We travel the whole island of Iceland and continue our journey to Greenland
Iceland & Greenland : Aug 9-27 2019 (19 days)
HIGHLIGHTS: Reykjavik, South Coast, East Coast, Akureyri & Greenland!
ICELAND We visit Iceland’s famous natural wonders, including Geysir (after which all other geysers around the world are named), Vatnajökull (Europe’s largest glacier), many majestic waterfalls and the iceberg-filled lagoon of Jokulsarlon. We also learn about the traditions of this isolated Viking-originated society. Travelling in our own coach with our expert driver/guide, we are able to experience the remote vastness of rural Iceland, which contrasts so strongly with the dynamic city of Reykjavik – where 60% of Iceland’s 320,000 people live. Set almost on the Arctic Circle, on our June tours we enjoy days with 22 hours of daylight and wonderful birdlife. This is one of the best places in the world for seabird spotting. On our Aug/Sept tours we hope to enjoy reds and oranges of the Fall colours on the moors and less tourists.
GREENLAND: PLEASE NOTE THE DETAILS OF THE GREENLAND SECTION OF THIS TOUR WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY
UPDATED: OCT 15 2017
DAY 1- FRIDAY AUGUST 9 2019
We fly overnight from North America arriving the next morning.
DAY 2- SATURDAY AUGUST 10
BLUE LAGOON & REYKJAVIK
arrival early this morning, we transfer from Keflavik Airport on the
Reykjanes Peninsula 50 km east of Reykjavik to enjoy a swim in the
legendary warm waters of the man-made Blue Lagoon. The turquoise colour
of the geothermally-heated water contrasts with the black volcanic lava
around it. The water of the lagoon is famous for its healing properties.
The mineral-rich waters are naturally warm [30C – 38C.] After our
relaxing introduction to one of Iceland’s many natural charms, we visit a
geothermal power station to learn how most of Reykjavik’s electricity
and hot water comes from underground volcanic heat. 88% of all houses in
Iceland are heated with geothermal water and 75% of the total energy
consumption in Iceland comes from renewable sources. Before checking
into our hotel in downtown Reykjavik, we start our guided city tour of
Reykjavik, including seeing the Presidential Residence at Bessastadir,
the Perlan revolving restaurant for a panoramic view out over the city,
the towering Hallgrimskirkja church and the old town and harbour.
First of 2 nights in Reykjavik. Hotel Leifur Eiriksson or similar. Dinner.
DAY 3- SUNDAY AUGUST 11
This morning we take a guided tour of the National Museum of Iceland and the surrounding university area. We also see Höfdi House where the all-important summit meeting between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev took place in 1986. We see the sculptures in the gardens of the Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum. Downtown we see the Parliament Building and the New City Hall. This afternoon is free to enjoy the world’s most northerly capital. The name Reykjavik means ‘Smoky Bay’ and derives from the first settlers who noticed steam rising from the ground around the hot springs in the area. The city, although small in population [120,000 in the city and 100,000 in the surrounding suburbs], has everything larger cities have to offer. Reykjavik is known for its interesting museums, galleries, great restaurants and cafes. Reykjavik’s unique proximity to nature, with the Salmon River running through it, a thermal beach at Nautholsvik, green valleys and outdoor swimming pools gives this city a wonderful quality of life.
Second of 2 nights in Reykjavik. Hotel Leifur Eriksson or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 4-MONDAY AUGUST 12
REYKJAVIK – ICELANDIC HORSES – GEYSIR – GULLFOSS – SOUTH COAST
drive out of the city to a farm and horse breeding centre near Reykholt
where we get to know the Icelandic horse and its special qualities. We
also learn how Icelanders use geothermal heat to produce greenhouse
crops such as tomatoes. We later drive to the Geysir thermal area, where
hot springs are found in abundance and at least one, Strokkur, erupts
every few minutes. On a clear day the active volcano Hekla is a sublime
sight. Next, we head on to visit the “Golden Waterfall”, Gullfoss.
First of 2 nights on the south coast. Hotel Hvolsvollur or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 5- TUESDAY AUGUST 13
THE WESTMAN ISLANDS
This morning we travel with our bus by ferry half an hour off the south coast of Iceland to the legendary Vestmannaeyjar (Westman) Islands, an archipelago of 15 islands, which were formed by submarine volcanoes around 11,000 years ago – except for Surtsey, which rose from the waves as recently as 1963. The emergence of this new land out of the sea allowed scientists to study patterns of colonisation by plants and animals. Only 1 of the islands (Heimaey) is inhabited. The islands are the centre of a thriving fishing industry and are home to vast numbers of over 30 species of sea birds. On our June tours we hope to see hundreds of thousands of puffins nesting. By mid-August the puffins have left to spend the winter at sea. The Westman Islands are (in)famous for the eruption of Eldfell Volcano in 1973, which caused the entire population of over 4,000 people to be evacuated for several months. We see where 400 houses lie buried by the lava and learn about the eruptions at the local museum.
Second of 2 nights on the south coast. Hotel Hvolsvollur or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 6- WEDNESDAY AUGUST 14
SOUTH COAST – VATNAJOKULL GLACIER
As we drive east along the south coast this morning we should be able to see the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, which erupted so dramatically in April 2010, causing thousands of flights to be cancelled across Europe. We stop to admire the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss and drive on to Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland, where the black basalt cliffs are sculpted by the sea and eroded to form a black sand beach. We cross the Myrdals Desert and pass through the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur to our overnight stop where we hope to be able to see the largest glacier cap in Europe – Vatnajokull.
Overnight near Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Fosshotel Nupar or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 7- THURSDAY AUGUST 15
GLACIER LAGOON CRUISE – EAST COAST
morning we cross the Skeidararsandur Desert and skirt Skaftafell
National Park. Europe’s largest national park encompasses a breathtaking
collection of peaks and glaciers with thundering waterfalls, twisted
birch woods, the tangled web of rivers threading across the moorland.
Later this morning we take a boat trip among the glaciers and icebergs
of Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. We drive to the village of Hofn at the
southeast corner of Iceland. Heading up the east coast, at the small
fishing village of Stodvarfjordur, we admire the collection of Icelandic
rocks and minerals at Petra’s museum of minerals and learn about the
fascinating, ever-changing geology of Iceland. We drive along in the
shadow of Mount Bulandstindur. Further north we pass through the fishing
village of Faskrudsfjordur located at the end of a 15 Km-long fjord.
This was the main station for French fishermen in East Iceland both
prior to and well after the turn of the 19th century. Fáskrúdsfjördur is
famous for its French heritage and has a strong connection with its
sister town Gravelines in France. Reydarfjordur had a large British
garrison during World War II to prevent Germany invading Iceland.
Travelling past snowcapped mountains and cascading waterfalls we reach
Lake Lagarfljot. Since saga times, tales have been told of a monster who
lives in the depths of the lake.
Overnight at Lake Lagarfljot. Hotel Hallormsstadir or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 8- FRIDAY August 16
EGILSSTADIR – LAKE MYVATN – AKUREYRI
The scenery changes totally as we pass through Egilsstadir, the largest village in the east of Iceland surrounded by the largest forest in Iceland, and cross Modrudalsoraefi, the desolate interior of Iceland, where you may think we are on the surface of the moon. In fact, some of the Apollo astronauts actually trained here before their lunar landings. Iceland is one of the most geologically active countries in the world. The Krafla Power Station is unique in Iceland because it relies on geothermal steam for its operation, rather than super-heated water. At Hverir we see the sizzling and bubbling sulphur mud pots. Later we stop at Víti [Inferno], an explosive crater on the slopes of Krafla Mountain. Beautiful Lake Mývatn, the calm, shallow lake at the heart of a volatile volcanic area, is a great inland area for bird-watching (geese, Arctic terns, golden plovers, ducks and swans can be seen.) Herds of wild reindeer roam the mountains. At Lake Myvatn we stop at the Bird Museum where all but one of the birds found in Iceland are displayed in a private collection. At Dimmuborgir [Dark Castles] towering lava formations characterize the landscape. We drive on to the town of Akureyri on the Eyajafjordur, a long inlet of the Arctic Ocean (also known as the “Greenland Sea.”)
First of 2 nights in Akureyri. Icelandair Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 9- SATURDAY AUGUST 17
AKUREYRI – FAR NORTH – AKUREYRI
This morning we drive further north to the town of Siglufjordur and visit its museum that tells the story of the once-important herring fishing industry. At the Hofsos Emigration Center we learn about the large numbers of Icelanders who left to settle in Canada and the US in the early 1900s. Returning to Akureyri, we enjoy sightseeing in Iceland’s second largest city, including a walk in the botanical gardens. Akureyri is the capital of the northern part of Iceland. Snow-capped peaks rise behind the town and yet across the city flower boxes, trees and well-tended gardens belie the city’s location just a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle. It is a prosperous town. Its fishing company and shipyard are the largest in the country, and the city’s university (established in 1987) gives the town a youthful exuberance.
Second of 2 nights in Akureyri. Icelandair Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 10- SUNDAY AUGUST 18
AKUREYRI – NORTH COAST – WEST COAST
We travel over the mountains and isolated valleys of the north coast via the town of Blonduos to the Fjord Hrútafjördur and down the west coast passing the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the setting Jules Vern chose for his novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
Overnight near Borgarnes. Icelandair Hotel Hamar or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 11 -MONDAY AUGUST 19
REYKHOLT – THINGVELLIR – REYKJAVIK
drive inland to Reykholt where Snorri Sturlusson, the author of the
most famous Icelandic sagas and the Edda once lived. We see the
beautiful lava waterfalls at Hraunfossar. At Deildartunguhver we see the
hot spring that supplies all the hot water for the towns of Akranes and
Borgarnes. Hvalfjordur is a long “fjord” where Allied convoys sheltered
from German submarines during World War II on their way across the
Atlantic. Driving inland again across the mountains we reach the
National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir where our
guide will take us on a short walk to learn about the foundation of the
Icelandic parliament (the oldest in the world) as well as the unique
geology of the area where the North American and Euro-Asian plates are
moving apart at a rate of 0.7 cm per year. Nowhere is the dividing of
the tectonic plates easier to see. This afternoon we drive alongside
Iceland’s largest lake, Thingvallavatn, on our way back to Reykjavik.
Overnight in Reykjavik. Hotel Leifur Eiriksson or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
REYKJAVIK – GREENLAND
Thismorning is free for you to explore Reykjavík at your own pace. The cityhas a wonderful setting with a backdrop of snow-topped mountains, anocean that wets the very toes of the town and incredible volcanicsurroundings. You might enjoy a short whale-watching or puffin-viewingcruise out of Reykjavik’s harbour. This dynamic city is known for its
huge choice of restaurants and cafes as well as sophisticated shopping.You might also want to tour the dazzling Harpa arts centre on the waterfront. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight to Greenland
DAY 13 to DAY 19 GREENLAND
(details will be available shortly about the Greenland section)
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