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Tuesday, August 21
Arrive in Reykjavík

Guests arrive at Keflavík International Airport and transfer by bus (a 45-minute trip) to Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital and Iceland’s only city. Early morning hotel check-in will be available for those arriving on overnight flights. Join us for an optional afternoon guided walking tour of Reykjavík, including visits to Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrims Church), where an elevator to the top of the steeple provides expansive views of the city and nearby mountains, and to Harpa, Iceland’s futuristic concert hall. In the evening, we'll gather for a group welcome dinner.

Accommodations: Storm Hotel

Wednesday, August 22
Reykjavík and the Golden Circle Tour 

After breakfast, we'll board our bus for the Golden Circle Tour. Our first stop is the breathtakingly beautiful Þingvellir, Iceland’s most historic site. Beginning in 930 AD, Viking settlers assembled here each year to pass laws, punish criminals, and socialize with their countrymen. It is also the site of the enormous rift where the North American and European tectonic plates are visibly tearing apart. A short hike takes us right through the rift. Our second stop is Geysir, from which spouting hot springs the world over get their name. This area is a cauldron of hot springs, steaming vents, and psychedelic algae and mineral deposits. A short hike up the hill, Laugarfjall provides a great vantage point overlooking the steamy landscape. Our third stop is Gullfoss, an enormous and spectacular waterfall that pours into a deep chasm. We then complete the circle by returning to Reykjavík.

Accommodations: Storm Hotel

Thursday, August 23
Gufudalur (Steam Valley) and Heimaey in the Westman Islands

We leave Reykjavík after breakfast and soon arrive at Gufudalur (Steam Valley). A five-mile hike takes us past hot springs, bubbling mudpots, and fumeroles belching sulfurous steam. Afterwards, we'll take the nearby ferry for the 20-minute ride to Heimaey in the Westman Islands. The Eldfell Volcano erupted here in 1973, burying half the town in lava and ash. Upon arrival, we'll check in to our guesthouse and explore Heimaey, a fishing town of 4,200 people. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Accommodations: Guesthouse Hamar

Friday, August 24

After breakfast, we'll take a morning hike along the shore to Europe’s largest puffin colony, where we will have the opportunity to observe the puffins up close. In the afternoon we'll hike a three-mile loop that leads to the caldera of the 700 ft. Eldfell Volcano. The views along the way are stupendous, and the ground near the caldera is still very warm to the touch. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Accommodations: Guesthouse Hamar

Saturday, August 25

We'll take the 8:30 a.m. ferry back to the main island to rejoin our bus and continue our journey east to the village of Skógar, where we will hike what many consider to be the greatest waterfalls hike in the world. On this 10-mile loop hike, a dirt track climbs towards Fimmvörðuháls Pass. Before reaching the pass, we connect with the Skógar Trail, which parallels the Skógar River and skirts more than 20 thunderous, towering waterfalls. The last one, Skógafoss, ranks as one of the most beautiful in Iceland. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Accommodations: Guesthouse Drangshlid

Sunday, August 26
Skógar, Vík, and Jökulsárlón

Before leaving Skógar, we'll visit the acclaimed Skógar Folk Museum, a collection of lovingly restored, wood-framed, turf and stone buildings dating between 1830 and 1895, including farmhouses, a school, a church, and a superb collection of artifacts that portray the hard life of Icelandic rural people in centuries past. We then continue east along the Ring Road, stopping to admire the black sand beaches and basalt columns at Vík, a nesting site for thousands of sea birds. We continue eastward to Jökulsárlón (Glacial Lagoon), where we will hike among the glacial moraines lining the lagoon. Icebergs from a branch of the Vatnajökull Glacier float in the lagoon with seals swimming in the channels separating the icebergs. This is an unforgettable hike. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Accommodations: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

Monday, August 27
Skaftafell National Park

Today we visit Skaftafell, Iceland’s largest and best-loved national park. We have two hiking options: a shorter five-mile loop past Svartifoss, a gorgeous waterfall flanked by unusual overhanging basalt columns, or a longer 10-mile loop that continues past Svartifoss and climbs across the moors to incredible views of the glacier. Lonely Planet describes this route as a hiker’s dream. In good weather, it may be the best day-hike in Iceland. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

Accommodations: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

Tuesday, August 28
Skaftafell and Reykjavík

We leave Skaftafell and return to Reykjavík, stopping to admire the high and wispy Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, one of Iceland’s most photographed waterfalls, with a trail that goes behind it. Upon returning to Reykjavík, you'll have time to continue exploring the city on your own. Breakfast is provided.

Accommodations: Storm Hotel

Wednesday, August 29
Depart from Reykjavík

Return home. Those with afternoon flights can join us for a pleasant five-mile walk on the Seltjarnarnes Peninsula to the Grotta Lighthouse, passing wildflowers and viewing seabirds along the way. Or you may choose to do some last-minute shopping. You may also decide to visit the Blue Lagoon Spa by bus on the way to the airport (not included). Breakfast is included.