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Day 1 - Thursday September 14th
Leave Birmingham Airport on early afternoon flight to Keflavik. Transfer to the Foss Hotel Rauðara in the capital, for stay in overnight hotel. Free time in the evening to explore Reykjavik. (For those who would prefer it, an alternative flight from Glasgow could possibly be arranged).
Pick up charter coach from hotel, we then follow the main road eastwards. Our route will take us past the Eyjafjallajökull ice-cap and volcano, and we will spend some time at an exhibition about the eruption. We continue east and then turn inland to visit the Solheimajökull glacier. Following this, we visit Reynisfjara to see columnar jointed basalt and the spectacular high cliffs. After a lunchtime stop at Vik, we pass over the huge Laki lava field, whose eruption in 1783 caused air pollution across the whole of northern Europe and wiped out a quarter of Iceland’s population. Eventually, we reach the Skaftafell area, and check in to the Hotel Skaftafell for an overnight stop.
First, we journey east to the spectacular Jökulsarlon 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).Later, we spend time walking in the Skaftafell National Park, viewing the Svartifoss waterfall and the Skaftafellsjökull glacier fed from the giant Vatnajökull ice-cap. Following this, we head back westwards and eventually check in to the Hotel Hvollsvöllur in the small town of the same name, our base for the next 4 nights.
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.
A day taking 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. After lunch, we continue on to Geysir. There are many hot springs here, but the main attraction is the geyser called Strokkur, which produces a spout of boiling water up to 30m. every few minutes. We continue to Gullfoss, a huge waterfall and gorge below. 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.
We spend time in the þjorsdalur valley to see a variety of features including Hekla, one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, and the excavated remains of an old Viking settlement at Stöng, buried by an eruption in the 12th Century. Our return is via the volcanic crater and lake at Kerið.
The morning will be spent viewing the geothermal springs in the area of Hvergerði and the geothermal energy exhibition at Helisheiði before returning to Reykjavik at around lunchtime, checking into the Foss Hotel Rauðara again for the last night of our stay. There is free time in the city, with the opportunity, if desired, to take part in a whale watching cruise in the afternoon.
Day 8 - Thursday September 21st
Early departure from the hotel for transfer to Keflavik airport for return flight to Birmingham, arriving late morning.
The cost of the visit, based on half-board will be £1565, assuming all places on the trip are filled. This includes flights by Icelandair from Birmingham 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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