The Itinerary is Set!
Unstructured itinerary - Please note that the itinerary is subject to change based on local realities, weather conditions, and sporadic events that may happen if an opportunity arises. These are the joys and adventures of travel and it is best to keep an open mind and go with the flow – you never know what will be around the corner.
Some festivals to note:
Music Festivals – Secret Solstice Festival - http://secretsolstice.is
National Day in Iceland is June 17.
Depart for Iceland – June 15, 2018 with Iceland Air or Air Canada
Day 1: Arrive early morning at Keflavik International Airport and take the Flybus to Reykjavik. Relax, unpack and receive a brief welcome & orientation from the group leaders. Meet for a group lunch followed by a light walking tour of the city. Meals not included on this day.
Option to stay at Icelandair Natura - http://www.icelandairhotels.com
Day 2: Reykjavik – This city has so much to offer, from an in credible art and music scene, to museums, shopping, the Elf School, and some great city hot pools. Reykjavik is also a great place to take day trips from such as the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. This will be a free day for the group to explore.
Breakfast and lunch included.
Day 3 - 5: Road trip officially begins! Our first stop is Snaefellsnes Peninsula! After breakfast, pack a picnic lunch & drive to Djupalonssandur with stops at the thermal springs and the Gerduberg basalt columns. Then continue on to Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Sparkling fjords, dramatic volcanic peaks, sheer sea cliffs, sweeping golden beaches and crunchy lava flows make up the diverse and fascinating landscape of the 100km-long Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The group will spend the next 3 days exploring this area which is filled with plenty of hiking opportunities and beautiful landscapes.
The area is crowned by the glistening ice cap Snæfellsjökull, immortalised in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Good roads and regular buses mean that it’s an easy road trip, offering a cross section of the best Iceland has to offer in a very compact region. For quite a lot of locals the symbolic Snaefellsjokull mountain is a mecca for purity and inspiration. Indeed, some say the glacier is one of the seven most important cosmic centers on the earth. Even the uninitiated often feel “something” in the vicinity of Snaefellsjokull but perhaps that is just the cold streak coming from the glacier in calm weather.
Drive throughout the Park stopping at a Black Sand Lava Beach, a volcanic crater, and other scenic areas. Find a beautiful spot to have your picnic lunch. Today, the park is criss-crossed with hiking trails, and during proper weather it is possible to visit the glacier with a tour or guide.
Points of Interest in Snæfellsjökull National Park:
Vatnshellir - This 8000-year old lava tube with multiple caverns lies 32m below the earth’s surface, 1km north of Malariff. The pull-out is visible from Rte 574, and the tube can only be visited by guided tour.
Dritvík & Djúpalón - On the southwest coast, Rte 572 leads off of Rte 574 to the wild black-sand beach Djúpalónssandur. It’s a dramatic place to walk with rock formations (an elf church! and kerling, a troll woman), two brackish pools (for which the beach was named), and the rock-arch Gatklettur. An asphalt car park and public toilets allow tour bus access, and crowds. Down on the beach you can still see four lifting stones where fishing-boat crews would test the strength of aspiring fishermen. The smallest stone is Amloði (Bungler) at 23kg, followed by Hálfdrættingur (Weak) at 54kg, Hálfsterkur (Half-Strong) at 100kg, and the largest, Fullsterker (Fully Strong), at 154kg.
Hálfdrættingur marked the frontier of wimphood, and any man who couldn’t heft it was deemed unsuitable for a life at sea. Alongside, the black sands are covered in pieces of rusted metal from the English trawler Eding, which was shipwrecked here in 1948.
A series of rocky sea stacks, some of which are thought to be a troll church, emerge from the ocean up the coast, as you tramp north over the craggy headland to reach the black-sand beach at Dritvík. From the 16th to the 19th century Dritvík was the largest fishing station in Iceland, with up to 60 fishing boats, but now there are only ruins near the edge of the lava field.
Öndverðarnes - At the westernmost tip of Snæfellsnes, Rte 574 cuts south, while Rte 579, a tiny gravel and occasionally surfaced track, heads further west across an ancient lava flow to the tip of the Öndverðarnes peninsula, which is great for whale watching.
As the road winds through charcoal lava cliffs you’ll pass Skarðsvík, a golden beach with basalt cubes alongside. A Viking grave was discovered here in the 1960s and it’s easy to understand why this stunning spot would have been a favoured final resting place.
After Skarðsvík the track gets much bumpier (still manageable for a 2WD). Park at the turn-off (left side) to walk through craggy lava flows to the imposing volcanic crater Vatnsborg, or continue driving straight on until you reach a T-intersection. To the left lie the dramatic Svörtuloft bird cliffs (Saxhólsbjarg) and a tall, orange lighthouse. To the right, the bumpy track runs parallel to the sea to a squat, orange lighthouse. From its parking area, you can walk to the very tip of the peninsula, for whale watching, or walk 200m northeast to Fálkí, an ancient stone well which was thought to have three waters: fresh, holy and ale!
Other nearby points of interest:
Arnarstapi - Linked to Hellnar by both the main road and a wonderful coastal hike, this hamlet of summer cottages is nestled between the churning Arctic waters and the gnarled pillars of two neighbouring lava fields. A monument pays tribute to Jules Verne and a comical signpost measures distances to major cities via the earth's core. A second, enormous troll-like monument stands as a tribute to Bárður, the region’s guardian spirit, and the leading character in a local saga.
Arnarstapi is the best place to organise an ascent to the Snæfellsjökull glacial crown, though some tour companies come in from Reykjavík (such as Arctic Adventures).
After a late lunch drive to Kirkjufell to see the large mountain and photographs at sunset. Kirkjufell (463m), guardian of Grundarfjörður’s northern vista, is said to be one of the most photographed spots in Iceland. You'll see Ben Stiller skateboarding past in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). Ask the Saga Centre if you want to climb it (around €40 for a guide). Two spots involving a rope climb make it dangerous to scale when wet or without local knowledge. Kirkjufell is backed by the roaring waterfalls, Kirkjufellsfoss ; more camera fodder.
Option to check out Bjarnarhöfn Farm and sample fermented shark meat.
Stay at a Guesthouse in the countryside on the peninsula such as the Kast Guesthouse for 3 nights.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included on these days.
This is where the group can experience a variety of hiking trails and potentially rent a bicycle to explore the Peninisula.
Total Driving time from Reykjavik to the park 2 hours and 42 min (190km)
Driving times will vary based on what the group would like to see.
Day 6: After breakfast the group will make their way to an Icelandic Farmstay in the countryside in Southern Iceland (near Hella) where they will settle for the next 2 nights. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Total drive time 3 hours (227 km)
Day 7: After breakfast the group will then head out for a half day horseback riding excursion that is tailored to the group’s interests. The horseback riding experiences range from exploring hot springs, the countryside charm, Icelandic heritage and culture and they also have experiences based on the seasons of the year.
The afternoon will be free to explore the farm and have time for reflection.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day 8-9: After breakfast head to the Volcano Huts located in Húsadalur Valley in the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve in Iceland. The unique nature of the Þórsmörk area make this an ideal place for any nature and hiking enthusiast.
The group will spend 2 nights here enjoying some of the best hiking trails in Iceland with beautiful panoramic views of the Þórsmörk Valley and the surrounding mountains and glaciers. There are a variety of self-guided trails that can be hiked right from the accommodations.
The vehicles will have to cross some rivers on route so we may have to switch to catch one of the local buses – but it’s all part of the adventure!
Total drive time 1 hour & 30 mins (58.5 km)
Day 10: Depart the Volcano Huts and head to Fjaðrárgljúfur. Fjaðrárgljúfur is a magnificent and massive canyon, about 100 meters deep and about two kilometres long. The canyon has sheer walls, and is somewhat serpentine and narrow. The bedrock in Fjaðrárgljúfur is mostly palagonite from cold periods of the Ice Age and is thought to be about two million years old. The river Fjaðrá has its source in the mountain Geirlandshraun and falls off the heath edge in this stunning canyon until it makes it down into Skaftá river. Fjaðrá has changed a lot in the course of time. Today Fjaðrá is often rather low in water and therefore hikers can safely choose to walk inside the canyon. However, wading is necessary fairly often. Deep in the canyon there are waterfalls so one needs to walk the same way back. Most people choose to walk along a walking path up on the canyon's edge while simultaneously enjoying the view above the canyon. http://www.south.is/en/moya/toy/index/place/fjadrargljufur
This is an incredibly beautiful site to see – we’ll have a picnic lunch here and spend the whole afternoon exploring. We will spend the next 3 nights near Hof.
Total drive time 3 hours & 39 mins (247 km)
Day 11: Have a relaxing morning then head off to visit Svartifoss, perhaps the signature attraction of Skaftafell National Park. The reason why we made this claim was that it possessed pronounced hanging hexagonal basalt columns beneath a 20m tall waterfall.
Although this combination of basalt columns and a waterfall was not unique, this waterfall seemed to get the lion's share of the popularity and fame. We suspect this might be because the basalt columns had an obvious geometrical shape, the falls was relatively easy to access and admire from up close and the falls possessed a year-round flow in a landscape that contained glaciers, volcanoes, and large tracts of black sand [sandur] (i.e. it was quintessential raw Icelandic scenery).
Stop for a picnic lunch at a scenic spot.
Head to the Svínafellsjökull Glacier, strap on some ice crampons and do a 2.5 hour trek on the glacier, exploring the amazing features and crevases of the glacier.
After that head for a sunset boat ride of the majestic Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Fjallsárlón is an isolated glacial lagoon in the realm of Vatnajökull. Arriving to the lagoon is like stepping into a dreamlike world that offers spectacular sights. Iceland's tallest volcano, the Öræfajökull glacier, looms above the lagoon and reaches down to the water where icebergs break off into the lake and drift serenely around before melting.
The 45 minute boat ride will take you on a journey through time and tell you how the local farmers had to struggle with the forces of nature in their daily lives.
Experience the breathtaking natural scenery as you venture on a guided boat tour along floating icebergs and giant glaciers! http://fjallsarlon.is
Total drive time 1 hours & 20 mins (96.6 km)
Day 12: After breakfast visit the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Huge blocks of ice constantly break off the glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull, and large icebergs float on the lagoon. The lagoon is not very wide but it is up to 250 meters deep which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland. Breiðamerkurjökull is an outlet of the Vatnajökull glacier. Zodiac boat tours are available as an optional activity. http://icelagoon.is/about-us/
Continue to explore the coast line to experience the beautiful sites and glaciers in region. Stop for a picnic lunch along the way.
Total drive time 1 hour (76.5 km)
Day 13: After breakfast, for those up for an adventure to a hidden “laug” or hot pool on your way back towards Keflavik. They can head to the Seljavallalaug on route to the town of Vik. Seljavallalaug is a protected 25-metre outdoor pool in southern Iceland. The pool is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland and was built in 1923. Seljavallalaug is located not far from Seljavellir.
Stop for a picnic lunch after the hike and a soak.
Spend the night near the airport in Keflavik and/or near Blue Lagoon. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
If time permits the group can go to the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing evening. http://www.bluelagoon.com.
Total drive time 4 hour and 37 mins (376 km)
Day 14: Depart for Home.