Leaving early for a leisurely drive through western Iceland, via Hvalfj÷rur, (the Bay of Whales), with it's majestic scenery and World War II relics, we will arrive in the middle of the morning at the regional capital Borgarnes which is splendidly situated on bay of Faxaflˇi.
Pursuing our trip northwards through the county of Mřrar which adorns one of the country's most beautifully shaped volcanic craters, the Eldborg, we will continue our journey through lava fields on southern side of the SnŠfellsnes peninsula, to Geruberg which is an impressive cliff of basaltic columns about a mile long.
Ílduhryggur ridge marks an ancient sea level for many miles in this area, and between it and the mountains lie countless lakes and ponds giving sanctuary to dozens of species of birds, some of which are quite rare.
At the farms of Ílkelda and Lřsuhˇll we can taste some delicious, sparkling mineral water, which flows freely from their wells. Nearby, the landmarks ofBjarnafoss, B˙ir with it's lava-field and sandy beaches are an endless source of inspiration to creative photographers.
Another such place is Arnarstapi, where the view to mount Stapafell, with the famous SnŠfellsj÷kull glacier in the background, irresistibly draws the attention of the visitor. There, on top of the cliffs, we set off on a hike along seaside, among the thousands of kittiwakes, cormorants and seagulls which make those cliffs their home. A late afternoon walk along the cliffs and seaside before turning in for dinner and overnight at Arnarstapi or the nearby village of Hellnar.
Reaching the tip of the SnŠfellsnes peninsula, we find the eerie rocks at Malarrif, the lava caves at Purkhˇlar and then we will walk down to the seaside at Dj˙palˇnssandur and examine the wreck of the British trawler Epine, which ran aground here in 1948.
At Gufuskßlar, we can see the tallest structure in Iceland,(which for decades was also Europe's tallest) and a further on, at the edge of the lava field behind the village of Hellissandur, lie the oldest remains of a fishing industry in this country, the stockfish drying sheds which have been dated back to the early 13th century. A small folk-museum in the village, dedicated to ancient fisheries , is well worth a visit.
The town of ËlafsvÝk, on the northern side of the peninsula, is ideal for stopping over and getting refreshments, as well as to watch a busy fishing village in action.
Heading back eastwards along the northern shores of the peninsula, we will first arrive at the impressive B˙landsh÷fi mull, which is geologically renowned for being one of the most important finding places of fossilized plants in Iceland and from the high passing road , we will get a splendid view of the northern coastline.
The town of Grundarfj÷rur and it's vicinity are justly reputed for splendid scenery: waterfalls and especially the conic shapedKirkjufell mountain.
Shortly thereafter, we arrive at the picturesque fishing village of Stykkishˇlmur, situated on the northern shores of the SnŠfellsnes peninsula. In the summertime, there is a possibility to go on a boat trip among the innumerable islands in the Bay of Breiafj÷rur, otherwise we will have to be content with admiring the architecture of the lovingly restored old houses of Stykkishˇlmur.
Overnight at Hotel Laugar in SŠlingsdalur, in the Dalir region, (with it's own outdoor swimming-pool) or at the Stˇra-Vatnshorn farm accommodation.
The Dalir Region is first and foremost an historical area: we find ourselves here following in the footsteps of Erik the Red, the warrior Viking, discoverer of Greenland and father of Leif, the discoverer of Vinland i.e. the North American continent. Erik's homestead, EirÝksstair, in the valley of Haukadalur has recently been excavated, and once the archeological investigations terminated, an hypothetical reconstruction of his farm was erected nearby, which is well worth a visit.
Heading back southwards, we head over the mountain pass of Brattabrekka (Steep Hill), and find ourselves in the Norurßrdalur valley, with it's generous salmon fishing river, and nearby the spectacular volcanic craters of Grßbrˇk, which we will climb and admire from the top the extended lava-flow which took place here roughly 2500 years ago. Thereafter, heading inland, we will arrive in another historically important area, namely the valleys of Borgarfj÷rur. First, we will admire Iceland's most powerful hot-spring at Deildartunga, before proceeding on to Reykholt, the fief of the chieftain-historian Snorri Sturluson in the 12th century. Nearby, we will visit the spectacular waterfalls of Hraunfossar, and then push further south, either over the highland trail of Kaldidalur if it is open to traffic, otherwise via the Kjˇsarskarsvegur, to Ůingvellir.
Dinner and overnight in stay in a country hotel or farm accommodation in the Ůingvellir area.
Having explored Ůingvellir in the early morning, both the historical remains of the old Althing, the world's oldest parliament, as well as the the spectacular Almannagjß rift, where the effects of the tectonic movements of the earth's crust can be observed at close quarters, we will head eastwards, in direction of the lake Laugarvatn, and further inland the geothermal area of Geysir, with it's "geysers" in action once every few minutes, we will drive a few miles up the road to the splendid Gullfoss waterfall, which never fails to profoundly impress the visitor.
Heading back through the Biskupstungur region, we can often see big herds of Icelandic horses, and large gatherings of wild geese or swans, especially in the spring-and autumn times.
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.
Next, heading in a northeasterly direction, we will follow Iceland's longest river, the Ůjˇrsß inland, until we reach the Ůjˇrsßrdalur valley which was devastated in the year 1104 by a huge eruption in Iceland 's most famous volcano, the Hekla, which is only a few miles from here, but alas out of sight for the moment.
In that valley, we can start by admiring the beautiful Hjßlparfoss waterfall,and then visit the excavated ruins of a viking age homestead at St÷ng and thereafter visit a reconstructed version of it built on top of a hill near the B˙rfell hydroelectric power-station.
To the north of the B˙rfell high dam, we will encounter scores of workers and engineers with heavy equipment which are busy building a new extension to the existing power installations in the area, and shortly thereafter we will cross eastwards over Iceland 's longest river, the Ůjˇrsß and from there hopefully catch our first panoramic view of the impressive volcano Hekla.
Crossing alongside the mountain over vast stretches of pumice and lava fields, we will try and get a glimpse of one of the newest lava-flows in the area at SkjˇlkvÝar (1970), before heading south for dinner and an overnight stay at a very comfortable farm accommodation.
Starting the day by visiting the country's oldest construction, the Saga Age farm of Keldur, we will proceed through the village of Hvolsv÷llur, on towards the Eyjafjallaj÷kull glacier, and the peculiar Seljalandsfoss, a much admired waterfall.
The district on the southern side of the Eyjafjalla -and Mřrdalsj÷kull glaciers, being extremely well sheltered from the northern winds,enjoys a micro climate all of it's own, as attested by the numerous wheat and barley fields which have been planted there in recent years. But suddenly, another spectacular waterfall springs into view: the magnificent 180 ft high Skˇgafoss.
We will arrive at the picturesque village of VÝk Ý Mřrdal,which is situated on the southernmost tip of the Icelandic coastline, with the impressive cape Dyrhˇlaey and Reynisdrangar rocks nearby, around lunchtime and after refreshments, we will drive further east, across the vast expanses of the Mřrdalssandur sandy desert and the tremendous Eldhraun lava-field which is the country 's biggest one in historical times.
The scenic little village of KirkjubŠjarklaustur now has a permanent exhibition,covering both the many important geological events which have taken place in this region and it 's historical importance. The curious rock formation "kirkjugˇlf" ,church floor, nearby is also well worth a visit.
Dinner and overnight stay at Hotel KirkjubŠjarklaustur or nearby country hotels.
Shortly after setting out the next morning, we will come upon an interesting rock formation i.e.basaltic columns, which can be found near the farm of Foss ß SÝu, and we can also visit the tiny 18th century chapel at N˙psstaur just before reaching the vast expanses of the Skeiarßrsandur area, where a gigantic flood, due to a volcanic eruption underneath the Vatnaj÷kull glacier , played havoc for three days, in the first week of November 1996.
The effects of this flood (washed out roads and wrecked bridges) have now all been repaired, so we will cross happily over the rest of the sandy desert of Skeiarßrsandur , before arriving for lunch in the Skaftafell national park itself.
fter a stroll up to the edge of the Skaftafellsj÷kull glacier, we set off en route for theJ÷kulsßr Glaciallagoon 35 miles to the east of Skaftafell .Of course, on the way, we will be observing the usual spectacular features of the ÍrŠfi region 's landscape i.e. the sandy deserts, the numerous cascading glaciers, and hopefully also Iceland 's highest peak, the ÍrŠfaj÷kull.
The renowned 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 adventurous trip this morning is, weather permitting, to go on the hay-wagon 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 late afternoon at the colourful fishing village of H÷fn, will give us just about enough time to have a look around the harbour, and the impressive coastline, before heading back towards the local airport, and a comfortable one hour flight to ReykjavÝk. Transfer to hotel, for freshening up.
Final night dinner in a good ReykjavÝk restaurant, and transfer back to hotel.
Duration of tour: 6 days, 6 nights.Mileage: 1000 miles, 1600 kilometers
Minimum number of passengers: 2 persons.
Departures: Mondays by-weekly or by request, all year round.
The Iceland West and South Tour Season: Validity: Price: Winter October-> April Summer May->September
Deposit amount at reservation: 20% ; Single room supplement: +16%
Trade enquiries welcome.
Scheduled departures in 2014: see Schedules
Conditions of sale.
Services included: (4x4) transportation* and guidance. Small comfortable hotels, farm accommodation or similar, in double rooms, generally with "en suite" facilities. All meals,(big breakfast, quick lunch, three course dinner), starting with lunch on first day and ending with lunch on the last day.Drinks/minibars not included.
*The (4x4) Vehicles generally used: (however, we reserve 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.