This tour is the combination of two popular winter programs: the Northern Lights Exploration and the North Iceland Aurora Challenge. Additionally we include a Northern Lights fjord cruise in Reykjavík. This 15-day escorted winter tour is designed to discover West, South and North Iceland and to maximize the chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights. Included are a lot of cultural experiences and museums visits. You take part in winter adventures and activities: fjord cruise by day and night, snowshoe walk, volcano climb, torch hike to search for the Aurora Borealis and bathing in geothermal lagoons.
Individual transfer by Flybus shuttle bus from Keflavik Airport to your accommodation in Reykjavík where you spend the night. We provide you with some ideas how to explore Iceland's capital on your own.
REYKJAVIK CITY TOUR & BORGARFJÖRÐUR SAGA VALLEY (245 km/152 mls)
At 09:00 meet your tour guide who shows the group the highlights of Iceland's exciting capital. Then we head west. Borgarfjörður is known as the Saga valley because of its many important historical events. We get a chance to climb the Grábrók volcano crater and get warmed at Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring which produces 180 liters per second of water that is nearly boiling - 97° Celsius. Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls pouring from beneath a wide lava field. Barnafoss – the Children's falls, is nearby with its own tragic tale. We spend two nights in Borgarnes, West Iceland. The afternoon includes a lecture about Northern Lights. After dinner, we step into the hotel garden in search of the Northern Lights followed by a hot cup of chocolate or tea.
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. We travel to the charming fishing town of Stykkishólmur for a cruise in the Breiðafjörður fjord. After a light lunch a uniquely Icelandic “treat“ awaits us at Bjarnarhöfn, where they make Hákarl - the fermented shark. Depending on road and weather condtions, we visit the fishing village of Grundarfjörður, a place with an impressive coastline and mountains, lakes and waterfalls behind the village. Jutting out into the bay rises one of the most photographed mountain in Iceland, Mt. Kirkjufell. On the way back to Borgarnes the guide gives you some practical tips on how to photograph the Auroras as part of the Northern Lights Academy program. Naturally, once darkness falls, we are out in the hotel garden to chase the Northern Lights and to soak in the hotel’s outdoor hot tubs.
GOLDEN CIRCLE, GEOTHERMAL TASTE & ICELANDIC HORSES (220 km/136 mls)
Today we travel along the Hvalfjörður fjord. The first stop is at an Icelandic wool outlet store, just to see what they do with all those sheep! We continue inland to Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We travel the Golden Circle route and see steam rising from the Geysir geothermal fields as we arrive. There is a variety of hot springs and bubbling pools. The original geyser is now dormant but has been replaced by Strokkur "the Churn" which erupts at 5-10 minutes intervals. The chef of the Restaurant Geysir invites you to taste freshly baked hot spring bread served with Icelandic butter, geothermally boiled eggs and herring. It is best served with a small glass of Geysir Schnapps, very cold – nearly freezing. On we travel to Gullfoss, a double waterfall that tumbles 34 meters into the Hvítá river and attracts tourists and travellers in summer and winter. In the afternoon, you learn about the Icelandic horse, its special qualities and history and visit a geothermal greenhouse, before we reach the accommodation in South Iceland. Tonight, step into the darkness and search for the elusive Northern Lights, while best enjoyed from a comfortable hot tub in the garden of the hotel, amidst the peace and stillness of rural Iceland.
SOUTH ICELAND & EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL VOLCANO (220 km/136 mls)
Today we travel along the South coast. At the Eyjafjallajökull Information Center we learn about living next to a glacier and an active volcano. Further east we visit one of Iceland's finest folk museums. This museum contains an outstanding collection of farm and domestic artifacts from Iceland's past and several turf-built houses. Nearby is Skógafoss waterfall which is 60 meters high and one of the most impressive waterfalls in the country. In the afternoon we take a stroll on the black lava beach and along bird cliffs at Reynisfjara in South Iceland. We spend 2 nights near Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the Vatnajökull National Park region, located in complete darkness and ideal for Northern Lights search.
SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK & VATNAJÖKULL GLACIER (280 km/174 mls)
Today’s program is all about glaciers, ice and icebergs. We travel to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon filled with floating icebergs, and we explore the extraordinary site and might see seals swimming in arctic waters. You can walk on the black sandy beach where large icebergs get stranded. In the afternoon we visit the tiny turf church at Hof and spend time at Europe’s largest national park, which has Iceland’s highest mountains, an alpine environment, and Europe's largest glacier. In the evening enjoy a film presentation about the Northern Lights as part of the Northern Lights Academy program. Be careful not to go to bed too soon in this remote and quiet location or you may just miss out one more chance of seeing the Northern Lights shimmering and dancing across the night sky.
SOUTH SHORE, REYKJAVÍK & BLUE LAGOON (370 km/230 mls)
From Kirkjubæjarklaustur we head across the Eldhraun lava field to the village of Vík, where we make a photo stop. The black lava beach with high bird cliffs and pounding waves is very impressive. Further west we reach the high but narrow Seljalandsfoss waterfall which plunges from the mountain. There is a trail that goes behind the falling water and offers interesting views, if you are prepared to get wet!
In the afternoon we return to Reykjavik and have about 2 hour leisure time to explore Iceland's capital on our own, visit museums, do some shopping or simply rest after all this touring. In the evening we get to soak in the famous Blue Lagoon, followed by an Icelandic dinner at a local restaurant in Grindavik and followed by one last nocturnal tour to seek more Northern Lights. Around midnight we reach Reykjavík, where you stay 2 nights.
Enjoy a leisure day for exploring Iceland's capital, visit museums, do some shopping, go for spa treatments or take an optional whale watching tour. Included is an evening Northern Lights hunt by boat to escape the city lights. Please note, that if the tour is cancelled due to weather conditions, no refund is available but you can use the tour voucher for dinner at Kopar Restaurant at the harbor.
Start the second part of the tour and travel west. Meet your tour guide and travel west, passing the town of Borgarnes and climb again the Grábrók volcano crater. We visit a natural history & seal museum and further north we stop at the turf church of Víðimýri. We travel along scenic fjords and over several challenging mountain passes until we reach Siglufjörður, Iceland’s northernmost town. We overnight at the new and beautifully located Hotel Siglo which offers spectacular geothermal hot tubs build into the local fjord. In the evening, if weather permits, we take a little walk or drive to search for the Northern Lights.
Day 10 Siglufjordur - Trollaskagi Peninsula - Lake Myvatn
In the morning we explore Siglufjörður, Iceland’s northernmost town, known as the herring capital of the North Atlantic. In Siglufjörður we visit the herring museum, the largest seafaring and industrial museum in the country. In the afternoon we drive along Eyjafjörður, Iceland's longest fjord which offers an amazing mountain panorama and explore Tröllaskagi Peninsula. Along the way, we stop at a deserted fjord valley that even most Icelanders have not yet seen. Later we stop at a local brewery and taste one of Iceland's micro-beers. We continue to Lake Mývatn, a winter wonderland, where we stay for 3 nights. Join an evening lecture about Northern Lights and don't miss the chance to search for the magical auroras after dinner.
SEARCH FOR THE TROLLS & SNOW ADVENTURES (30 km/19 mls)
This morning we go for a snowshoe trip (or a normal hike if there is no snow) through the lava formations of Dimmuborgir “the dark castles”, hoping to get a glimpse of the trolls who are said to live there. The afternoon is free at leisure to explore the many pseudo craters or walk along the lake shores. Also available is an optional tour on cross-country skis or snow-mobiles. In the evening we take a relaxing soak at Lake Mývatn Nature Baths and get ready to chase the elusive Northern Lights.
Lake Mývatn is known for its geological wonders and active bird life, but also for having Iceland's coldest temperatures. We take an easy walk through the bizarre lava formations and landscape with great views to the lake, bird life and trees. Later we explore the hot spring area of Námaskarð with bubbling mud pools and steaming solfataras. We taste traditional dark bread baked underground in the geothermal heat. In the evening enjoy a video presentation about Northern Lights as a part of the Northern Lights educational program. After a delicious dinner, don't forget to keep an eye out for the Northern Lights.
BIRDS, CHRISTMAS GARDEN & THE CAPITAL OF NORTH ICELAND (120 km/75 mls)
We visit the Lake Mývatn bird museum and travel to Goðafoss, the waterfalls of the Gods. Next stop is the Christmas Garden, a small museum and shop where you find countless items connected to Icelandic Christmas traditions. The afternoon is free at leisure to explore Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland on your own. There are some excellent local museums and a great geothermal swimming pool. Depending on weather there is a short excursion into the darkness to hunt the Aurora Borealis.
HISTORY, DESIGN & HORSES IN SKAGAFJÖRÐUR (420 km/261 mls)
We travel back west over the mountains to Skagafjörður, the valley of horses and home of many ancient farms. We visit the folk museum and turf farm at Glaumbær. Enjoy a guided tour through the only tannery in Europe which makes fish leather. Later we stop for coffee & cake at a horse farm, where we learn about the history and the special gaits of Icelandic horses. We reach Reykjavík depending on weather and road conditions between 18:00-20:00 where you stay one night in Iceland's capital.
Individual transfer by Flybus airport shuttle from your accommodation in Reykjavík to Keflavík Airport.
DAILY DRIVING: Total mileage without airport transfer is about 2.775 km (1.720 miles) which is an average of 232 km (143 miles) per day. You spend about 3,5 hours per day on the bus, depending on road conditions, traffic and daily distances. On some days the driving might be longer than on some other days, especially day 7, 9 and 14.
NOTE: In rare cases, a change of itinerary might be necessary during winter programs in Iceland, should snow, road and weather conditions not allow to follow the scheduled itinerary, and certain outdoor activities might be cancelled. In this case no refund will be given, but we will try to find reasonable alternatives where and whenever possible.
NATURE FEES: There is a possibility that some of the nature attractions around Iceland might charge an entrance fee during the trip. These entrance fees are not included in the tour price and need to be paid by all tour members additionally on the spot, when entering any of these nature sites. Locations, amount of entrance fee, form of payment and other details are not known at the present time and are subject to change.
NORTHERN LIGHTS: This program includes during 12 evenings a combination of presentations, lectures, film and guided evening walks or excursions at spots that are likely to offer a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights. All hotels outside Reykjavík and Akureyri offer a Northern Lights wake up call for guests that register for that special service at the hotel reception. This tour series is designed to maximize the chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights, still the tour is dependent on weather and therefore sightings are not guaranteed. The Northern Lights are in the northern hemisphere from September through April but are only visible when the sky is clear and free of clouds. Like many of natural wonders, the Northern Lights are ephemeral – they may be visible, they may appear for a bit and then be gone (it is not a TV show that you can just turn on and off). But it is worth the patience which is much required. Because they are a winter event, you need to be prepared to wait outside while looking for them. It is best to dress very warmly, in layers, with good footwear, gloves, hats and whatever else makes you comfortable while you await patiently this truly outstanding event. For the best photos we recommend using a tripod.
Max. 16 People
Use of Winter & Northern Lights Explorer Equipment: Simple Non-Slip Snow & Northern Lights Program During 12 Evenings With a Combination of Lectures, Northern Lights Fjord Cruise from Reykjavik (in Case of Cancellation, Tour Entrances As Mentioned Fjord Cruise on Breidafjordur Fjord Including Lunch 3X Lunch, 4X Dinner and 8X Midnight Refreshments Daily Breakfast 14 Nights Hotel Accommodation As Per Itienrary Fully Escorted 3 Day Coach Tour With English Speaking Guide Arrival and Departure Transfers Keflavik by Flybus