Embark on an exploration of Iceland's 'Land of Ice and Fire,' where glaciers meet active volcanoes. Discover the remote Westfjords for nature activities, explore Hjalteyri's transition from a herring center to a whale-watching base, and cross the Arctic Circle to Grimsey Island for hikes along bird-filled cliffs. Our expert team will guide you through this youthful and geologically rich country, abundant in wildlife, culture, and history.
Note: Some shore excursions involve coach travel for optimal views of Iceland's stunning scenery.
After reaching Reykjavik, a representative will meet you and transfer you to the group hotel. Upon arriving at your included hotel, visit the hospitality desk for luggage tags and information from the ground operations team about pre-embarkation or suggestions on dining, cash withdrawal, or last-minute purchases. The rest of the day is free, and meals are at your expense. Accommodation: Fosshotel Reykjavik Hotel (or equivalent).
This morning, ensure your cabin luggage is equipped with tags bearing your name and cabin number. Your luggage will be picked up from the hotel, sent directly to the port for clearance, and delivered to your cabin before your arrival on board. Keep valuables with you.
Embark on a half-day city tour of Reykjavik, exploring its main sights before heading to the pier for boarding. Settle into your cabin, attend mandatory safety briefings, and gather on deck as the ship departs, enjoying breathtaking views over Reykjavik.
In the evening, join the Welcome Dinner to acquaint yourself with fellow expeditioners, the expedition team, and crew, marking the beginning of an exciting adventure.
Stykkisholmur marks the beginning of adventures on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, serving as the gateway to Snæfellsjökull National Park. Nestled by Breiðafjörður Bay, it boasts stunning views of numerous islands. Stykkishólmur's old city center, featuring houses owned by Danish traders, is a notable landmark. The Norwegian house, dating back to 1832, is the oldest in the town. Stykkishólmur hosts the annual Danish town festival called Danskir dagar or Danish days in August, showcasing its rich history.
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, characterized by lava fields and fjords, is home to the bird-filled Breidafjordur Bay and the iconic Snæfellsjökull volcano, immortalized in Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. In Grundarfjörður, Mount Kirkjufell stands as a globally renowned landmark, attracting photographers worldwide. The town also offers vibrant birdlife, spectacular waterfalls, and a shark museum in Bjarnarhöfn with the chance to taste cured shark.
Over the next three days, we will explore the Westfjords region, characterized by breathtaking landscapes featuring dramatic fjords shaped by ancient glaciers, towering table mountains meeting the sea, and unspoiled North Atlantic vegetation.
In true expeditionary fashion, the itinerary remains flexible, allowing for spontaneity and the exploration of numerous fjords based on the ever-changing weather conditions. The Hornstrandir peninsula, one of Iceland's most remote and pristine areas, offers deep fjords, towering bird cliffs, and stunning natural beauty, providing a rare experience for adventurous travelers.
A shore excursion from Patreksfjordur takes us to Latrabjarg cliffs, Europe's largest bird cliff, home to millions of seabirds. Marvel at the diverse natural wonders and pristine surroundings. Latrabjarg, the westernmost point in Europe, offers a unique perspective across the Atlantic to the east coast of North America.
Potential visits to Isafjordur and Djupavik may include kayaking in tranquil waters surrounded by towering mountains, walks of varying difficulty levels, and the chance to enjoy impressive waterfalls and deep fjords. Delight in local delicacies or explore an abandoned herring museum transformed into an exhibition and gallery space.
Situated near Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest town, Hjalteyri is a small village on the western shores of Eyjafjörður. Once a prominent center of the herring fishing industry, the old herring factory buildings now host art rather than fish.
Protected from large waves, Hjalteyri is an ideal spot for activities such as kayaking, cold-water snorkeling, and diving, with renowned geothermal struts just offshore. While Husavík is celebrated as Iceland's whale-watching capital, locals consider Hjalteyri a hidden gem in North Iceland. Enjoy a day of adventure and exploration, but keep this charming place a bit of a secret.
Situated approximately 40 km (25 miles) from the mainland, Grímsey is a lush, grass-covered island, most famous for its proximity to the Arctic Circle, which crosses the island. Many visit Grímsey simply to step across this imaginary line. With a small population of around 100 inhabitants, the island is an excellent location for activities like Zodiac cruising, kayaking, and photographing seabirds like guillemots, gulls, and puffins.
As we depart Grímsey and return closer to the mainland, we spend time exploring the waters of Skjálfandi Bay near Húsavik. Known as Iceland's 'whale watching capital,' Húsavik is home to up to 24 whale species, dolphins, and 30 bird varieties. The expansive bay has also hosted sightings of the world's largest animal, the blue whale, along with orcas, fin whales, and pilot whales, providing a chance to witness these magnificent creatures if you're fortunate.
We dedicate time to exploring Seydisfjordur, a charming fishing village known for its vibrant array of wooden buildings encircling the lagoon. Wander through town to uncover timber houses dating back to the Norwegian settlement era (1870-1900), when herring fishing facilities were established. From the valley above, the Fjardara River cascades down to the lagoon. Enjoy delightful hiking trails or explore the thriving cultural scene, featuring an arts center, the renowned blue church with music concerts, and the region's only two cinemas. In town, peruse local artist and artisan stores for unique souvenirs.
Sailing out of the fjord, we pause at Skalanes, a small town with a research center hosting international university students. Skalanes boasts stunning cliffs teeming with seabirds, including a large colony of nesting eider ducks and arctic terns visible during walks or Zodiac excursions. Seals, whales, and reindeer are common sights in the area.
Situated off Iceland's south coast, the Westman Islands were shaped by volcanic eruptions approximately 10,000 years ago. Sail past Surtsey Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site emerging in 1963, making it one of the world's youngest land masses. The archipelago, surrounded by 15 uninhabited islands and around 30 rocks and skerries, hosts a diverse seabird population. The Westman Islands are renowned for having the world's largest Atlantic puffin colony, with sightings of puffins, whales, and seals common during island cruises.
Heimaey, the main island with a population of around 4,200, showcases half-buried houses from the violent 1973 Eldfell volcano eruption. You can hike up Eldfell if desired. A visit to the weather station offers bird-watching opportunities and panoramic views of the surrounding islands.
Eruptions are integral to the Westman Islands' history, with two volcanoes, one erupting 6,000 years ago, and Mount Eldfell erupting in 1973, leading to the evacuation of all island inhabitants. Due to fortuitous circumstances, fishing boats remained in the harbor the day before the eruption, assisting in transporting Heimaey's residents to the mainland. Explore the eruption's story and aftermath at the captivating Eldheimar museum, featuring a display of a house buried in ash during the event.
In the early morning, we arrive in Reykjavik, disembarking around 8:00 am. Bid farewell to the expedition team and fellow passengers as you proceed with your onward journey. Choose to transfer to Keflavik airport or to your centrally located hotel.
Note: We advise against booking flights departing before 12:00 pm on the disembarkation day, considering potential delays at the voyage's conclusion.