Land of Volcanoes

5 days, 4 nights: Mid-June through September

With more than 30 active volcanoes and eruptions every 4 to 5 years, Iceland is truly the land of volcanoes. This tour takes you to some of Iceland's most famous eruption sites. Explore steaming lava fields, colorful geothermal hot springs and enjoy the beautiful and dramatic scenery of the Icelandic wilderness.

Day 1, Welcome to Iceland!

Our car service will pick you up at the airport and drive you to Reykjavik, where you check into your downtown hotel. Spend the day at leisure with recommendations from us.

Day 2, Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

Today your private expert guide and vehicle will pick you up. Head for the area around Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano that erupted in the spring of 2010. We travel first to the north side of the volcano into an area called Thorsmork, where the effects of the eruption are clearly visible. Here we will take an easy hike to the run-off Gigjokull glacier, where torrents of glacial melt water radically transformed the surrounding landscape during the recent eruption. We'll then proceed to the southern slopes of the volcano, where you’ll take in some of Iceland’s most dramatic scenery—on one side, tall mountains with a succession of waterfalls cascading from the glaciers above, while on the other views of the North Atlantic coastline with its black-sand beaches and dramatic headlands teeming with birdlife. In the afternoon, a scenic drive through classic Icelandic farmland takes us to your country hotel, your base for the next two nights.

Day 3, Hekla Volcano and Landmannalaugar

Today, we start by exploring the lava fields around Iceland's most notorious volcano, Hekla, known throughout Europe during the Middle Ages as "The Gateway to Hell.” Hekla has erupted 20 times since Iceland was settled in 874 AD and most recently in the year 2000. From Hekla, we head into the highland area of Landmannalaugar, which features the largest geothermal field in Iceland. Its sculptural peaks are made of rhyolite, causing amazing colorization of the surrounding mountains. Here, we'll take an easy two-hour hike across a lava field to the rainbow-streaked Brennisteinsalda (e. Sulphur Ridge), surely Iceland's most colorful peak. Afterwards, you may choose to take a dip in the natural hot pools nearby. We return to your hotel in time for dinner.

Day 4, Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir

As we make our way back to Reykjavík, we visit the highlights of the popular Golden Circle route. We start with a short drive to Gullfoss, or Gold Falls, Iceland’s most famous waterfall. Our next stop is Geysir, the place giving its name to the phenomenon worldwide. After lunch, we drive to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we'll go for an easy 2-hour hike. Surrounded by numerous volcanoes, Thingvellir is situated in a rift valley, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates pull apart, clearly visible at the great Almannagjá or Everyman’s Gorge. Thingvellir was the site of Iceland's parliament between the years 930 AD and 1798. We will be back in Reykjavik by late afternoon, where you check into a downtown hotel.

Day 5, Blue Lagoon and Departure

We'll provide private airport transfers 3-hours prior to your scheduled departure time. Guests leaving in the afternoon may want to consider a day at the Blue Lagoon spa, in which case we'll pick you up at your hotel at 11 AM. After spending up to 90 minutes in the Lagoon's warm aqua-blue waters -- renowned for their healing powers -- we'll drive you to the airport in time for your afternoon flight.

Included:

• Accommodations and breakfast for four nights.
• Expert driver-guide and 4x4 vehicle for three days (days 2-4).
• Picnic lunch on day 3.
• Airport transfers.
• Admission to the Blue Lagoon.

Not included:

• Airfare to Iceland.
• Personal expenses.
• Meals except noted.
• Travel insurance highly recommended, please ask for details.