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Daily itinerary - 8 day private tour
A tranquil first day in Iceland - Blue Lagoon
We begin our trip at Reykjanes peninsula, a Unesco Global Geopark, driving through scenic lava fields in the middle of the fissure zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge traversing Iceland. Our first stop of the day is at Iceland‘s oldest lighthose, the majestic Reykjanesviti nested in a geothermal area. The area is collectively named Gunnuhver. It draws it name from a female ghost that was laid there. She had caused great disturbance until a priest set a trap for her and she fell into the spring. This is said to have happed about 400 years ago. Whether the power of the area is a result of this we do not know but powerful it is. We pass by one of the area´s power plant that harnesses the geothermal energy from the area and you can witness and experience natures power as the roaring hot water makes the earth tremble underneath your feet.
Now it is time to experience geothermal energy on your own skin. Not to worry, it will be done in the controlled setting of the Blue Lagoon, where we take a bath and relax for a while.
The adventure does not stop here, your next stop is the Raufarhólshellir lava cave. Caving in Iceland and exploring the world beneath is a great leisure activity. You do not require caving expertise, all you need are good shoes, gloves, a cap/helmet and good lighting. Helmets and flashlights will be provided for you.
There is nothing that works up an appetite as a good cave exploration so now we will have a nice welcome dinner together before heading to your private accommodation.
After a quiet morning and nice breakfast we do the Golden Circle. As you will be based in the heart of the Golden Circle we have the opportunity to beat the morning traffic. It´s just more enjoyable that way. We will stop at all the major stops on the way as well as stopping whenever we feel like stopping. That´s the beauty of it - we just do what we feel like doing on the way. The Golden Circle has always been and still is the most popular tourist route in Iceland, covering about 300 km looping from Reykjavik into central Iceland and back. The three primary stops on the route are the national park Thingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss and the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.
Our first stop is at Geysir. Though the Great Geysir itself is now more or less inactive, the area surrounding it is geothermally very active with many smaller hot springs. The attraction of the area is now Strokkur (another geyser 100 meters south of the Great Geysir) which erupts at regular intervals every 10 minutes or so and its white column of boiling water can reach as high as 30 meters. The whole area is a geothermal park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron. Belching sulphureous mud pots of unusual colors, hissing steam vents, hot and cold springs, warm streams, and primitive plants can all be found here.
From there to Gullfoss, one of Iceland's most beautiful waterfalls where the mighty river Hvítá plunges into a narrow dark canyon. On sunny days a rainbow glitters in the spray above the raging torrent. When approaching the falls, the crevice is obscured from view, so it appears as if the mighty river simply vanishes into the earth.
After these majestic sights we go to Friðheimar farm for lunch. The theme of Friðheimar´s cuisine is tomatoes, in many different forms. And that’s not surprising, as four different varieties of tomato are cultivated in the greenhouses where lunch is served among the plants. It is a rare food experience. From there we go to an old power plant called Ljósafossvirkjun and from there to Nesjavellir, next to Hengill volcano, with a stunning view over our last stop at Thingvellir national park.
Thingvellir national park is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance. It is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is also home to Thingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Thingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a special place to all Icelanders.
From there we will head back to our cozy little house for a nice meal and a dip in the hot tub.
The Golden Circle - your way
After a nice breakfast we drive along the south coast of Iceland, one of the country´s most scenic regions. On the way we stop at regular intervals to view many of Iceland´s beautiful waterfalls and get up close and personal with one of the glaciers visible on the way. Taking a ride along the south coast of Iceland is a great day trip; beautiful scenery, impressive rock formations, waterfalls, mountains and glaciers. This day is a long one but very enjoyable and filled with great sights and scenery. A trip along the south coast really gives you a good glimpse of Iceland in a day. After a long refreshing day we head back to your base for a nice home cooked dinner and a relaxing dip in the hot tub.
Among the sights you will enjoy this day is one of Iceland's most famous waterfalls, the picturesque Seljalandsfoss. Photos of it can be found in many books and calendars. Here you have the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall or walk around it, and observe from all angles. To stand behind it and listen to the water slam in to the pool is amazing. In certain weathers the spray from the fall ends up in your face when you are making your way behind the waterfall, but when you are right behind it you won't feel a drop.
One of the biggest waterfalls in the country, Skógafoss, with a width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters is close by. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible on sunny days.
According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again.
You will participate in glacier walk on the glacier snout Sólheimajökull Glacier, the southwestern outlet of the Myrdalsjokull icecap. An experience not soon to be forgotten.
Close by we have the small peninsula, Dyrhólaey. It was formerly an island of volcanic origin but is now fast ashore . The view from up there is amazing. To the north you can see the big glacier Mýrdalsjökull. To the east, the black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar stand out of the sea, and to the west the whole black sand coastline in the direction of Selfoss is visible. Great view in all directions, just don't look down!
One of the main characteristics of Dyrhólaey is the arch shaped hole underneath the cliff, through which it is possible to sail, and even fly. Dyrhólaey is also rich with bird life, including species such as fulmar, guillemot, and if we are lucky we might spot puffins nesting on the cliff faces of the peninsula. It is not enough to see the majestic Reynisfjara black beach from afar, we will of course see it up close. You will witness the power of the north Atlantic ocean and the beautiful rock formation of the basalt columns. On we go to the small village of Vík í Mýrdal and then it´s home sweet home, where you will spend the next two nights - in a wonderful little hut with no one else around.
The beautiful south - Iceland in a nutshell
We will continue driving the south coast towards east Iceland. You will witness rapidly changing dramatic landscape formed by Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. We will stop at Skaftafell, a part of Europe's largest national park. There we we will do an easy hike up to Black Waterfall, Svartifoss, surrounded by columnar basalt, a beautiful and mesmerizing sight. Close by you have the glacier outlet Svínafellsjökull which we will visit for a chilling experience. Now we head to the picturesque Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach, where icebergs float from the Lagoon to the ocean and then wash up on the black beach again. We will do a short amphibian boat trip on the Lagoon, getting us up close to the icebergs. In the afternoon we will head back to our little hut, with a stop at a local restaurant for dinner on the way.
Emotional landscapes, floating icebergs, Diamond Beach
Today we head north through Iceland‘s vast uninhabited interior, the very heart of Iceland.
The first leg of the journey takes you on the Fjallabaksleid interior track were you will experience colorful rhyolite mountains and deep valleys. The beautiful landscape draws it‘s characteristics from volcanic eruptions that occurred under glaciers during the Ice Age.
The second leg of the journey takes you along the Sprengisandur black desert highland road, nested between glaciers. It is a barren desert with only rough mountain tracks and many unbridged glacial rivers.
The whole day you will experience one of the largest areas of uninhabited and largely undisturbed nature in Europe. Going of the beaten path takes on a whole new meaning. A whole lot of nothing but still so much to see.
We will arrive at Akureyri, the capital of the north in the evening where a home cooked meal awaits us at a nice apartment situated half a mile from the center.
Note: If Sprengisandur is closed, we take the Kjolur highland route instead.
The Highlands - a whole lot of nothing
Today we have an exciting day ahead of us.
You will visit the pearls of the north, where volcanic eruptions have played a crucial role in the formation of the landscape.
The area is known for its large contrasts, lunar landscapes and rich fauna.
You will stop at the divine Waterfall of the Gods, Goðafoss, before continuing to Lake Mývatn.
Lake Mývatn, Blackfly Lake, and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of water birds. The area is very popular amongst photographers for its stunning picturesque scenery. The lake is a shallow eutrophic lake in an area of active volcanism, not far from Krafla volcano. Geothermal energy is abundant in the area and the Mývatn Nature Baths are well known for its rejuvenating effects.
After a good stop at Lake Mývatn you continue to the thundering waterfall Dettifoss, reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. After witnessing the powerful roaring of Dettifoss we head to a more tranquil place, the national park Ásbyrgi, The Shelter of the Gods.
Ásbyrgi is a horseshoe shaped canyon where Sleipnir, Odin´s eight legged horse, is to have set down it´s foot and formed the canyon. Ásbyrgi is famous for its rich vegetation and towering walls that rise up to 100 meters high. The canyon is approximately 4 square kilometers and is a perfect setting for a nice hike before heading to our private accommodation in Kelduhverfi for a nice dinner and a quiet evening.
The pearls of the North - Mývatn, Ásbyrgi and thundering waterfalls
Today we we head back to Akureyri city, stopping in a small fishing village, Húsavík, on the way.
Húsavík is the whale watching capital of the north. Here you will go whale watching in the Trembling Bay, Skjálfandi.
Getting up close and personal with the whales is a great experience not soon to be forgotten.
We arrive in Akureyri in the afternoon, giving you plenty of time to explore the city on your own at a leisurely pace.
Akureyri is a charming town that has a variety of great restaurants and cozy cafes for you to enjoy.
We will stay at the same home stay as before (Day 4).
Gentle giants - Akureyri, Húsavík, whale watching
Today we head back to Reykjavík. The journey takes you through Skagafjörður fjord. Known for it's fertile farmland and being the heartland of Iceland´s horse breeding. As a witness to that horses outnumber people in the area. We pass the valley Vatnsdalur which is notable for being the site of Iceland‘s last execution, for its countless hills, and as a saga site.
As we draw nearer to Reykjavík we come to west Iceland. There we will visit the the highest flowing hot spring in Iceland, Deildartunguhver as well as the Lava Falls, Hraunfossar. These waterfalls flow out of the lava fields formed by one of the eruptions from the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjökull. It is a mesmerizing sight and different experience compared to the waterfalls visited in this tour, a great place to end the trip before heading back to the city. We arrive in Reykjavík early in the evening, giving you the chance to enjoy the evening in down town Reykjavík.
Hot springs and lava fields - Hraunfossar, Barnafoss, Deildartunguhver