2022 February 27 to March 7
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $5298
Private Room: $6498
Hike into a cerulean blue ice cave, nature-carved deep in a glacier, accessible only in winter
Watch icebergs of all sizes plunge into, keel over, and erode into brilliant shapes on a glacier lagoon
See the sun ignite ice-diamonds on a black beach
Traverse glaciers by snowmobile and modified super Jeep
Warm and soak in one-of-a-kind spas and geothermal springs
Delight under the Arctic sky bedazzled by the Aurora Borealis
Savor unique warm meals and gourmet dinners, local foods, & locally caught fish & langoustines
Step back in time to learn about Iceland’s Viking heritage and how that culture continues today
The warmth of the Gulf Stream that flows up the Atlantic moderate winter in Iceland. Reykjavik generally stays warmer than New York City. We will spend six of our eight nights out in the country exploring wonderous sights by day and away from city lights at night, which increases our opportunity to see the northern lights. In this land of volcanoes, hot springs, and glaciers, let our Viking guide share natural and cultural wonders that will provide us with a fantastic break from our winter blues!
Day 1: A New Volcano & Soaking in Geothermal Waters
After arrival this morning, we will explore this year’s new volcano, Fagradalsfjall, and other sites and geothermal areas on the Reykjanes peninsula.
This afternoon, enjoy a relaxing soak in the geothermal waters at the Blue Lagoon. Afterward, we drive southeast to our boutique country guesthouse for an excellent dinner and our home for the next two nights. Auroras may dance overhead as you dream tonight.
Day 2: The Golden Circle
We will enjoy a day exploring the Golden Circle, beginning with Thingvellir National Park. Home to the original parliament dating back over one thousand years, it is also an excellent place to walk in a rift valley where two technic plates are pulling apart, slowly separating the country in half. We visit another geothermal site, with several hot springs, fumaroles, and the randy Geysir Strokkur, shooting up to 60 feet high every few minutes. And we see our largest waterfall of the week, Gullfoss, with waters and ice tumbling over a double waterfall, deep into an ice-encrusted chasm.
Lunch today is unique, in a greenhouse growing thousands of pounds of tomatoes each year. Once back at our hotel, enjoy either the indoor or outdoor soaking tub before or after dinner. At dinner, you might try the locally caught langoustines. If weather, clear skies, and the right atmospheric conditions align, we may enjoy the northern lights – the aurora borealis – in the evenings from our country hotel once or several nights during our week. And on a night or two, we may travel further for alternative viewing.
Day 3: Lava Tube & Waterfalls
Continuing with more volcanic exploration, we will walk through one of Iceland’s largest lava tubes this morning. Forming like indoor plumbing under the lava crust, it looks like we are in a subway tunnel at times, albeit with melting lava walls forever geologically frozen in time. Water seeps through the roof and down the walls, freezing into fantastical ice sculptures in the winter.
Continuing east, we will visit a few spectacular waterfalls, including Seljalandsfoss, where we may be able to walk on the path that circles behind the falls. And we may stop at the mightier torrent called Skógafoss, a striking waterfall coming down from the glacier Eyjafjallajökull (of course you can pronounce it: “AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl (-uh)”. The nearby small community of Vik, on the Atlantic shore, will be our home for the next two nights.
Day 4: Snowmobiling on a Glacier
Onto the glacier today for a snowmobile tour at Myrdalsjokull glacier in the morning, but not for too long. Just enough time to have a bit of excitement driving on snow and ice while experiencing the unique terrain on top of the glacier.
After a warm lunch, we visit the black sand beach, where we witness the full force of the North Atlantic Ocean churning the back pebble beach. Overlooking the beach are tall columns of basalt, supposedly the remains of two trolls who were solidified by morning sunlight as they came out of their cave. There is a deep culture in Iceland involving the hidden folk, including trolls and elves. During our tour this week, we will learn more about how locals respect certain rocks where trolls live. And even re-route roads and highways to avoid disturbing a troll’s rocky home. After dinner tonight, if the weather cooperates, we may go out to see if we can get better views of the aurora borealis.
Day 5: Skaftafell Nature Reserve
We will continue east, with a hike in a snowy gorge, an almost fairytale-like canyon, Fjaðrárgljúfur, that was carved about 9,000 years ago, yet another Lord of the Rings type scene that is absolutely gorgeous in winter. Continuing further east, we cross the vast glacier sands of Skeiðarársandur, soon arriving at one of Iceland’s premier nature reserves, Skaftafell. Set under the largest ice sheet in Europe, Vatnajökull, we have a short hike in the reserve through the trees to a waterfall cascading over imposing basalt columns. And towering far above and seemingly beyond pronunciation, we may have glimpses of Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur (“QVANNA-dalsh-nyooker”).
This evening, we will arrive at our accommodation for the next two nights, not far from tomorrow’s glacier lagoon and ice cave. Our country hotel is located in a remote area, far from civilization and away from night lights, so we have a good opportunity to continue our search for the northern lights if conditions allow.
Day 6: Wonders of Ice – Crystal Cave, Diamond Beach, and an Iceberg-filled Lagoon
Today’s itinerary focuses on the beauty of glacial ice. First, we load into a Super Jeep that brings us across the glacier close to a natural ice cave. We will walk about half an hour to the cave entrance, then spend time in the cave, exploring the glacier from inside. The solid ice walls and ceiling may be sparkling blue or streaked with black from volcanic ash, if not shimmering white, with wonderous shapes carved in the ice and listening to groans from the deep in the moving glacier. No ice cave is the same. Even this cave will change through the season, likely disappearing as summer melt-season arrives.
Another highlight today is our visit to see the icebergs in Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. A large lake now fills the depression leftover from a glacier as it retreats year after year. Enormous chunks of the glacier break off, revealing cerulean blue ice underneath, and creating icebergs of all shapes and sizes that float across the lagoon and eventually out to sea. We may see seals here in winter.
And then off to the beach. Along the seashore nearby, the ice is broken apart in the surf and scattered across the beaches. In the right sunlight, the beach looks as if it is covered in diamonds, setting the beach ablaze.
Day 7: To the Capital – Reykjavik
We will depart first thing this morning to drive back to Reykjavik city, another scenic drive as we pass waterfalls, black sand beaches, glaciers, and snowy mountains. We may stop to see a few things that we missed earlier in the week. And we may see today the winter version of rainbows, usually called sun dogs, ice dogs, or even a snow bow.
We will arrive at our hotel in central Reykjavik around mid-afternoon, with the remainder of the day to relax and explore the city and have dinner on your own or with fellow travelers.
Day 8: Exploring the City & Sublime Seaside Spa
Explore Reykjavik’s museums, galleries, and cultural sites during your free time today, all of which are within an easy walk from our hotel, as is the Phallological Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of penises and phallobelia, from whales to man, and even an exhibit for Iceland’s hidden folk, from trolls to mermen. Yes, mermen! Walk to city hall to study a 30-foot model of Iceland, where you can map your travels earlier in the week. Also consider the Settlement Exhibition, the Harpa Concert Hall, and Hallgrímskirkja – the tall church overlooking all of Reykjavik.
This afternoon we will relax, soak, and reflect on our week in Iceland at the lovely new oceanside spa, located on the outskirts of town. And tonight, as honorary Vikings, we gorge on a gourmet dinner to celebrate our adventures and experiences this past week here in geologically wild and wonderful Iceland.
Day 9: Departure
You are free this morning for those last-minute shopping needs or to relax. We will transfer to the airport in the early afternoon.
Price includes: All group transportation within Iceland; One group airport transfer on arrival and on departure; All accommodations; Tour guide accompanying the group at all locations; Breakfast every day, 4 lunches, and 7 dinners; Sightseeing and hiking as listed, Lava Tube hike, Snowmobiling, Natural Ice Cave hike and super jeep, one entry to a few spas including Blue Lagoon, and other listed activities. Up to two evening tours looking for the Northern Lights (in addition to sightings from your hotel room or the hotel hot tub); Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants). HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare; Airport transfers if not arriving at a similar time as remainder of group (most flights from/to North America arrive & depart around the same time) or if arriving early or departing late; 5 lunches and 1 dinner; Souvenirs, snacks, admissions not listed here or if listed as on your own; Alcoholic beverages; Gratuities for guides and host.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1200 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
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- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
We have activities taking us out in the elements for a few hours at a time, with warm breaks in between! And occasional geotherm soaks to soothe. Yet, it will likely be wet, snowy, and even icy at times, or all three. We will have a few hikes, usually on snowy but trail-broken paths, over sometimes uneven and icy terrain, so a fair amount of walking/hiking ability over uneven and sometimes slippery surfaces is required.
- Where and when does the tour start and end?
- This tour starts at Iceland’s international airport, Keflavik (KEF) and ends in nearby Reykjavik, Iceland, with flights out of the nearby international Keflavik Airport (KEF). We’ll have 8 nights in Iceland, with most people flying back home on the afternoon of the last day. At this point, there are limited flights into/from Iceland during winter. Most flight from North America arrive early in the morning after a 5-7 hour overnight flight. We will pick up everyone together that morning, from the airport, and start our sightseeing after coffee! At the end of the trip, most flights returning to North America depart late afternoon, so we will have one transfer to the airport early afternoon for those flights.
- Will we see the Northern Lights?
- The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon requiring a combination of atmospheric conditions, and therefore cannot be guaranteed. They require clear dark skies, usually chillier nights, and solar activity coming from the sun that reacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, causing glowing folds and ribbons of light in that dark sky, usually various shades of soft green but occasionally they express themselves in red. And they may be fleeting or may linger. While these reactions happen year-round, they are usually not seen in the summer because of the northern sun and light. In winter, however, especially around the Artic Circle, skies can gleam with these wonders. While not guaranteed, we have designed this itinerary with six nights out in the country and away from city lights to maximize your chances to see them if the weather allows.
- Can I visit the glacier ice caves in summer? Best to visit them in winter.
- Ice caves are naturally carved tunnels in glacier. During summer, the glacier is melting more rapidly, so they are generally not safe to enter. Plus, they may be full of water. In winter, however, conditions are ideal, with colder temperatures maintaining better structure and less water flowing through those chambers. But it is part of a gargantuan river of ice, a crystalline structure moving at glacial speed (sorry, we had to say it), and it changes rapidly. Our Icelandic partners search and find the best cave with decent accessibility for us to explore. As with all of our adventures in nature, there is a certain risk involved.
- What's gay life like in Iceland?
- Iceland is a Scandinavian country, with similar attitudes: Most people have better things to do than worry about whether you’re gay or straight. There are strong civil rights protections for gay people (including the right to marry), and homophobic attitudes have never really taken root. Perhaps because of this generally accepting attitude, there has never been a strongly developed gay culture as in some other world capitals. Reykjavik has a few gay organizations, a gay disco, and several clubs that serve a mixed clientele.
- What's the weather like in Iceland?
- The Gulf Stream has a moderating influence on Iceland’s climate despite its name. Odds are, you’ll experience a full gamut of temperatures here in the changeable Arctic region. Temperatures generally remain around freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit, maybe a bit more or a bit less, with occasional forays colder if a major front blows across. And that wind can be fierce. You will need winter clothes, but not full-on polar expedition clothing. Think winter hiking or snow skiing, always dressing in layers. Start with a wool or synthetic thermal layer, then a shirt or light fleece, maybe a light puffy, and then have an insulated jacket/ski jacket to deal with occasional rain/snow or if it’s windy. On top of your thermal bottom, wear insulated pants, ski pants or rain pants. Cover your head with a warm hat, wear gloves, and ideally wear a warmish hiking boot, something that comes above your ankles, which will work best with micro spikes that slip over the boot soles to help you walk on ice. Avoid low-cut shoes during daytime activities, but have a lounging shoe for evenings. Don’t forget, you will also need a swimsuit or two for our multiple soaks in spas and hotel hot pots.
- Additional Questions
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