Circumnavigation of Iceland

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Tour Description

Larger than life, yet just shy of Cuba’s landmass area, Iceland is a Land of Fire and Ice, natural diversity, and a hardy and hospitable population. Our Iceland adventure travel expedition makes every effort to capture the geological drama of the land, aboard the superb Clipper Odyssey, by Zodiac, by snowmobile, and on foot. We start with a Reykjavík tour, followed by the Golden Circle of Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir Center. Tiny hamlets and fishing villages, spectacular scenery on the grandest scale, and a long medieval history—this is one of travel’s greatest adventures.

Iceland and Reykjavík Expedition Highlights:

  • Reykjavík tour and visit to nearby Krýsuvík, a settlement dating to 900 A.D., and its surrounding geothermal landscape.
  • The waterfalls, hot springs, and extinct volcano of the Breidafjordur Bay region, and the Snaefellsjökull Glacier.
  • Siglufjördur, once the herring capital of the Atlantic; visit the Herring Era Museum, former winner of European Museum of the Year.
  • Inland Iceland tour to Lake Mývatn, at the edge of a lava desert and one of the world’s richest bird-life areas.
  • An 11-mile cruise along Seydisfjördur, with its cascading waterfalls, soaring mountains, and brightly painted 19th-century fishing village.

What to Expect:

As rugged a destination as it is, your Iceland adventure travel requires a relatively moderate level of exertion on most days. You will need to climb in and out of Zodiacs; once ashore, we have designed excursions to accommodate both moderate strollers and more active hikers. Expect comfortable temperatures, from the low to mid 50°Fs through the Iceland and Reykjavík tours. Please be flexible; our itineraries are subject to change and landings may be tidal- or weather-dependent. Remarkable opportunities await those who bring a sense of humor and a spirit of adventure to their Iceland expedition.

Itinerary

Day 1

Depart USA

Depart this evening on your independent overnight flight to Reykjavík.

Day 2

Reykjavík, Iceland

Arrive in the Icelandic capital this morning and transfer to our hotel. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure to enjoy this fascinating and colorful city. Gather this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 3

Reykjavík / Embark Clipper Odyssey

After breakfast we set out to explore some of Iceland’s classic scenic wonders known as the Golden Circle—Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss. We begin with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by mountains and encompassing a vast lava plain of green moss and wildflowers. Continue to Gullfoss Waterfall where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two voluminous, and awesome, cascades. The Geysir Center is a huge geothermal field of both hissing and tranquil multi-hued hot springs and bubbling mud pools. After lunch in these scenic surroundings we drive to Nesjavellir Geothermal area to visit the power plant—one of the main sources of hot water harnessed to heat the houses of Reykjavík. From here we proceed to the pier to board our ship, the Clipper Odyssey.

Day 4

Snaefellsnes Peninsula / Flatey Island / Látrabjarg

As we round Öndverdarnes Cape on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, witness the dramatic rock arches carved by the powerful Atlantic waves and sail into Breidafjordur Bay. The region is known for its waterfalls, hot springs, a majestic extinct volcano, and the Snaefellsjökull Glacier. As we cross the bay, watch for seals, seabirds, including the rare white-tailed eagle, and whales.

By Zodiac we trace the coastline of Flatey Island before going ashore for a walking tour of the village. A local guide shows us the uniquely painted island church and the restored houses of islanders who earn a living fishing for cod and lumpfish. This evening sail past Iceland’s westernmost cape, the Látrabjarg cliff, a breeding ground for millions of seabirds.

Day 5

West Fjords / Vigur Island / Ísafjördur

The glacier-carved, basaltic terrain of the West Fjords is a rugged and magnificent natural paradise and home to whales and seals. After breakfast we take a walking tour of small, verdant Vigur—summer home to a great number of puffins and eiders. The tiny community dates back to the last century and boasts Iceland’s only sawmill. At the Viktoria House, built in 1862, we enjoy some local hospitality and refreshments.

During lunch onboard we cruise northward to Ísafjördur, the center for trading and culture in the West Fjords. During a walking tour of colorful Ísafjardardjúp we visit the Maritime Museum, and enjoy a bit of leisure time for exploring the island’s local shops before returning to our ship.

Day 6

Adalvik / Hornvik

Beautiful Adalvik Bay is a five-mile-wide cove flanked by impressive mountains. At the northern tip of the West Fjords is the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, abandoned by its last residents in 1952. Sandy beaches, old houses, Arctic foxes, prolific birdlife, and flower-bedecked tundra meadows are reminiscent of the wild spaces during Viking times. A choice of either a short exploratory walk through the village of Staour, or a longer hike to Straumnnes Fjall are the highlights of the day.

After lunch we board Zodiacs for an afternoon cruise through Hornvik Cove, situated at the very top of Iceland. The stunning cliffs that flank the cove are home to thousands of nesting birds.

Day 7

Grímsey Island

Although Iceland’s northernmost island sits just about on the Arctic Circle, this last remaining strip of an ancient volcanic rim enjoys a mild climate and is covered with rich vegetation. Only about 155 permanent residents live here, earning their living from fishing and fish processing. Grímsey’s imposing 300-foot-high basaltic cliffs provide an exhilarating view of the incredible birdlife—among the 36 species are kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, and puffins. Weather permitting we go ashore in Sandvik to explore a Viking hamlet. This evening, onboard the Clipper Odyssey, enjoy a special Arctic Circle celebration.

Day 8

Siglufjördur / Akureyri

After breakfast we step ashore onto the mainland and visit the idyllically situated village of Siglufjördur, once the undisputed herring fishing capital of the Atlantic. Today’s highlight is a visit to the Herring Era Museum, the largest maritime museum in Iceland and a former winner of European Museum of the Year. Three separate “houses” vividly depict the different aspects of life and times of this era, complete with sounds and smells of the harbor. A lively song and dance reenactment of the herring boom era, accompanied by herring and rye bread and a locally made drink, round out this delightfully educational experience.

We cruise into the spectacular Eyjafjordur Fjord and, after lunch on board, come alongside in friendly Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest city. The afternoon is at leisure to explore this northern cultural capital with the opportunity to dine ashore.

Day 9

Akureyri / Húsavík

After an early breakfast depart on a full-day tour inland to the Lake Mývatn region for a look at the powerful forces of nature at work. Thousands of years ago, volcanic eruptions created dramatic landscapes of labyrinthine lava formations, seething sulphur pits, and boiling mud pools. Oasis-like Lake Mývatn sits on the edge of a vast highland lava desert; one of the world’s richest bird-life areas, it supports enormous numbers of breeding ducks and whooper swans. Our tour ends in Húsavík where we meet the repositioned Clipper Odyssey. As we sail southward keep a lookout for humpback, minke, fin, and sei whales, along with orca, dolphins, and harbor porpoises.

Day 10

Raudanes, Thistilfjord Bay / Skoruvik, Langanes Peninsula

From stunning Thistilfjord Bay we set out for the lake-filled crater of Víti, then take in glorious views from the cliff top walks on the outskirts of Raudanes. Aboard Zodiacs, witness the chiseled headlands and supremely photogenic sea stacks that rise from the Bay. During lunch on board, we sail to Skoruvik, a driftwood-strewn peninsula that is home to one of Iceland’s largest colonies of nesting terns. We enjoy area walks or a round-trip hike to the abandoned village of Skalar.

Day 11

Seydisfjördur

The 11-mile cruise along Seydisfjördur showcases a scenic wonderland of stunning geology, cascading waterfalls, and soaring mountains. At its head, a natural harbor shelters the fishing town of the same name, renowned for its brightly painted 19th-century wooden buildings. Our options this morning include a walking tour of the town, a birding excursion, or a hike to the magnificent Hengifoss Waterfall.

Day 12

Höfn

Situated on an estuary, the fishing community of Höfn is also the gateway to Europe’s largest glacier. While most of Iceland is pastoral and green, its southeastern corner is covered by the shimmering white Vatnajökull Glacier. The 1,000-foot-thick ice field literally sits upon active volcanoes; a 1996 eruption created a remarkable phenomenon—a crater on the surface of the glacier. A spectacular drive brings us to a fleet of waiting snowmobiles for an exhilarating guided excursion across the vast expanses of glittering whiteness. After lunch, we set out on an unforgettable boat ride on Jökulsárlón Lake, sailing among aquamarine icebergs and watching as the glacier calves icebergs into the land-locked lagoon.

Day 13

Heimaey Island / Surtsey Island

A dramatic volcanic history haunts the extraordinary Westman (Vestmannaeyjar) Islands, now the home of about 5,000 residents and multitudes of seabirds. Our tour this morning takes us to a cliff where young islanders learn the sport of rope swinging, which evolved from an age-old tradition of ledge-to-ledge egg-collecting. In the Herjolfsdalur Valley we view ruins of farmhouses dating back to 650 A.D., and from Storhofdi, the views over the island are simply breathtaking. We also pass between two volcanoes, one 5,000 years old, the other born only in 1973, and we drive right across the new volcano’s crater and into the town known as the “Pompeii of the North.”

Later this afternoon we circumnavigate Surtsey Island, a fire-and-brimstone result of a 1963 undersea eruption. Over the years, lava flowed and built up a landmass reaching 560 feet at its highest point. Today, approximately 56 species of vascular plants grow on the island and seals haul out to breed on its shores. Nearly 90 species of migrating birds use the island as a rest stop.

Day 14

Reykjavík / Disembark / Home

After breakfast we disembark our ship. A fascinating tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula brings us to Krýsuvík, a settlement dating to 900 A.D., and its surrounding geothermal wonderland. We also visit a cliff just south of the town to witness the myriad nesting seabirds. We continue to the famous Blue Lagoon for lunch before departing for the airport and your independent flight homeward.

Departures

Pricing Information

Clipper Odyssey

One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.