We set off early from ReykjavÝk, and drive around Hvalfj÷rur, the Bay of Whales, where a derelict whaling station and World War II relics can be seen, and across the Draghßls Pass into the beautiful valley of Skorradalur, where we will get a splendid view of the peaks Skarsheii and further north, all the way up to the valley of Reykholtsdalur where we will visit Iceland's most powerful hot spring at Deildartunga.
Reykholt is one of the most important historic places in Iceland, fief of the clan chieftain and renowned historian Snorri Sturluson. Thereafter we will head further inland, to the unique waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafossar. Next, we head down the HvÝtßrsÝa valley, across the Norurß River, and back north again, in order to climb to the top of Grßbrˇk volcanic crater, which produced a big lava-field in the valley almost 3000 years ago.
Once across the Holtav÷ruheii plateau, our first stop in North-Iceland will be for lunch at the Staarskßli in Hr˙tafj÷rur, and nearby an interesting Folk-Museum at Reykir, which has a unique collection of objects pertaining to the shark fishing industry in Bay of H˙naflˇi during the 19th century.
In the valley of VÝidalur, we will go and inspect the impressive Koluglj˙fur canyon, as well as recollecting how one branch of the English Royal family's tree can be retraced to the farm Auunnarstair in this valley.
In the valley of Vatnsdalur, we can observe the effects of a giant prehistoric landslide which created the singular group of hills Vatnsdalshˇlar and the lake Flˇi which now adorn the valley.
Finally, we cross over the Vatnsskar mountain pass, into the Skagafj÷rur valley where our first halt will be at the turf covered 19th century chapel at VÝimřri. Overnight in the town of Saußrkrˇkur or in farm-accommodation nearby.
Days 2 and 3.
The next day, we start by visting the old farm and folk museum at GlaumbŠr, and learn how people used to live in Iceland for centuries, nearby at VÝimřri, a traditional little chapel can also be found, and then we head across the HÚrasv÷tn river on the eastern side of the Skagafj÷rur valley, and as we pass successively by the battlefields of Flugumřri, Haugsnes and Írlygsstair, our minds will wander back to the troubled "Age of the Sturlungs" in the 13th century just preceding Iceland's loss of independence to the King of Norway in the year 1262. Conqueringthe steep slopes of the Íxnadalsheii mountain pass, we will cross into the majestic fjord of Eyjafj÷rur, and arriving shortly before lunchtime in the picturesque town of Akureyri.
he town boasts of a number of worthwhile things to do and see for the curious visitor, the foremost of which is the renowned botanical garden where the complete range of the Icelandic Flora can be observed. A bustling pedestrian shopping street, a busy shipping and fishing harbour, etc.
Leaving Akureyri, we head eastwards, with a view of the Kaldbakur (ColdBack) mountain, across the Valaheii pass if it is open, otherwise by way of VÝkurskar pass, and into the valley of Fnjˇskadalur whose main attraction is the Vaglaskˇgur forest, and the old bridge across the Fnjˇskß River.
The Christianization of Iceland in the year 1000 and it's millenary celebrations a few years ago will undoubtedly spring to mind when we pass before the farm Ljˇsavatn and head for the Goafoss waterfall and remember the deeds of Ůorgeir Ljˇsvetningagoi who was the main catalyst of the conversion.
The sights and sounds of the lake Mřvatn area are too numerous for us to enjoy them all in one day so we will devote almost 2 days to the discovery of this unique area.
Among the lake's main attractions is first of all the varied bird life (no less than 14 species of ducks!), followed by the Sk˙tustaagÝgir pseudo-craters, the Dimmuborgir Rock formations, Grjˇtagjß and Stˇragjß fissures (with the latter being perfect for bathing "au naturel"), the Nßmaskar solfatares and fumaroles , etc.
Perhaps on our second day here, we can make a visit to the Krafla geothermal power project and the nearby explosive crater of VÝti .
Weather permitting, we can also envisage to take a hike along the rims of another magnificent explosive crater, the Hverfjall, which is the perhaps the most remarkable landmark of this whole magnificent region.
Two overnights in lake Mřvatn area, probably at Sk˙tustair .
The next day we will first, (on condition that the trail leading to it is open), drive to Iceland's most powerful waterfall, the Dettifoss, and admire it's tremendous power and the beautiful canyon surrounding it, and then have a long drive across the deserts of Mřvatns-and M÷rudals÷rŠfi ahead of us, with hopefully a glimpse of Iceland's most impressive peak, the Herubrei far away to the south. We will be passing by the country's most remote farm, M÷rudalur on the way, and then crossing over the highland moor of J÷kuldalsheii where people survived through incredible hardship for centuries.
Descending into the valley of J÷kuldalur, in Eastern Iceland, in the late afternoon, we will be driving beside the foul glacial river J÷kla and after crossing it, we will arrive around lunchtime in the town of Egilsstair, the main urban centre in the East of Iceland.
Some highly interesting archeological discoveries from the Viking times have been made here in the east recently , and we will be visiting a local museum to see some of the treasures, then head south over the Fagridalur valley to the first of our Eastern fjords, Reyarfj÷rur, where plans are afoot to implant several heavy industries. The town's little WW II folk museum, is well worth a visit for those who are interested in those turbulent times.
Next we will pass around the cap Vattarnes, where the beautiful rocky island Skr˙urinn lies just offshore, and into the next fjord, Fßskr˙sfj÷rur, where some important relics pertaining to the important French fisheries around Iceland during the 19th century can be found.
In the St÷varfj÷rur, we will be visiting Mrs.Petra's interesting rock collection, and the next fjord, BreidalsvÝk is very well situated as our place of stay for the night.
First on our way this morning will be Berufj÷rur, where herds of reindeer can sometimes be spotted and near it's entrance is situated the picturesque fishing village of Dj˙pivogur, which in earlier times was one of the country's most important trading posts. Some beautiful old wooden houses dating from that period have recently been restored.
Hamarsfj÷rur and ┴lftafj÷rur are the last of the Eastern Fjords, with the latter (The Fjord of Swans), which is the country's closest spot to mainland Europe,often being covered with thousands of migrating birds in the springtime and in autumn.
From now on, the fjords will be replaced by lagoons, and the first of those, Lˇn, is embellished on it's northern side by the towering Eystra-Horn peak, made of gabbro which is a rock of granite origin. Next we pass over the Hvalnesskriur, with a splendid view of the ocean.
The grandiose view from the Almannaskar Pass, when we can clearly see the cascading glaciers for the first time,is generally considered to be one of the country's finest, and from there we will be going to Cape Stokksnes, with a splendid view of the gabbro peak Vestra-Horn, which is renowned for it's bird- and marine life.
The most captivating aspect of the town of H÷fn Ý Hornafiri is the thrifty character of it's very busy port and fishing industries, which belie the fact that the town was only founded 100 years ago. It is also renowned for being the place where the greatest number of foreign birds, which have strayed here from both sides of the Atlantic and sometimes even from exotic locations, are sighted each year.
We'll be taking a little walk around the harbour of H÷fn before heading for lunch.n the afternoon, we can (weather permitting) either head up the steep climb to the top of the glacier Skßlafellsj÷kull where, in season, we can have a snowcat trip (not included) or head straight for the J÷kulsßrlˇn Glacial lagoon and observing on the way all the spectacular features of the Skaftafellssřsla region's landscape i.e. the sandy deserts, more cascading glaciers, and hopefully also Iceland's highest peak, the ÍrŠfaj÷kull.
The famous boat trips on the Glacial lagoon are only operated during the summer season, but out of season, the floating icebergs can just as well be observed from the shoreline, and a stroll down along Iceland's shortest glacial river(less than a mile!) to it's outlet into the sea, where seals can often be spotted, is also very rewarding.
Another possibility for taking an extra adventurous trip, is to go on the tractor-trailer tour to Cape Ingˇlfsh÷fi, operated by a father and son team in the ÍrŠfasveit county. This trip is especially rewarding during the puffin breeding season, from early spring onwards.
Arriving in the Skaftafell National Park in the late afternoon, we will go on a short hike, either to the edge of the Skaftafell glacier,or head up to the acclaimed Svartifoss waterfall which falls off a cliff of basaltic columns. At the vantage point Sjˇnarsker, an incomparable view can be had over the Skeiarßrsandur desert and the surrounding peaks and glaciers
Finally, at the end of the day, we will head for to the village of KirkjubŠjarklaustur where all the necessary services are available on a year-round basis. En route, we can have a look some other interesting rock formation i.e. basaltic columns called Dverghamrar ,which can be found near the farm of Foss ß SÝu, and the so-called Kirkjugˇlf (church floor) and we can also visit the tiny 18th century chapel at N˙psstaur.
Overnight at the village of KirkjubŠjarklaustur or in a farm accommodation nearby.
Leaving KirkjubŠjarklaustur, we start the day by driving across the tremendous Eldhraun lava-field which is the country's largest in historical times. At the crossroads with road leading inland to the county of Skaftßrtunga, we will have the choice between two itineraries:
Itinerary 6. A: (available in summer and early autumn only, when the Fjallabak trail is open):
We will head inland and, having left the last farms behind us after roughly 40 kilometers, we will set out on the Fjallabakslei nyrri mountain trail, still with a view of the same tremendous Eldhraun on our right for great distances. Soon, however, as we climb up onto the central highlands plateau, we will first encounter our first unbridged river, and shortly thereafter arrive at Eldgjß, which is the longest eruptive volcanic fissure on the earth's surface. Then, after an almost never ending succession of streams and gullies, many of them quite spectacular, we will finally arrive shortly before noontime at the most picturesque and scenic area in Iceland, the Fjallabak Nature reserve, with at it's centre the mountain oasis of Landmannalaugar, which offers some excellent opportunities for taking some good walking trips and hikes,to take photographs, well as a warm bath.
After a picnic lunch, the trail continues alongside the Frostastaa-lake, and the Ljˇtipollur explosive crater, and then westwards, over several lava-fields and expanses of sand, pumice fields and other wasteland, all tributaries of the numerous volcanic craters which can be found in the vicinity of Mount Hekla, the country's most famous volcano (last eruption in the year 2000), which will shortly come into view.
Finally, heading southwards again, driving beside the volcano, we will arrive at our place of stay for the night, the village of Hella, in the late afternoon.
Itinerary 6. B. (itinerary taken in other seasons):
Unable to head inland, we will instead drive over the vast expanses of the Mřrdalssandur sandy desert before arriving in VÝk Ý Mřrdal, Iceland's southernmost village, in it's very beautiful setting and sporting a very good view towards the rocks of Reynisdrangar rocks. At the seaside at Reynisfjara, we can often witness the tremendous power of the thundering North-Atlantic waves, with a splendid view all the way to the Dyrhˇlaey mull itself, Iceland's southernmost cliff.. In any case, the breathtaking landscape and very active birdlife, i.e.fulmars, kittiwakes and seagulls all year round, arctic terns, puffins by the thousands in summer are all there for our enjoyment.
Skˇgafoss is towering waterfall of 180 ft on the southern flank of the Eyjafjallaj÷kull glacier, and next to it is the highly interesting folkmuseum at Skˇgar, which is the lifetime of achievement of a very singular man, Mr. Ůˇrur Tˇmasson, who, as a rule takes a great pleasure in presenting it personally to his guests, an event which many people have even considered to be the highlight of their Iceland tour.
We will then admire another shapely waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, as it falls in a beautiful curve off a high cliff. Then we cross over the Markarfljˇt bridge and head towards the historical FljˇtshlÝ hill, and perhaps make a halt near the Stˇri-DÝmon rock, as did the the Njßla hero Gunnar about 1000 years ago and reflect as he did"How splendid it is, my hillside"!
At the village of Hvolsv÷llur, a permanent exposition about the events of the Njßls saga has recently been opened, and from there, we head northwards to the ancient farmhouse Keldur, which is probably the oldest building in Iceland. The nearby springs of sparkling pure water, are also a memorable sight. Again, overnight at the village of Hella or vicinity.
Leaving Hella early the next morning, we will head westwards, across Iceland's longest river, the Ůjˇrsß, and first admire it's splendid rapids at Urriafoss, as well as observing the effects of the recent powerful earthquake (6,2 Richter scale) whose epicentre was situated nearby.
After an extended drive over the plains of southern Iceland, we finally arrive at the old bishopric Skßlholt, which was the prime religious and spiritual centre of Iceland for centuries. We will visit the new cathedral, which is renowned for it's architectural splendour and acoustic excellence, and outside, we can also witness the ongoing archaeological investigations at Skßlholt.
Not far from there, we will reach the world famous Geysir geothermal area: The "old faithful" himself is now mostly dormant, but nearby Strokkur erupts regularly every 4-5 minutes. A few miles further up the valley, we reach the splendid Gullfoss waterfall, which never fails to profoundly impress the visitor.
After lunch, we head back southwards again and soon, we will discover the holiday resort of Laugavatn, where geothermal activity is also abundant: the VÝgalaug fountain, greenhouses and both a swimming-pool and a natural steam-bath, simply built on top of a hot-spring, where we can have a relaxing sauna.
Proceeding across the Lyngdalsheii moor, with it's numerous caves and volcanic craters,we will soon be reaching the Ůingvellir National Park,via the beautiful shoreline of the lakeŮingvallavatn. Criss-crossed by faults and fissures, we will first go to see the best known of these, Nikulßsargjß, before crossing the Ůingvellir (Parliament Plains) towards L÷gberg (Speaker's Rock), where the country's national assembly took place for centuries. Then we will ascend the Almannagjß fissure, where the effects of the tectonic plate movements on the earth's crust can clearly be seen.
We will then wind up this journey by a rapid return to ReykjavÝk, via the Mosfellsheii moor, in the late afternoon, and after a short sightseeing trip of the city, the tour winds up by your return to your hotel.
Duration of tour: 7 days, 6 nights.
Minimum number of passengers: 2 persons.
(Usually fairly small groups, 5 -8 people but bigger groups can also be accommodated)
Departures: Mondays by-weekly or by request, all year round.
The Around Iceland in 7 Days Tour: Season: Validity: Price: Winter Oct-> April Summer May->September
Deposit amount at reservation: 20% ; Single room supplement: +16%
Trade enquiries welcome. (Agents wanted worldwide)
Scheduled departures for 2014: See Schedules
Conditions of sale.
Services included: (4x4) transportation and guidance. Museum / swimming pool entries. Small comfortable hotels, farm accommodation or similar, in double rooms, usually with "en suite" facilities. Full board: all meals, (big breakfast, quick lunch, three course dinner), starting with lunch on first day and ending with lunch on the last day.Alcoholic Drinks/minibars not included.
The (4x4) Vehicles generally used: (however, we reserve the right to change vehicles if necessary)
1 > 4 Passengers : Toyota Landcruiser ; 5 > 10: Ford Econoline,
10>19 passengers: Mercedes Benz minibus. 20>35: Mercedes Benz full size
Necessary gear: Good outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear. Also bring your swimsuit.
Operated: All year round. Note: During the wintertime (or indeed exceptionally in other seasons as well) , the tour may come momentarily to a halt for reasons of bad weather, snow, flooded roads or other such unforseeable "force majeure" causes. Valferir ehf will not accept any responsibility for inconvenience or extra-cost incurred because of such events.