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Iceland in Autumn - Glaciers, Icebergs & Waterfalls

Tour Code: ISL03

A 7-day holiday to southern Iceland focusing on the island's spectacular landscapes, migrating birds and the Northern Lights.

7 days from £2345(inc flights) Land Only Price: £2145 SRS: £295


Iceland is one of the main staging posts along the Atlantic ‘flyway’ for birds breeding further north, and this tour is timed to coincide with this exciting annual migration as well as another of nature’s most impressive phenomena, the Northern Lights. On this holiday we will visit several of southern Iceland’s key geological – and most scenic – places, beginning with a stay at Thingvellir, which sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Next we’ll visit the stunning waterfall and geysers at Gulfoss before heading to Skaftafell National Park, Europe’s largest single protected area. We end the tour with a 2-night stay in Keflavik where we’ll be hoping for clear nights and impressive displays of the Northern Lights by night, and do a whale watching cruise, weather permitting, during our last full day.

  • Gyr Falcon, Golden Plover & Whooper Swan among many expected bird highlights
  • Whale watching trip from Keflavik to look for Minke Whale & dolphins
  • 2-night stay at ‘Northern Lights Inn’ hoping for impressive Aurora displays
  • Visit the ice-lagoon at Jokulsarlon on the edge of the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier
  • See Snow Bunting, Great Northern We’ll be based for two nights at Skaftafell National Park
  • Golden grasslands, black lava formations & rhyolite mountains en route to Skaftafell
  • Majestic icebergs calved from a glacier in Jokulsarlon ice-lagoon
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide

Food

All included in the price except for evening meals. Allow £40 per day for these.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels throughout, all rooms with private facilities.

White-beaked Dolphin (Tom Brereton)

White-beaked Dolphin (Tom Brereton)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Keflavik and transfer Thingvellir

Day 2 Thingvellir

Day 3/4 Vatnajokull National Park

Day 5/6 Keflavik

Day 7 Fly London

At the junction of two continents, on the outermost fringe of habitation, Iceland was born millions of years ago from the depths of the ocean. This spectacular island sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, that great cleft in the Earth’s crust that runs north to south through the Atlantic Basin and which is slowly, centimetre by centimetre, widening the Atlantic Ocean and pulling the Americas and Europe/Africa apart. This irrepressible force of nature has created an island blessed with some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth, a place where geology and geography text books come to life and where the explosive processes of land formation can be watched in action.

While Iceland’s vast interior covers more than 50,000 square kilometres and is dominated by volcanoes, glaciers and endless stony deserts, its coastal regions are, by contrast, vibrant, colourful and productive, and none more so than at Oræfasveit in the south-east. Oræfasveit is one of the most beautiful and multifaceted regions in the whole of Iceland, isolated and squeezed between the Atlantic’s pounding surf and the enormity of the Vatnajökull icecap. Although popular in the summer, few travellers venture here in September to enjoy the spectacular scenery in all its autumnal glory.

Iceland is also one of the main staging posts along the Atlantic ‘flyway’ for birds breeding further north, providing an opportunity to refuel on their long migration south. The plaintive cries from flocks of Golden Plover drift over russet-coloured moorlands, while Gyr Falcons patrol overhead and small parties of geese briefly reunite, joining Whooper Swans to graze the autumn grasses before continuing south. Along the coastline Purple Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlin and Knot eagerly feed and are joined from time to time by chattering flocks of Snow Buntings. The unambiguous sound of Great Northern Divers enhances the otherworldly atmosphere at Thingvallavatn, and Barrow’s Goldeneye are often encountered on the River Sog.

We begin our holiday with a 3-hour flight from Heathrow to the international airport at Keflavik. From here we will drive, by minibus, through ancient lava fields to our first hotel close to the most celebrated of all Iceland’s landscapes, Thingvellir. This is a very special place. Not only is Thingvellir an iconic place in Iceland’s history (the setting for the world’s first parliament), but it sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge itself and is one of the few places where you can walk from Europe to America in just a few steps! At the end of September the heathland is also awash with the subtle russet-brown, yellow and fiery-red hues of autumn. Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls, thunders nearby, while no visit to the region is complete without time-watching the geothermal features and boiling mud pools at Geysir.

Next we head east along the south coast to Skaftafell, passing an inspirational landscape of golden grasslands, soft cushions of green and grey Rhacomitrum mosses, weird black lava formations and lofty rhyolite mountains en route. It is no surprise that the area surrounding Skaftafell and the Vatnajokull ice cap was declared a national park in 1967 and, covering nearly 5,000 square kilometres, Vatnajokull National Park is the largest single protected area in Europe. Our hotel for the next two nights lies in the shadow of Iceland’s highest mountain with views of its dramatic snow-bound 2,200-metre peaks. One of the most majestic natural spectacles in Iceland is the ice-lagoon at Jokulsarlon on the edge of the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier. The lagoon is filled with icebergs of every conceivable shape and size which have calved off the glacier and then become trapped. Jokulsarlon is renowned for its unique interplay of light and ice and, since there is no better way to appreciate this spectacle than from the water, our tour includes a boat ride on this amazing lagoon.

All too soon we must retrace our journey back to Keflavik, through a landscape of countless waterfalls that plunge from towering cliffs into the valleys below. For our final two nights we will be staying at the aptly named ‘Northern Light Inn’. We must keep our fingers crossed for clear skies so we can make use of the hotel’s new observatory and watch for the ethereal flickerings of the Aurora Borealis. Finally, on our last full day, we will explore the capital before — weather permitting — taking a whale-watching cruise out of Reykjavik. This will offer an opportunity to enjoy some of the amazing marine mammals that inhabit Iceland’s rich coastal waters, as well as an interesting variety of seabirds. Sightings usually include Minke Whale and White-beaked Dolphin, and perhaps even Orca or Humpback Whale for the fortunate few — a fitting finale to our time in Iceland before we return to Keflavik Airport for our flight home.

Jokulsarlon (Phil Piper)Aurora borealis, Sep '15 (Alun & Paula Williams)Rock Ptarmigan (Phil Piper)Skogafoss (Kerrie Warburton)Geysir (Kerrie Warburton)Geysir  (Kerrie Warburton)Naturetrek lunch at the tomato greenhouse (Marcus John)Northern LightsJokulsarlon (Malcolm Stott)Gullfoss (Phil Piper)Oxarafoss (Malcolm Stott)Humpback Whale (Malcolm Stott)Skaftafell National ParkSvartifoss, Skaftafell National ParkNaturetrek Iceland Group PhotoJokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon (Malcolm Stott)Jokulsarlon Iceberg (Kerrie Warburton)Jokulsarlon (Kerrie Warburton)Iceland Gulls, Jokulsarlon (Kerrie Warburton)Common Seal, Jokulsarlon (Kerrie Warburton)White-beaked Dolphins and FulmarWhooper SwansIce-lake cruise (Malcolm Stott)Gulfoss (Kerrie Warburton)Northern LightsSelkalandsfoss (Malcolm Stott)Skogafoss (Malcolm Stott)2013 Naturetrek group (Malcolm Stott)Skogafoss (Phil Piper)Iceland Gull, Jokulsarlon (Kerrie Warburton)Northern Lights (Malcolm Stott)Aurora over Skaftafell (Malcolm Stott)Naturetrek pays homage to the Great Auk (Malcolm Stott)Northern Lights, Sep 2013 (Malcolm Stott)JokulsarlonNorthern Lights
S & P
West Yorkshire
We enjoyed the variety of the days and the enthusiasm of Marcus [our tour leader]. He had researched the tour and worked hard to make sure every day catered for all interests. He was flexible in his approach and he read the group’s interests extremely well. Iceland is an amazing country with both nature and geology to enthral, and we had an excellent introduction to it all.
J.M.
Selkirkshire
We had an excellent mixture of birding, botany, geology and sightseeing, in fact the holiday greatly exceeded my expectations.
P.W. &
Clwyd
We were extremely lucky to have such amazing weather on this trip, enabling us to appreciate the stunning scenery. We had great views of the Northern Lights. Marcus [our tour leader] managed to take us to lots of interesting sights, and still find time for coffee and cake stops covering the needs of everyone on the trip! The itinerary was excellent - Iceland is a wonderful country and we would like to return on another trip someday.
M.P.
Somerset
The landscape of Iceland is extraordinary and our enjoyment was much enhanced by the knowledge (and distance driving skills) of our leader Malcom Stott. His enthusiasm for the country and knowledge of the wildlife were conveyed to us without imposition.
C.P.
Somerset
Malcom's knowledge of Iceland made a marked contribution to the success of the holiday. He was able to adapt our itinerary to the vagaries of the weather and he was very good at seeking the interests of the group members and responding to them.
J.K.
Kent
Best holiday I've ever had. Very varied, excellently planned and constructed.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Sun 2nd September 2018 - Sat 8th September 2018

YES

£2345

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2145 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sun 9th September 2018 - Sat 15th September 2018

YES

£2345

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £2145 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Iceland

Detailed tour map

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David Phillips
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

Tour Focus

PhotographyWhalesBirds

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

We enjoyed the variety of the days and the enthusiasm of Marcus [our tour leader]. He had researched the tour and worked hard to make sure every day catered for all interests. He was flexible in his approach and he read the group’s interests extremely well. Iceland is an amazing country with both nature and geology to enthral, and we had an excellent introduction to it all.
S & P, West Yorkshire