Meals not included unless indicated with B (breakfast) or D (dinner).
Day One: Welcome to Iceland (B, D)
- Upon arrival at Keflavik Airport in the early hours, meet with your naturalist guide for the exciting trip that awaits you. The day´s activities start with a scenic drive along the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Just about every form of Icelandic volcanic activity can be found in this fascinating lunar-like landscape: Large faults, fissures, lava, scoria craters, lava shields and geothermal fields. After approximately 50 minutes drive we enjoy a refreshing breakfast overlooking a lively fishing port in the town of Hveragerdi. From there we drive about 10 minutes to Eldborg the geology center located in a canyon close to the Blue Lagoon. This gives a remarkable illustration on Iceland´s geology and geothermal energy and offers i.e. an assimulator on earthquakes. From there it´s to the Blue Lagoon for a welcome drink inside the azuree blue waters where you feel totally rejuvenated after the relaxing bath. We then head straight for the national park Thingvellir where the rooms will be ready for us around noon. Rest and get over the jetlag and in the early afternoon gather for an introductory lecture in the conference room:
- Introduction to Iceland´s geology: The Iceland hot spot and the basics of Plate Tectonics and Sea-Floor Spreading - Dr. Ármann Höskuldsson
- Followed by our first field excursion in the national park of Thingvellir.
- Welcome dinner and overnight at the Valhöll hotel located by the lake in the national park.
Day Two: The Power of Nature - Geothermal fields and Volcanic Systems - Þingvellir national park and Nesjavellir ( B)
- Nowhere else on earth will you find a better place to study volcanic features. Today´s visit is to Mt. Hengill, an active central volcano (a major volcanic area with a long active life) to investigate a powerful geothermal area with a high-tech power plant and the 2000-year-old volcanic fissure of Hengill. We enjoy a presentation at the plant followed by field excursions in the area during gentle hikes amidst boiling hot springs and wells.
- Spend the rest of the day hiking in Þingvellir National Park, and study the fracture zone between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, a huge rift valley and numerous transcurrent faults. The area offers wonderful breathtaking hikes where Dr. Ármann will accompany us for briefings and education. We will also spend some time at the educational nature center in the park.
- Before dinner gather for a lecture on:
- The recent volcanic history of Iceland, volcanic systems and types of volcanoes found in Iceland
- Again overnight at the national park
- Restaurant has lots of interesting choices
Day Three: Natural Wonders - Explore lava flows and relax in the soothing waters of naturally heated river ( B, D)
- A short drive this morning takes you to the beautiful Þjórsárdalur Valley, more than once devastated by the renowned Mt. Hekla volcano (4800 ft). You´ll pass within a few miles of the mountain to study lava flows, tephra deposits and satellite craters. The valley is knows for beautiful waterfalls and the brand new Hekla center, a wonderful place to study this mighty volcano, one of the most active in Iceland.
- A rugged road leads to the volcanic center of Landmannalaugar and Torfajökull (3500 ft) where acidic, colourful volcanic rocks are a true feast for the eye. Later take a dip in a naturally hot river before crossing volcanic deserts to our place of overnight.
- Overnight and dinner: Leirubakki farm by the roots of the volcano Hekla. Nice farmhouse accommodation with a Viking natural hot pool and a typical sod house restaurant. Rooms with shared bathrooms - but location is fabulous.
Day Four: Easy Rider - Cross Country Between the Ice Caps ( B, D)
- The dazzling desert and spectacular vistas await us as we drive along the top- crest of the Icelandic rifting system in between big ice caps (Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull) where volcanic centers loom under thick ice (last eruption in 1996). The land along the Sprengisandur highland track is barren but strangely beautiful.
- Arrive at Lake Mývatn in the late afternoon where you spend the next two nights. Accommodation at one of the hotels down by the lake.
Day Five: The Wild Life - Easy walks among mud pots, fissures and abundant birdlife ( B)
- Today begin with a lecture on Lake Mývatn´s unique geology and biology. Name of lecturer confirmed by Friday. Lecturer will be a part of the field trip this morning as well.
- Whole day will be spent exploring the area, a true geological gem with many different features of volcanic and tectonic activity, in addition to the vivid birdlife. This is one of the places where the lunar astronauts of the 60s trained prior to their ventures. Craters, lava flows, caves, fuming fissures, boiling mud pots and colorful volcanic deposits are all within an easy walking distance and perfectly safe under our expert guidance.
- Most of the day will be spent hiking, from Dimmuborgir - black lava castles to Hverfjall a huge ash wall crater towards the active volcanic areas surrounding Krafla central volcano. Amidst those we will be studying the interesting lava formations from the last eruption in the area 1984. In the late afternoon head back to the hotel for overnight stay . Soak in the natural geothermal swimming pool in the town. Evening at leisure, several restaurants to choose from.
Day Six: Nature's Art - Eroded bedrock, river canyons and waterfalls ( B, D)
- After breakfast drive to the national park of Jökulsárgljúfur to study the interesting formations of the biggest river canyon in Iceland, the Jökulsárcanyon. During short hikes you will witness how the powerful glacial river has eroded the bedrock and left behind bizarre sculptures of nature to marvel. Dettifoss the mighty waterfall awaits in its splendor. From the national park drive to Egilsstadir across the barren north east highlands. Egilsstadir is the capital of the East, a green town located by the Lögurinn glacial river known to be the home of a giant serpent.
- Stay in a lovely guesthouse down by the river. The East fjords are among the oldest bedrock in the country with interesting ignimbrite rock layers and dykes. Dinner this night is buffet style.
Day Seven: Indented fjords and glittering rocks ( B,D)
- In the morning enjoy a lecture on Iceland´s petrology given by Dr. Thrainn Fridriksson a gratuate of Stanford University and a specialist on Iceland´s petrology.
- Drive a scenic road along the indented fjords and visit Teigarhorn museum know to be one of the best places in the world of the Iceland spar. Continue towards the south part of Iceland where the majestic glacier Vatnajokull awaits us in all it´s splendour. Our camp for the next days will be around Skaftafell national park below Iceland´s highest mountain pinnacle Hvannadalshnjúkur 2, 119 m.
- Overnight at a hotel close to the national park. Dinner upon arrival at the hotel
Day Eight: In the kingdom of fire and ice - Skaftafell and surroundings ( B)
- Begin the morning with a lecture: Glaciers and glacial research history and the Radio Echo Soundings of glaciers. Name of lecturer yet to be decided
- This is followed by a field trip to study the sliding glaciers and the lagoon of Breidamerkurjokull with its floating icebergs. We will be able to get close to the glaciers and special equipment provided for ice climbing for those interested. In the afternoon enjoy hikes in the national park, to the Svartifoss waterfall with it´s striking columnar basalt resembling organ pipes. Visit the nature center of the park for further introduction to geology, flora and fauna. Before dinner lecture on the Vatnajokull volcanoes and recent activities followed by a film.
- Overnight: hotel nearby the park. Dinner on your own
Day Nine: Volcanic contrasts - endless lava fields and black volcanic beaches ( B, D)
- Today we drive to Skógar with several stops on the way. We will be studying the effects of catastrophic floods following volcanic eruptions under the icecap as we cross the endless sand deserts of the south. At Kirkjubæjarklaustur we learn about the devastating eruption from 1783 from Laki, one of the largest outburst of lava in historic times. Before arriving at the town of Vík we learn about Katla volcano, the witch, an active caldera located underneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
- We enjoy stops at Dyrhólaey headland an important colony for puffins and arctic terns . In the late afternoon we arrive at Skogar, a beautiful settlement below two icecaps. Before dinner enjoy a lecture:
- Catastrophic floos in Iceland and the Katla volcano
- Overnight and dinner at Hotel Skogar.
Day Ten: Back to civilization - Reykjavík ( B, L, D)
- Today we head towards Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. On the way we will make some interesting stops for an introduction to the Icelandic horse and some optional riding and enjoy a delicious lobster feast at a rustic sea shore restaurant.
- Check into a hotel in Reykjavík for our last evening in Iceland.
- Overnight: down town hotel Farewell dinner in Reykjavík.
Day Eleven: Returning back to the States
- Departure set around 1:30 p.m. for the international airport at Keflavík
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