TOUR OVERVIEW / HIGHLIGHT
Drive north through the Icelandic Highlands along Kjolur mountain road, an area favoured by outlaws in centuries past. Bathe in natural hot springs at geothermal oasis Hveravellir, as boiling mud pits and steaming fumaroles vent all around you. We'll explore Akureyri, the capital of northern Iceland, and hike around Lake Myvatn, known for its exceptionally rich bird life. Other highlights include the Myvatn Nature Baths, Europe's largest waterfall Dettifoss, and an excursion to Grimsey Island, which is located directly on the Arctic circle.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
DAY 01: ARRIVAL - REYKJAVIK
Welcome to Iceland!
You are met on arrival and transferred through the moon-like landscapes of Reykjanes peninsula to capital city Reykjavik for a 1-night stay.
DAY 02: REYKJAVIK / GOLDEN CIRCLE / THE HIGHLANDS
We start the day with a drive to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thingvellir is situated in the dramatic rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates pull apart, clearly visible at the great Almannagja or Everyman’s Gorge.
Our next stop is at Geysir, the place that gave its name to the phenomenon worldwide.
From here, a 10-minute drive takes you to Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, Iceland’s most famous waterfall.
After lunch, we head north along the Kjölur mountain route, stopping along the way at Hveravellir, a geothermal oasis in the highlands.
Overnight in the Skagafjordur region.
DAY 03: THE HIGHLANDS / AKUREYRI
Enjoy a leisurely morning and take in the beautiful surroundings. You have the option of going horseback riding, river rafting, or sailing out to the island of Drangey. This 180m sheer cliff island has one place to land a boat and only one narrow and steep path that leads to the top of the island. Once there, you can enjoy the varied birdlife and stunning views, and hear amazing tales of Grettir the Viking hero who lived on the island one thousand years ago.
In the afternoon, we´ll visit the town of Hofsos, where the Icelandic Emigration Center commemorates Icelandic emigrants to North America. Our route continues north around the so-called Troll Peninsula, through the fishing villages of Siglufjordur, Olafsfjordur and Dalvik, until we reach Akureyri, Iceland´s second largest city with a total population of 17,000. This surprisingly cosmopolitan town has an excellent selection of cafes, restaurants and museums, as well as Iceland´s largest botanical garden.
DAY 04: AKUREYRI / LAKE MYVATN
Today we head east from Akureyri to the Lake Myvatn area, a starkly beautiful but otherworldly landscape of sputtering mudpots, weird lava formations, steaming fumaroles and volcanic craters. The area is also world-famous among bird-watchers. Most species of waterfowl present in Iceland are found here in great numbers, including 13 different species of duck. Here, we´ll explore the pseudo-craters at Skutustadagigar, the lava formations at Dimmuborgir, the explosive crater Hverfjall, and the geothermal area at Namaskard. At the end of the day, you may choose to take a dip in the mineral-rich waters of the Myvatn Nature Baths.
DAY 05: KRAFLA EXCURSION
Today we´ll go for easy hikes in the lavafields northwest of Lake Myvatn. Krafla is a volcanic caldera about 10km in diameter with a 90km long fissure zone. There have been 29 reported eruptions here in recorded history. From the rim above Leirhnjukur crater one can look out over the Krafla caldera and the lava fields that dissect it. The earth´s crust is extremely thin here and in places the ground is ferociously hot.
DAY 06: LAKE MYVATN / JOKULSARGLJUFUR / HUSAVIK / AKUREYRI
Today’s focus is the Jokulsargljufur National Park, which translates as “Glacial River Canyon,” Iceland’s most well-known canyon replete with extraordinary rock formations, waterfalls, and plant life. We´ll walk in at least two of its main areas, starting with Dettifoss in the south, which is Europe’s most powerful waterfall (often compared to Niagara Falls), and Asbyrgi, the wooded horseshoe canyon at the park’s northern end. Birdlife en route are snipes, ptarmigans, and snow bunting, with gyrfalcon, merlin and ravens nesting on cliffs and rock pillars.
In the later afternoon, a two-hour drive via the coastal town of Husavik (also known as the whale watching capital of Iceland) returns you to the hotel in Akureyri.
DAY 07: AKUREYRI / GRIMSEY ISLAND / REYKJAVIK / BLUE LAGOON
Today, you take the 25-min flight north to Grimsey, the tiny 5-sq km island 40 km off the north coast of Iceland (pop. 100). This is the only part of Iceland bisected by the Arctic Circle. Here a local guide will welcome you and take you on a 1-hour walk around the island, after which you will receive a certificate for having crossed the Arctic Circle.
Your flight then returns to Reykjavik after refueling in Akureyri.
Spend your final night near the airport at the luxurious Retreat Hotel of Blue Lagoon, a unique natural pool of mineral-rich geothermal water located in the middle of a lava field in the pure and beautiful Icelandic wilderness. The lagoon is known for its special properties and its beneficial effect on the skin and attracts visitors from all over the world in search of health, relaxation, and an exotic experience.
Farewell dinner at MOSS restaurant, located inside the Retreat Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
DAY 08: BLUE LAGOON - DEPARTURE
Built into an 800-year-old lava flow on the south shore of the Blue Lagoon, The Retreat embodies the harmonic convergence of nature, design, and the radiant powers of geothermal seawater. The spa journey culminates with the Blue Lagoon Ritual. In a spacious sanctuary of interconnected chambers, you cover your body with the three treasures of geothermal seawater: silica, algae, and minerals. Silica brings radiance and cleansing, the algae brings nourishment and anti-aging, and the minerals bring exfoliation and revitalization.
The morning is yours to rejuvenate before heading to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!
ACCOMMODATION WE LOVE:
8D7N - 1N Reykjavík, 1N Skagafjordur, 2N Akureyri, 2N Lake Myvatn, 1N Blue Lagoon