Day 1 – Gullfoss, Geysir. Thingvellir (The Golden Circle) and South Coast
The day starts with pick up from your accommodation, or a nearby pick up point in Reykjavik. The three attractions of the famous Golden Circle are first up on the agenda. Thingvellir National Park is a very important place in the heart of every Icelander. In the year 930 CE/AD the Icelandic people established their parliament here, this is the oldest continually operating parliament in the world. There is more to Thingvellir than great history, this place is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, for its historical, geological and cultural importance. You will see ingvallavatn, home to Silfra fissure, which delves down between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The cliff of the rift valley runs right through the National Park. The geothermally active hot spring area at Geysir is another Golden Circle attraction. Great Geysir, which gave us the English word geyser to describe this sort of hot spring, is no longer active. Strokkur, a nearby hot spring, spouts spectacular torrents of superheated water every 5 to 10 minutes. A visit to Gullfoss waterfall will complete our Golden Circle, feel the force as the falls thunder through the high rugged canyon dropping 32 m in two stages. Next, we take a scenic drive along the beautiful south coast, stopping at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. Here you have a unique opportunity to experience the power and wonder of nature. Don’t just view these falls from a distance walk the pathway which takes you right behind the elegantly falling cascade. We head onwards to the scenic Skogafoss waterfall, here the water crashes down over the former sea cliffs, those cliffs extend for many kilometers marking the coastline of long ago. Watch out for rainbows the incredible spray makes Skogafoss an ideal spot to catch single or double rainbows! The final stop of the day is at Reynisfjara black sand beach, home of the legendary Reynisdrangar peaks, said to be the figures of two trolls who were turned into stone when they faced the morning sun! You will also see the incredible basalt column cave as you wander along the beach. After a full day of sightseeing we make our way to a country hotel in the area around Vik, a charming south coast village.
Day 2 – Vik – Skaftafell – Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – Hofn
We enjoy breakfast and check out. Today, we continue our journey along the south coast in the direction of Skaftafell and Vatnajokull National Park. Vatnajokull glacier, Hvannadalshnukur, the highest peak in Iceland, Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, and many other natural treasures can be found within this 13,600 km2 protected wilderness area. Iceland has three national parks: Thingvellir, Vatnajokull and Snaefellsjokull on this tour you will see them all. We will stop at Skaftafell for a glacier hike led by one of our certified glacier guides. Equipped with crampons and all the necessary glacier equipment you are led onto a Vatnajokull outlet glacier. These glacier tongues/outlet glaciers are amazing places, with crevasses, moulins which can drill down to the base of the glacier and a plethora of amazing vistas for you to explore. Our guides love to be asked questions, so don’t be too shy to ask! After your bracing glacier hike, our cozy minibus will whisk you away to experience yet more glacial magic at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. As we approach from the main highway you will glimpse a procession of mystically floating icebergs, these often towering and amazingly shaped chunks of ice broke free from the edge of the retreating Breidarmerkurjokull glacier. Occasionally, you will see seals frolicking in the enormous lake in between these stunning ice sculptures. So, you feel as if you are in a film scene? Well, actually you are! Footage of a couple of James Bond movies and other films has been shot here. Those icebergs, some with glittering blue ice, make their way to the sea at the Diamond Beach, a black sand beach just a few minutes walk from the Glacier Lagoon. The icebergs which been brought ashore by the tide come to rest here. Usually you will see quite a few sitting like translucent diamond jewels or giant shining clear quartz crystals on the coal-black sand. Some people call this the Crystal Beach! In the evening we will lay down our heads at comfortable accommodation near Hofn, a very pleasant seaside town and the lobster capital of Iceland.
Day 3 – East Fjords – Djupivogur – Egilsstadir
We leave the Vatnajkull National Park area behind but the sensational scenery certainly continues! We follow the twisting and turning roads, flanked by the coast on one side and majestic mountain peaks on the other, through the East Fjords to Egilsstair. This picturesque town on the banks of the Lagarfljt River is home to the legend of Largarfljtasormurinn, the Largarfljt worm. Tales of the giant Largarfljt worm, which is said to reside in the lake and show itself from time to time, are firmly established within Icelandic folklore tales. Along the way we stop off at Djpivogur, a small and really remote fishing village. The North Atlantic waves wash over the black sandy beach and a rich birdlife thrives, most Icelandic birds can be spotted around the area. There are more birds than people, Djpivogur is home to just over 1100 people, as a community they have a reputation for being welcoming and strongly committed to eco issues. We also do a 3 hour easy hike to Hengifoss, one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland, the falls drop into a really striking gorge. Look out for the layers of red strata threading their way through the cliff walls around the waterfall. This cliff was forged in the fire of many mighty volcanic eruptions, those layers of volcanic ash and basaltic lava developed over thousands of years. On our hike today we have not one, but two scintillating waterfalls for you to enjoy! The towering cascade of the Litlanesfoss waterfall is framed by giant hexagonal basalt columns, a truly impressive and photogenic sight. After our hike we make our way to our accommodation for the night in the picturesque area around Egilsstair.
Day 4 – Dettifoss, Lake Myvatn, Godafoss – Akureyri
Today is filled with stunning North Iceland highlights. The drive up from Egilsstadir will take us through wild and remote landscapes, we will show you Modrudalur, at 469 m the highest farm in Iceland, on our way to visit the magnificent Dettifoss waterfall. This is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, with an awesome flow rate of 193 m3/s (6,816 cu ft/s). The thundering Jokulsa a Fjollum River drops 44 m (144 ft) through the rugged canyon. There is a vastness and a rawness to the nature around Dettifoss, where this great river and the glacial floods of the past have carved out imposing ravines. Next, we head to the surreal Namaskard geothermal area, filled with colorful mud pools and fumaroles wafting clouds of steam and hot gases. Staying on the theme of geothermal heat we will make a stop at Myvatn Nature Baths, giving you the opportunity to bathe in the hot spring pools. Bathing is an optional extra activity but we highly recommend it! The entrance fee to the baths can be added when you book your tour or it can be paid on site. Those who dont want to bathe can enjoy a stroll around this extraordinary lunar-like landscape or relax in the cafeteria. The geothermally heated water in the baths wells up through the earth, it is very rich in minerals, alkaline, and skin-soothing. No chlorine or other chemicals are added, they are just not needed. Refreshed from the baths we continue to Hverfjall, a volcano crater, caused by an eruption 2500 years ago. We will also visit the Dimmuborgir lava formations, known as the dark cities, some of these lava forms will tower above us like fairytale giants. Dimmuborgir was formed when the roof of a giant lava tube collapsed. Although entirely natural, some formations may remind you of certain things. Can guess which one is known as The Church (Kirkjan). We continue our drive around picturesque Lake Myvatn on the way to Akureyri, making a stop at the stunningly beautiful Godafoss Waterfall. We will stay at a country hotel in the area around Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland.
Day 5 – Whale watching from Dalvik – Siglufjordur -Trollaskagi – Bifrost
We start the day with a drive through Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland, on a few departures there is time to make a short stop. On your way to the picturesque fishing town of Dalvik you will, in good visibility, get fabulous views of Eyjafjordur, the longest fjord in Iceland. Your whale watching boat tour from Dalvik will take you across Eyjafjordur Fjord, chasing after whales, dolphins and other wonderful ocean life. Humpback whales, dolphins and porpoises are usually seen, occasionally we see seals and blue whales. You get the chance to try a little sea angling if you want. When we get back to beautiful Dalvik we barbecue the catch right on the harborside, giving you a taste of fish straight out of the ocean. It’s also possible to upgrade to a 1.5 hour long rhib boat for a small fee (Apr-Oct), that gives you the opportunity to get closer to the whales. We continue to drive the scenic road sandwiched between the towering mountains of Icelands best ski resorts and the glorious fjord, taking us around the Trollaskagi peninsula. We pass through charming villages and hamlets before stopping at Siglufjordur, in the early part of the twentieth century this village was known as the herring fishing capital of the Atlantic. People rushed to cash-in on the boom, and the town acquired a klondike-style gold-rush atmosphere. Today, the great shoals of herring are long gone, but the rich history and character of those times in Siglufjordur are very well-preserved. The villages around this peninsula will give you a wonderful feel for the kind of life lived in Icelandic places which seem to be falling off the edge of the world. We travel onwards through farmlands with many fields of Icelandic horses, to Bifrost, a small university community. Your accommodation for the night will be at a country hotel in this area.
Day 6 – Borgarfjordur – Reykholt – Hraunfossar – Borgarnes
Today we focus our attention on the area around Borgarfjordur in West Iceland. This area was voted one of the best travel destinations by lonely planet in 2016. Our first stop is at Grabrok, a volcano crater. Where we take a short hike to the top, in good visibility there are stupendous views over the lava fields, and the landscapes stretching way into the distance. Your next interesting stop is very different! We make a visit to Deildartunguhver hot spring, this Borgarfjordur jewel is the most powerful hot spring in Europe, supplying most of the hot water utilised in the area. We will also take you to see Hraunfossar waterfall where the ice-cold water pours out of the lava in many thousands of rivulets, forming the very wide and picturesque falls. Onwards to a very different nearby waterfall, Barnafoss. The name of this very attractive waterfall means Childrens Falls, your guide will tell you all about the legend. Your final stop of the day is at Reykholt, an important place in the history of Iceland, particularly in medieval times. We will show you Snorralaug, the hot spring pool which bears the name of Snorri Sturluson, the 12th/early 13th century scholar, lawyer, historian and saga writer. Stand by the pool where Snorri is reputed to have bathed and contemplate the threads of Icelandic history which were woven together here. After a day of wonders you are driven through the very pleasant Borgarfjordur countryside, you are dropped off at your hotel in the Borgarnes area.
Day 7 – Borgarnes – Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Reykjavik
Today, you can linger a little over breakfast at your hotel, our expert Snaefellsnes guide will pick you up around 10:00. Snaefellsness really is a magical place, the scenery is just so diverse, everything from sharp coves with craggy cliffs, black pebble and sand beaches to a shimmering glacier. Yet, it is easy to travel around Snaefellsness in a single day! Your first stop of the day will be at the beach at Ytri-Tunga, home to a great many seals and birds. In Iceland most beaches are black volcanic beaches, very unusually this beach displays beautiful soft golden sand and gently undulating small dunes with wild grasses. We will drive you through spectacular countryside with breath-taking mountain and coastal views. Stops are made at the charming coastal villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, where you have the chance to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant (food and drink not included). Next, we head into Saenfellsness National Park, stopping at the 8000 year old Vatnshellir lava tube cave for a caving tour with a specialist caving guide. This tour needs to be booked as an *extra. You get to explore an incredible subterranean world with some scarcely believable natural lava formations, your guide will share some fascinating lava cave info with you. The caving tour is short and easy. Those who dont want to go caving have the chance to stroll around the moss covered lava landscapes and admire views of Snfellsjkull glacier. This is the glacier made famous by the novelist, Jules Verne. He chose this glacier for the entry point into the underworld when he wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth. Onwards to the magnificent black pebble beach at Djupalonssandur, framed by crazily shaped cliffs. You get time to explore the beach and even to try your hand at the lifting stones, the fisherman used to lift these boulders to proclaim their strength.This coastline is very beautiful but it can be treacherous, evidenced by the remains of the British Trawler, Epine, which was shipwrecked here. On the way back to Reykjavik you are driven through legendary scenery, your next stop will be at Kirkjufell, many people say this is the most photographed Icelandic mountain. We also stop at Gerduberg to see the incredible belt of geometric basalt columns. In the evening, after a week of sensational sights and exciting adventures, we drop you off in Reykjavik where we picked you up!