- MONDAY, JUNE 2
- Meet Willem Lange, host of NHPTV’s “Windows to the Wild” at the Boston Logan Airport and depart in the evening for Reykjavík, Iceland. Dinner, snacks and breakfast will be served on the flight.
- TUESDAY, JUNE 3
- Upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, meet your tour manager and depart for Reykjavík. En route, visit the Blue Lagoon, a unique oasis in a black lava field which owes its existence to a nearby geothermal power plant. Take a refreshing swim in the pleasantly warm, mineral-rich water – an excellent antidote to jet-lag!
From Reykjavík we depart for the short flight to the northern city of Akureyri while taking in our first glimpses of Iceland’s fascinating landscapes. Then travel by motor coach to Lake Myvatn, an area of incredible geological formations, and an internationally renowned bird watching paradise. Stop en route at Dimmuborgir, to take a walk in a moonscape of mesmerizing lava formations, and explore Namaskard, a fascinating area dominated by sulfur pits and multicolored pools of boiling mud.
Check in to the hotel at Lake Mývatn. Later,gather for a welcome dinner. Enjoy meeting your fellow travelers, getting an overview of the days to come, and hearing some stories from Willem.
- WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4
After breakfast at the hotel, meet a local ornithologist for a guided walk along the shores of Lake Myvatn. The area is believed to be home to the world’s largest concentration of breeding ducks – an oasis of life at the edge of a desert. Afterwards, depart for an excursion through some of Iceland’s most captivating landscapes. Begin with a stop at Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, where the water thunders down a sheer rock face into the precipitous Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. After free time for lunch, continue on to Saenautasel – the remote farm that Nobel-prize winner Halldor Laxness had in mind when he wrote his famous work “Independent People”. Enjoy delicious Icelandic pancakes in a restored turf building while Willem shares his insights into Laxness’ life and work.
In the late afternoon, return to Lake Myvatn via Modrudalur, the highest farm in Iceland at 470 m above sea level and see the church built by Jon Stefansson. Dinner is individually arranged this evening.
- THURSDAY, JUNE 5
- After breakfast, check out of the hotel and travel to the fishing village of Husavík,the best place in Iceland for whale watching. Sailing from Husavík harbor, head west to the Kinnarfjöll mountains and the historic site of Náttfaravík, where the first Viking settlers in Iceland made their home.
After free time for lunch, continue on to Akureyri. Along the way, stop at Goðafoss waterfall, the “waterfall of the gods” and at Skutustaðir to see the pseudo craters that give the area an otherworldly appearance. Upon arrival in Akureyri, check in to the hotel to rest and refresh. In the afternoon, meet for an orientation walk of Akureyri. Later, a local botanist will share insights into the flora and natural history of Iceland. Gather again in the evening for dinner and storytelling with Willem in a local restaurant.
- FRIDAY, JUNE 6
- After breakfast, depart for the valleys of Hörgardalur and Öxnadalur where geological remains and ghost stories capture our attention. Visit the lovely turf-roofed church at Víðimyri and then the museum at Glaumbær, housed in one of the best-preserved farmhouses in the whole country. Also visit the small town of Hólar, the site of one of Iceland´s two principal bishoprics, and see the red sandstone church. Afterwards, stop at Hófsos, a town of 200 situated on the shores of Skagafjördur fjord. The town houses the Icelandic American Emigration Center which has a display on Icelandic emigration to the USA.
En route, Willem will share one of his own sagas based on one man’s arduous trek to the New World. Continue to Tröllaskaga peninsula and enjoy views of the fjord. Crossing the Lagheiði mountain pass, drive on to Ólafsfjördur, a small coastal community that existed in marked isolation until a tunnel was built only a few years ago. Proceed to the small town of Dalvik and return to Akureyri in the evening. Dinner is individually arranged this evening.
- SATURDAY, JUNE 7
- After breakfast check out and depart on a flight back to Reykjavik and embark on a guided tour. Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital city and home to roughly half of Iceland’s 310,000 inhabitants, was the first area in Iceland to be settled. Among other things, we see Höfði House, where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held their summit in 1986, the prominent Hallgrimskirkja (church), the fishing harbor, and the old city with the Parliament, City Hall, and picturesque houses built of brightly painted corrugated metal. Later, check in to the hotel and gathering for dinner and stories with Willem.
- SUNDAY, JUNE 8
After breakfast, visit with a University of Iceland geologist to learn about the intricate equipment that is used to measure the movements of tectonic plates. Afterwards, depart to Thingvellir, a remarkable and most historic site on the island. Located on Lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, is the site where the world’s oldest democratic parliament was founded in 930 and is now a national park. The beautiful canyon running through the park is the meeting point of two of the earth’s tectonic plates, and Thingvellir’s combination of natural phenomena and historical significance make it inseparable from the fabric of Icelandic national life.
Continue on to visit Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall, one of the most impressive in the world. Watch thousands of tons of icy water thunder majestically down double falls into a deep canyon. Then visit the famous Great Geysir which has given its name to hot springs all over the world. See one of the most active geysers in the area, Strokkur, which spouts up to 150 feet. Continue on to Skálhult, the site of an ancient bishopric and take a look at the new church, which houses a mural by a gifted Icelandic modern artist. Dinner is individually arranged this evening.
- MONDAY, JUNE 9
- After breakfast, embark on a full-day excursion through Hvalfjördur tunnel to the peaceful farming district of Borgarfjördur, the setting of the famous Egil´s Saga. In Deildartunguvher have a look at the most productive hot spring in Iceland; then head on to Reykholt, where we visit the home of 13th century scholar Snorri Sturluson. A local historian talks to us about the life and work of this poet, and discusses life during the Middle Ages in Iceland. Other highlights of today´s excursion are Hraunfossar and Barnafossar, two extraordinarily beautiful waterfalls. Road conditions permitting, drive over the mountain pass Kaldidalur, from which the glaciers Langjökull, Thórisjökull and Ok can be seen. Along the way, Willem will regale us with more of the dramatic characters and events handed down in the sagas.
Return to Reykjavík in the late afternoon. Dinner is individually arranged this evening.
- TUESDAY, JUNE 10
After breakfast, depart for a trip over the mountain pass Hellisheiði, which offers a magnificent view of the wide plains formed by glacial rivers. Enjoy opportunities to wonder at the snow-shrouded mountains including Hekla, the country’s most active volcano, and the towering, ice-capped volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which captured the world’s attention with its massive outbreak in 2010. Walk behind the waterfall at the spectacular waterfalls Seljarlandsfoss. From there travel past Dyrhólaey, an awe-inspiring bluff with sheer cliffs, to the beautiful village of Vík where we take a break for lunch.
Next visit the seashore flanked by steep cliffs where puffins and other sea birds nest, and where seals are sometimes spotted frolicking in the surf or on the black sandy beaches. In the sea just outside of Vík, you will find the Reynisdranger Rocks – 330 feet above sea level at their highest point. According to legend, the Reynisdranger were formed when two trolls were trying to drag a three-masted ship to land and when daylight broke, they turned to stone. The tour continues to the impressive ice wall of the Sólheimajökull glacier, which has forged the landscape surrounding it, before returning to Reykjavík. Over a farewell dinner, have a chance to indulge in reminiscencing over the sights and impressions of the past eight days.
- WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11
- After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, depart on a short drive to the Álftanes Peninsula and past Bessastaðir, the official residence of Iceland’s president. Continue on through Hafnarfjörður and over the vast lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula to the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula. Continue along the south coast, through rugged lava fields to the fishing village Grindavík, where we make a short stop at the harbor.
Later, transfer by motor coach to the airport at Keflavík for a late afternoon flight back to the United States. Arrive in Boston in the early evening.