There are waterfalls including the awesome Dettifoss, the most powerful in Europe. The tour includes, weather permitting, a 4 hour whale watching cruise sailing from Húsavík, aboard Iceland´s only schooner.
Lots to see but little to carry, as the tour bus will convey your luggage. Accommodation is provided in hotels with private facilities. The hotels used on tour are often “summer hotels” used most of the year as boarding schools or country hotels which are simple and clean.
Day 1: Reykjavík-Gullfoss-Geysir-Skaftafell
The day starts with a drive over Hellisheiði mountain to the greenhouse village of Hveragerði. Then on through the southern farmlands to the famous Geysir area. Geysir, the word meaning “the one who spouts/erupts” is used internationally for spouting hot springs, found only in few countries of the world, but in icelandic it is the name of our largest geysir. In the area you will find the geysir Strokkur that spouts every 5-10 minutes. The old Geysir has turned down its acitivity and does not spout that regularly any longer, but he is there to be admired. We go for a walk through the geothermal area. Continue to the edge of the highlands to visit Gullfoss (the golden waterfall) one of Iceland´s favourite waterfalls. Falling 32 meters into Hvítárgljúfur (the White River canyon) after a journey of 30 km from the glacier Langjökull (the long glacier) you will see why Icelanders call it the Golden Waterfall.
We continue through the biggest agricultural area in Iceland, the south lowlands with stops at the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. We pass the village of Vík and drive through the black sands of Mýrdalsjökull and through the lava fields of Eldhraun (Fire Lava) resulted from a yearlong eruption in 1783 before arriving a the small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. From there we continue across Skeiðarársandur with a dominating view of the glacier Vatnajökull and also, Mount Öræfajökull the highest peak in Iceland, 2119 m. We overnight for the next 2 nights in the neighbourhood of the Skaftafell National Park.
Day 2: Walking in Skaftafell
Skaftafell is today a part of the Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe. The area nestles under the slopes of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier and is dominated by Iceland’s highest peak Mount Öræfajökull. This area used to be one of the most isolated communities in Iceland with the ice cap on its north, barren sands and wild glacial river to the east and the west and the harbourless, sandy beach of the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The landscape has been formed through thousands of years by different influences of fire, ice and water and Skaftafell enjoys a mild climate compared to the rest of southern Iceland. There are several hiking trails and today will be spent walking in the area. We will hike up to the waterfall Svartifoss (Black Fall), which is surrounded by black basalt columns, and we walk up to Sjónsker (View Cliff) from where, weather permitting, we continue our walk up to Kristínartindar. From Sjónsker we have a magnificent view of the area that was flooded during an eruption under the ice cap in the year 1996 and we also get a good view of Mount Öræfajökull.
Day 3: Skaftafell-Fljótsdalshérað
We drive eastwards along the southern coast with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier to the north. This magnificent ice cap covers about 8 % of the surface of Iceland, underneath there is much volcaninc activity and several times through our history there have been eruptions under the glacier resulting in devastating floods of melted ice that have created the black sands we cross today. Weather permitting we will see magnificent glacial tounges descending from the main ice cap and at one place creating a large glacial lagoon, with large floating icebergs melting slowly to feed Iceland’s shortest river, Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi. Here we stop to take a boat tour to sail among the icebergs on the lagoon. From there we continue to the Eastern Fjords, passing the towns Höfn and Djúpivogur and on to Egilsstaðir. Two nights overnight in the Egilsstaðir area.
Day 4: Walking through Viking Trails
Today we drive to Borgarfjörður Eystri (Borgarfjörður in the East), so named because there are two fjords with this name in Iceland. Here is a village which until recently was very isolated and still today is very much out of the way. There are few places where you can find so colourful and magnificent mountains. But besides unique geological formations and numerous species of rock, that make this area so interesting and worth visiting, there are also easily accessible bird cliffs, teeming with life during the nesting area, and several tales of “Hidden People” and other supernatural beings and their interactions with humans have taken place here. One of Iceland’s best known painters Jóhannes Kjarval (1885-1972) grew up in Borgarfjörður and the landscape and the folktales of his youth very much influenced his art. Here there are several hiking trails to choose from and today will be spent walking in this beautiful and magnificent area.
Day 5: Fljótsdalshérað-Askja-Herðubreiðarlindir-Mývatn Area
More than half of the surface of Iceland is uninhabitable highlands. Today we will travel across the the desert highlands with several active volcanoes and incomparable scenery. We stop at Askja, an active stratovolcano that erupted last time in 1961. Its biggest and most powerful eruption however took place in 1875 and subsequent devastation of pastures and farmlands resulted in a wave of emigration from Iceland to America. During the 1875 eruption two lakes were formed, a large one called Öskjuvatn, the deepest lake in Iceland, and a smaller one called Víti (meaning Hell) which is geothermal. The Askja area was used as training grounds for the first two men to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. We also stop at a highland oasis called Herðubreiðarlindir, a nature reserve, dominated by the Mount Herðubreið, often called “The Queen of Icelandic Mountains”. We arrive late at Lake Mývatn/Húsavík and spend the next three nights in the area.
Day 6: Walking in the lake Mývatn area
Today is spent walking in the area around Lake Mývatn. Mývatn is Icelands fourth biggest lake and it is known for its exceptionally rich bird life and unique geological formations. Rare birds include for example the Barrow’s Goldeneye which is not found elsewhere in Europe. We will explore the pseudo craters at Skútustaðir, the fantastic lava formations at Dimmuborgir (Dark Castles) and walk up the explosion crater Hverfell, that was created in a very short but powerful volcanic eruption some 2500 years ago.
Day 7: Whale Watching-Hljóðaklettar-Dettifoss-Ásbyrgi
We start the day, weather permitting, with a four hour whale and bird watching cruise from the picturesque village of Húsavík. The tour is a combination of whale watching, bird watching and sailing aboard Iceland´s only schooner. Refreshments are served on board. In the afternoon we visit Hljóðaklettar with its strange formations and the magnificent and puzzling canyon Ásbyrgi, said to be a hoof print of Sleipnir the eight legged horse of the ancient god Óðinn. We walk along the west bank of the mighty Jökulsá river and not far upstream we see Europe´s most powerful waterfall Dettifoss.
Day 8: Lake Mývatn area-Hella
We make our way south across the highland desert Sprengisandur, The largest desert in Europe. During the first centuries of Iceland’s history this highland route was much frequented by travellers travelling between North and South Iceland. Later as the desert grew bigger and the climate cooled it fell into disuse and became shrouded in mystery and folktales of ghosts, giants and outlaws. Weather permitting we will have a fantastic view across the highland interior, much of which is covered by some of the biggest ice caps in Europe and on the way we have to ford some unbridged rivers. At the end of the day we come to the village Hella where we stay for two nights.
Day 9: Walking in Landmannalaugar
Today we drive route “Fjallabaksleið” (the Road behind the Mountains) and to Landmannalaugar, an oasis in the barreness. There we will spend the day walking in this out-of-this-world area surrounded by colourful rhyolite mountains. In Landmannalaugar there is also a natural geothermal stream where you can enjoy a refreshing bath.
Day 10: Þingvellir-Reykjavík
On our way back to Reykjavík we stop at the national park Þingvellir. Besides being of great interest from a geological point of view Þingvellir has a very special place in our history. It was here where the Icelandic parliament was founded in 930, making it the oldest national legislative assembly in the world, and here it met for centuries in beautiful natural surroundings. At Þingvellur you are also standing on the Atlantic Rift, between the North American and the Eurasian continental plates. Continue to Reykjavík to end our tour.
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Europe Iceland Outdoor: Land Rambler Walking Tours Wildlife Viewing
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