Land of Fire and Ice & Nature’s Paradise!
June 13-22 2023,
optional WEST GREENLAND including Disco Bay trip extension June 21-29, 2023
Outdoors enthusiasts grab your binoculars and cameras, and come explore Iceland! Discover Iceland in all of its great beauty.
Iceland has captured the imagination of people all over the world since Jules Verne wrote “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 1871. Iceland has a proud heritage-it is the world’s oldest democracy. Its wildlife and natural wonders are truly magical!
Come join an excellent Icelandic naturalist Oskar Halldorsson, and see for yourself! This trip is a tremendous introduction to the heritage of Iceland, from geology to history and wildlife!
Days 1/2 New York to Reykjavik
Today we will depart from JFK International Airport (or other IcelandAir gateways) for Reykjavik. Arrive on the morning of Day 2. Meet your Iceland naturalist/guide and transfer to Hotel (2 nights). This morning enjoy a Reykjavik city tour before stepping back in time at the Settlement Museum. You are free to continue to explore Reykjavik on your own this afternoon. Welcome dinner. B,D
Day 3 Gullfoss Falls & Thingvellir Plain
Today we will visit Thingvellir (the “plains of parliament”), where Iceland’s democracy began in 930 AD. See the dependable Strokkur geyser erupting and also the incredible Gullfoss Falls, Iceland’s star attraction. We’ll also walk atop an astonishing geologic feature, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which separates Europe & North America! B
2016 group photo
Day 4 Reykjavik, Snaefellsnes Peninsula & Stykkisholmur
Depart for the Snaefellsnes Peninsula this morning. Words cannot express the mystery, wonder and almost surreal energy of this spectacular site! The major landmark is the Snaefellsjokull Glacier which is renowned for its mystical powers and has captured the imagination of people all over the world, ever since Jules Verne wrote “The Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 1871. The area features extraordinary moorlands, meadows, marshlands, rivers, streams, and small ponds along with beautiful rock and lava formations.
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is without a doubt one of the best places in Iceland for nature and wildlife watching during summer. Today we can expect to see a great variety of birds, seals and possibly a few cetacean species. Birds we can expect to see include the Harlequin Duck, Atlantic Puffin, Thick-billed Murre, Black Guillemot, White-tailed Eagle, Arctic Tern and many more. In recent years both Grey Seals and Harbor Seals have been seen in the area and the cetaceans seen from land include Orcas and Minke Whales. After traveling around the Peninsula we will make our way to the north shore. Stykkisholmur Hotel. B
Day 5 Breidafjordur Bay & Flatey Island
We will start today with a visit to the Eldfjallasafn Volcano Museum in Stykkisholmur. View a unique exhibition of international art old and new, showing volcanic eruptions as well as objects, artifacts, volcanic rocks from the unique collection of professor Haraldur Sigurdsson who has carried out research on volcanoes worldwide for forty years.
Next we will enjoy a nature and bird watching boat tour. The wildlife in the area holds millions of seabirds with species such as Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemot, Northern Fulmar and Shag being abundant. The area is also the main breeding area for the White-tailed Eagle. Sample fresh scallops and sea urchin roe when a small net is cast overboard and shellfish delicacies are brought on board.
This afternoon our ferry will be waiting to take us to Breidafjordur Bay. This bay is located between the Westfjords in the North and Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the south and has both landscape and seascape of a different kind. It consists of small fjords and bays and is literally dotted with around 3,000 islands, islets, and skerries.
After making a tour among the islands we will land on Flatey Island where we stay for the night. Flatey Island is a small inhabited island almost in the middle of the bay, and once the most important centre of culture and education of the country. The hamlet, which developed on the island is mostly intact and the remaining houses have been renovated and are occupied by their owners and then families during summer. The birdlife on the island is very used to living closely with people, so there may be extremely tame individuals. The eiderdown farmers can pick up some of the female Eiders, collect part of their down and put them comfortably back on their nests.
This evening watch for Puffins diving for sand eels...
Black Guillemot returning to their nests with Butterfish
in their beak... Northern Fulmar gliding right by you... Black-legged Kittiwakes telling their stories in the cliffs... Rednecked Phalarope spinning on the water and looking for the rare Red Phalarope. Night at charming Hotel Flatey (shared facilities). B,D
Day 6 Flatey Island, Latrabjarg Bird Cliff & Westfjords
This morning we will continue by ferry to the other side of Breidafjordur Bay. From here we make our way through the remote Westfjords towards the magnificent Latrabjarg Bird Cliff. This cliff is one of the most spectacular seabird rookeries in Iceland (and Europe!). It is the largest seabird colony in Europe and extends over a 14 km long cliff. You will be astonished by the numbers, sounds and smell of seabirds along the cliff. The Puffins are so tame here that you can almost pick them up with your bare hands! While Snow Buntings feed on the cliff tops, thousands of Thick-billed Murre, Common Murre, Razorbills and Black-legged
Kittiwakes throng the cliffs. We will visit the Egill Olafsson Museum at Hnjótur with a unique collection from the Westfjords which offers insight into daily life and people’s struggle for existence and the resourcefulness it took to survive under harsh conditions in centuries past. Flokalundur Hotel near Vatnsfjordur. B
Day 7 The Westfjords & Hvammstangi
Today we will make our way along the rugged southern coastline of the Westfjords peninsula through spectacular fjords and past thundering waterfalls to the Daeli Holiday Farm in northern Iceland. Much of the day will be spent driving through dramatic scenery en route, passing numerous waterfalls and impressive fjords. This afternoon you are free to relax or visit Steinbogi Waterfall and Kolugljúfur Canion. Steinbogi or “Stone Arc” (direct translation) is a waterfall with a natural stone bridge. The hike offers variety of birdlife, views of nearby horse farms and a beautiful view. The canyon, which is situated south of Dæli (in the bottom of the valley), is a memorable place to visit and will leave no one disappointed. Daeli Holiday Farm near Hvammstangi. B,D
Day 8 The North, Myvatn
Today we head to Lake Myvatn. On the way we will look for families of Pink-footed Geese along a glacial river. We will stop for lunch and stroll through the Akureyri Botanic Garden. The garden is one of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world. A wide variety of both Icelandic and foreign flora is to be found here. For a nature enthusiast to describe the Lake Myvatn area with words is virtually impossible. The whole area is a natural wonder of its own in a world that has nothing else like it. Even people with no interest in nature and wildlife are impressed by the variety and magnitude of both the birdlife as well as the different natural phenomenon that surround you in the area. The lake itself is approximately 37 sq km, making it Iceland’s fourth largest lake.
This area has been described as a meeting place of two worlds where you are able to find flora and fauna from both the temperate and the Arctic zones. It is also a highly active volcanic area situated on the west edge of the meeting point of the Eurasian and North American plates. By the end of the day you have been traveling by and visiting a range of pseudocraters, volcanoes of different sizes, hot springs, and new lava fields with lava pillars.
You are likely to have seen a variety of bird species,
including the Common Loon (Great Northern Diver), Horned Grebe, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Greater Scaup, Red-necked Phalarope, Redwing, Common Snipe and Redshank. You will also have an excellent chance to see the Gyr Falcon today. The Lake Myvatn area is the only place in Europe where the Barrow’s Goldeneye breeds and Iceland is also the only country in Europe where Harlequin Duck and Great Northern Diver breed. Hotel,B
Day 9 Lake Myvatn & Husavik
This morning we will continue to explore the geological wonders of Myvatn including a relaxing soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths before making our way to Husavik.
Visit the Husavik Whale Museum in the early afternoon before a whale watching trip on Skjalfandi floi Bay. This bay is arguably the best area in Iceland to watch whales. Astonishing numbers of cetacean species have been recorded in the bay (up to 12 species in total). During the trip we might see Minke Whales (which are the most common species in the bay), White-beaked Dolphins, Humpback Whales, and Porpoises. Species such as Orcas (Killer whales) and the largest animal believed to have ever breathed on earth—the magnificent Blue Whale—have also been seen regularly in the area in recent years.
Day 10 Husavik, Akureyri, Reykjavik to USA
Today we make our way to Akureyri where we take a short flight to the Keflavik Airport for our return flight to the USA. B
2016 group photo
$4,995 plus air