Iceland with a Difference
This tour is designed so that you may experience its pristine nature:
Majestic waterfalls, bubbling hot springs, spouting geysers as well as towering mountains & glaciers.
Visit spectacular Westman Islands off the south coast, enjoy whale watching from Húsavík in the north, see birdlife off the coast & inland, & get to know the popular Icelandic horse up close and personal. Meet friendly Icelanders on their farms, small towns & in the capital city – Reykjavík.
June 10 > 20, 2017 &
Aug. 26 > Sept. 05, 2017
Tour members will have the choice of flights from three Icelandair gateways, – New York (JFK), Denver, CO and Seattle, WA
Escorted & conducted in the English language with International Participation
DAY 1 – SAT.: UNITED STATES – REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND JUN. 10 / AUG. 26
Tour members travel from various parts of the US to one of three Icelandair gateways; New York (JFK), Seatttle (SEA) or Washington, DC (IAD). We estimate that there will be about 38 participants on the tour. All three flights are non-stop to Keflavík Airport and are scheduled to land within a 45-minute period the following morning.
DAY 2 – SUN.: KEFLAVÍK – SELFOSS – VATNSHOLT FARM (75KM/120KM) JUN. 11 / AUG. 27
Arrival at Keflavík Airport in the early morning. Pass quickly through customs and immigration; collect your bags and board your tour bus waiting by the curb outside the terminal. As soon as your tour guide has rounded up his flock that has arrived by three different flights from the US, you are off to next door Keflavík village for breakfast at Hotel Keflavík. This delicious buffet breakfast table is your first introduction to Icelandic food, such as smoked salmon and skyr (Icelandic yogurt). You can also choose from a wide variety of sandwiches, baked breads, fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses and sweet cakes.
DAY 3 – MON.: VATNSHOLT FARM – WESTMAN ISLANDS JUN. 12 / AUG 28 (VESTMANNAEYJAR)
There are some who say that you have not been to Iceland if you have not been to the Westman Islands. It is an archipelago of fifteen islands, located off the coast of South Iceland, off the beaten path, and therefore not included on most tours. The islands were formed by submarine volcanic eruptions just 11,000 years ago; the youngest island, Surtsey, emerged from the sea in 1963. The biggest island, Heimaey is the only permanently inhabited one, and is currently home to some 4,300 people. Vestmannaeyjar hit the headlines in January 1973 when a massive volcanic eruption in Heimaey spewed out millions of tonnes of lava, leading to the evacuation of thousands of inhabitants by boat to the mainland.
DAY 4 – TUE.: VESTMANNAEYJAR – SOUTH SHORE EXCURSION JUN. 13 / AUG. 29
The trek through South Iceland.
First on the agenda is the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall, – about 130ft. high as it drops over cliffs, where the former coastline of Iceland once was. This waterfall is easy to access and photograph from various angles. In good weather one can even walk behind it.
Proceed to Skógar (18m) where you can have lunch at Hótel Skógafoss Bistro. Enjoy the view of the next majestic waterfall Skógafoss, while feasting on arctic char and excellent soups. Skógafoss, one of the most popular of Iceland´s many waterfalls, is spectacular as millions of gallons of glacial water come thundering down, flowing directly from two separate glaciers.
Your next destination Vík í Mýrdal is the southernmost village in Iceland. It is an amazing place that offers some fascinating attractions:
The Black Sand Beach of Reynisfjara is likely the most dramatic and stunning that you will ever see. The black sand, crushing waves, strange rock formations, basalt columns and a huge cave – all surrounded by glaciers and dormant volcanoes is truly captivating and serves as a photographer´s paradise.
Back on the „Ring Road,” the road that goes around the whole of Iceland, we drive (48m) for another hour to arrive at Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a small village of about 160 people. A graceful waterfall Systrafoss (Sister Falls) overlooks the village, flowing from a lake on top of a small mountain. A climb to the top offers some great
DAY 5 – WED.: KIRKJUBÆJARKLAUSTUR > EASTERN FJORDS
JUN. 14 / AUG. 30
Enjoy breakfast at Hótel Laki.
When you travel from Kirkjubæjarklaustur, east along the Ring Road, in the direction of the eastern fjords, you will cross the mighty glacial waters flowing from the glaciers on your left. It is the towering presense of the immense Vatnajökull that will keep you company for most of the day. The glacier is the largest in Europe and the entire area offers spectacular views of volcanoes, glaciers, glacial rivers & extended sandy plains.
Arrive at Skaftafell National Park, a major highlight on your tour. Stop long enough to marvel at this favorite wilderness of Iceland. If the weather is suitable, we suggest a hike (easy – max. 2 hours) to Svartifoss waterfall with your guide.
We drive for another hour to reach the next must see and experience Icelandic wonder, Jökulsárlón – a glacial lagoon, which is fed by the melting Breiðamerkurjökull on the one side and sea water on the other, – at high tide. Huge blocks of ice continuously break off the glacier, and huge icebergs float in the lagoon. The lagoon is about 150ft deep, making it Iceland´s 2nd deepest lake.
DAY 6 – THU.: BREIÐDALSVÍK – HÚSAVÍK JUN. 15 / AUG. 31
Depart from Breiðdalsvík and divert from the Ring Road (# 1) to follow spectacular route (# 96), „the road of the Southern Fjords.“ During the morning hours pass from Breiðdalur (Iceland´s longest and widest valley), to Stöðvarfjörður and Fáskrúðsfjörður – from one beautiful fjord to the next, always with the ocean on your right and the towering mountains to your left. Pretty fishing villages dot the landscape in between. Pass through Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng – a mountain tunnel, 3.7 miles long that takes us to the next fjord – Reyðarfjörður. Proceed on # 92, „the road of the Nothern Fjords“ to Egilstaðir, the biggest town in Eastern Iceland. Stop at Cafe Nielsen, where the buffet lunch is recommended, for the ambiance, delicious food and reasonable prices.
After Egilstaðir we join the Ring Road once again, this time turning inland, passing through the Icelandic highlands. Turn north on Rt. 864 – Hólsfjallavegur – to our next destination, – Dettifoss, the largest and most powerful waterfall in Europe. You will be awed by its sheer size and power, as the Jðkulsá á Fjöllum glacial river comes thundering down.
The final phase of today´s journey takes to Húsavík, a town of about 2,300 people. You have arrived at the coast of North Iceland, on the magnificent Bay of Skjálfandi. Here you will experience the Original Húsavík Whale Watching Tour, an authentic wildlife adventure. Enjoy the smooth, safe sailing on a traditional Icelandic oak boat and observe whales, dolphins and sea birds in their natural habitat.
Proceed to Fosshotel Húsavík, located within walking distance from the harbor, for check-in, a drink at the Moby Dick bar, – and if you like, a sumptuous seafood dinner.
DAY 7 – FRI.: LAKE MÝVATN AREA – THE DIAMOND CIRCLE JUN. 16 / SEP. 1
Enjoy breakfast at Fosshotel Húsavík.
Lake Mývatn and environs are a must on any solid tour to Iceland. You will enjoy a spectacular journey full of contrasting experiences, – birdlife, flora, geothermal activity, geology and history. All is well explained by your knowledgeable tour guide.
Drive from Húsavík to the Lake Mývatn area, by many considered the most beautiful in Iceland. Lake Mývatn is a pearl of nature, – the 4th largest lake in Iceland, covering around 14 sq. mi. at 908 ft above sea level. The lake has more than 50 small islands and islets, mostly formed volcanically when molten lava flowed into the lake.
In the lake area we also:
Stop at Dimmuborgir, where we walk through a labyrinth of lava formations, like dramatic structures, reminding travelers of collapsed citadels.
Stop at the hot springs Námaskarð, where the pigments and minerals found in the ground remind us of a painter´s palette. The bubbling ground water is heated by an underground magma intrusion and sulpur deposits brought to the surface causing a strong smell of sulpur.
Stop at Krafla, a volcano that has featured 29 reported eruptions in recorded history. The area is the source for geothermal energy used by a 60 Mwe power station. Next to Krafla is Víti (“Hell” !), an explosion crater formed in the massive Krafla eruption 1724-9.
Stop at Skútustaðir, to explore the regular pseudo craters formed in a volcanic eruption some 2300 years ago.
Námaskarð. At the end of the day, arrive at popular Brekka, a small (24 rooms), modern guesthouse. Check in and enjoy dinner.
DAY 8 – SAT.: LAKE MÝVATN AREA – GAUKSMÝRI JUN. 17 / SEP. 2
Enjoy breakfast at Brekka.
From Brekka it is a short drive (12m.) to the 1st stop of the day, Goðafoss, the breathtakingly majestic waterfall, also significant in Icelandic history. According to the Sagas, chieftain Þorgeir of Ljósavatn cast his pagan idols into the falls when Iceland coverted to Christianity in the year 1000, – hence the name Goðafoss or „Falls of the Gods.“
Shortly after departing from Goðafoss we will be back on the Ring Road, this time heading for Akureyri (17,000), the capital of north Iceland and the largest settlement outside the capital region. Free time in the downtown area on your own. June 17 is Iceland´s Independance Day and shops will be closed. You will enjoy watching the festivities and enjoy lunch at a restaurant of your choice. The August tour will browse, shop and have lunch.
Depart from Akureyri along Ring Road passing through the beautiful Eyjafjörður. We will cross Öxnadalsheiði heath and drive along one of the major rivers of the north, – Norðurá. Pass through the village of Varmahlíð and soon enter the county of Skagafjörður, known for its many choirs and the Icelandic horses, – actually the only county in Iceland where horses outnumber people. Next pass through the hamlet of Húnaver and the towm of Blönduós (850) in a scenic location at the mouth of the glacial river Blanda. After a drive of another 30 minutes, arrive at Gauksmýri our target destination for the day. Check in at Gauksmýri Lodge. Enjoy dinner (included), which is served buffet style; featuring a variety of excellent lamb and seafood dishes.
Gauksmýri Birds and Horses
Lake Gauksmýrartjörn and the surrounding wetlands, equipped with a birdwatching house and a telescope is a definite attraction at the lodge. 35 species of birds have been registered, including ducks, geese, swans and the rare horned grebe.
The main attraction, however, are the many horse-related activities at the lodge. The best of Icelandic horses are being bred, trained, bought and sold. Young Icelanders are being tought to ride and care for these proud, beautiful animals at a place where horse is king.
During your stay you will get to know the Icelandic horse up close and personal, at a horse show and in their barns.
DAY 9 – SUN.: „THE GOLDEN CIRCLE“ > REYKAVÍK JUN. 18 / SEP. 3
The 8-hour „Golden Circle“ tour covers three major attractions, all a must for any visitor to Iceland; Þingvellir, a meeting point of the continental plates, a natural phenomenon and the site of the ancient Icelandic Parliament; the spouting hot springs at Geysir; and finally the majestic waterfall Gullfoss. The tour further includes Skálholt, the ancient seat of the Icelandic bishops and location of Skálholt cathedral.
Þingvellir National Park – The Birthplace of a Nation
Situated on the northern shore of Lake Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is, for one, the key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world, – first assembled here in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides being a location of historical significance, Þingvellir is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features. Almannagjá is a canyon formed between two tetonic plates, a visual representation of continental drift. After sightseeing in the area, it is time for a lunch break.
We drive on for another hour and arrive in the moonlike landscapes of the Geysir area, with any number of bubbling, spouting and boiling hot springs. Visit THE Geysir, the 1st geysir ever mentioned in text; the one for which all geysirs are named. Though it rarely erupts, nearby Strokkur keeps the show going, – erupting every 4-8 minutes.
Last but not least arrive at Gullfoss, a roaring, majestic waterfall that spans a huge river and sprays mist on those who come to marvel at its beauty. Drive to Reykjavík via Skálholt. Check in at hotel.
„Farewell Dinner to Iceland“ at the hotel.
DAY 10 – MON.: REYKJAVÍK JUN. 19 / SEP. 4 A FREE DAY TO ENJOY THE CITY
Grand Hotel Reykjavík **** (2 nights).
A modern hotel with 312 rooms the Grand Hotel is located in a quiet street in the business district of the city. As one of the few high-rise buildings in town, your room will likely offer clear views of the city and if you should face north, imposing Mount Esja will be ever present. The hotel is close to various attractions and offers shuttle service to others. Guests rave about the breakfast, “with so many choices that seemed to cater to every taste.” The popular Lobby Bar is open 24/7 – Happy Hour: 5-7.
The hotel restaurant is highly rated and recommended for fine dining. Other restaurant choices are within walking distance, such as Red Chili (0.4m – good value Mexican), Kol Restaurant (1.1m – seafood Scandivavian), Austur Indíafélagið 1.1m – amazing Indian cuisine) and Snaps Bistro Bar (1.2m – excellent French cuisine). The choices of restaurants are many, – Reykjavík has it all!
Fosshotel Reykjavík ****
Opened in June 2015 the Fosshotel, with 320 rooms on 16 floors is located in the city center, within a walking distance from Laugarvegur, the main shopping street. The views are towards the city, the ocean, with pretty Mount Esja in the background. Breakfast is included with your stay. It is served buffet style and you will find it delicious and plentiful.
At Fosshotel you can unwind in the “Beer Garden,” which serves Icelandic draught beer and at Restaurant “Haust” (Autumn) you can dine on the best of Icelandic specialties, – fresh seafood, free range Icelandic lamb, Icelandic langoustine, etc. – all delicious.
DAY 11 – TUE.: LAST DAY IN ICELAND JUN. 20 / SEP. 5 RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES
Time to pack and for last minute shopping for the folks back home. Check out.
Depart from the hotel for the “Blue Lagoon,” which is located in the lava fields near the village of Grindavík, en route to Keflavík Airport.
Arrive at the Blue Lagoon. Admission and the rental of towels is included. You may choose to relax at one of the lounges and/or have lunch at Lava Restaurant. Proceed from Blue Lagoon to Keflavík Airport.
Arrive at Keflavík Airport for check-in for your flight, bound for The United States.
The 3 Icelandair flights depart for New York (JFK), Washington (Dulles Airport) and Seattle in short sequence. Please check the respective schedules on the last page of this presentation. All three flights arrive at their US destinations the same evening.