascading falls & view them from the inside out. Be prepared to get a little wet!

Seljavallalaug hot pools. Another hidden gem that most visitors miss. A short hike will bring us to Seljavallalaug, the oldest hot pool in Iceland, filled with hot spring water that comes down from the infamous Eyjafjallajökull ice cap-­‐covered volcano. This protected site is free to those who can find   it.

Skogafoss waterfall. One of the largest waterfalls in the country with a width of 82 feet and a drop of 200 ft. Skogafoss is unique because the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. Millions of gallons of glacial melt-­‐water cascade over its huge cliff & due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces a rainbow normally visible on sunny days.

Dyrhólaey promontory. A 394-­‐foot high precipice surrounded by black sand beaches and green meadows that marks the southernmost point of Iceland. The naturally formed arch in the cliff, created by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, is so big that ships can sail through it at certain tides.
Dyrhólaey also serves as a bird sanctuary with a quite large puffin and arctic tern colony among other species.

Reynisfjara black sand beach. This famous black pebble beach is widely regarded as the most impressive black-­‐sand beach in Iceland. It features Gardar, an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid and Reynisdrangar, the towering spiky basalt sea stacks jutting out of the sea just offshore.

Dinner & overnight at Sólheimahjáleiga Guesthouse.

Fri, Feb 3 Day 3. Day 3 Southeast Coast

The flat sandy coast is still our companion for a while, but soon we start driving through one lava field       after another, Eldgjárhraun lava field east of Vik and Eldhraun lava field from the volcano eruption at Lakagígar in year 1783, which lasted eight months and its influence spread through all of Europe. We will    see the consequences, the biggest lava field in one eruption on our earth. You may want to try practicing pronouncing “hraun“ = lava with your guide as there are more to come! We continue towards Kirkjubæjarklaustur with its green surroundings and place names that refer to Christianity or sisterhood/convent as there was an abbey there in catholic times. Last visit is to Skaftafell National Park,    one of Iceland’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty. The area is dominated by spectacular views of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. We’ll do a two-­‐hour glacier hike here – we’ll attached crampons   to our hiking shoes and head out among the crevasses and glacier sculptures of Svínafellsjökull glacial tongue in Skaftafell nature reserve. We’ll get up-­‐close and personal, feeling and understanding the strongest shaping force on earth -­‐   glaciers.

Dinner & overnight at Hali Country Hotel.

Sat, Feb 4 Day 4. Day 4 Eastern Fjords

We continue along the coast eastwards and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is our next stop with a boat ride among the ice flows that float on the bluish green water. Take a stroll on the sandy shore where the birds flock for something edible and a few curious seals might stick their head up to inspect you. On our drive eastbound we stay for a while in Vatnajökull region where this humongous glacier can be seen from every turn. We stop here and there at interesting sights and drive through the fishing village of Höfn before heading for the East part of Iceland and leaving the glaciers behind. This means a totally different landscape – we’ll be hitting the fjords and the mountain road to the East with still rivers, green meadows and forests. There are numbers of places to visit on this route depending on the weather – Djúpivogur, Hallormsstaður, Egilsstaðir.

Dinner & overnight at Hótel Eyvindará.

Sun, Feb 5 Day 5. Day 5 East Iceland

The East is the oldest part of Iceland so no hot springs here.  But the diversity in the landscape is amazing in and around Egilsstaðir, a town on the banks of the Lagarfljót river. We’ll visit some of the most spectacular fjords in this area. All the fjords and the villages have a long history of fishing and isolation in the winter with their inhabitants having their own culture. Borgarfjördur eystri is a great spot for wathching the lundi – puffins – as well as other birds that hang out on the little beach. Seyðisfjördur is another great place to visit with the Múlafoss waterfall to admire on your way up again. There are plenty more, but maybe you just want to enjoy a hike or the view from the hillsides. Visiting Hallormstaður the biggest forest in Iceland is another option today.

Dinner & overnight at Hótel Eyvindará.

Mon, Feb 6 Day 6. Day 6 Northeast Iceland

Our drive today covers the least inhabited area of Icleand. We’ll drive by the Jökulsá glacier river through a countryside called Jökuldalur or Glacier valley – not that there is any glacier in sight, but the water from Vatnajökull glacier has marked this area. Most valleys we’ve have seen so far are more green and prosperous, but this is where reindeers live. After we leave the valley, we’ll drive through the highland of Iceland, with only two farms, and a visit to the farm Sænautasel where the old turf houses still stand.  Options for activities include a visit to the Möðrudal highlands and Dettisfoss waterfall (40 min hike). Lunch will be at Vogafjós Restaurant & Café on a working dairy farm, which offers homemade local food. Afterwards, our route goes to one of Iceland’s pearls, Lake Mývatn where we’ll stay for the next two nights. Things to do in the Mývatn area include Námaskarð geothermal area (1 hr hike) and the Mývatn Nature Baths (Jarðböð).

Dinner & overnight at Sel -­‐  Hótel Mývatn.

Tue, Feb 7 Day 7. Day 7 North Iceland

Our guide will adjust the places we visit based on the time we have and the weather to best explore the natural wonders of Lake Myvatn and the surrounding area. The lake itself is known for its rich birdlife, 13 species of ducks nest there. We  have  a  number of great options to  choose  from  for today including  a   visit to Húsavík village, a dip in the Myvatn Nature Baths, a hike to see the great waterfall Dettifoss (40 minutes), exploration of Tjörnes peninsula, Dimmuborgir hike (a large area of unusually shaped lava      fields), Hverfjall hike (an explosion crater that is one of the largest in the world), Asbyrgi Canyon in Vatnajökull National Park (one of the wonders of nature -­‐ a wide, horseshoe-­‐shaped canyon with sheer  cliff  faces  up  to  328  feet  high),  and  seeing  Vesturdalur  (green  and  lush  mountainous  valley  that  cuts deep into the mid   highlands).

Dinner & overnight at Sel -­‐  Hótel Mývatn

Wed, Feb 8 Day 8. Day 8 North Iceland -­‐ Reykjavík

We’ll leave the Myvatn area and head for Akureyri town in Eyjafjördur, the biggest town in the north, with a stop at the grand Goðafoss waterfall or “Waterfall of the Gods.” Goðafoss is located in the river Skjálfandafljót, which runs across 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 one, depending on the flow. Later, we’ll also have a chance to do some sightseeing in the Akureyri area before our afternoon flight to Reykjavik.

Overnight at Hótel Óðinsvé.

Inclusions

Exclusions

The price for the Iceland trip is $2,833 per person based on double occupancy.

The single supplement price to have your own room throughout the entire trip is $720.

Deposit of 30% ($850) required when booking to confirm your spot. Balance is due 75 days before departure.

 

INCLUDED:

  • 8 days guided tour with professional, Icelandic guide
  • 10 days transportation services with driver from airport pick-up Day 1 to airport drop-off on Day 10
  • Accommodation for 9 nights at 3-star hotels
  • All breakfasts except Day 1
  • 7 dinners (all dinners except while in Reykjavik) – 2 course meal with appetizer & entree
  • Local flight Akureyri-Reykjavík
  • Visit to Secret Lagoon
  • 1 hour Zodiac boat tour on Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
  • Private 2-hour glacier hike
  • Myvatn Nature Baths
 

NOT INCLUDED:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Airport transfers if not arriving or departing with the group
  • Lunches and dinner last day in Reykjavik
  • Optional excursions in Reykjavik: off-road Super Jeep, Blue lagoon, Reykjadalur hike
  • Personal expenses and anything not listed in the Included list

The Republic of Iceland (Listeni/ˈaɪslænd/; Icelandic: Ísland [ˈistlant]), Lýðveldið Ísland in Icelandic, is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe.[7] The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country are home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence still keeps summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in the year 874 CE when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island.[8] In the following centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, immigrated Iceland, bringing with them thralls of Gaelic origin. The island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing, one of the world's oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century. In 1814, it came under the rule of Denmark, during which a distinct Icelandic national identity emerged. This culminated in independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944. Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest in Europe. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity, and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 1994, it became a part of the European Economic Area, which further diversified the economy into sectors such as finance, biotechnology, and manufacturing.

Iceland

We highly recommend ® optional insurance.

Here are a few reasons to get trip insurance:

  • Reimbursement for cancellation penalties (which can be 100% of your investment) in the event of an unforeseeable illness, injury or death of you, your travel companion or a family member.
  • Reimbursement for cancellation penalties if you are called for jury duty, your home is damaged due to fire, windstorm, flood or vandalism or military leave cancelled.
  • Health insurance coverage while traveling outside of the U.S. as many health insurance companies limit or do not provide coverage outside of the U.S.
  • Reimbursement for unused portion of your trip if it is interrupted.
  • Medical evacuation/repatriation expenses to an appropriate medical facility or back home in the event of a serious illness or injury while traveling.
  • 24-hour help line for any travel emergency, such as medical, lost tickets, lost passports, and other travel documents.

Even Iceland itself has demonstrated the importance of trip insurance! Immense volcanic ash from the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 halted air travel throughout Europe, resulting in the largest air-traffic shutdown since World War II. The closures caused millions of passengers to be stranded not only in Europe, but also across the world.

In 2014, ongoing magma movement, intense seismic activity and a multitude of small earthquakes beneath the Dyngjujökull glacier near the Bárđarbunga volcano, the country’s second highest mountain at 6,560 feet, resulted in an air travel warning that peaked as an “orange” alert – the second highest on the color code meaning “escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.”

Past Traveler Testimonials

TerriMike iceland 03

Thanks again for the great trip. I know you invested a lot of thought and energy into the itinerary and I couldn’t imagine a better one. We saw and did so much in one week! It was so great to have got to know the folks on the trip. I couldn’t have asked for better traveling companions. Lots of laughs!

- Terri and Mike

ElizabethB iceland 03

This is my second trip with Gail and the Gen X bunch, and it did not disappoint. What an amazing trip. The itinerary was very diverse and provided a well-rounded adventure. It will be a trip we will remember for a lifetime.

 - Elizabeth B.