Icelandic Northern Lights

2 DEPARTURES
February 11–16, 2019 • 6 Days • $2890** – 3 SPOTS!
February 19–24, 2019 • 6 Days • $2890** – 9 SPOTS!

**Pricing with New Traveler Discount: $2790

Join us for our inaugural Icelandic Northern Lights Adventure with Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension as we explore unearthly, volcano-sculpted panoramas punctuated by pristine fjords, dramatic ice-crusted waterfalls, and the largest glacier in Europe, waiting for a veil of winter darkness to descends each night, enabling our search for the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis!

**Traveler Rewards Program 2019: New Travelers receive a $100 discount on the Icelandic Northern Lights tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension

February 16–18, 2019 • 3 Days • $1175
February 24–26, 2019 • 3 Days • $1175

Extend your tour by 2 days with a visit to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, “the peninsula of the snowy mountain,” that juts out from Iceland’s west coast, like a long arm with a clenched fist at its tip, and is in many ways a microcosm of the whole island.

View Daily Itinerary

We’re excited to return to this outstanding little North Atlantic island nation just below the Arctic Circle for our first ever Northern Lights Adventure! Unlike our usual summer Icelandic adventures, in which the color green features prominently, this February adventure will feature wintry white and hopefully splashes of night-time color under the Aurora Borealis.

Much of this ice-rich island sits atop smoking volcanoes lined up over the fractious junction of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Norwegian Vikings were the first to settle here in the 9th century. Iceland, therefore, offers the rare opportunity to witness  the intriguing development of a culture in a land devoid of an indigenous race.

We use this winter walking program to connect Iceland’s fascinating history, present-day culture, and some of the most eye-popping natural wonders on the planet.  Join us in this special place for our premiere offering of Icelandic Northern Lights with Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension.

Icelandic Northern Lights

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 9 meals: All breakfasts and 4 dinners as denoted (BD)
  • 4 walks as listed (4 IVV walk stamps)
  • Fees for IVV walking credit (sanctioning applied for)
  • All tipping for local guides and coach drivers
  • Cultural and historical expertise of our national guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Northern Lights lectures and viewing (when possible) with guide
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $650.

Visits to:

  • Reykjavík
  • Skógafoss waterfall
  • Skógar Folk Museum
  • Jökulsárlón Lagoon
  • Skaftafell National Park
  • Friðheimar geothermal greenhouse and horse stables
  • Geysir geothermal area
  • Gullfoss waterfall
  • Þingvellir National Park
  • Plus more fun stops and amazing sights than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Svínafellsjökull Outlet Glacier Walk (Day 4)

Snaefellsnes Extension

Including:

  • Hotel to airport group transfer on last day
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 5 meals: All breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • 2 walks as listed (2 IVV walk stamps)
  • Fees for IVV walking credit (sanctioning applied for)
  • All tipping for local guides and coach drivers
  • Cultural and historical expertise of our national guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Northern Lights lectures and viewing (when possible) with guide
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $280.

Visits to:

  • Grábrók volcanic crater
  • Hraunfossar lava falls
  • Borgarnes Settlement Center
  • Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum
  • Viking Sushi Cruise from Stykkishólmur
  • Kirkjufell waterfall and mountain
  • Reykjanes Peninsula tour
  • Plus more fun stops and amazing sights than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Langjökull Into the Glacier Experience (Day 1)

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers on each departure

Hotels

Strategically located Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of lunches and dinners as denoted (BLD).

Airfare

Not Included. Travelers will be met at the start/finish point, Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport.

Transportation

Included. We use full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guide Scott IsomScott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. That sense of adventure continues with his wife, Debbie and their three girls on the terrific trails of Mt. Rainier National Park and in other natural wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest. Scott will be leading both departures of Icelandic Northern Lights along with a WAI Assistant and support from a national guide.

Itinerary

Click on each day for more details.

Icelandic Northern Lights

Day 1: Arrive Reykjavík (D)

Reykjavík Nordic Capital Walk – 8 km, rated 1B

Upon arrival into Keflavík International Airport (KEF), your transfer to our downtown Reykjavík hotel will be provided.  Details of this transfer will come later, when we send out the Adventure Advice.  Because flights arrive in Iceland in the early morning, our first group activity is a Welcome Orientation at the hotel at 11 am. Following a break for lunch, we meet our local guide for this Adventure and enjoy a walking tour through old Reykjavík, the planet’s northernmost capital. After a thought-provoking look at a culture that has endured a multitude of challenges in its 1200-year history, we’ll enjoy this evening’s welcome dinner together, anticipating our upcoming winter adventure that will hopefully be filled with the ethereal hues of the Northern Lights!

Day 2: Reykjavík - Skaftafell (BD)

Skógafoss Walk – 3 km, rated 2D

Today we leave the capital city of Reykjavík and travel along the gorgeous south coast of Iceland. In a land full of waterfalls, glaciers, and active volcanoes, we get our first taste of adventure on a brief visit to the iconic cascade of Seljalandsfoss.  Further east we pass by the occasionally rumbling mountain of Eyjafjallajökull on our way to one of Iceland’s finest folk museums. The Skógar Museum contains an outstanding collection of farm and domestic artifacts from Iceland’s past and several turf-built houses. Nearby, our first wintry walk takes place at Skógafoss waterfall, which is 62 meters high and one of the most impressive waterfalls in the country.  In the afternoon we depart for our hotel in the Vatnajökull National Park region, located in darkness, and ideal for glimpsing the Northern Lights.

Day 3: Activities from Skaftafell (BD)

Svartifoss Walk – 5 km, rated 3C 
Skaftafell Walk – 4 km, rated 1C

First stop today is at Jökulsárlón, a 600-foot deep river lagoon crowded with icebergs calved from the glacier Breiðamerkurjökull, where we might see seals swimming in the arctic waters.  Nearby these floating crystal pyramids is a black sand beach that is often coated with glistening chunks of glacial ice. In the afternoon at Skaftafell National Park, our first featured trail today explores a forested hillside resisting the force of two gargantuan glaciers flowing down from the massive Vatnajökull ice field. The route passes lovely Svartifoss (black waterfall) and visits a lonely group of deserted 19th century farm buildings.  Our second stroll of the day takes us on an easy trail to the glacial snout and lagoon fronting Skaftafellsjökull.  Following a short coach ride, we return to our hotel near Vatnajökull National Park for a group dinner and another evening attempt at viewing the Aurora Borealis!

Day 4: Skaftafell - Dyrhólaey (BD)

This morning offers a one-of-a-kind optional experience of walking on the surreal surface of a glacier in Vatnajökull National Park.  This Blue Ice guided adventure on the beautiful Svínafellsjökull outlet glacier involves the use of crampons and ice axe but is very safe and relatively easy.  Strolling through a natural Eden of periwinkle blue ice ridges, deep crevasses and intricately formed ice sculptures, the surrounding scenery is sure to take your breath away.  Estimated price: $145

For those not participating in the optional Svínafellsjökull Outlet Glacier Walk, enjoy a slower start to your morning and the possibility of a short bonus walk in Skaftafell before lunch.  In the afternoon we depart Skaftafell by bus and take a stroll on a black lava beach and along bird cliffs at Reynisfjara in South Iceland.  We also witness the rocky elevated vantage point of the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, complete with views of a lovely sea arch, before retiring to our nearby hotel for dinner and another hunt for the brilliant Northern Lights.

Day 5: Dyrhólaey - Reykjavík (B)

Þingvellir Walk – 4 km, rated 1C

We venture toward the renowned Golden Circle of Iceland this morning, stopping first at the Friðheimar geothermal greenhouse and stables for a sampling of tomato soup and a look at the country’s famous Icelandic horses.  Continuing our circuit, we gaze in wonder at Geysir, the cluster of geysers that gave their name to this geological phenomenon.  Following lunch, the fun continues with a visit to Gulfoss, which is arguably the most spectacular waterfall in the country!  Our last stop along the Golden Circle comes at Þingvellir, Iceland’s oldest national park and the site of our featured walk for the day. We amble toward Lögberg, medieval meeting point of the AlÞing, the Icelandic Viking parliament established in A.D. 930, continuing from North America to Europe as we cross the easily identifiable rift zone marking the tumultuous meeting of these two tectonic plates. Our winter wonderland day concludes in Reykjavík, where you are free to enjoy dinner on your own near our downtown hotel.

Day 6: Reykjavík - Home (B)

Our Icelandic Northern Lights Adventure comes to an end this morning.  Travelers not continuing on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension say a reluctant farewell to walking friends made over the past few days amidst the wintry world of Iceland.  Enjoy additional time exploring Reykjavik before your flight home.  Included transfer vouchers will be provided for you to arrange your transportation to the airport at a time that is convenient.

Snaefellsnes Extension

Day 1: Reykjavík - Borgarnes (D)

Grábrók & Hraunfossar Stroll – 3 km, rated 2C

Journeying north from Reykjavík, we dive into the history of Borgarfjörður, known as the Saga Valley because of its many important historical events, on our way to a walk at Grábrók volcanic crater. A short drive up the valley to Hraunfossar, marvel at a series of waterfalls that pour from beneath a wide lava field.

This afternoon, consider joining us on an optional “Into the Glacier” adventure at Langjökull, Iceland’s second largest glacier.  Riding modified glacier vehicles from Húsafell, this well-reviewed 3-4 hour tour traverses glistening white slopes, taking you deep inside man-made ice tunnels leading to the blue heart of a glacier.  Estimated price: $215

We spend the first of two nights near Borgarnes in West Iceland, where entrance to the fascinating and educational Borgarnes Settlement Center is included.  Following dinner at our hotel, prepare for more potential sightings of the Aurora Borealis in the night sky.

Day 2: Activities from Borgarnes (BLD)

Kirkjufell Walk – 6 km, rated 1C

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, “the peninsula of the snowy mountain,” juts out from Iceland’s west coast, like a long arm with a clenched fist at its tip, and is in many ways a microcosm of the whole island. A rugged mountain chain runs its length. A uniquely Icelandic “treat“ awaits us at Bjarnarhöfn, where the specialty is Hákarl – fermented shark.  Next, we travel to the charming fishing town of Stykkishólmur for a Viking sushi cruise in the Breiðafjörður fjord. After a light lunch on board our ship, we visit the fishing village of Grundarfjörður, a place with an impressive coastline and mountains, lakes and waterfalls behind the village. Jutting out into the bay rises one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland, Kirkjufell, which we plan to circumnavigate on our featured walk of the day.   Back in Borgarnes, once darkness falls, we savor a final dinner together and hope that the mesmerizing hues of the Northern Lights grace us with their presence one last time!

Day 3: Borgarnes - Home (B)

Our final morning in Iceland takes us across the Reykjanes (smoky) Peninsula. Viking settlers used this name to describe venting geothermal steam they mistook for smoke. Amidst the rugged moonscape, we stop to admire geothermal wonders along with dramatic seaside vistas at Reykjanestá, the most southwestern tip of Iceland. The aptly-named Bridge Between the Continents, a simple footbridge, gives us one more chance to straddle the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America. Following lunch, a short drive brings us to the airport, and flights back to North America. We leave enriched by the history, culture, and scenery of unforgettable Iceland!

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your registration ($500) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on each departure.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

Traveler Rewards Program 2019 - NEW!

New Travelers receive a $100 discount on the Icelandic Northern Lights tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The New Traveler and Alumni Traveler Discounts apply only to the main tour price. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension is not eligible for these discounts.

Icelandic Pricing

Icelandic Tourism is at an all-time high, and prices have been steadily rising to accommodate increasing tourist demand. While we don’t expect additional fees to be imposed, a surcharge may be necessary to cover any surprise expenses, adjusted fees or added taxes imposed by the government or other Icelandic vendors.

High Adventure Tour

Though 11% of Iceland is covered in ice, its nickname “Island of Fire & Ice” refers to epic volcanic activity. Volcanic eruptions have characterized life in Iceland for all of human history, and often devastated hardy Viking settlements. The result is a landscape that is mesmerizing for its blend of moonscape lava flows, often covered by layers of moss that range from green to gray depending on the season. Our trails often pass through lava, creating uneven and unyielding terrain.  For this reason, though hills and elevation gain are, on average, not significant, many of our walks could more accurately be described as “hikes”!  This is especially the case during the winter conditions  which we will experience on our Northern Lights Adventure, where snow and ice will likely be added to the uneven volcanic footing.  For this reason, we recommend warm hiking boots, walking sticks, and the use of portable crampons (traction devices that can be strapped to your hiking boots) to help you safely enjoy the gorgeous Icelandic landscape during our winter escapades.  More advice on specific gear to bring and how to prepare for this unique adventure will be coming later in our Tips and Tidbits Factsheet.  Be aware that participation in the Icelandic Northern Lights Adventure will require a higher level of “adventure readiness” than most of our other tours due to  sometimes challenging and icy terrain and due to Iceland’s occasionally moody winter weather.  The rewards of experiencing Iceland’s magical winter landscape and of seeing the Northern Lights are worth the preparation and effort, but this adventure is not for the faint of heart.

How likely am I to see the Northern Lights?

Our Icelandic Northern Lights Adventure is designed to maximize your chances of seeing the elusive Aurora Borealis, with three evenings in the countryside (away from Reykjavik) on the main tour and two additional days in the countryside on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension.  If participating in both the main tour and the extension, the average success rate of seeing the Northern Lights is about 85% – 95%.  Scott and Pat were able to see them during three nights on their December 2017 planning trip.  Still, the Northern Lights are an unpredictable natural phenomenon and thus sightings can’t be guaranteed.  The Northern Lights are typically seen in the northern hemisphere from September through April but are only visible when the sky is clear and free of clouds.  Like many natural wonders, the Northern Lights are ephemeral—they may be visible, they may appear for a bit and then be gone (it’s not a TV show that you can just turn on and off).  But it is worth the patience to search for them.  As a bonus, our countryside hotels offer a Northern Lights wake up call for guests that register for that service.  Because the Northern Lights are a winter event, you need to be prepared to wait outside while looking for them.  It is best to dress very warmly, in layers, with good footwear, gloves, hat and whatever else will make you comfortable while you wait patiently for this truly outstanding light show.  We also recommend using a flashlight for your night excursions and operating your camera in the darkness, as well as the use of a tripod if you plan on taking pictures of the Aurora Borealis.

Volcanoes happen!

In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, and the resulting ash clouds disrupted air traffic between Europe and North America for several days. Due to prevailing winds and the direction of the eruption, the impact on the ground in Iceland was relatively minor. Our 2010 tour occurred later that year and was not affected. A bigger threat to the local population than ash clouds is the flooding that can happen when icefields sitting atop erupting volcanoes melt! At present, things are quiet on the volcano front, by Icelandic standards. Should an eruption occur, however, it is possible that our itinerary may need to be adjusted or rerouted.

Optional Excursions

Two optional excursions are being offered during the Adventure; one during the main tour and one during the Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension.  Both involve fascinating experiences with glaciers, but they are quite different from each other.

Svínafellsjökull Outlet Glacier Walk (Day 4 of main tour) – Enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to walk on the surreal surface of a glacier in Vatnajökull National Park.  This Blue Ice guided adventure on the beautiful Svínafellsjökull outlet glacier involves the use of crampons and ice axe but is very safe and relatively easy.  Strolling through a natural Eden of periwinkle blue ice ridges, deep crevasses and intricately formed ice sculptures, the surrounding scenery is sure to take your breath away.  Scott and Pat had a wonderful experience during their 2017 planning trip. Estimated price: $145

Langjökull Into the Glacier Experience (Day 1 of Snaefellsnes Extension) – This unique adventure will be offered as an afternoon option after our morning visit to Grabrok Volcano and Hraunfossar Lava Falls.  Riding modified glacier vehicles from Husafell, we journey onto Iceland’s second largest glacier, traversing glistening white slopes on our way to an “inside the glacier” experience in the middle of the wilderness, using man-made tunnels to explore the blue heart of Langjökull.  Estimated price: $215

How is airfare arranged?

The official start and finish point for this Adventure is Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport (airport code KEF). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. We recommend that you contact Debbi Custer, the travel agent we work with, to help book  your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment!  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!

What about the walks?

We generally walk at a relaxed but steady pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling,” but in Iceland during the winter, we do tend to slow down the pace a bit to make sure we are being safe in occasionally icy or snowy conditions.  We also offer slightly shorter walks during Icelandic Northern Lights due to fewer accessible trails during the winter months.  Still, your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness, and because Icelandic Northern Lights requires the use of crampons and takes place in winter conditions, proper preparedness is critical for this adventure. The success of these Iceland walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness and the ability to handle colder conditions than we usually experience on the average Adventure. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email [email protected] -OR- call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the squaremouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz – (866) 884-3556
  • Betins – (866) 552-8834
  • Travel Guard – (800) 826-4919
  • Travel Insured International – (800) 243-3174

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. The Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Iceland should be on everyone’s bucket list! Join us for our inaugural Icelandic Northern Lights Adventure with Snaefellsnes Peninsula Extension as we explore unearthly, volcano-sculpted panoramas punctuated by pristine fjords, dramatic ice-crusted waterfalls, and the largest glacier in Europe, waiting for a veil of winter darkness to descends each night, enabling our search  for the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis!