Land of fire and ice: Iceland
8 days 30 October and 6 November 2021
Join an unforgettable tour of Iceland’s majestic landscapes, timed to maximise days filled with volcanic and geological adventure, and evening opportunities to see the Aurora Borealis.
Spend time with a leading geologist Oliver Shorttle, discovering the might of the planet as you marvel at the sights, sounds and smells of erupting geysers, hot springs and bubbling mud. Plus stunning glaciers, waterfalls and visible tectonic plates pulling apart. Staying at 4 different hotels to reduce travelling and see more of Iceland.
In partnership with Intrepid Travel
Below is the itinerary for the 31st October departure.
The second departure on the 7th November features the same itinerary but in a slightly differing order.
DAY 1: ARRIVE REYKJAVIK
Meet your tour leader and your fellow guests, followed by a tour briefing.
DAY 2: GOLDEN CIRCLE TO HVOLSVOLLUR VALLEY
Visit Þingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland’s first parliament, founded in 930, and a geological wonder where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart. Next, head to Iceland’s Geysir geothermal area, where you’ll see the Strokkur geyser shoot water 30 metres into the air. Be spellbound by the immense beauty and sheer power of the Gullfoss Waterfall, also known as Golden Falls, before continuing on to the Hvolsvollur Valley, where you’ll spend the night on an Icelandic farm that has been converted into a guesthouse. Far away from the city lights, the guesthouse is an ideal Northern Lights base. If the skies are clear tonight, why not take a stroll out into the snow and look skywards for the dancing green lights.
DAY 3: HVOLSVOLLUR AREA
After breakfast meet your Superjeep drivers and head to the elegant Seljalandsfoss waterfall which is unique in its kind, as you can actually walk behind the plummeting falling stream without getting (too) wet, for a unique viewing angle. After a stop, continue to the legendary Thórsmörk valley, nestled in between three glaciers, with a stop at the Gígjökull glacier further up in the valley. From there you can hike up to the edge of the magnificent glacier Eyjafjallajökull that descends from the summit of a volcano in a jumble of crevasses.
Cross the deep and roaring rivers that guard the wooded surroundings of Thórsmörk, and you will have time to hike around the area and admire some of the many viewpoints it offers. Thorsmörk is Iceland‘s most popular hiking area, as visitors cannot fail to be in awe of its natural beauty and captivated by its charm. At the end of the day, return to your accommodation near Hvolsvollur for your overnight stay.
DAY 4: SOUTH COAST – SKOGAFOSS WATERFALL AND JOKULSARLON GLACIER LAGOON
Start the day with a trip to the eerily beautiful Skógafoss waterfall, one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. 25 metres wide and also dropping down 60 metres. You can get up close and feel its power, and also climb a (long) windy set of stairs up to a stunning viewpoint. On a sunny day you should be able to spot a rainbow or two in the spray. Continue along Iceland’s South Shore to take in more of the country’s renowned natural wonders. From the stepping-stone rock formations of Reynisdrangar, the promontory of Dyrhólaey, and the night black sand beach of Reynisfjara, this is one of the country’s most scenic regions. En route you will pass the lava of the Laki eruption of 1782 to 1783.
In the afternoon, you will visit the famous Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, a stunning sea of floating icebergs whose blues contrast with the charcoal coloured sand of the beach. Stop for the night at a farm stay on the South Coast. Weather permitting, there will be another opportunity to step outside and witness the natural wonders of the Northern Lights tonight.
DAY 5: VATNAJOKULL GLACIER
Today you’ll take a walk on Europe’s biggest ice cap – Vatnajokull – which has around 30 glaciers flowing out from it. No experience is necessary to partake in the hike. It’s sobering to think that the glacier is retreating due to rising world temperatures, and in future years the glacier may be gone. Alternatively, if you would like to opt out, just embark on a hike to the glacier’s tongue or return to the glacier lagoon at Jokulsarlon or Fjallsarlon.
If you prefer a relaxing morning you can explore the surroundings of the farmstay and head to the Thorbergur Centre. Later on today, journey to the black sand seaside town of Vik for lunch. With the sea on one side and high cliffs on the other, this dramatically positioned quaint little village is Iceland’s most southerly mainland settlement.
DAY 6: SECRET LAGOON AND REYKJAVIK
This morning we make our way to the Lava Centre which is an interactive, high-tech educational exhibition depicting volcanic activity, earthquakes and the creation of Iceland over millions of years. The centre introduces the Katla Geopark plus Iceland’s elaborate monitoring system for surveying volcanos and earthquake zones. After our visit, we will continue to the Secret Lagoon natural hot springs. Located in the small village called Fludir giving you the opportunity to relax in the warm thermal waters before travelling to Reykjavik where the remainder of the day will be at leisure.
Tonight, at an included dinner, meet geologist Oliver Shorttle, who will be hosting a talk later that evening on the geological proceses demonstrated across Iceland.
DAY 7: REYKJANES PENINSULA
Together with Oliver, head out to the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is a land-born, highly volcanic counterpart of the Mid-Atlantic Spreading Ridge where two tectonic plates part at an average rate of 2.0-2.5 cm/yr. Four volcanic systems and fissure swarms line the peninsula from SW to NE. They contain open fissures, normal faults, high-temperature geothermal fields and volcanic fissures.
On the final evening, there is a second talk from Oliver on his work on extra solar planets and geochemical cycling.
DAY 8: DEPART REYKJAVIK
Today is departure day and time to say ‘sjaumst’. Your group departure transfer will take you the airport for your flight home.