The South and interior of Iceland, including a trip to Heimaey (New Itinerary)
Cost £1610 - Saturday May 9th to
Saturday 16th 2020
Details and Itinerary
The tour will focus on the natural highlights of this spectacular country, which is often referred to as "the land of water, ice and fire". There will be the chance to see dramatic waterfalls and fast flowing rivers fed by the meltwater from ice-caps. We will spend time looking at one glacier in detail and the lava flows and volcanic craters from this country which is geologically very recent. The visit also includes a trip to Heimaey, the largest of the Westmann islands, the site of a major eruption in 1973. This new itinerary includes a night in the East, close to the Vatnajökull ice-cap at Skaftafell, with time there and a chance to visit the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. There will also be a trip into the rugged interior to see the spectacular pink and green rhyolite peaks and hot springs at Landmannalaugar.

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Iceland The South Volcanic Tours
The Icelandic geyser Strokkur
“Blue lagoon” open air bathing spa
Columnar jointing in basalt lava on the south coast at Reynisfjara, near Vik
A dyke of basalt exposed in the clifftop at Dyrholaey
The spectacular arch of basalt rock at Dyrholaey, near Vik
One of the many seals at Jokulsarlon
View from inside a lava tube on Heimaey island, part of the 1973 flow.
The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon with the huge Vatnajokull ice cap behind
The Skogarfoss waterfall bathed in sunlight
The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in eruption in 2010

Planned itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday May 9th
Leave London Heathrow airport on early afternoon flight to Keflavik. Transfer to Fosshotel Rauðara, in the capital, for an overnight stay. Free time in the evening to explore Reyjavik. (an alternative flight from Glasgow could be arranged).

Day 2
After leaving the hotel, we then follow the main road eastwards. Our route will take us past the Eyjafjallajökull ice-cap and volcano. We continue east and then turn inland to visit the Solheimajökull glacier, which feeds from the Myrdalsjökull ice-cap. Following this, we visit Reynisfjara to view columnar jointed basalt cliffs and stop for lunch. Later, we pass over the huge Laki lava field, whose eruption in 1783 caused air pollution across northern Europe and wiped out a quarter of Iceland’s population. Eventually, we reach the Skaftafell area, dominated by the giant Vatnajökull ice-cap. We check in to the Hotel Skaftafell for an overnight stop.

Day 3
We journey east to Jökulsarlon, a glacial river lagoon, where huge slabs of ice have split from the face of the glacier behind to float around in the glacial pool. It should be possible to take a boat trip around the lagoon to get a closer view (an optional excursion at extra cost). The rest of the morning and early afternoon will be spent walking in the Skaftafell National Park, viewing the Svartifoss waterfall and the Skaftafellsjökull glacier. In late afternoon, we head back westwards and eventually check in to the Hotel Hvollsvöllur, our base for the next 4 nights.

Day 4
Short ferry-crossing to the island of Heimaey, the largest of the Westmann islands. The day will be spent there climbing Eldfell and viewing sites associated with the eruption of 1973, including a lava tube. The eruption caused the evacuation of the island and threatened to overwhelm Heimaey’s town and harbour. There will be time to visit the new exhibition about the eruption, including houses buried by it. It also includes a section on the formation of Surtsey, the new island which was created by what started as a submarine eruption in the early 1960s.

Day 5
The day involves a journey into the rugged interior to Landmannalagaur to view the famous red and green rhyolite peaks there, recent lava flows, steam-vents and hot springs. There should be the opportunity to bathe in the natural hot springs if desired. On the way, we stop to examine lava flows and ash deposits on the lower slopes of Hekla and a crater lake at Ljötipollur.

Day 6
We start with a visit to the “Iceland Erupts” exhibition at Hvollsvöllur, which gives a good overview of volcanic activity in Iceland. Most of the day will be spent in the þjorsardalur valley, passing close to Hekla ~ one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. We should see the waterfall at Hjalparfoss, the remains of an old Viking settlement at Stong, buried by an eruption from Hekla in the 12th Century and only rediscovered in the 20th Century, and a variety of unusual features in the basalt flow further up the valley at Gjain. After this, there should be time to visit the “Secret Lagoon”, near Fluðir, where there is the opportunity to bathe in hot springs in a natural setting.

Day 7
In the morning and early afternoon we take in the classic “Golden Circle”, starting first with the Þingvellir National Park. Here, there are a series of deep rifts in the surface, from which basalt lava has poured. This area lies on the Mid-Atlantic ridge and forms the boundary between the Eurasian and North American Plate. Later, we visit the hot springs at Geysir, where the main attraction is the geyser called Strokkur, which produces a spout of boiling water up to 30m. high every few minutes. We continue to Gullfoss, a huge waterfall and gorge below. After this, we proceed to Reykjavik, arriving mid-afternoon, which allows time to explore the city.

Day 8 - Saturday May 16th
Morning bus-transfer to Keflavik airport for return journey to UK, arriving in the afternoon.

The cost of the visit, based on half-board will be £1610, assuming all places on the trip are filled. This includes flights by Icelandair from the UK to Keflavik and return (and airport taxes), local transfers to and from Heimaey, bus transfers and coach-charter on the advertised itinerary. Included in the cost is accommodation at the locations listed (four nights at Hotel Hvollsvöllur, one night at Hotel Skaftafell, two nights at Foss Hotel Rauðara ). Accommodation is based on two people sharing twin / double rooms, though alternative arrangements are possible. Five evening meals and all breakfasts are included in the price (no evening meals arranged for the two nights in Reykjavik). We will aim to stop at localities where lunch can be purchased. NB. All those taking part in the tour are expected to arrange their own holiday insurance, which can be obtained from any travel agent or insurance broker.

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