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 Meals: Breakfast
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 Meals: Breakfast
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.
OPTIONAL POST-TOUR EXTENSION
Please note: A local representative will be on hand to assist you during your stay in Ammassalik. This representative will also serve other travelers at the same time, as there is not the staff available in Ammassalik to provide exclusive service. We are confident this will not affect your overall travel experience.
In addition, you will need to bring a smaller, soft-sided duffel bag for your two-night stay in Ammassalik. (Your checked luggage will remain behind in Reykjavik.) This additional bag should be small and flexible enough so that you can pack it inside your checked luggage.
Day 11: Reykjavik/Ammassalik (Tasiilaq)
This morning you’ll take the two-hour Air Iceland flight from Reykjavik’s domestic airport to the international airport outside of Kulusuk, Greenland.
Note the local time in Greenland is two hours behind Iceland. Kulusuk Island is situated west of the entrance to Ammassalik fjord. The area around the fjord comprises the main settlement of the Ammassalik Eskimos, unknown to the world until 1884. Today, more than 2000 Greenlanders live in this district, earning their living by fishing and seal hunting. Upon arrival in Kulusuk this morning you transfer to the town of Ammassalik by helicopter, an adventurous trip with a chance to see the majestic icecap, and if you’re lucky, some icebergs from above. This connection is made within the same small hall as the one in which you arrive; just follow the signs to the helicopter pad and provide your name to the ground staff. The helicopter ride takes about ten minutes. Upon arrival in Ammassalik this afternoon you’ll be met by a local representative who will accompany you to the hotel. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Angmagssalik Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12: Ammassalik
After breakfast we walk through the town and into the Valley of the Flowers – a scenic walk into a green valley where we can study the tiny plants and compare them to the ones found in Iceland. We visit the local museum in town, to gain insight into life and history of the Inuits (native Greenlanders) and their interesting culture, arts and crafts. Around noon we return to our hotel for lunch. After lunch you will be offered a variety of optional excursions (available at additional cost): a visit to Ikateq by boat; an Iceberg cruise; or a visit to Mittivakkat Glacier by helicopter. (See Optional Excursions List for additional details.) Dinner will be at our hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Angmagssalik Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13: Ammassalik/Reykjavik
The morning is at leisure to perhaps stroll around town and pick up some souvenirs before departure. Around 11:00 a.m. we depart with helicopter to Kulusuk for the return Air Iceland flight to Reykjavik. Check-in at Kulusuk airport is two hours prior to departure; departure is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Our return flight is again two hours, however taking the time difference into account we land at Reykjavik’s domestic airport around 6:00 p.m. and transfer to our conveniently located hotel. Your last evening in Reykjavik is at leisure. Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum Meals: Breakfast
Day 14: Depart for U.S.
This morning is at leisure; early this afternoon we depart for the airport and our return flights to the U.S. Meals: Breakfast