Iceland: West Walk
We are perennially awestruck by the scenery in Iceland. Its panoramic beauty is evident everywhere, and the imagination is stirred by the fact that these landscapes are still being born from volcanoes and shaped by glaciers. It is a fantasy world of boiling mud pots, rugged coastlines, and rhyolite peaks. The steaming lava fields of Reykjanes Peninsula; the ever-changing landscape of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; the incredible oasis of Thorsmörk Valley; the mountains of gold, orange, purple, rose, and brilliantly green at Landmannalaugar – all form a tapestry of visual delight. You will walk through moss fields and meadows of wool grass, seek out rare orchids, and stop to bathe in warm rivers. A white glacial waterfall cascades 105 feet into a narrow canyon, leaving a rainbow in its wake, while nearby, a steaming geyser marks the time. The mystical grandeur of Snaefellsnes Peninsula, known as a microcosm of Iceland as a whole, is where elves and faeries are said to dwell. Come and look for them with us, while enjoying Iceland’s extraordinary, otherworldly beauty. It will change your appreciation for our planet!
Day 1: Blue Lagoon/Grindavík. Hike up to 2 hours, drive up to 3 hours
Meet at Keflavik Airport upon your arrival early in the morning, or at your hotel a bit later. Your Iceland adventure begins at a geothermal spa; the Blue Lagoon is perhaps the most supernatural looking body of water on Earth. The temperature averages about 40C (104F), and the soothing, mineral-rich water is rumoured to have curative powers. After lunch in the bustling fishing town of Grindavík, you will visit the Krysuvik geothermal area for a close look at some active bubbling mud pots and sizzling steam vents, or fumaroles. You’ll then transfer to “Frost and Fire”, your guesthouse in Hveragerdi. Here you can enjoy the naturally warmed swimming pool and “hotpot” beside the (warm) river, as well as a geothermal sauna. Before or after dinner you can take advantage of the many short hikes near your hotel which will allow you to explore surreal steaming hillsides. LD
Guesthouse Frost og Funi (Frost & Fire), Hveragerði
Day 2: The Westman Islands. Hike up to 1.5 hours, drive up to 2 hours
Todays adventure explores one of earth‘s newest volcanoes Eldfell, (Fire peak) on the Westman Islands, a collection of 15 islands off the South coast of Iceland. After a tranfer to Bakkahöfn we take a comfortable ~30 minute ferry ride to Heimaey, the only inabitated of the Westman islands. In January 1973, a volcanic fissure opened just outside of the town of Heimaey. In the middle of the night, all the inhabitants were evacuated by fishing boat to the mainland. Within 3 months lava flows and falling tephra had destroyed almost 40% of the town. You will walk though the town, up to the top of Eldfell volcano (still warm just a few centemeters below the surface at the top) and back through the town with a stop at a local reataurant for lunch, before taking the ferry back to the mainland. You may have time on returning to the mainland to visit the imressive Seljalandsfoss or Skógafoss. BLD
Hotel Rangá, Hella
Day 3: Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve. Hike 2-3 hours, drive up to 5 hours
Travel to Landmannalaugar via the Dómadalur valley, where your guide will help you choose one of several possible hikes. This unique pearl of the interior is situated in a valley between steep, colourful (yellow, orange and purple) mountains at the high, dark edge of a rhyolite lava field, where you may even see black obsidian (volcanic glass). Wandering through this intoxicating miasma of color, you will find Icelandic moss fields, meadows of wool grass, steaming springs, and bizarre lava formations, where bright blossoms defy the raw climate. This magnificent, fragile eco-system seems out of place amidst these volcanic mountains, and you may start believing in elves and fairies as you enjoy bathing in an earth-warmed river. You will quickly understand why Ridley Scott chose this otherworldy place to film his most recent Alien movie – Prometheus. BLD
Leirubakki Guest House, Leirubakki.
Day 4: Gullfoss, Geysir, and the Þingvellir Valley. 2 hour walk (plus sightseeing stops) drive up to 3.5 hours
Start with a drive across the fertile agricultural region of Iceland on your way to visit two of the natural wonders of the world. Gullfoss is an enormous glacial cascade dropping 105 feet into a narrow canyon. The spectacular two-tiered cataract throws up a mist that hangs in the air like fine drizzle, often forming rainbows in the sunlight. Nearby, the geyser “Strokkur”, younger sibling of the ancient and fabled “Great Geyser” is a sight to behold. This landmark of Iceland emits an eruption of steam and boiling water every 4-8 minutes, and is truly a natural phenomenon. In nearby Thingvellir National Park, you will learn about the history of Iceland, and its ancient parliaments, while walking along the Mid-Atlantic Rift. It is so evident here you can step from one side to the other. See if you can feel the tectonic plates separating! After a walk through the dense vegetation of the National Park, you will be transferred back to your hotel. BL
Hotel Fluðir, Fluðir
Day 5: Glacier views, waterfalls, and Eldborg crater. Hike up to 2 hours, drive up to 5 hours
Visit the Kaldidalur Valley (Cold Valley) where you can view the splendid Langjökull glacier, one of the largest in Iceland. Stop at Barnafoss (Children’s Falls) and Hraunfoss (The Lava Falls). After lunch you will transfer toward the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, stopping to hike to the top of Eldborg, often called “The Perfect Crater”. After this hike you will continue along the southern coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula where you will overnight in the shadow of the Snæfellsjökull glacier, made famous in Jules Verne’s A Jouney to the Center of the Earth. BLD
Hótel Framnes, Grundarfjörður or Hotel Hellnar, Snaefellsbaer.
Day 6: Explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Hike up to 4 hours, drive up to 2 hours
Start with an easy hike along the coast from Hellnar village to Arnarstapi village. Along the way you will see unique coastal lava formations and colonies of thousands of seabirds. After lunch explore the northern coast of the Snæfellsnes, including the town of Stykkishólmur where you will have a chance to visit a unique museum of art related to volcanic activity. The curator Professor Haraldur Sigurðsson, will guide you through his museum and art collection, including a painting by Andy Warhol. If you are so inclined there are a number of other interesting small museums in town as well. Tonight you will dine and stay at the superb hotel Búðir. If you don't believe in elves yet…after staying here…you'll understand why 80% of Icelanders do; this location is utterly magical. BLD
Hotel Budir, Snaeffelsnes
Day 7: Drive up to 3 hours
A morning transfer will take you back to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, where you may discover the wonders of this city on your own. Stops will be made at hotels for those who are staying in Reykjavik and an airport shuttle will depart at 14:00 for adventurers who are traveling home today. B
|Start:||Keflavik International Airport, 09:00, day one.|
|Finish:||Reykjavik, 14:00, day seven.|
|Guided Cost:||$3395 (per person, includes 7 days, 6 nights, 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners, entry fees, luggage handling, all transfers, bilingual guide)|
|2013 Guided Dates:||Jul 20-26. Add your own dates (learn more).|
|Extend your stay:||There is no shortage of adventure awaiting you in Iceland. Call us to discuss options best suited to you. Some extend their trip by a day to include hiking the glacier at Snæfellsnes, others just add a night or two for exploring Reykjavik. Be sure to visit the Cinema Cafe by the docks to see the volcano documentary. Iceland Air links North America, Iceland, and Europe, making it easy to add a visit to over 20 destinations in Europe, before or after your adventure.|
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.