Antarctica & Arctic
Explore the stunning natural beauty of Iceland's volcanic landscape in winter
Destinations > Iceland > Iceland Winter Adventure
9 nights accommodation, meals as indicated, transportation and sightseeing as indicated and services of an Explore Worldwide tour leader.
16 Nov ‘19; 15 Feb, 14 Mar, 17 Oct, 14 Nov ‘20
This adventure allows us to explore the stunning natural beauty of Iceland's volcanic landscape in winter with its snow-covered glaciers, steaming geysers and lava fields. We also have the opportunity to travel by boat to Hrisey Island, ride in a snow cat or super jeep, walk on a glacier and hopefully watch wildlife including reindeer and whales in their natural habitat. If we are lucky, we may even experience the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights.
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Take an exhilarating snow cat or super jeep ride and enjoy a traditional fish lunch and beer tasting in Akureyri
Stay in accommodation providing the best chance of viewing Iceland's Northern Lights
Travel around Iceland's famous loop to see the remarkable natural wonders of Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss
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On this trip our transfers from Keflavik airport to our hotel in Reykjavik will be on the very efficient and easy to use public FlyBus shuttle bus service. On arrival at Keflavik airport please proceed to the FlyBus desk which is located in the arrivals hall. A FlyBus representative will give you a voucher and direct you to the bus. Buses leave every 35-40 minutes and the drive to your hotel will take approximately 45 minutes. On the drive from the airport to the hotel you'll get your first glimpse of the blackened and rocky volcanic scenery found on this part of the island.
After checking-in to our conveniently-located hotel in the city, you may have time to explore a little of the world's most northerly capital. Bustling with cosmopolitan energy and surrounded by pure, unpolluted nature, Reykjavik is a city of striking contrasts. Small colourful corrugated iron houses nestle next to futuristic glass buildings; state-of-the-art facilities lie beside rugged volcanic terrain and international influences mingle with Icelandic national traditions. All this creates a unique culture where old embraces new.
On this holiday you'll be accompanied by an Explore Leader from days 2 to 8, so this evening you are free to settle in and enjoy the diverse dining and, maybe even the nightlife, of this charming city.
This morning after meeting your Explore Leader and the rest of the group, we depart Reykjavik and drive to Iceland's second city of Akureyri, where we will spend the next two nights. The journey will take between five to eight hours, depending on road conditions. However, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop along the way to stretch our legs and take photos of the stunning winter scenery.
One of the scenic stops along the way will be in the small fishing town of Akranes, just north-west of Reykjavik. This traditional town is home to two of Iceland's 104 lighthouses and from where they stand on the edge of the peninsula we will be afforded panoramic views over the fjord. If we're lucky enough to have a clear sky we will be able to see over to Reykjavik as the sun rises. Travelling further towards Akureyri, we will take a break for lunch along the way.
Standing on the shores of the country's longest fjord, Akureyri is a pretty town, with a thriving arts community. It is seen as the cultural heart of the north of the island and its galleries and Lutheran cathedral are worth a visit. (B)(L)
After yesterday's long drive we have a relaxed start to the morning. After breakfast we'll make our way to the harbour, stopping at viewpoint and an old fish factory along the way. The factory is no longer in use but is a great insight to the regions main industry.
From Arskogstrond we take a 15-minute ferry ride to Hrisey Island. Here, together with a local guide, we will have the chance to experience the slow pace of life on the island, discover some of its rich Viking history and try a traditional fish lunch. After exploring the island we return to the mainland, where we will visit a small brewery for the chance to taste the locally produced beers before heading back to Akureyri for the evening. (B)(L)
Today we will ride into the mountains on a snow cat vehicle. The journey to the summit of Kaldbakur Mountain takes around 45 minutes, during which we are rewarded with spectacular views of the snow covered peaks. .
After fulfilling the tradition of signing the Kaldbakur guest book that is kept in a cairn on the top of the mountain, we begin our descent back down the mountain. This is a true snowy adventure, so make sure you wrap up warm and get ready for a thrilling ride!
If you are travelling in October-December or there hasn't been enough snow to operate the snow cat then we visit another mountain nearby and enjoy an exciting super-jeep excursion instead. These 10 feet high monsters can cross glacial moraine, lava flows and fast-flowing rivers with relative ease. In fact, you won't believe what the drivers can make them do, but fear not - they do this for a living!
We leave the mountains behind and spend the afternoon discovering Iceland's waterfalls. Starting with Godafoss, known as 'the waterfall of the gods', it is particularly spectacular in winter when the clear blue waters partially freeze.
In the afternoon we explore Lake Myvatn. This active volcanic area was formed 3800 years ago when a lava flow blocked the valley. Here we will be treated to the surreal sight of steam rising from ground vents through the snow-covered ground. We will also see a variety of fascinating rock formations caused by past lava eruptions.
After a day exploring, we take a soothing dip in the Nature Baths, where we will find a man-made lagoon to swim in and natural steam baths to relax in. Your leader will endeavour to time this with sunset so you can relax below the red and pink skies and watch the sun go down over a beautifully frozen Lake Myvatn. The Nature Baths here are a great quieter alternative to the busier Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik - they offer the same wonderful experience but with less people around you. (B)
Today we have a longer drive, through the small village of Egilsstadir to the Wilderness Centre, our home for the night. Depending on the road conditions the drive will take approximately 7-8 hours, there will be plenty of stops along the way to break the journey.
On arrival we will experience true Icelandic culture as we stay in a 1940's originally-restored farmhouse. The farmhouse is a living museum and has been decorated in the fashion of times gone by and are true to the taste of the past owners, including original furnishings and objects.
The Wilderness centre is superbly-positioned for viewing the Northern Lights so if the conditions are right it's worth staying up late! (B)
Today, we drive along the eastern coastal road to the fishing town of Hofn, admiring the wind-swept sea views along the way. We also hope to catch our first glimpses of Vatnajokull - the largest ice cap in Europe.
On the way we will stop in small villages and walk along the deserted beaches of the east coast. We arrive in Hofn in the late afternoon and the evening is free to relax. (B)
Continuing our circumnavigation of the island, we'll see more of the Vatnajokull Glacier before stopping at the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. Here, we can marvel at the newly formed icebergs as they make their way out to sea. The ice is breaking off from the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier and the icebergs then slowly float through the lagoon and out to sea under a bridge for the main number one road. You can see the bergs drifting out into the ocean whilst others sit lazily on the black beaches waiting for the current to sweep them away. On one of the bridge's pillars there is painting, supposedly by Banksy, of a headless polar bear pushing a shopping trolley. The lagoon is quite narrow, but the waters are up to 250 meters deep, which makes it the deepest lake found in Iceland.
Tonight's hotel is in the remote countryside, providing us with another chance to view the Northern Lights. (B)
Today, we take a tour of Iceland's 'Golden Circle', which includes many of the natural wonders which make the country so famous. Thingvellir is a rare site of both historical and geological importance. Meaning 'Parliament Plains', this was the location of Iceland's first National Assembly from 930AD until 1798 and, as such, is hugely significant in the country's cultural heritage. What's more, the impressive landscape sits on a unique spot where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge can be seen on dry land before disappearing to the ocean floor where it spends most of its existence. This provides the quirky opportunity to place one foot on the North American tectonic plate and one foot on the Eurasian plate.
We move on to the Gullfoss, known as the 'Golden Waterfall', due to the way it cascades into a deep gorge with tremendous force. Regarded by many as one of the most beautiful falls in the world, it often remains partially frozen during the winter months. Geysir is our next stop, with the claim to fame that, as the first spouting spring known to Europeans, it gave all such springs their name. However, it is the Strokkur, meaning 'The Butter Churn', which is the main attraction these days, due to its impressive 100 feet eruptions every few minutes.
We return to Reykjavik this evening, where we will have a short sightseeing tour by bus to help us orientate ourselves before going to our conveniently-located hotel will be our base for the last two nights of the tour. Your Explore Leader will also be able to arrange any of our optional excursions for you that you might wish to participate in during your free day tomorrow. (B)(L)
Our trip ends after breakfast this morning. The transfer back to Keflavik airport will be on the public FlyBus shuttle bus service and your leader will provide you with the details of your pick up time and with your voucher for this service.
Please note: The itinerary for this tour is subject to amendment due to weather or road conditions. Winter is a beautiful time to visit Iceland, but the weather can be unpredictable and snow can have a big impact on travel times. Consequently, it may be necessary to alter the order of the itinerary or to change inclusions whilst on tour. (B)
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