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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

ICELAND

Reykjavik, Vik, Hofn, Egilsstadir, Husavik, Akureyri, Snaefellsnes
Superimposed on the rugged terrain of Iceland is a resilient and independent culture, fashioned over the years by the descendants of farmers and warriors who fled the tyranny of mediaeval Scandinavia. In the midst of a landscape both terrifyingly harsh and sublimely beautiful, one finds friendly, hospitable people with a very distinct culture and unique sense of humour. This is an obvious addition to our roster for 2017 onward. Iceland is a hot (so to speak), up-and-coming destination for those who crave a bit of adventure, spectacular sights, unique cultures, and cuisines. It's also one of the safest and healthiest places on Earth -- they don't even have mosquitos!
ITINERARY
Day 1 • Arrival in Reykjavik
Arrival in Reykjavik. After settling into the hotel you may have free time to explore the city on your own.*

The first people known to have inhabited Iceland were Irish monks or hermits who came in the eighth century, but left with the arrival of the pagan Norsemen, who systematically settled Iceland in the period AD 870-930. Iceland was thus the last European country to be settled. Iceland is Europe's second largest island (103,000 sq. km), and the present population is approximately 320,000. More than half of this population lives in or around the capital, Reykjavik; the rest of the population is dispersed around the coastal fringes, leaving the highland center of the country uninhabited.

* For those with a little extra time and the inclination, you may choose to arrive a day (or two) early and enjoy the country's only Gay Pride festival. We don't include it as it's not everyone's thing, and hotel nights are rather costly at that time. If you'd like to attend, it's best to book ASAP so that hotel and air can be arranged as early as possible (in 2017, the Pride Parade will take place Saturday, 12 Aug).

Overnight in Reykjavik.
Meal plan: Dinner
Day 2 • Reykjavik: City Tour & Blue Lagoon
This morning we will enjoy a city tour of Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital, and one of the newest, having established itself only in the late 19th century. Our sightseeing tour will include a visit to the Old town and the Old Town harbour. The Old Town is centered around the Tjornin, a small pond on whose shores, Ingolfur Arnarson, founded the original settlement in 874. It is here where both the Town Hall and Althing, or National Assembly, is located. We will also learn about Iceland's move toward equality and about its leadership role in LGBTQ rights.

At the National Museum of Iceland we will learn about the Norse and Icelandic culture. This museum houses objects of religious and folk relics, and tools dating from the period of settlement. On our tour we will enjoy a short walk along seafront, and we will also see the city Cathedral, the City Hall and the House of Parliament.

We include an afternoon visit to the Blue Lagoon before returning to Reykjavik for dinner.

Overnight in Reykjavik.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 3 • Geysir - Gullfoss Waterfall - South Shore - Vik
This morning we depart from Reykjavik and head towards some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland, a region often referred to as the Golden Circle. After passing through the village of Hveragerdi we will explore Gullfoss, the 'Golden Waterfall'. We then head to the nearby geothermal area spouting the hot springs of Geysir and Strokkur. This region is famous for its numerous hot springs and boiling mud pools.

We then continue along the south shore past the Eyjafjallajokull* ice cap, famous for its eruption in early 2010. The glacier feeds many beautiful waterfalls and we visit two of them, stopping to admire the enchanting waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss before continuing to the village of Vik nearby which we will make a short visit to the black sand beach south of Vik.

* A NOTE on Icelandic place names and spelling: the written Icelandic language relies on many special characters that are not necessarily compatible with many internationally used computer programs, most notably those responsible for the text on our website. While our preference is to render local place names as accurately as possible, for the sake of clarity, we have transliterated some special characters to their closest phonetic equivalent with our apologies to our Icelandic hosts.

Overnight in the Vik area.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 4 • Vik - Skaftafell National Park - Jokulsarlon Lagoon - Hofn
Today we cross Eldhraun, the largest mass of lava ever to flow on the face of the earth.

Our tour continues over Skeidararsandur sands to Skaftafell National Park. We continue on to the breathtaking Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon to see the birthplace of icebergs. We will have some time to view this stunning area before we take a boat tour on the glacial lagoon. Jokulsarlon started to form in the early 1920's and is getting bigger every year. You will see many amazing blocks of ice that have broken off Europe's biggest glacier, Vatnajokull, and sail slowly towards the ocean, which is only a kilometer away.

We will also enjoy a Jeep tour on Vatnajokull Glacier. Vatnajokull, translating as "glacier of rivers", is the largest glacier in Iceland and is located in the southeast of the country. At 8100 square kilometres it is the second largest glacier in Europe and the average thickness of the ice is an incredible 400m. Under the glacier are numerous active volcanoes.

Overnight in Hofn.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 5 • Hofn & East Fjords
Today we drive through some spectacular fjord scenery and visit charming fishing villages as we head to the capital of east Iceland, Egilsstadir.

We move on to witness the towering mountains plunging vertically into the sea that form the magnificent East Fjords. This stunning mountain region has been sculpted as much by glaciers as volcanic activity. The spectacular road winds from one fjord to another, passing a few farms in each fjord where there is enough flat land for hayfields.

Along our route we will make a stop at Petra's stone collection in Stodvarfjordur. The area surrounding the town is abundant with different types of rocks and minerals, and many examples of these are displayed at this museum.

Overnight in Neskaupsstaour.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 6 • Neskaupsstaour - Jokulsargljufur - Asbyrgi - Husavik
Today we will explore the empty vastness of the highland desert plateau Modrudalsoraefi before heading to the wonderful Jokulsargljufur Canyon National Park, visiting sites such as the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss and the horseshoe-shaped canyon Asbyrgi. Prepare yourself to be amazed by the unique natural beauty of Husavik, the hub of northeast Iceland. A Swedish Viking, Gardar Svavarsson, first settled this charming fishing village in 870. The name Husavik means "Bay of Houses" and is believed to be one of the oldest local names in the country.

Overnight in Husavik.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 7 • Husavik Whale Watching - Godafoss - Akureyri
Today we will begin the day with a whale-watching trip from Husavik. This is a beautiful coastal town and the 'whale watching capital of Europe'. Most commonly sighted are Minke whales and white beaked dolphins, but with luck we may see others such as humpbacks and even the giant blue whale. We will also be sure to visit the local Whale Museum.

Later we head towards the bustling northern port of Akureyri with a stop at the magnificent Godafoss waterfall and one of Iceland's best preserved turf farms at Laufas, dating from 1865. Akureyri, the 'Capital of the North', boasts some of the finest timber buildings in the country, beautifully restored to their original glory.

You will have time to explore the center of this charming town with its many galleries and shops. Located 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, this is the cultural, commercial and educational centre for northern Iceland. This northerly town is remarkably green and has the northernmost botanical garden in the world.

Overnight in Akureyri.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 8 • Akureyri - Lake Myvatn - Akureyri
Today will be spent exploring the Lake Myvatn and its surroundings.

The lake and its surrounding wetlands, created by a large basaltic lava eruption, have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds. Laxa River, one of the most bountiful and sought after fishing rivers of the country, runs from Myvatn.

This is an area of natural beauty, including the peculiar lava formations at Dimmuborgir and the pseudocraters at Skutustaair. Today we will also see the volcano Krafla. Krafla is one of Iceland's most spectacular and most active volcanoes. During the 1970's and 1980's, it became famous for its "Krafla Fires" -- curtains of lava fountains from a system of fissures inside the huge caldera. Today we will also visit Namaskard Pass with its boiling mud pools and vibrant colours.

Nearby is the massive symmetrical crater of Hverfell. This 2500-year-old crater rises 463 meters high and is 1040 meters across.

We end the day by relaxing in the Myvatn Nature Baths and enjoy bathing in a pool of geothermal water drawn from depths of up to 2500 meters.

Overnight in Akureyri area.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 9 • Skagafjordur - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Today we make an early start as we head out to explore the western regions of Iceland.
Majestic mountains and narrow passes lead to Skagafjordur. A quarter of area residents here make their homes in the country, since Skagafjordur is one of Iceland's most prosperous agricultural regions, with widespread dairy and sheep farming in addition to the horse breeding for which the region is famed. Skagafjoraur is the only county in Iceland where horses outnumber people in population.

We will pass the small seaside village of Blonduos. The Blanda River, which divides the town in two parts, is one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in Iceland. Along the way we visit a reconstructed Viking house once home to Eirik the Red and his son Leif Eiriksson -- the two most famous travelling Vikings. The 'Eirikstadir' gives an interesting insight to way of life for the early settlers and an introduction to the historic tradition of the 'Icelandic Sagas'.

We continue to cross westward towards the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, situated to the west of Borgarfjordur. The land around the fjord has been inhabited since the time of Icelandic settlement.

Overnight on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 10 • Snaefellsnes Peninsula Tour
Today will be spent touring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Our journey will take us across the north coast and out to the tip of the peninsula before crossing the southern coastline.

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a veritable heartland of history. Some of the best and most important sagas took place here, and it is said that Christopher Columbus once spent a winter in Ingjaldsholl, where he heard stories of lands to the west. The enchanting landscape of Snaefellsnes is brimming with lava caves, waterfalls and mineral hot springs. We travel here to appreciate the natural beauty, see the ocean shores, mountains, rivers and waterfalls as well as the more dramatic lava formations. The landscape is a gallery of strange and beautiful lava formations, the skies are filled with birds, and the sea is alive with marine life.

The charming fishing village of Grundarfjordur on the north coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is set within a region justly reputed for splendid scenery and the conically shaped Kirkjufell Mountain. Our journey will take us through small fishing villages and around the west edge of Snaefellsnes to the Snaefellsjokull National Park. The landscape here is characterized by sandy beaches, rocky shoreline and jagged mountains, crowned by the mysterious shimmering cone of the Snaefellsjokull glacier. We can take some time along the route to walk along the windswept beaches.

From the small fishing village of Arnarstapi with its amazing birdlife we will view Mount Stapafell, with the famous Snaefellsjokull glacier in the background. The harbour here is considered by some to be the most beautiful in Iceland.

Overnight on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 11 • Snaefellsnes Peninsula - Thingvellir National Park - Reykjavik
Our sightseeing today will include the Icelandic Settlement Centre exhibition at the village of Borgarnes. This visit will be followed by a drive to Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in the world. We will make a stop to admire the beautiful Hraunfossar Waterfall. This is a series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 meters out of the Hallmundarhraun, a lava field which flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjokull. We then continue over the breathtaking Kaldidalur mountain pass (depending on road and weather conditions).

We continue to Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland's largest lake, and to Thingvellir National Park. The area became Iceland's first National Park in 1928 and a World Heritage area in 2004. Thingvellir World Heritage area is where the world's first 'democratic parliament' meeting took place. Geologically it is also unique as the American and European tectonic plates meet here. Sitting right on top of a major fault line, the area abounds with waterfalls, immense fissures and the largest lake in the country.

Overnight in Reykjavik.
Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 12 • Departure from Iceland
Departure from Reykjavik.

GODA FERD!
Meal plan: Breakfast

For detailed itinerary (PDF), click here
For hotel samples, click here
INCLUSIONS
  • Breakfast and dinner (local restaurants & hotels) daily
  • All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary
  • Gratuities for driver, restaurant staff, porters (if available) Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates and for early / late arrivals who book their extra accommodation through us
EXCLUSIONS
  • Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), any excursions referenced as 'optional'
  • Airport transfers for Land Only customers
  • * Optional trip cancellation insurance
  • Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping
  • * Beware private airport transfers in Iceland are costly
  • Taxis are reliable and much cheaper
OUT FACTOR
Lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender rights in Iceland are very progressive. In February 2009, a minority government took office, headed by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world's first openly gay head of government in modern times. In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, a LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Iceland was ranked first with a GHI score of 79.
PLEASE NOTE
This itinerary is correct at time of publishing. For a more detailed itinerary, download a PDF here. We reserve the right to make changes as necessary due to reasons beyond our control. For booking terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Terms.
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TRIP NOTES
Group size
10-16 plus Tour Leader
Staff & Support
Tour Leader, driver/s, local step-on guides at some locales.
Accommodation
Mid-range (3*), well-located, heated, simple hotels and inns throughout. Many are smaller properties (2-3 story) and may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite toilet and bath, though some will have shower only (no tub). Porters may be available (see 'Inclusions'), though you must be prepared to manage your own luggage to and from your hotel room.
Transport & travel conditions
Land transport provided by private heated motor coach, +/-24 seats depending on ultimate group size. Many walking tours on uneven surfaces.
Weather/seasonality
The range of temperatures experienced on this tour will be WIDE. Though there will be many comfortable, summer-like days at locales visited, Iceland, as the name suggests, can still feel very wintry if you are near the sea, in a place exposed to winds, or near an icefield. July / August is mid-summer in Iceland, and daylight hours are long and temperatures are at their most comfortable. That said, summer temperatures are still on the cool-ish side, ranging from 9-14 C (48-58 F) on average, though some days could be up to 20 C+ (68-70 F) depending on aspect. There is no dry season in Iceland, with precipitation spread evenly throughout the year. For those with a little extra time and the inclination, you may choose to arrive a day (or two) early and enjoy the country's only Gay Pride festival. We don't include it as it's not everyone's thing, and hotel nights are rather costly at that time. If you'd like to attend, it's best to book ASAP so that hotel and air can be arranged as early as possible (in 2017, the Pride Parade will take place Saturday, 12 Aug).

The following is a sampling of our preferred properties in some of the locations visited on this tour and is meant to be indicative only. Hotel properties are not confirmed until 30-60 days before trip date. You can click on the hotel photo to view the official hotel website (if available). For sample hotels in other locations on this tour, please contact us.

Hotel Reykjavik


Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Reykjavik
Country: Iceland

Best Western Hotel Reykjavík is a three star hotel located just a few minutes' walk from Reykjavík's main shopping street and most popular attractions. The neighborhood has numerous restaurants, cafés, shops, museums and art galleries. With 85 rooms, the team at Best Western Hotel Reykjavík strives to cater to the individual needs of our guests with friendly and attentive service.

Click here to visit hotel website

Hotel Hofn


Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Hofn
Country: Iceland

Situated in south-eastern Iceland, in the coastal town of Höfn, this hotel offers local cuisine and modern en-suite rooms with a flat-screen TV. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi and free private parking.

All of Hotel Höfn’s guest rooms feature a work desk and cable TV access, and some also include a tea/coffee maker. Guests can enjoy glacier and sea views from most rooms.

Höfn Hotel’s restaurant serves lobster and other specialities from the surrounding area. During nice weather guests can dine on the furnished terrace.

The hotel is within 10 minutes’ walk of Höfn Harbour and Silfurnes Golf Club, while the Jökulsarlón glacier lagoon is less than 1 hours’ drive away. Staff can help organise hiking trips.

Click here to visit hotel website

Hotel Kea


Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Akureyri
Country: Iceland

Located in the heart of Akureyri, gateway to the rich natural splendor of northeast Iceland, Hotel Kea has been welcoming guests since 1944 with the same high standards of elegance, quality, service and comfort which would be expected of one of Iceland’s well-established hotels. The hotel offers four halls for meetings and conferences, bars and restaurant.
Comfort, rest and relaxation come easily in all of the 104 bedrooms. They all have private bathroom, coffee and tea, making facilities hairdryer, telephone, radio and satellite television. There is room service from morning till evening and same day dry cleaning, to mention but few of the benefits of staying with us.

Click here to visit hotel website