August 2 – 12, 2014
We invite you to join us on an exploration of Iceland. It’s a surprising, even astonishing land; one of massive glaciers and rumbling volcanoes, bubbling mud holes and powerful waterfalls; hugely abundant bird life and just 300,000 people; and where the sun never sets for six splendid weeks. It’s also perfect for exploring in a small group, as we discover traveling the breadth of the country under the guidance of Maria Luisa Crawford’60, professor emerita of geology.
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(please click on location to reveal details)
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DAY 1: Depart U.S. for Reykjavik, Iceland
Fly from the United States
DAY 2: Arrive Reykjavik/Borgarnes
Upon our early morning arrival in Iceland’s capital, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and enjoy a scenic drive to our hotel in Borgarnes, a small town on the shores of Borgarfjorour. Along the way we stop for breakfast then reach our hotel, where we have time to rest and have lunch on our own. This afternoon we get our first real taste of Iceland’s raw beauty as we embark on an excursion to Deildartunguhver, site of the country’s largest thermal spring; and also to Hraunfossar Falls, beautiful and unsual cold springs that well up through the lava landscape and cascade into the Hvítá River. From here we visit the Reyholt Cultural Center, a historic site based on the life and residence of saga writer Snorri Sturluson who lived here between 1206 and 1241. We return to our hotel late this afternoon and enjoy a welcome dinner there tonight. Accommodations: Hotel Hamar
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
DAY 3: Snaefellsnes
Today we encounter the stupendous scenery of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We begin on the south shore where we walk along the shell sand beach at Budir, surrounded by a vast lava field. We also explore the bizarre rock formations along the rugged shore at Arnarstapi, site of thousands of nesting cliff birds. After stopping for lunch – a traditional fresh seafood soup – at a rustic oceanfront restaurant, we visit Djupalonssandur where we see the haunting remains of boats that once took local fishermen to sea. We also visit a tiny parish church then have the opportunity to taste shark at the home of a local farmer who processes this former Viking delicacy himself. Late this afternoon we return to Borgarnes; tonight we dine together at the hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Hamar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 4: Borgarnes/Akureyri
We leave Borgarnes this morning, traveling towards the northeast countryside across highlands, dales, and fjords, through varying landscapes ranging from cattle farms to lava fields, to the volcanic region surrounding Lake Myvatn. We make two stops along the way: first to Gauksmyri Horse Farm to see Icelandic horses, a unique variety that has been bred only with other Icelandic horses since first brought here by the Vikings in 800 CE, then to the still-operating 17th-century Vidimyri church constructed of sod.
Mid-afternoon we reach Akureyri, capital of Iceland’s north region and where we stop for lunch on our own. This afternoon we tour this urban gem by coach and on foot, visiting the botanical garden and Akureyrarkirkja church, with its unusual interior. After checking in at our hotel, the remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure. Accommodations: Hotel Kea
DAY 5: Akureyri/Lake Myvatn
Today we travel to beautiful Lake Myvatn. One of the world’s natural wonders, Lake Myvatn and its environs of bubbling mud flats, lava fields, and lunar-like volcanic craters comprise a national nature reserve that ranks among the most beautiful sights in a country overflowing with natural beauty. Our explorations here begin with a stop at Godafoss, the stunning “waterfalls of the gods” named for the carvings of Norse gods tossed into the water when the country was declared Christian (and paganisn forbidden) a thousand years ago. This afternoon we make our way to the active volcano areas of the lake, including the boiling mud pots at Namaskard, the bizarre lava formations at Dimmuborgir, the explosion crater at Viti, and the flat volcano system at Krafla. You’ll want to bring your binoculars, as this is also a popular area for bird watching. We return to our hotel in time for dinner on your own tonight. Accommodations: Hotel Kea
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 6: Akureyri/Jökulsárgljúfur National Park
Today we visit the incredible Glacial River Canyon National Park, yet another of Iceland’s natural wonders, where we walk to jaw-dropping Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall and Iceland’s “Niagara.” We enjoy a walk around Hljodaklettar, the labyrinth of “echoing rocks” created by the spiral basalt formations of arches and canyons here. Then we drive to incredible Asbyrgi, also in the National Park, a huge canyon enveloped by towering walls; in the middle of the partially wooded canyon sits a huge hoof-shaped rock called “The Island.” After lunch on our own, we visit the picturesque fishing and whale-watching village of Husavik. Our afternoon excursion is a Puffin Island bird cruise. We embark a boat for a better view of the rich bird life on this island, aptly named for the 30,000 puffins who call it home. (Note: this included boat trip is dependent on weather conditions). Among the summer residents of the dramatic ocean cliffs of the headland, also a thriving bird refuge: puffins, guillemots, and fulmars. Following this scenic overload we return to our hotel in Akureyri. Dinner is on your own tonight. Accommodations: Hotel Kea
DAY 7: Akureyri/Reykjavik/Hella
This morning we transfer to the airport for a flight to Reykjavik, where upon arrival we board a coach for the drive to Thingvellir National Park. Revered for its historical importance – this is where Iceland’s Althing, or national assembly, met in open-air sessions from 930 CE to 1798 – Thingvellir also sits on an active volcanic site at the spot where the fissure between the geological plates of North Atlantic and Europe is most evident in Iceland. It’s also a gem of nature, with canyons, caves, waterfalls, and ponds surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We learn about Iceland’s historic parliament (the world’s oldest), and walk along a gorge into the rift valley itself. After lunch at a local restaurant, we depart for Great Geysir, the most famous of Iceland’s geysers; then continue on to Gullfoss, Iceland’s immensely popular “golden” waterfall with its spectacular two-tiered cataract. From Gullfoss we drive down to the country’s southern coast to the beautiful agricultural area of Hella, one of three main regional centers in South Iceland. Accommodations: Hotel Ranga
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 8: Hella/Vik
From the black-sand beach at Reynisfjara today, we drive through “saga” country to the visitor center at Thorvaldseyri Farm. This farm won instant worldwide fame in 2010 for the dramatic photograph taken of it with the billowing ash of Eyfjallajoköll volcano erupting in the background. Not only did the farm survive this eruption seen around the world, but amazingly its crops withstood the ashfall that blanketed them. We continue on to the lovely town of Vik, Iceland’s southernmost village surrounded by green hills, a massive icecap, the sea, and Katla, a notorious volcano. There’s time here for lunch on our own and to shop for items of locally produced wool before our touring resumes at stunning Solheimajokull glacier. Then we travel to Skogar to visit the country museum, where we learn about early life in Iceland. After a brief walk to the nearby Skogafoss waterfall, we return to our hotel late this afternoon and dine there tonight. Accommodations: Hotel Ranga
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
DAY 9: Hella/Reykjavik
Traveling back to Reykjavik this morning we stop at Seljalandsfoss, Iceland’s most photographed waterfall before continuing through “saga” country, the setting of one of the country’s famous medieval stories. Upon arrival in Iceland’s capital, we enjoy a lunch of traditional lobster soup at a local restaurant and then embark on a city tour. Sites include Hallgrimskirkja, the country’s largest church, with a sculpture garden and from its tower, excellent views of the city; Parliament house, the town’s oldest street, and the harbour. After checking in at our well-located hotel in the city center, the evening is at leisure; dinner tonight is on your own. Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 10: Reykjavik
Today is at leisure to explore and enjoy Reykjavik as we wish. It’s a sophisticated European urban center, with museums and galleries; theater, symphony, and dance; boutiques and restaurants. Interesting sites include Old Town, the Arni Magnusson Institute where Iceland’s historic sagas are kept; Nordic House designed by renowned architect Alvar Aalto; and the National Museum, which celebrates Nordic culture and Iceland’s history. You may also join an optional tour to the Blue Lagoon (at additional cost – approx. US$75 per person) for a soothing thermal bath. Tonight we gather with our fellow travelers for a farewell dinner. Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Depart for U.S.
This morning is at leisure; in the early afternoon we depart for the airport and our return flights to the U.S.
Cost and program Inclusions
|New York||Washington , D.C.||Land Only|
|*INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE|
- Small group size limited to 24 guests
- Round-trip air transportation; all flights within itinerary
- 9 nights’ accommodations in listed properties
- 19 meals: 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
- Extensive sightseeing as described in the day-by-day itinerary, including all entrance fees
- Services of a dedicated Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
- Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
- Luggage handling for one bag per person
- Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
- Airline taxes and departure fees (listed as separate item on invoice)
- Gratuities for the Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director (left to individual discretion)
Optional Post-Tour Extension:
GREENLAND (4 days/3 nights) includes round-trip air transportation Reykjavik/Kulusuk, Greenland; Round-trip helicopter transportation Kulusuk/Ammassalik; 3 nights’ accommodations: 2 nights in Ammassalik at Hotel Ammassalik (Not Rated); 1 night in Reykjavik at Hotel Reykjavik Centrum (First Class); 7 meals: 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners; Guided walking tour in Ammassalik; Services of a local Greenland representative; Gratuities for dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers.
Extension Price: $1,995
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Single Supplement: $295
Notes: Prices are per person based on double occupancy.
Prices from all U.S. cities available upon request.
Post-tour extension for representative not included.
Post-tour extension is not available in May or September.
Faculty Study Leader
Maria Luisa Crawford
Our Bryn Mawr faculty host is Maria Luisa Crawford, Emeritus Professor of Geology. Her research is focused on solving the history of mountain belts (such as the Coast Oregon of British Columbia and southeastern Alaska or the older Appalachians in Pennsylvania) by looking at as many different aspects as possible of the kinds of rocks, the time the rocks formed, the location in which they formed, the way the earth moved.
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Her ongoing research programs have the aim to understand mountain building processes and related terrane accretion. This has focused on the nature, rates, and timing of the processes that resulted in the mountains formed along the present eastern margin of North America during the early Paleozoic (550-350 million years ago) and along the northwestern coast of British Columbia and southeastern Alaska from the Cretaceous (110 million years ago) to the present.
Icelandair Hotel Hamar
Hamar Golf Course
310 Borgarnes, Iceland
The contemporary Icelandair Hotel Hamar sits on a golf course a short distance from Borgarnes Center and is a well-located base from which to visit the scenic attractions of West Iceland. Hotel amenities include a restaurant and bar, Internet access, laundry services, gardens, and hot tubs. Each of the 30 guest rooms has a private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.
600 Akureyri, Iceland
Opened in 1944, Hotel Kea stands in the heart of Akureyri, the capital of Northern Iceland, and offers a restaurant and bar, Internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services. Each of the 104 guest rooms has a private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.
851 Hella, Iceland
One of the best-known hotels in Iceland, this rustic yet luxurious 51-room countryside lodging is located on the banks of the East-Ranga Salmon River amidst the stunning natural beauty of South Iceland. The hotel offers a restaurant specializing in Icelandic and continental cuisine, cognac lounge, and bar; laundry and dry cleaning services; Internet access; massage facilities; and three hot tubs fed by the region’s natural spring water. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.
Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
(also used for Optional Post-Tour Extension)
IS-101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Opened in 2005, the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum comprises three renovated historic houses in Reykjavik’s historic city center. Designed in early 20th-century Icelandic fashion, the 89-room hotel offers a restaurant, bar, and café; Internet access; and laundry and dry cleaning services. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, tea- and coffee-making facilities, mini-bar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.
Optional Post-Tour Extension
P.O. Box 511
DK-3913 Tasiilaq, East Greenland
This long established hostelry boasts a prime location overlooking the picturesque town and a friendly, informal atmosphere. Hotel facilities include a restaurant, bar, and coffee lounge; TV room; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; sun terrace; gift shop; and billiards table. Each of the 30 guest rooms has private bath, TV, and phone.
Travel Notes for Exploring Iceland
We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally, though, unexpected obstacles, and opportunities, may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written. We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. In addition, please note that airline schedules are subject to change. We will provide you with updated flight information closer to your departure.
This tour involves some full days of touring and considerable walking, often along uneven terrain or gravel paths. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy this tour to the fullest.
Optional tours are offered subject to availability and may require a minimum number of participants to operate. Costs for optional tours in Iceland are given in U.S. dollars and listed as approximate because of currency exchange rate fluctuations. Tours can be paid for in local currency, U.S. dollars, or charged to a credit card.
For Land Only Guests
If you choose to purchase Odysseys Unlimited’s Exploring Iceland tour as “land only,” you will be making your own international air arrangements and will join the tour at the first hotel.
While airport transfers and luggage handling at the arrival and departure airports are not included when you purchase a tour as land only, you are welcome to join our motorcoach transfer to the hotel. This service will be provided to you on a complimentary basis.
To join in the transfer, you must be at the Keflavik airport concurrent with the group of arriving Odysseys Unlimited guests. Look for our representative holding an Odysseys Unlimited sign and you will be directed to the motorcoach. Please note that you must be present when the coach is preparing to leave.
For Exploring Iceland, the currently scheduled flights are as follows:
|Day 1||Depart Boston||9:30 p.m.||Iceland Air flight # 630|
|Day 2||Arrive Keflavik||6:30 a.m.|
|Please remember that all flights and schedules are subject to change.|
Upon the tour’s completion, you are also welcome to join the group transfer to the airport for your flight home.
It is important to note, however, that a motorcoach may not be used for transfers in all cases. Depending upon the number of guests arriving or departing, we may utilize taxis or smaller vans. At such times, space restrictions will preclude your joining the group transfer and you will be responsible for your own transportation to or from the airport.
A Note about Travel to Greenland
Greenland offers a somewhat different type of travel experience than you might expect. Its remote location and island status mean that virtually all items must be imported; hence, even everyday items cost more than they do even in Iceland or Denmark (of which Greenland is a part). Also, accommodations tend to be small in size (again, because of high cost of importing building materials), and service often is more relaxed than you will find elsewhere. Still, Greenland is a fascinating and breathtaking destination, and we’re confident that its amazing natural wonders will mitigate any minor inconveniences you may experience during your brief stay
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Additionally, the helicopter connection to Ammassalik/Tasilaq from Kulusuk provides transportation to local residents, as well as visitors, and can be subject to “back-ups” depending on weather. Both the town of Kulusuk and its airport are small, affording travelers the opportunity to freely leave the airport building and enjoy the outstanding local scenery, including icebergs, fjords, and mountains, during any waiting periods.