Iceland | Reykjavík: Geology, Mythology and the Northern Lights
Iceland is a country of stark yet beautiful contrasts. Formed by volcanos and tectonic plates, the land can be harsh, yet it is home to towering fjords, spectacular waterfalls and steaming clear hot spring lagoons. Currently known as a place that celebrates environmental protection and women's rights, it has a strong religious history that stretches back to the first century AD. Scientifically minded, the Icelandic people retain a strong connection to the folklore and mythology that resonates in their landscapes and the culture. In every fjord and rock formation lurks a story and every legend still holds sway even in the modern world. Iceland manages to marry the ancient with the new, the myths with the contemporary, creating a cultural rich and geographically astounding experience. In the dead of winter, there are 17 hours of dark night, yet it boasts of the planet's best natural fireworks, the Aurora Borealis, that lights up the sky in otherworldly colorful magnificence.
Depending on local weather conditions, each night-after dinner will include an outing to attempt to see the Northern Lights!
Day 1 | Reykjavik
Very early morning arrival in Iceland. You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in Reykjavik, where a delicious breakfast buffet awaits you. The hotel will do everything possible to provide an early check in. However, this may not always be possible and if the rooms are not ready, your luggage will be stored while you go on the city tour. We will tour the city of Reykjavik including the Old town, the shopping districts and the Parliament. We will stop by Hofdi House, built in 1909 and the site of the Reykjavík Summit where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev began discussions to end the Cold War. Next we will head to Hallgrim's church, whose unusual towers make it one of the most well-known landmarks in Reykjavik. Lunch will be on your own in one of the many locally run restaurants around town. The rest of your afternoon will be free before we meet for a welcome dinner at our hotel. Optional night out in Reykavik.
Reykjavik hotel (B/D)
Day 2 | Reykjavik
We begin the day with tour the Hvalfjörður (the Whale Fjord) a deep fjord nearly 19 miles long and 3 miles wide and learn the myth behind its creation. Turning inland, we follow the course of the Laxa i Kjos, known colloquially as Iceland's salmon university for the rich fish life, down to the spectacular waterfall, the Fiórufoss, located in the Fingvellir National Park. The park sits in a rift valley connecting the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian, allowing you to walk from the Americas to Europe! Fingvellir is also the original location of the Althing, the national parliament of Iceland, started in 930 AD. Sessions were held at this location until 1798, when they moved to the city. We will have a quick stop for lunch on your own, then spend the afternoon relaxing in the waters of the Secret Lagoon, a naturally occurring hot springs. On our way back to the hotel we will pass the church at Skálholt, where a seminary school was founded in 1056, and stop to peer into the icy depths of the Keri volcanic crater. Dinner will be on your own.
Reykjavik hotel (B)
Day 3 | Reykjavik
After breakfast at hotel, we head out on an excursion that takes you along the south coast of the island. Our first stop is Vík, the southernmost town in Iceland where the black volcanic beaches meet the rolling Altantic waves. From here you can view the rock formations of Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar, basalt sea stacks that jut out in to wave and are home to nesting puffin colonies and hear the myth behind their origin. Next we visit the fairytale-like Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can walk right behind the misty cascade, and the gorgeous 200 feet high Skógafoss waterfall. Lunch will be on our own before we continue to a view point at the top at the stunning Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. To end the tour we will enjoy a traditional Icelandic lobster feast at a local restaurant in Stokkseyri before returning to your hotel. Optional outing in Reykavik.
Reykjavik hotel (B/D)
Day 4| Reykjavik
Today is a free day to explore the galleries and museums of the city, enjoy the tax-free shopping or pamper yourself in one of the many local spas, including the famous Blue Lagoon (advance booking required). There will also be a variety of optional activities available; from taking a snowmobile safari to the top of a glacier, to riding an Icelandic pony or going in search of puffins and whales. Also possible is a Hidden Worlds Tour that will explore the modern day locations and influences of elves, dwarves and other mystical being. Lunch and dinner are on your own.
Reykjavik hotel (B)
Day 5 | Reykjavik
After breakfast at the hotel we will venture in the exotic, moonlike Reykjanes peninsula. This is one of the newest parts of the country and is still growing! Here we will see pools of boiling lava mud, the air heavy with the smell of sulfur, and we will be able to walk on top of the North Atlantic Ridge - the only place in the world where this is possible. At the very tip of the peninsula, you'll take a short tour of the new geothermal power plant there, before stopping in the thriving fishing port of Grindavik, where we will enjoy a hearty traditional fisherman's lunch. Return to the hotel to relax. Our farewell dinner at a local restaurant (TBD)
Reykjavik hotel (B/L)
Day 6 | Reykjavik/Home
After breakfast, enjoy a free morning to explore nature or parts of the city you have yet to discover. Lunch on this last day is on your own. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flights home.
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Iceland... to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.
INCLUDED: in-country transportation per itinerary; hotel accommodation in Reykavik; full breakfast buffet daily at the hotel plus (B/L/D per itinerary); in-country airport transfers; all entrance fees as listed per itinerary; local English-speaking guide; CCJ trip manager, preparation materials; personalized luggage tags.
NOT INCLUDED: International airfare, meals not on itinerary; alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); travel cancellation and evacuation insurance (strongly recommended, info will be sent upon registration).