The Vulcanologist's Dream
Keflavik to Reykjavik
6 -13 September, 2018
Includes Bed and Breakfast accommodation, all guiding and transportation
Includes 1 National Park and 2 Geoparks
Exclusive small group tour, number of participants : 4 - 8
Thingvellir National Park
The ferry to the Westman Islands
Lava flow that destroyed part of the town on Heimaey, Westman Islands
Group photo at Svartifoss waterfall
Near Berufjordur, east Iceland
Detifoss waterfall the most powerful in Europe
A beautfiful moberg mountain enroute to Askja
Inside Hverfjall tephra cone
Viti crater, Mt Krafla
Day 1. Arrival in Iceland. We will spend our first night in Keflavik, the location of Iceland's international airport, 22 miles west of the capital Reykjavik. Keflavik is inside the Reykjanes Geopark an area of great geological interest, which we will explore the following day. If you want to explore Iceland under your own steam outside this tour, we recommend that you do this at the end, as the tour finishes in Reykjavik city centre.
Day 2. The Reykjanes Geopark and the Golden Circle. The first stop of our tour will be the Bridge Between Continents which spans an extension fault that is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We then visit Reykjanes, the place where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises out of the North Atlantic, and we will also see some fumeroles nearby. The next stop is Krysuvik which has hotsprings and an old sulphur mine. We leave the Reykjanes Peninsula and head inland passing Reykjavik to reach Thingvellir National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge can again be seen where the North American plate is pulling apart from the European plate, and it is possible to walk inside a fissure. This is also the site of Iceland's first Parliament. We then move on to Geysir, from which all geysirs around the world are named. This is followed by a visit to the nearby water fall of Gullfoss. Our last stop of the day is the tephra cone crater of Kerid before arriving at the small town of Hella where we spend the night. The town has restaurants and a supermarket.
Day 3. Vestannaeyjar (Westman Islands). Today we take an early ferry across to the island of Heimaey where we see how the 1973 eruption destroyed many buildings in the town but we will also learn how the town was saved with 6.8 billion litres of cold sea water. We can climb up to the summit of the volcano which erupted, Eldfell. From there, if the weather is fine, we will get views of the famous newly-born island, Surtsey. We will have our vehicle with us on Heimaey so we will also drive to the southern point of the island to view the geology there. Heimaey also has an excellent museum that explains everything about this eruption (the entrance fee is not included in our tour price). In the late afternoon we will take the ferry back to the mainland and will see the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, before driving along the southern flank of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano which famously grounded European flights when it erupted in 2010. Our hotel for the night, which has a restaurant and kitchen facilities, is just to the east of this volcano right next to the Skogafoss waterfall.
Day 4. South Iceland and Vatnajokull National Park. Our first stop is the small peninsula of Dyrholaey, a promontory which erupted out of the sea just like the island of Surtsey but became joined to the mainland. Dyrholaey has great cliffs with columnar basalt and nesting seabirds. We then pass through the town of Vik and cross the Laki lava fields, learning about these eruptions, to reach the Fjadrargljufur gorge which is 100m deep. After this, we then cross the great outwash plain of the Vatnajokull icecap called Skeidararsandur. Next, we park at the National Park Visitor Centre and take a short uphill hike on an easy path to the famous Svartifoss waterfall which cascades over columnar basalt. Our journey then takes us on by road around the Oraefajokull volcano which is the highest mountain in Iceland. We stop at one of its outlet glaciers to see rhyolite and obsidian. We then reach the famous Jokulsarlon Lagoon. This is the only place in Iceland where a glacier reaches the sea and little icebergs break off and can wash up on the nearby beach. We then continue past several more outlet glaciers to reach our overnight stop, the town of Hofn, which has restaurants and supermarkets.
Day 5. East Iceland and Dettifoss waterfall. Today we cover a long distance to get from the glaciated south-east to the volcanically active north-east. Our first stop is at Eystrahorn where we are able to see the eroded inner workings of an old volcano including gabbro rocks that would have been the magma chamber. We then continue to a site near Berufjordur where we can view the inner workings of a rhyolitic volcano and can walk up to an old eruptive vent. Our drive then takes us right up the east of Iceland passing through the town of Egilsstadir to reach north-east Iceland. Our final stop of the day is the magnificent Dettifoss waterfall, which is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. We then journey on to Lake Myvatn where we will spend the next 2 nights. In the evening, you have the option of bathing in the Myvatn Nature Baths, which many people say is better than the more famous Blue Lagoon near Keflavik. The price of the baths is not included in the tour price. Our hotel is on the southern shore of Lake Myvatn in the rootless volcanic craters.
Day 6. Optional tour to the Askja Volcanic Complex in the Highlands (not included in the tour price, to keep the cost down) or a free day at Lake Myvatn. We strongly recommend that you join the tour to Askja, as it is a highlight of this trip. The tour takes 11-12 hours on a 4x4 bus that is capable of fording several deep rivers to reach Iceland's largest wilderness. Askja is an enormous caldera and the central volcano in the Dyngjufjöll Mountains, north of Vatnajökull glacier, which was not explored until the nineteenth century. It is near to Iceland's most recent eruptions at Holuhraun. When the volcano erupted in 1875, it spewed out approximately 2 billion cubic meters of ash and pumice, and a new caldera was formed inside the older one. In the following decades the new caldera filled with water and it now contains the 11km² Lake Öskjuvatn, which is also one of the deepest lakes in Iceland (220m). The price of this tour is 23,000 Icelandic Krona per person and must be reserved well in advance. If you choose not to join the tour you may wish to hike around Lake Myvatn, go horse riding or bird watching.
Day 7. Myvatn. The day is spent in the geologically active Myvatn area. Our first visit is to the rootless volcanic craters right next to our hotel. We then walk around the Dimmuborgir lava fields which were once a lava lake but now display many fascinating towers and lava tubes. Next we climb the large Hverfjall tephra cone, before visiting more extension fissures of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We then visit the fumeroles, mud pools and mud pots at Namafjall, before visiting Krafla volcano and the Viti (Hell) crater. After this amazingly volcanically active day we journey on to Akureyri the second city of Iceland and capital of the north where we spend our last night.
Day 8. West Iceland. Today we drive around the west of Iceland stopping at the Grabrok volcanic craters before reaching Reykjavik in the mid-afternoon. Our tour will officially end here in the city centre. We recommend you stay at least 1 night in the city so you can see the sights - we will drop you at your hotel. If you choose to stay in the city on for more days there are several interesting day tours that you could do, including trips to the geologically interesting areas of Snaesfellness or Landmannalaugar, the Inside the Volcano tour, or you may choose to go Whale Watching. It is very easy to get from the city to the airport and there is a shuttle bus from all the hotels. If you prefer to go straight to an airport hotel on Day 8, as we will be doing, you can of course continue with us.
Flights, lunches, dinners, museum entry, bath entry and the Askja tour.
Straddling the continents near Myvatn
"James did an amazing job on our Iceland trip. He is excellent at explaining all the geologic formations we went to. He also seems genuinely concerned about everyones welfare during the entire trip."
Claudia Diefenderfer - Wyoming, USA. 13 October 2017