North Iceland and the Aurora

Exploration of West and North Iceland
8 days
Oct - Mar
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Experience the Arctic North of Iceland. This tour takes you on an exploration of west and north Iceland, known for its winter landscapes and beautiful, natural treasures. Highlights include visits to Siglufjordur, Akureyri, and Lake Myvatn, a relaxing visit to the Mývatn Nature Baths, a snowshoe walk in a lava labyrinth, climbing a volcano crater, and travelling along scenic fjord routes, where feel you can almost touch the Arctic Circle. 

And of course each evening search for the Northern Lights. On 5 nights a combination of presentations, lectures, film and guided evening walks or excursions at spots that are likely to offer a glimpse of the Northern Lights are included. On the other nights, just step outside and look up!

Day 1  Welcome to Iceland
Transfer by coach from Keflavik Airport to your accommodation in Reykjavík, where you spend the night. The city centre is a small area characterised by eclectic and colourful houses, good shopping, dining and drinking. Reykjavík has recently established itself as a haven for food lovers.  Many award winning chefs create delicious Icelandic cuisine that is characterized by an imaginative use of local ingredients such as fresh seafood, organic lamb and wild game.

Reykjavik has many wonderful museums including the National Museum displaying artefacts from the first settlement to the modern age, giving an excellent overview of Iceland’s history and culture, the Reykjavik 871+2 Settlement Museum, an archaeological museum based around a 10th-century Viking longhouse unearthed in 2001, the Reykjavik Art Museum and the National Gallery.

Day 2: Volcano Crater, Seals, Fjords & Mountains
At 09:00 meet your guide and fellow travellers, depart Reykjavik and travel west, passing the town of Borgarnes, with a stop to climb the perfectly shaped and well preserved, Grábrók volcano crater, walking up to the rim. 

In the afternoon we visit a natural history & seal museum in a small fishing village, and stroll around the local harbour.  Further north we stop at the turf church of Víðimýri, which has been extensively restored to its original form and is widely considered one of the purest and most beautiful examples of traditional Icelandic architecture. The timbers of the church were selected from the driftwood coming ashore along the Skagafjörður peninsula, and the churchyard gate with its bells is said to have been here since Christianity was adopted in Iceland, around the year 1000. Then we travel along scenic fjord landscapes and over several challenging mountain passes until we reach Sigulufjordur, Iceland's northern most town. In the evening, if conditions look good, we take a short walk to search for the Northern Lights.

Day 3: Iceland's Northernmost Town
This morning we explore Siglufjordur, the herring capital of the North Atlantic, and visit the renowned Herring Era Museum. Herring fishing was one of the main forces shaping modern Icelandic society, and the museum cleverly showcases the history and impact of fishing, and life in the north.

In the afternoon, we drive along Eyjafjörður, Iceland's longest fjord, which offers an amazing mountain panorama. The Tröllaskagi peninsula is named after the giant trolls who, according to Icelandic folktales, each spring run into the peninsula's towering glaciers, deep valleys and alpine mountains to hide from the ever present midnight sun! These spectacular fjord landscapes take you past several small and charming fishing villages. Along the way, we stop at a deserted fjord valley that even most Icelanders have not seen yet, as well as a local brewery for a taste one of Iceland's many micro-beers. We reach Lake Mývatn, a shallow lake situated in an area of high volcanic activity, not far from Krafla volcano. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich array of waterlife, especially ducks. Join an evening lecture about Northern Lights and after dinner, don't miss the chance to search for the magical auroras.

Day 4: Lava Formations of Dimmuborgir, Search For The Trolls & Snow Adventures
This morning we go for a snowshoe trip (or a hike if there is not enough snow) through the lava formations of Dimmuborgir, the 'dark castles', twisted towers of coagulated rock which have breached the earth’s surface to form a field full of giant pillars and arches. These dramatic structures are not known to exist anywhere else in the world on dry land, and you might get a glimpse of the trolls who are said to live here! 

The afternoon is free - explore the many pseudo craters or walk along the lake shores. Or just relax and enjoy the wonderful light of a northern winter afternoon. Later you might join an optional tour on cross-country skis or by snowmobile (weather permitting, and to be purchased locally only). In the evening, take a relaxing soak at Mývatn Nature Baths, in waters  that contain a unique blend of minerals, silicates and geothermal micro-organisms and benefit both skin and spirit alike.

Day 5: Explore Lake Mývatn
Lake Mývatn is known for its geological wonders and active bird life, and for recording Iceland's coldest winter temperatures. In the morning, we take an easy walk through the bizarre lava formations and landscape at Kálfaströnd, followed by a walk around the Höfði peninsula. In contrast to the Dimmuborgir 'dark castles', here you can walk through a refreshingly green and forested area leading to a series of viewpoints, each offering different lakeside vistas and sights of the picturesque lava formations submerged within the lake itself. 

In the afternoon, we travel to the hot springs area of Námaskarð, with bubbling mud pools and steaming solfataras. We then visit the Mývatn Nature Baths, for a dip in the warm waters and a taste of traditional Icelandic dark bread, baked underground using geothermal heat. In the evening, enjoy a video presentation about the Northern Lights, then after a delicious dinner, enjoy a hot drink around an open fire and under the stars on the hotel terrace. Don't forget to keep an eye out for the Northern Lights.

Day 6: Birds, Christmas Garden & The Capital Of North Iceland
Start the day with a visit to the Mývatn bird museum.  A well renowned destination for bird watchers, Lake Mývatn has breeding populations of some rare birds, including Barrow´s Goldeneye. At the museum you can see the displays of varied birdlife, and learn about the different species. Then on to Goðafoss, the waterfalls of the Gods. Next stop is the Christmas Garden, a small museum and shop where there are countless items connected to the festive season from all parts of the world. 

Finally on to Akureyri, where the afternoon is at leisure.  Akureyri sits on the north coast under snowcapped peaks at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord, where signs of the earth’s power – glaciers, volcanoes, lava fields and stacks of basalt – are all around. This relaxed, small city is an easy-going place. Perhaps visit the Botanic Gardens, the Akureyri Museum with its well designed exhibitions, beautiful museum garden and 19th century church, or stroll Kaupvangsstræti, also known as 'Arts Alley', which curves through the middle of Akureyri and is the city's centre of cultural life. Depending on the weather, tonight there will be a short excursion into the darkness to hunt the Aurora Borealis.

Day 7: History, Design & Horses In Skagafjörður
We travel back west over the mountains to Skagafjörður, known as the valley of horses, and home to many ancient farms. We visit the folk museum and turf farm at Glaumbær. The buildings of the farm date from different periods in the 18th and 19th centuries, when turf construction was widely used due to a severe shortage of trees. In the afternoon, we visit a tannery at Sauðárkrókur, where fish skin is expertly processed into beautiful, soft, high-quality leather. We then continue south, with a stop for coffee & cake at a horse stables, where we will also learn about the history and special gaits of the Icelandic horse. We reach Reykjavík around 18:00hrs.

Day 8  Departure 
Transfer by coach from your accommodation in Reykjavík to Keflavík Airport.

Extra nights in Reykjavik can be added - please enquire.
 
16 maximum per group
 
 
Departures 2017:  March 14, 21 and 28;  October 10 & 24; November 07 & 21
 
Departures: 2018: February 06, 13, 20 & 27; March 06, 13, 20 & 27

 
 
Includes:  Arrival & departure airport coach transfer, 7 nights accommodation with daily breakfast; 2  lunches, 3 dinners; visit to natural history & seal museum;  stables visit with coffee & cake, visit to local micro beer brewery;  hot steam baked bread tasting;  entrance with towel at Mývatn Nature Baths;  snow shoe hike (or hike, if no snow) in lava labyrinth;  hot drinks around open fire on hotel terrace;  visit to Mývatn bird museum; visit to Christmas house & garden near Akureyri; visit to Víðimýri turf church, Glaumbær folk museum & turf farm and tannery in Skagafjörður;  Northern Lights programme during 5 evenings in the countryside with a combination of lectures, presentations, film and guided searches for the Northern Lights; use of winter & Northern Lights explorer equipment (simple non-slip snow & ice grippers spikes for shoes and a flash light).

Excludes: Optional cross country ski or snowmobile tour Day 4, purchased locally only.

Accommodation is in comfortable tourist-class hotels, in rooms with private shower and toilet, in the following hotels (or similar): Reykjavík: Keahotel Reykjavik Lights (first and last night); Siglufjörður New Hotel Siglo (1 night); Mývatn Hotel Sel-Mývatn (3 nights); Akureyri Hotel Kea (1 night).

                                                               Nordic Travel is 100% Australian owned and operated

 

 
Price per person FROM:
Double AUD$ 5254.00
Single AUD$ 6144.00
 
Includes:  Arrival & departure airport coach transfer, 7 nights accommodation with daily breakfast; 2  lunches, 3 dinners; visit to natural history & seal museum;  stables visit with coffee & cake, visit to local micro beer brewery;  hot steam baked bread tasting;  entrance with towel at Mývatn Nature Baths;  snow shoe hike (or hike, if no snow) in lava labyrinth;  hot drinks around open fire on hotel terrace;  visit to Mývatn bird museum; visit to Christmas house & garden near Akureyri; visit to Víðimýri turf church, Glaumbær folk museum & turf farm and tannery in Skagafjörður;  Northern Lights programme during 5 evenings in the countryside with a combination of lectures, presentations, film and guided searches for the Northern Lights; use of winter & Northern Lights explorer equipment (simple non-slip snow & ice grippers spikes for shoes and a flash light).

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