It’s a surprising, even astonishing land; one of massive glaciers and rumbling volcanoes, bubbling mud holes and powerful waterfalls; hugely abundant bird life and just 300,000 people; and where the sun never sets for six splendid weeks. It’s also perfect for exploring in a small group, as we discover traveling the breadth of the country and staying in excellent lodgings.
Depart U.S. for Reykjavik, Iceland
Upon our early morning arrival in Iceland’s capital, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and enjoy a scenic drive to our hotel in Borgarnes, stopping for breakfast along the way. After some free time to rest, we take an afternoon excursion to the thermal areas of Deildartunguhver and also to Hraunfossar Falls. Then we visit the Reyholt Cultural Centre, a historic site based on the life and residence of saga writer Snorri Sturluson who lived here between 1206 and 1241. Tonight we gather at our hotel for a briefing on the journey ahead followed by a welcome dinner. (B,D)
Today we encounter the stupendous scenery of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We begin with a walk along the shell sand beach at the abandoned fishing village of Budir, surrounded by a vast lava field. We also explore the caves and bizarre rock formations along the rugged shore at Arnarstapi, site of thousands of nesting cliff birds. After stopping for lunch – a traditional fresh seafood soup – at a rustic oceanfront restaurant, we visit Djupalonssandur where we see the haunting remains of abandoned coastal farms. (B,L,D)
It’s a surprising, even astonishing land; one of massive glaciers and rumbling volcanoes, bubbling mud holes and powerful waterfalls.
We travel towards the northeast corner of Iceland today, and to the fjords of Akureyri, Iceland’s northern capital. Along the way we visit Grasbrok Crater for scenic views. Next we call on a Gauksmyri farm featuring famed Icelandic horses – small, hardy, and with long manes. In Akureyri, we have free time for lunch on our own then take a guided coach and walking tour of this urban gem before checking in at our hotel. (B,D)
Today we travel to beautiful Lake Myvatn. One of the world’s natural wonders, Lake Myvatn and its environs of bubbling mud flats, lava fields, and lunar-like volcanic craters comprise a stunningly beautiful national park. Our explorations begin with a stop at Godafoss, the “waterfall of the gods” named for the carvings of Norse gods discarded here when the country was declared Christian a thousand years ago. We continue with a walk up to the fascinating Hverfjall crater, a local landmark. Later we see the region’s unique “pseudo craters,” the boiling mud pots at Namaskard, the bizarre lava formations at Dimmuborgir, the explosive crater at Viti, and the flat volcano system at Krafla. Our last stop is the incredible “Glacial River Canyon” National Park, yet another of Iceland’s natural wonders, where we walk to jaw-dropping Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall and Iceland’s “Niagara.” After this day of stunning scenery, we return to our hotel in time for dinner on our own tonight. (B)
Akureyri/Jökulsárgljúfur National Park
This morning we visit Hljodaklettar Echo Cliffs where we explore the labyrinth of “echoing rocks” created by the spiral basalt formations of arches and canyons here. We travel next to Asbyrgi, a huge canyon enveloped by towering walls; in the middle of the partially wooded canyon sits a huge hoof-shaped rock called “The Island.” We continue on to Husavik, where mid-afternoon we embark on a bird-watching cruise to Puffin Island to see the thousands of seabirds here (based on seasonality): puffins, black guillemots, fulmars, and Arctic terns. (B,L,D)
This morning we fly to Reykjavik; upon arrival we coach to Thingvellir National Park, known both for its historic import and as the place where the fissure between the geological plates of North America and Europe is most evident. It’s also a gem of nature, with canyons, caves, waterfalls, and ponds surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We learn about the historic parliament founded here in 930 CE, and walk along a gorge into the rift valley itself. After a lunch of wild freshwater trout at a lakeside hotel, we depart for famed Great Geysir and Gullfoss, Iceland’s immensely popular “golden” waterfall. Then we drive down to the southern coast to the beautiful agricultural area of Selfoss. (B,L)
This morning we walk along the black-sand beach at Reynisfjara, lined with columnar basalt-filled caves. Next we visit picturesque Seljalandfoss, Iceland’s most visited waterfall, followed by a stop at the Skogar Folk Museum, which depicts traditional life in Iceland. From here we walk to nearby Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, known for its rainbows on sunny days. After lunch on our own at the museum, we continue on to lovely Vik, Iceland’s southernmost town, where we’re free to explore on our own and to shop for items of locally produced wool. En route to our hotel, we stop by the Solheimajokull “sliding” glacier, so named for its rapid advance in the 1990s. (B,D)
Heading back to Reykjavik today we travel through “saga” country, the setting of one of the country’s famous medieval stories. Upon arrival in Reykjavik, we have lunch at a local restaurant then embark on a city tour of the Icelandic capital. Home to more than half of Iceland’s population, Reykjavik ranks as one of the world’s safest and cleanest cities. Later, we check in at our well-located hotel in the city center. Dinner tonight is on our own in this stylish city. (B,L)
Today is at leisure to explore and enjoy Reykjavik as we please; those who wish can join in an optional tour to the Blue Lagoon for a soothing bath in geothermal waters rich with silica, sulfur, and other minerals. The city is a sophisticated European urban center with museums and galleries; theater, symphony, and dance; boutiques and restaurants. Tonight we celebrate our adventure over a farewell dinner. (B,D)
Depart for U.S.
This morning is free, perhaps for some last-minute shopping. Early this afternoon we depart for the airport and our return flights to the U.S. (B)