Iceland Explorer Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Europe, Iceland
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AVW
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

10 Days Flight Inclusive
10 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Iceland is a vast, evocative country, constantly evolving and changing through the sheer power of the geological forces that created it. There is a huge amount to see outside of the better known tourist spots of the south. We do of course see these, including Geysir, Thingvellir and Gullfoss, and get to understand why they are so popular! Our journey however continues, to explore areas less frequented by the average visitor. The starkly beautiful Icelandic coastline, the immense glaciers and the beauty of the Eastern Fjords are just some of the treasures that await, to say nothing of the almost indescribable geology of the north.
Choose between the frozen landscape of the winter, when we see the sun rise and set every day and have the chance of Northern Lights, and the seemingly endless days of summer with 24hr daylight. It's no surprise so many blockbusters and TV series are filmed here, as dramatic landscapes go, this takes some beating.

At a Glance

  • 9 nights hotels and guesthouses
  • Travel by airconditioned minibus
  • Group normally 7 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded level 2, leisurely/moderate
Much of this trip is touring by small bus, with plenty of stops to visit the highlights detailed in the itinerary. Iceland is bigger than many people expect, so there are some significant distances to cover. Many of the exploration of the highlights themselves are done on foot, often on uneven ground. Some sites do have walkways, however many do not. In winter ice is not uncommon, however if required snow grips are provided to fit over regular shoes. Please see the packing list for further information on footwear. 
We use a comfortable bus, ruggedly built to Icelandic standards and able to cope with most types of terrain. Most roads we travel on this trip are tarmac allowing for a reasonably smooth ride.
Accommodation in Iceland is expensive and often very basic. Those well-travelled clients will find the comparison with similarly priced accommodations in mainland Europe to be disappointing. However, we source good quality, competitively-priced guesthouses and hotels on the itinerary.

Daylight hours vary enormously throughout the year in Iceland. In winter we will depart before sunrise (though this isn't a particularly early start) in order to maximise the daylight, meaning we'll see the sun rise every day.

In May, June and the first half of July we will experience 24hr daylight, before a few hours of darkness around midnight (and the chance of Northern Lights) returns.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

This is a small group guided holiday. The group is usually between 6 and 16 in size, with an average of 12 like-minded clients booking individually, in a couple or as friends together.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
7
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Reykjavik
End City:
Reykjavik

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Reykjavik

  • Day 2

    Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss

    Today we drive inland to the Thingvellir World Heritage Area, where the world's first 'democratic parliament' meeting took place - the area became Iceland's first National Park in 1928 and a World Heritage area in 2004. Sitting right on top of a major fault line it is the best place in Iceland to see the continental drift - the movement of the Eurasion and North American tectonic plates. Here they are literally pulling the earth apart as they inch away from each other causing the land between to subside. Not surprisingly the area abounds with waterfalls, immense fissures and the largest lake in the country. We then carry on to see the world famous geysers. The most reliable eruption comes every 5-10 minutes from one called 'Strokkur'; the 30-metre jet of water and steam is spectacular. To round off the day we drive a short distance on to Gullfoss, a huge dramatic waterfall located in a 70m deep canyon of River Hvita (White River).

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Head east, taking in Skogarfoss, Dyrholaey and Jokulsarlon

    We head east to the foot of the infamous Eyjafjallajokull Ice Cap; this area was heavily affected by ash fall during the eruption of 2010 and a great deal of ice was melted by the boiling lava. The glacier feeds many beautiful waterfalls and we visit two of them: Skogarfoss and Kvernufoss. Both have rushing water dropping 60m, and in the case of Skogafoss, this wall of water rushes down in a 25m wide sheet, providing quite a spectacle.
    Continuing east, we cross the black flood-plain of Solheimasandur, before reaching the green valley of Myrdalur and continuing to Dyrholaey. This dramatic 120-metre high promontory is the southernmost point in Iceland. It is rich in birdlife, and a nesting site for Puffins and Arctic terns in spring. If we are lucky we might see whales and seals from the promontory on calm days. We continue further east to Vik, Iceland's southernmost town, a great place from which to see the Reynisdrangar needles. Then it is further across Myrdalssandur flood plain and then Skeydararsandur flood plain. Both created by the countless floods created by volcanic eruptions over time. We head for Vatnajokull NP with Europe's largest ice cap, Vatnajokull and it further on to the famous Glacier Lagoon at Jokulsarlon where thousands of icebergs are separating from the country's largest glacier and are floating in the pale green sea-level lagoon. We take a walk beside the lagoon for excellent views and if conditions allow can head down to the black sand beach where chunks of ice are washed back up onto the shore by the sea, creating some wonderful shapes and formations. We then continue further east with the steep mountains of Vatnajokull on one side and the exposed south coast on the other, to our accommodation

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    The Eastern Fjords and Egilsstadir

    A day of scenic driving, with a number of stops as we travel through fjord country. This stunning mountain region has been sculpted as much by glaciers as volcanic activity. The spectacular road winds from one fjord to another, passing a few farms in each fjord where there is enough flat land for hayfields. The birdlife is rich and in late summer thousands of moulting whooper swans feed in the sheltered lagoon of Alftafjordur (Swan fjord). We then continue to the town of Egilsstadir

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Studlagil Canyon, Saenautasel farm, Dettifoss Myvatn

    Heading inland and west we pass through the starkly contrasting desert scenery of the North East Highlands and follow the track that takes us north to Jokuldalur valley and to Studlagil Canyon, one of the most beautiful canyon of Columnar basalt in Iceland. Then its on to Saenautasel farmstead short distance away. Saenautasel was left abandoned due to have ashfall shortly after the volcano Askja erupted in 1875. From Saenautasel we drive enroute Modrudalur to the enormous Dettifoss Waterfall. This is Europe's most powerful waterfall, bizarrely set in an arid area of sand and rock formations. Our journey then takes us on to the Krafla volcano area to explore the craters and lava from the eruptive period of 1975-1984. We hike into one of the craters and look at the strange textures of cooled magma splatters and rich colours of the mineral deposits. From Krafla we head for our hotel at Lake Myvatn.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Lake Myvatn, Hverfell, Godafoss, Akureyri

    We spend the day around lake Myvatn and go for a short walk in the lava fields and craters. We start at Dimmuborgir, a vast area of lava towers and natural arches. The most spectacular of them is 'the Church', a large vault resembling a church. Only a short distance from Dimmuborgir is Mt.Hverfjall, a huge circular crater with a depth of 140 metres and 1000 metres in diameter. It is one of the most beautiful craters in Iceland, one which erupted some 2500 years ago and covered the Myvatn area in tephra (fragments of volcanic rock). It is also thought to be one of the largest on the planet. We traverse Mt.Hverfjall, and a little further north is the rift crevasse Grjotagja with its crystal clear warm water. We explore the pseudo craters of Skutustadir. After Myvatn we head to the Godafoss Waterfall en route to Akureyri.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Siglufjordur, Hofsos, Borgarvirki, Kolufljufur Canyon

    A free morning in Akureyri. Akureyri is a town of some 17,000 inhabitants and is the biggest town outside the capital. It is the cultural, commercial and educational centre for northern Iceland and is 60 km south of the Arctic Circle. Whale watching tours depart regularly and there are a number of museums, including an 'Into the Arctic' exhibition. Opened in 2017 this offers everything from information on arctic explorers to ancient charts and maps, navigational equipment and information on arctic wildlife. This northerly town is also remarkably green and has the northernmost botanical garden in the world. The Lutheran church in Akureyri is an interesting visit, featuring a stained-glass window above the altar that has its origins in England.

    As with most towns in Iceland there are also thermal baths, enjoyed as much by the locals as by visitors, and if you just fancy a wander, there are plenty of interesting shops, coffee shops and even ice cream parlours. If you don’t want to relax and explore town then an optional whale watching tour is possible in the morning.

    We leave Akureyri and drive around the Troll Peninsula, via few fishing villages on the peninsula. We stop at the magnificent outdoor swimming pool at the village Hofsos and go for a quick dip. This remote geothermal swimming pool has some of the best views in the country over the Skagafjordur bay. We head further south and stop at Borgarvirki, an old Viking fortress. The Citadel is a columnar basalt fortress and a volcanic plug. A little further south we head into Vididalur valley and make a short stop at beautiful waterfalls in Kolugljufur canyon, named after a giantess, once said to live in the area. From Koluglufur we head for our hotel close by.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Snaefellsness Peninsula, vikings and Stykkisholmur

    Today we drive west to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Along the way we visit a reconstructed Viking house once home to Eirik the Red and his son Leif Eiriksson - the two most famous travelling Vikings. The 'Eirikstadir' gives an interesting insight to way of life for the early settlers and an introduction to the historic tradition of the 'Icelandic Sagas'. From Eiríksstaðir we head for the village Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Snaefellsnes is perhaps best known for the Stratovolcano 'Snaefellsjokull'. Jules Verne, in his classic 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth', describes this as the start point for the characters' descent. New Age followers consider this area to be one of the earth's seven major energy centres. We head to our accommodation, located on the southern side of the peninsula, on the beach with great views over Snaefellsjokull.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Drive to Reykjavik

    The exposed coast of the of Snaefellsnes peninsula is the goal for today, and this area has recently been designated a National Park. We visit the old church at Budir, one of the most picture tic on in the country.  Sea cliffs at Arnarstapi swarming with birds, to the rocks of Djupalonssandur and the sites of old shipwrecks in the black basaltic sand. Our guide will tell us about the old cod-fishing methods from open boats in the bountiful seas and towering above us is the volcano - Snaefellsjokull. Some of the best fisheries are of the peninsula and whales can often be seen from shore on calm days. We pass through fishing villages on the peninsula and head to one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland Mt. Kirkjufell. After kirkjufell we start heading back to the capital.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Our trip ends in Reykjavik after breakfast.

    Our trip ends in Reykjavik after breakfast. Flybus transfers are available to the airport.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

This tour is based on a mixture of hotels and simple guesthouses. As with everything in Iceland accommodation is very expensive, so we have tried to choose places with prices that allow us to keep the holiday affordable. Starting out in a comfortable Reykjavik hotel with en suite facilities, the accommodation on this trip consists of twin rooms, although single rooms are also available. All accommodation has private facilities.  While we pre-book all accommodation according to the itinerary, as space is limited we may move to alternative accommodation according to availability. A limited number of single rooms are available, at a supplement on a strictly first come first served basis. Please contact our sales team for details.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £440.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts included

Breakfasts are mainly continental style, lunches will be taken in cafés or restaurants, or even service station cafés depending on our location. The main meal of the day is usually local fish or lamb specialities, plus European standards such as pasta, chicken etc. Vegetarians and those with special dietary requirements can be catered for, but may get a little less variety in the meals provided. It is still common practice for restaurants receiving big groups to offer a restricted menu. Our leader will do their best to ensure as much choice as possible is available. 

Please advise us of any special dietary requirements at the time of booking.

Transportation

We use a comfortable van or bus, ruggedly built to Icelandic standards and able to cope with most types of terrain, including fording glacial rivers. Airport transfers are on the Flybus Service.

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

Summer departures

Iceland is on the northern edge of the temperate zone, meaning it has cool summers. Daytime temperatures in the summer months can be anything from 10 to 20degC. In mountain areas you must be prepared for some days of poor weather with strong winds and rain, but usually the weather is quite pleasant, though cool. There is constant daylight, but not midnight sun, in May, June and July.

Winter departures

On any day of the winter you may experience periods of sunshine alternating with short or long showers of snow, sleet or even rain. Away from the coast, in most winters, there is good snow cover for much of the season, particularly in the north. Average daytime temperatures in Reykjavik are between 0 and -5degC. In the interior it can be several degrees colder, and in windy weather, which is common in the wind-chill factor can be significant.
Northern Lights visibility depends on a combination of solar activity and clear skies. The two can combine to produce a visible display anytime between late August and April.

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 10 Days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Icelandair (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed untilapproximately two weeks before departure.


Travelling land only: 10 days starting and ending in Reykjavik

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Reykjavik in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

We offer a transfer to meet any international flight arriving into Keflavik Airport. All clients will receive a voucher for a Flybus transfer to the start hotel. Flybus offer coach transfers to meet every flight arriving into Keflavik International airport and make stops at various city hotels including our start hotel. You will receive further details in your Final Joining Instructions.

Location start:
Reykjavik
Location end:
Reykjavik

What to Take

Essential Equipment


Outdoor clothing as follows:

Good quality waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, warm fleece, warm hat and gloves. 
Thermal underwear, top and bottom, is recommended for winter departures.
Balaclava or scarf and extra thick gloves
Warm hat that covers your ears
Large capacity water bottle and/or thermos flask
Trainers/comfortable shoes for the evenings

For thermal pools:
towel, swimsuit.


Day sack
Swim wear
Towel
Water bottle
Eye mask (24 hour daylight)

We encounter differing terrain on this trip at all times of year. 3 or 3-4 season waterproof walking boots with semi-rigid soles, and good ankle support are best overall, however goo walking trainers may be suitable for summer departures. A small daypack is useful to carry essentials.

 

Alcohol is expensive in Iceland: if you want to enjoy an evening drink, you are advised to buy it in the duty free shop, on arrival in Iceland.

Practical Information

Passport

Iceland

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Iceland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Iceland

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Iceland's Timezone:
Atlantic/Reykjavik GMT (GMT +00:00)

Electricity

Iceland's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types C & F; establishments often take two round pin plugs.

Money

Iceland's Currency

The national currency of Iceland is the Iceland Krona (ISK), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (January 2019) of approximately 156 to the GBP,  121 to the USD, 91 to the CAD, 138 to the EUR, 87 to the AUD and 82 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in all main towns and many service stations. Card payments are accepted across Iceland, for any amount.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Lunch will cost around 2,000 ISK (approx £15, $18)

Dinner can vary according to the establishment, however you can expect to pay around 5,000 ISK (approx £40, $45) excluding drinks.

A beer is usually around 1,000 ISK (approx £8, $10), a standard glass of wine is closer to 1,500 ISK (approx £10, $12)

 During your free day in Akureyri a number of excursions and visits are available:

Into the Arctic Exhibition: 1500 ISK
Whale Watching: various tours and durations available. e.g 'Express Whale Watching', 6 departures daily, 19990 ISK. 

 

 

Tipping

Tipping is not expected in Iceland. Many restaurant or café bills will include gratuity. 

If you do feel you wish to tip your leader, we recommend around £20/ $25 per person, however this is entirely at your discretion. 

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.