Grand Journey

Circle tour + Westfjords & Snaefellsnes Peninsula
12 days
Jun - Aug
Itinerary
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Iceland is a country like no other, with exceptional landscapes, some of the world’s finest waterfalls, erupting geysers, stunning fjords, magical lagoons, active volcanoes, majestic glaciers, powerful lava flows as well as tranquil lakes with rare-breeding bird life.

This  small group tour takes you on an unforgettable journey around Iceland, including Snæfellsnes peninsula and the magical West Fjords. Experience the spectacular splendor and untamed beauty of Iceland´s nature, breathtaking scenery and unique Icelandic history and culture.  We stay in simple and charming guesthouses, farm- and tourist-class hotels, many of them set in the most stunning locations.

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Day 1 WELCOME TO ICELAND
On arrival at Keflavik Airport take the coach shuttle to your Reykjavík hotel. 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, with numerous restaurants taking advantage of the abundance of local seafood, meat and 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. Overnight in Reykajvik.

Day 2 GOLDEN CIRCLE
The classic highlights today. We explore Gullfoss, the beautiful double "Golden Falls" and walk through the active geothermal area of Geysir, where Strokkur "the churn" spouts up to 25 metres every five to seven minutes. A visit to the ancient Viking Parliament area, then the UNESCO world heritage site of Þingvellir National Park tops the day off before travelling along the scenic shores of Hvalfjörður fjord. Overnight in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland.

Day 3 SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA AND LAVA CAVE
This morning we are introduced to the Icelandic sagas in the settlement centre in Borgarnes. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, "the peninsula of the snowy mountain", juts out from Iceland's west coast, like a long arm with a clenched fist at its tip, and is in many ways a microcosm of the whole island. A rugged mountain chain runs its length, capped by the 1,446 metre Snæfellsjökull, a mystical cone-shaped strato volcano. We travel around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, through lava fields and along the ocean with many classic photo opportunities. We visit the national park where volcanic craters, lava flows, an ice cap, glaciated peaks, fjords, sandy beaches, and high cliffs shape its landscapes, the setting for Jules Verne's classic science fiction novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth. You can also enjoy an excursion under the glacier Snæfellsjökull, on a lava cave tour that takes you 35 metres underground and about 200 metres into the lava cube of Vatnshellir. During the tour you reach two different sections of the cave via a long, narrow staircase. The upper section has great features and unique formations of natural lava statues carved on the sides tube. In the lower part of the lava cave you experience total quietness and darkness when your guide switches off the light! Overnight in the Grundarfjörður area.

Day 4 ICELAND'S WESTERNMOST POINT
Early start to catch the morning ferry Baldur from Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur in the West Fjords. On the way over Breiðafjörður bay, weather permitting the ferry stops at the island of Flatey. If the weather is good you can enjoy a magnificent view of the bay's countless islands as well as the glacier Snæfellsjökull. We follow the coastline and stop at the folk and transport museum in Hnjótur. We continue through a very remote and sparsely populated region to the bird cliffs of Látrabjarg, the westernmost point of Iceland (and Europe) where you can see puffins from mid-May till mid-August. We take a memorable walk to the top of the highest bird cliff in Iceland. Látrabjarg is known for its density of Nordic birds - puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, cormorants, kittiwakes and other cliff birds flock in great numbers. This is a place where you can get very close to the seabirds and even if you're not a birdwatcher, you will be entertained by the comic puffins and mesmerized by the sheer number of birds. Overnight at Flokalundur or Patreksfjörður.

Day 5 BEAUTIFUL WEST FJORDS
We travel over mountains and along the shore of many scenic fjords until we reach the majestic fjord Arnarfjörður, surrounded by high mountains. At the bottom of the fjord we come across the unique waterfall Dynjandi with its seven levels of plunging water, declared the country's most beautiful waterfall by the people of Iceland. We continue over a mountain pass and travel along the southern shores of the West Fjords. This is a route less travelled and is characterized by sheer cliffs, deep cut bays and narrow stretches of coastal lowland. We overnight at the remote Vogur Country Lodge in West Iceland. This is a truly peaceful and beautiful place close to Breiðafjörður Bay, giving you the feeling of being all alone in Iceland.

Day 6 HEADING NORTH
In the morning we travel mostly off-the-beaten path, seeing abandoned farms, beautiful little country churches and Icelandic horses. At Haukadalur, there is a replica of the homestead of Erik the Red, the famous explorer who founded the Icelandic colony in Greenland. His son Leif-the-Lucky, born in Haukadalur, Iceland, was the first European to set foot in North America. Now the excavated and reconstructed farm in Haukadalur is a living Viking museum. The landscape is dominated by mountains, lakes, valleys, sea and wide open spaces. We head north and stop at a local farm for a horse show where we learn about the unique qualities of Iceland's special breed. Afterwards we travel through the fertile farmlands and fjord landscapes of Northwest Iceland before we visit the charming town of Akureyri, Iceland's 2nd largest city. 2 nights in Akureyri.

Day 7 AKUREYRI 
During todays' excursion we see spectacular fjord landscapes while travelling to Siglufjörður, Iceland's northernmost town and known as the herring capital of the North Atlantic. Siglufjörður is located on the mountainous Tröllaskagi Peninsula. On the way we pass small fishing villages and stop at a deserted valley that even most Icelanders have not seen. Included is a visit to the Herring Museum and also beer tasting at a local micro-brewery. The rest of the day is at leisure. 2nd night in Akureyri.

Day 8 GEOLOGICAL WONDERS AND NATURE BATHS
We explore Goðafoss, the waterfall of the Gods, and continue to Lake Mývatn, known for its rich bird life and extraordinary volcanic lava landscapes. We visit pseudo craters, walk in the lava field Dimmuborgir, climb up to the rim of the ash crater Hverfjall, see the hot springs and bubbling mud pools of Námaskarð, and travel to the crater lake Víti in the Krafla geothermal fields. In the afternoon relax and soak at the Mývatn Nature Baths. Overnight near Lake Mývatn.

Day 9 THE SECRETS OF THE EAST
We travel to Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, in the northern part of Vatnajökull National Park. From there we head through the uninhabited highlands to East Iceland. We explore the northernmost fjord on the East Fjord mountain range. The isolated village Bakkagerði has only 120 inhabitants and is a charming village, built snugly next to the steep mountainside. Driving to Borgarfjörður Eystri is dramatic and rewarding. The colourful mountains are simply unique and impressive. We visit a traditional Icelandic fishing village, still relying on small boat fishing. There is an art gallery in the village displaying the work of Jóhannes Kjarval, a renowned local painter.Borgarfjörður Eystri is also home to an extensive population of elves – judging by the 172 local folk tales involving elves. On the outskirts of the village is Álfaborg, a protected site where the queen of elves is believed to live within a uniquely shaped rock castle. Overnight in Borgafjordur area.

Day 10 FJORDS, GLACIERS AND ICE
Today admire the dramatic fjord landscape and its tiny fishing villages at the end of twisting roads in the East Fjords and en route visit an interesting stone collection. In the afternoon we see Vatnajökull – Europe's biggest glacier- visible all over Southeast Iceland. Past the town of Höfn, we stop for a boat ride amongst the floating icebergs on the glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón. Overnight near Skaftafell on the southern part of Vatnajökull National Park.

Day 11 VATNAJÖKULL NATIONAL PARK AND THE SOUTH
Visit Skaftafell at the Vatnajökull National Park, covered by ice and nestled below Iceland's highest mountain, the 2,110 metre high Hvannadalshnjúkur. We walk close to one of the many glacial tongues in the area, then cross a sandy desert and drive along the south coast, always between the sea, mountainous cliffs, glaciers and waterfalls. We stroll along the black lava beaches and bird cliffs near the village of Vík. At the Eyjafjallajökull Information Center we learn how it is to live next to a glacier and an active volcano. We stop at the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. Farewell dinner and overnight in Reykjavík. 

Day 12 DEPARTURE
Arrangements end with your transfer by coach back to Keflavik Airport.

Departures 2017: 29 May; 05, 12, 19 & 26 June; 03, 10, 17, 24 & 31 July; 07, 14, 21, 28 August 2017

Maximum: 20 persons

Includes: 11 nights accommodation in 3 star hotels with private facilities and daily breakfast, return airport bus transfers, dinners Days 2,3,4,5,8,9,10,11; visit to three National Parks; admission to settlement centre in Borgarnes; entrance and visit to lava cave on the Snæfellsnes peninsula; ferry trip to the West Fjords; entrance fee to folk and transport museum at Hnjótur; visit to Erik the Red homestead; horse show in northwest Iceland; entrance to Herring museum; visit to micro beer brewery; entrance fee with towel to the Nature Baths at Lake Mývatn; visit to stone collection in the East Fjords; boat trip between floating icebergs on glacial lagoon; visit to Eyjafjallajökull volcano information center.

Excludes: Dinners in Akureyri and dinner first night in Reykjavík.

Add extra nights at the beginning or end - please enquire

Accommodation is in the following hotels (or similar) Reykjavik: Hotel Klettur (first and last night); Borgarfjörður: Icelandair Hotel Hamar or Fosshotel Reykholt (1 night); Snæfellsness: Hotel Framnes in Grundarfjöður or similar (1 night); West Fjords: Farmhotel Breiðavík or Fosshotel West Fjords or Country hotel Flokalundur (1 night); Dalir region: Country Lodge Vogur (1 night); Akuryeri: Hotel Kea (1 night); Lake Myvatn: Hotel Laxá or Keahotel Gigur (1 night); East Iceland: Country Guesthouse Alfheimar in Borgarfjöður Eystri (1 night); Vatnajökull national park: Hotel Skaftafell or similar (1 night).

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Price per person FROM:
Double AUD$ 7895.00
Single AUD$ 9719.00

Includes: 11 nights accommodation in 3 star hotels with private facilities and daily breakfast, return airport bus transfers, dinners Days 2,3,4,5,8,9,10,11; visit to three National Parks; admission to settlement center in Borgarnes; entrance and visit to lava cave on the Snæfellsnes peninsula; ferry trip to the West Fjords; entrance fee to folk and transport museum at Hnjótur; visit to Erik the Red homestead; horse show in northwest Iceland; entrance to Herring museum; visit to micro beer brewery; entrance fee with towel to the Nature Baths at Lake Mývatn; visit to stone collection in the East Fjords; boat trip between floating icebergs on glacial lagoon; visit to Eyjafjallajökull volcano information center.

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