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.
Explore Europe’s largest ice cap and explore the lava-sculpted landscapes of the Westman Islands.
Soak in hot springs, and see boiling mud pots and the thundering Godafoss Waterfall
Get up close to spectacular sculptures in ice on a cruise among the scattered icebergs of Jökulsárlón.
Go whale-watching and spot birdlife on the shores of Iceland and its surrounding isles.
Itinerary - 11 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Reykjavík, Iceland
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. (L,D)
Day 3 — Exploring the West Coast of Iceland
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. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Ísafjördur
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. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Exploring Northwestern Iceland
Hornstrandir is Iceland's northernmost
peninsula, situated in the Westfjords region.
Stunningly beautiful and peaceful, this remote
corner of Iceland is uninhabited and can only
be accessed on foot or by boat. Summertime
is magical with 24 hours of daylight and
many species of seabirds including puffins,
guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Siglufjörur and Akureyri
Start the day in Siglufjörur, the center of
Iceland’s once-thriving herring industry, and
stop by the Herring Museum for a talk and
a tasting. Then continue on to picturesque Akureyri. Explore the old town, with its beautifully
maintained period houses set against a
backdrop of snow-capped mountains, or visit
the botanical garden. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Mývatn and Húsavík
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. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Exploring Northeast Iceland
Iceland’s rugged east coast is an unspoiled
stretch of rocky outcrops, hidden coves, and
hills that beckon hikers. Today is left open
to explore this beautiful landscape with our
naturalists by Zodiac and on foot. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Djúpivogur
Dock in Djúpivogur to explore the vast
Vatnajökull ice cap. For a closer look at the
ice cap, take a boat ride through Jökulsárlón,
a lagoon strewn with spectacular icebergs
sculpted into all shapes and sizes. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Westman Islands
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. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Reykjavík /U.S.
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. (B,L,D)
National Geographic photographer Michael Melford has produced a dozen feature stories for National Geographic magazine and more than 30 for
National Geographic Traveler, including eight covers. Some of Michael's recent assignments have focused on America's national parks and the need to preserve them. Michael has also photographed eight books for National Geographic. When not shooting for National Geographic, Michael enjoys giving seminars and workshops on photography, sharing both his love of nature and his extensive knowledge of his craft. He frequently visits both polar regions, and looks forward to sharing Iceland's summer light with National Geographic travelers.