Experience an enchanting land of geological extremes on a circumnavigation of Iceland. Encounter vast volcanic landscapes and the world’s youngest island, walk on lava fields and ice sheets, and feel the spray of gushing hot springs and cascading waterfalls. Go birding on the Arctic Circle, kayak into fjords and serene bays, and hike along magnificent and remote stretches of the coast. Cap off the adventure with a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon.
Arrive in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital. On a walking tour of the Old Town, step into the Hallgrimskirkja, a church whose steeple soars to 210 feet, making it the highest building in Iceland. Learn about Norse culture at the National Museum, and browse a collection of Viking treasures and artifacts, and unusual whalebone carvings. Embark the National Geographic Explorer.
Navigate Iceland’s wild western frontier, sailing past the soaring Latrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. Continue to Flatey island, a trading post for many centuries, and take walks around the charming hamlet that sprang up here. Explore the coast by Zodiac this afternoon.
Located in the Western Fjords, the town of Ísafjördur lies on a tiny spit jutting out into the water against a backdrop of steep hills. The town is renowned for its traditional eider down production and is a great place for hiking, kayaking and spotting eider duck.
Start the day in Siglufjordur, the center of a once-thriving herring industry, and stop by the Herring Museum for a talk and a tasting. Continue to picturesque Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city—with a population of just under 18,000. Stroll through the narrow lanes of the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and see unusual Icelandic flora at the botanical garden.
Drive to Mývatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland, and encounter a wondrous landscape of craters, lakes, and lava flows. See the bubbling mud pools at Hverarönd and continue through the Krafla geothermal area to the volcanic crater at Viti. Then take in an unforgettable sight: Godafoss, the thundering “waterfall of the gods,” which stretches some 90 feet and tumbles more than 35 feet into the glacial river Skjálfandafljót. Meet the ship in Húsavík, and set sail for the tiny island of Grímsey, situated right on the Arctic Circle. Explore the coast by Zodiac and experience the midnight sun of summer.
Iceland’s rugged east coast is an unspoiled stretch of rocky outcrops, hidden coves, and hills that beckon hikers. Today’s schedule is flexible so that we can take advantage of wildlife sightings and explore this beautiful landscape with our naturalists by Zodiac and on foot.
Dock in Djúpivogur and venture onto the vast Vatnajökull ice cap, the third largest in the world. For a closer look at the ice, take a boat ride through Jökulsárlón, a lagoon strewn with spectacular icebergs sculpted into all shapes and sizes by the elements.
The Westman Islands were formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and are among the youngest of the world’s archipelagos. In 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—which we’ll see as we cruise past the coast. In 1973, the island of Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbor. Visit the crater, where the earth is still hot, and take in amazing views of areas that were engulfed by lava.
We complete our circumnavigation today and disembark in Reykjavík. Enjoy lunch in town, and take a soak in the gem-colored geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon before our flight home.
Andrew Evans is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler and its “Digital Nomad.” In addition to writing for the magazine, he crisscrosses the globe, interacting with followers through the Internet, digital mapping, and social media. In 2009 Evans rode from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica—primarily by bus—sharing the 12,000-mile journey with his followers in real time. In 2011 he finished a two-month, 20,000-mile journey around Australia. In 2012 he hopped on the National Geographic Expeditions Private Jet, visiting a dizzying number of ports of call, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia; Chengdu and X’ian in China; the Taj Mahal in India; the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania; the temples of Luxor and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt; and Marrakech in Morocco. His goal as Digital Nomad is to share in real time with a global audience his experiences of each place—from the sublime to the bizarre. Evans is the author of four books including a travelers guide to Iceland and has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, and The Observer, as well as The Economist and National Geographic’s award-winning travel blog, Intelligent Travel. Prior to finding his calling fulfilling armchair fantasies for the rest of us, Evans held myriad posts ranging from dishwasher to political analyst at NATO. He is a graduate of Oxford University and is fluent in Russian and French. When not on the go he lives in Washington, D.C.
Andrew will join the following departure:
Jul 12 - 21, 2014
This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.
Add a two-day pre-trip extension to see Reykjavík’s Golden Circle. Please call for details.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin in 2013, add $2,150 in Category 2, and $2,330 in Category 3. For a single cabin in 2014, add $2,170 in Category 2 and $2,250 in Category 3.
Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Round-trip economy airfare between New York and Reykjavík is $700 (subject to change).