Fire And Ice - The Grand Iceland Autumn Photo Tour Guided Tour
Our partner: BJÖRN RÚRIKSSON
Our partner: BJÖRN RÚRIKSSON
During this time of year we may be lucky and see the flickering northern lights. We will try every night! On this tour you will be spoiled with one culinary delight after the other. Iceland is getting famous for its excellent variety of great food. We will make every night’s meal different from another - a sheer delight with an outstanding four course meal with coffee or tea. Upon your arrival we drive you from Keflavik Airport to Hotel Selfoss. Selfoss town is the hub of the South of Iceland. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to rest or wander about town; checking out the riverside, culture, museum, bookstores, some unique retail enterprises and an outstanding swimming pool with a sauna, steam room and three geothermal pools. In the early evening, we will meet in the lobby for an outstanding dinner at the hotel's restaurant.
We will take great care of you during these eight days in Iceland. You will travel in a roomy coach where each of you will have your own two seats, with ample space for your gear; Camera outfit, binoculars, etc.
For six of the nights, you are staying at the excellent four star Hotel Selfoss, situated at the banks of the powerful river of Ölfusá, the biggest river in the country. The Hotel's magnificent and luxury Riverside Spa is at your disposal, richly equipped with steam room, sauna, hot pool, rainwater showers, relaxation room, lounge and bar. See the hotel’s website at https://hotelselfoss.is/en/
And for one night you are staying at the excellent Hotel Skaftafell in the Vatnajökull National Park, in South-east Iceland close to the glacial lake. Surroundings of both hotels are intriguing and great for evening walks.
This program is rich of photogenic sights in the South of Iceland; Numerous waterfalls of different sizes, mountains, volcanoes, vistas, beaches and black sands. The great outdoor scenic arena of Thingvellir, with the cradle of Icelandic democracy since the year 930, when the national parliament first took place. Thingvellir is a geological wonder, with open faults and fissures, probably the most conspicuous rift valley in the world, craggy lava and the rich green moss ornamenting the landscape. Another unique site is the Geysir area with its spouting hot spring and pools of turquois beauty, with the 800 year old Great Geysir.
Your tour is composed, directed and guided by the veteran Icelandic tour director Björn Rúriksson. Not only is he a writer, photographer and naturalist, but an experienced pilot who knows his country and its natural history intimately, both from the air and on the ground. As a photographer as well as a professional pilot, he regularly served nature documentary filmcrews from BBC during their filming in Iceland. Among people he got to know in these years was Sir David Attenborough. Björn has designed and directed tours for The Explorers Club in New York, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Denver Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian among dozens of others. Björn is an author of many trendsetting photobooks on Icelandic natural History, and has given lectures on Iceland and Icelandic geology at many museums, 60 institutes and universities worldwide. Björn has furthermore held 35 private photographic exhibitions worldwide, many in the States; Newark Art Museum, Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center, and Nikon House in New York to name a few.
Arrival at Keflavík International airport where you will be met by your host, Björn Rúriksson. Guests are privately transported to Hotel Selfoss upon their arrival. In the early evening all of us meet at the entrance of our hotel for an outstanding four course dinner.
In the morning there is a helicopter flight for the volcanic eruption in Geldingadalir. Short stop on land good 20 minutes. We fly from the small airport at Selfoss. The program lasts around 1 1/2 hour. The eruption started on March 19th, where a fissure broke open, and since then the
area has been active. To enjoy and experience such tremendous power of nature will be a highlight of the tour to Iceland. Weather conditions can demand that we move this flight to another day. And this afternoon we go on a secret mission around Selfoss, where surprising events will follow.
We leave Selfoss in the morning, driving through several small colourful villages, like Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Later we enjoy the idyllic setting of the tiny village of “Vík” by the ocean with its 400 inhabitants. Here we will encounter one of the best woolen stores in the country, where wonderful garments are available. Continue across the vast alluvium “Mýrdalssandur”. Later we come to the lavafield of the infamous Laki Eruption of 1783. This is one of the largest outpour of lava in historical times in the world, 230 square miles (just under 600 sq.km) of glowing rock which poured out relentlessly and completely covered pastures and farms in one uninterrupted eight months sequence. The gases of this horrendous eruption killed 20% of the inhabitants of Iceland, and 80% of its sheep and cattle. Furthermore the gases and volcanic ash caused greatly diminished sunshine all over the northern hemisphere triggering a lasting famine in Japan, China, North America and in Europe, killing six million people. In France the famine is believed to have caused uproar and the french revolution a few years later! Now this lava is covered by thick beautiful green moss, a stunning experience to enjoy first hand.
We arrive at the Jökulsárlón Glacial lagoon to enjoy a boat ride among the floating icebergs. We visit the beautiful “garden” of stranded icebergs of all sizes. This beach is sometimes called “The Diamond beach”. This is the photographer’s and the naturalist’s paradise! Overnight at Hotel Freysnes in Vatnajökull National Park.
Today we visit Skaftafell National Park, with beautiful vistas over the vast sandur region. We'll see several stunning glacier outlets and Iceland’s highest peak, Öræfajökull, 2.110 m. On the way back west we drive again for 20 minutes across the immense west branch of the Laki lavaflow which emerged some 238 years ago.
We stop at Reynisfjara, the black sand beach with the picturesque sea stacks of Reynisdrangar, watching proudly over the south coast. Then we visit the grand 180 foot-high waterfall of Skógafoss and we stop at the picturesque Seljalands waterfall, where we can walk around and behind the falls! Reaching Hotel Selfoss in late afternoon for the next four consecutive nights.
We leave Reykjavik in the morning. The tour takes us through farmland, by many rivers and through beautiful landscapes.
We continue to the Thingvellir valley basin, located on the spreading Mid- Atlantic ridge. We visit the famous open parliament site of “Thingvellir”, where Iceland fostered its independence in the medieval times and where the Icelandic parliament met for over 1000 years. This area boasts of some of the most magnificent volcanoes and tectonics in the world. Thingvellir is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The subsiding valley of “Thingvellir” lies astride the North-Atlantic ridge, where the Euro-Asian and North-American tectonic plates diverge from one another at the speed of an inch per year, the same speed as your nails grow at!
Today we also visit the premier of Icelandic waterfalls, Gullfoss, the spectacular 100 foot high waterfall which in the sunshine so often is embraced with a rainbow in the watermist, giving the name to the fall. A few kilometers farther and we come to the magnificent Geysir area. Geysir is now dormant. During a series of earthquakes 800 years ago, the hot spring “Geysir” was born, later to give such phenomena in the world its name. The geyser “Churn” on the other hand, is an active hot spring and spouts every 3-5 minutes up to a height of 70 feet.
A short drive takes us to Selfoss where we spend another night at the Selfoss hotel.
Today we enjoy a special treat! We explore some of the interior highlands of Iceland. Landmannalaugar is a paradise of raw nature, shapes and myriad of colours and varied natural phenomena. We hike a spectacular walking path through lava fields, hot springs and fascinating rocks with an incredible spectrum of colours. There is also a natural geothermal stream where you can enjoy a hot bath. We visit a magnificent explosive volcanic crater formed some 540 years ago. We encounter true arctic wastelands and deserts. Overnight at Hotel Selfoss.
Thórsmörk is an incredibly beautiful Nature Reserve. It is a favorite among hikers as it offers good access to endless hiking trails in a beautiful land of volcanics, with views over three glaciers; Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull. Getting here is an adventure in itself and the tour is driven in a specially equipped 4WD vehicle that takes you into the rugged wilderness, safely crossing rough roads and some glacial rivers.
On the way we will pass the former Gígjökull glacier lagoon where we see the results of the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption of 2010.
Our final destination is the Básar lodge where we intend to take a leisurely 11⁄2 hour walk through the mountains, enjoying the scenery and vegetation. Drive back to Hotel Selfoss.
Drive along the scenic South Shore route from Selfoss to Keflavik Airport. This route from the Southern lowlands to Reykjanes peninsula is ornamented with mountains, craters, lava and the coastline.
Depending on the departure time of your flight, you will enjoy lunch at Salthúsið restaurant in Grindavík village. Then a further short drive to the Airport for the flight back home.