Itinerary

Iceland2018_755x229_smbanner
Iceland2018_755x229_smbanner

Detailed Itinerary

Iceland: Great North, Westfjords & Aurora Borealis
October 3-13, 2018

Add On Monday-Tuesday October 1 & 2 Add-on Reykjavik Pre-Nights
Day 1 Wednesday October 3 Arrive Reykjavik, Iceland
Day 2 Thursday October 4 The Great North
Day 3 Friday October 5 Húsavík Whale Watching
Day 4 Saturday October 6 Dettifoss – Myvatn Fumeroles – Geothermal Nature Pool
Day 5 Sunday October 7 Tröllaskagi Peninsula – Siglufjörður
Day 6 Monday October 8 Northern History – Icelandic Horses
Day 7 Tuesday October 9 Westfjords
Day 8 Wednesday October 10 Westfjords
Day 9 Thursday October 11 Vatnsfjördur – Vogur
Day 10 Friday October 12 Búdardalur – Leifur Eiriksson - Reykjavik
Day 11 Saturday October 13 Reykjavik – Onward or join optional add-on
Add On Saturday-Sunday October 13 & 14 Add-on Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon

Important: TravelQuest, working with our partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change depending on weather and other local conditions.
Level 2 – Easy/moderate: short to medium walks over uneven hilly terrain under easygoing to rugged travel conditions, with varying elevations up to 3,400 m (11,150 ft).

At TravelQuest we want to be sure you find the trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness. Please email or call with questions.


Iceland2018_itin_Day1half
Iceland2018_itin_Day1half

Day 1 – October 3, 2018
Arrive Reykjavik, Iceland

Arriving in the early morning at Keflavík Airport (airport code: KEF), take the easy included 45-minute Flybus to our hotel. Join fellow travelers and your local guide Martina Pötzsch this evening for a get-acquainted reception before dinner on your own.

Overnight: Hotel Marina, Reykjavik
Meals: Breakfast


Iceland2018_itin_Day2full-REV
Iceland2018_itin_Day2full-REV
Day 2 – Thursday, October 4, 2018
The Great North

After an early departure from the hotel to Reykjavik City Airport, we take a 45-minute flight to the north part of the country, then head overland to the spectacular Goðafoss waterfall. Following a lunch en route, we explore the natural wonders of the Lake Mývatn region, with its starkly beautiful landscapes and unusual geological formations. Highlights include the unusually shaped Dimmuborgir lava field and the volcanic pseudo-craters of Skútustaðagígar. After dinner, join us for our first night of aurora viewing from the hotel grounds.

Overnight: Hotel Laxa (3 nights)
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

A Few Words About the Aurora Borealis

If you think it’s difficult predicting the weather a few days in advance, consider attempting to forecast the appearance of the northern lights as far ahead as October 2018! That’s a tough assignment, and it’s impossible to be completely accurate, but we can make some generalized comments about what you can expect to see.

Currently the Sun remains active, even though the solar cycle is no longer at maximum. For reasons not yet understood, the Sun is more active after solar maximum than before. Consequently, it’s still possible we’ll experience a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), a major solar outburst that often results in spectacular displays of the northern lights.

In addition, we’ll see auroral activity thanks to coronal holes — openings in the Sun’s magnetic field that let its powerful solar wind escape into space. When one of these holes is pointed toward Earth, the result is a lovely show of the northern lights at high-latitude locations such as Iceland.

Unfortunately, astronomers can’t predict the eruption of a CME or the emergence of coronal holes. But when one or the other is observed, they can estimate when the charged solar particles will strike Earth’s atmosphere and cause the aurora to dance. So, as well as checking the sky each night, we’ll be monitoring solar activity websites every day.

Also, for reasons unknown to astronomers, aurora activity peaks following the spring and autumn equinoxes. This is why we plan to be in the dark skies of the Icelandic countryside shortly after the autumn equinox.


Iceland2018_itin_Day3half
Iceland2018_itin_Day3half

Day 3 – Friday, October 5, 2018
Húsavík Whale Watching

Today’s excursion is centered around the quaint fishing village of Húsavík, known for its colorfully painted houses. Your first stop is the excellent Whale Museum, which provides an interesting overview of the creatures’ behavior and habitats, as well as the history of whaling in Iceland and recent conservation efforts. Húsavík is also a center of whale watching, so naturally your visit includes a three-hour cruise in search of humpback, orca, and minke whales, along with dolphins and a vast array of seabirds. After dinner, cap off a great day with another evening of aurora viewing back at the hotel.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


Iceland2018_itin_Day4full
Iceland2018_itin_Day4full

Day 4 – Saturday, October 6, 2018
Dettifoss – Mývatn Fumaroles – Geothermal Nature Pool

In the morning we visit Dettifoss, perhaps the most spectacular of Iceland’s falls, and with its impressive scale — cascading 45 m (148 ft) over a cliff 100 m (328 ft) wide — reputedly the most powerful waterfall in Europe. After lunch you enter the fumarole zone of Hverarönd (Namaskard) where groundwater is superheated by magma forced up through the Earth’s crust. The area has a distinctly strong smell, thanks to the sulfur deposits brought to the surface by seismic activity. Then we offer the perfect end to your adventures: a relaxing soak in the warm waters of the Mývatn geothermal baths. After a quick drive back to the hotel for dinner, join us for a third night outside, watching for the northern lights.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


Iceland2018_itin_Day5half
Iceland2018_itin_Day5half

Day 5 – Sunday, October 7, 2018
Tröllaskagi Peninsula – Siglufjörður

Right after breakfast, we leave the Mývatn region behind and head across the scenic Tröllaskagi peninsula, passing through the Akureyri, Iceland’s “Capital of the North" at the top of Eyjafjörður Fjord. The acclaimed Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður chronicles the heyday of this former “Herring Capital of the World,” whose fortunes declined with the collapse of the Atlantic herring stock in the late 1960s. After dinner, enjoy aurora viewing in the charming little town of Siglufjörður.

Overnight: Hotel Sigló, Siglufjörður
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


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Iceland2018_itin_Day6full

Day 6 – Monday, October 8, 2018
Northern History – Icelandic Horses

On our morning visit to the Glaumbær Folk Museum, learn about the lives of the early Icelanders who settled these barren landscapes in simple houses of turf and stone. Next, take in an impressive Icelandic horse exhibition at Gauksmýri. And then view the pretty Kolugljúfur waterfall en route to the remote village of Laugarbakki, on the banks of the salmon-filled Midfjardara River. After dinner, of course, you can look forward to a fifth night of watching the skies above the pristine fjord.

Overnight: Hotel Laugarbakki
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


Iceland2018_itin_Day7half
Iceland2018_itin_Day7half

Day 7 – Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Westfjords

Today’s journey takes you through the fertile farmlands of Húnavatnssýsla County, along Hrútafjörður Fjord, by the shores of Húnaflói Bay and through the scenic Strandir region to the fishing village of Hólmavík — where we visit the intriguing Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. Continuing across a high mountain pass to Ísafjarðardjúp, the largest fjord of the Westfjords peninsula, we visit a historic salt factory in Reykjanes before arriving at our home for the next two nights: the isolated fjord town of Heydalur. In the evening we step out from our charming guesthouse for more aurora viewing.

Overnight: Heydalur Guesthouse (2 nights)
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


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Iceland2018_itin_Day8full

Day 8 – Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Westfjords

In a day-long excursion, we trace the spectacular shorelines of various inlets along the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord — many of them uninhabited — arriving at the largest town on the peninsula, Ísafjörður. A highlight of your walk around town is a visit to the Arctic Fox Center in nearby Sudavik. After returning to Heydalur for dinner, enjoy a seventh night of sky-watching in the untouched landscape.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


Iceland2018_itin_Day9half
Iceland2018_itin_Day9half

Day 9 – Wednesday, October 11, 2018
Vatnsfjördur - Vogur

Your journey back from Westfjords winds along shoreline roads and through mountain passes, stopping at Vatnsfjördur to visit its ancient Viking archeological site. Our final destination is the beautiful tip of the Skarðsströnd peninsula, where a hospitable country lodge provides the perfect setting for our eighth and final night of viewing the aurora borealis.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


Iceland2018_itin_Day10half
Iceland2018_itin_Day10half

Day 10 – Friday, October 12, 2018
Búdardalur – Leifur Eiriksson – Reykjavik

After breakfast we drive to Búðardalur, home of the Eiríksstaðir Viking longhouse. This is believed to be the birthplace of famed Norse explorer Leifur Eiríksson, who “discovered” North America (apparently landing in what is now Newfoundland) about 500 years before Columbus. We then carry on to the waterfall Glanni and climb the small volcanic crater at Grábrók, arriving in Reykjavik by late afternoon. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at an Icelandic restaurant near our central hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Marina
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


Day 11 – Saturday, October 13, 2018
Depart Iceland Or Join Optional Iceland Golden Circle Add-On Program

After checking out of our hotel, enjoy a morning at leisure in colorful Reykjavik before your afternoon transfer to the airport for your onward travels, or you can join our optional Golden Circle Adventure & Blue Lagoon thermal bath overnight.

Meals: Breakfast

Add-on

Monday, October 1 & Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Add-On Reykjavik Pre-Nights

For those wishing to arrive in Reykjavík early, TravelQuest has reserved a limited number of rooms at Hotel Marina, walking distance to the city center, including breakfast, tax, and arrival transfer.

Nightly cost: U.S. $250 per person based on 2 people sharing one room. Add U.S. $110 for single occupancy.
Meals: Breakfast

Iceland2018_itin_Day11full
Iceland2018_itin_Day11full

Add-on

Saturday – Sunday, October 13-14, 2018
Add-On Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon

This must-do add-on is perfect for the first-time visitor to Iceland. Continuing our adventure we bid farewell to those leaving today, and journey to Thingvellir National Park and the sacred site of Althingi, the 1,000-year-old Viking parliament. Set just north of Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest lake, the park lies in a rift valley formed where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The result is a large plain surrounded by extremely deep faults and fissures, many of them filled with crystal-clear waters. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is understandably one of Iceland’s most visited (and photographed) destinations.

Next we explore the Geysir hot springs area, a surreal landscape dotted with bubbling pools of multicolored water and mud — and home to the Strokkur geyser, which erupts to a height of about 25 m (80 ft) every seven minutes or so. After lunch we travel on to the magnificent Gullfoss, or “Golden Waterfall,” perhaps the most beautiful in Iceland. You can walk right to the cliff edge where the Hvitá River tumbles 32 m (100 ft) in a double cascade — and when the angle of the Sun is right, you see a spectacular rainbow through the spray.

Later, we’re off to Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula and the famed Blue Lagoon to relax in steaming, mineral-rich waters known for their curative powers. Any time of day, the lagoon’s aqua hue is unforgettable. Dinner this evening is on your own.

The next day, after checking out of our hotel, enjoy a morning at leisure in colorful Reykjavik before your afternoon group transfer to the airport for your onward travels.

Pricing
U.S. $590 per person, based on two people sharing one room. Add U.S. $100 for single occupancy.

Add-On Trip Includes:

  • Overnight in Reykjavik October 13.
  • All ground transportation.
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary.
  • Admission fees for included activities.
  • Services of a local guide.
  • Departure airport transfer October 14.

Meals: Lunch/Breakfast


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