Iceland – The Farewell Tour
July 31-August 9, 2018 • 10 Days • $6175** 3 SPOTS LEFT!
With New Traveler Discount: $5775**
We use our walking program to connect Iceland’s fascinating history, present-day culture, and some of the most eye-popping natural wonders on the planet!
**VAT Tax: The impending increase in Iceland’s VAT tax to 24% in mid-2018 may raise the price of the Iceland tour by a surcharge of as much as $450.
New Traveler Discount: New Travelers receive up to $200 off domestic trips and up to $400 off international tours.
We’re excited to return to this outstanding little island nation, isolated in the North Atlantic just below the Arctic Circle. Due to moderating influences of the Gulf Stream’s warm ocean currents, Iceland, ironically, could be more aptly named Greenland. Greenland, its gigantic neighbor due west, is the one with all the ice.
Nonetheless, it’s also true that 11% of Iceland is covered with glacial ice. Much of this ice 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 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 Farewell Tour to Iceland—Island of Fire & Ice.
- Golden Circle Tour – a walk at Þingvellir, Iceland’s oldest national park; and Geysir, geothermal hotspot that lent its name to all other geysers
- Dettifoss – Europe’s most powerful waterfall, dropping a thunderous 145 feet into a canyon at Jökulsargjufur National Park
- Lake Mývatn – a hike through a strange lava land and up a perfect volcanic cone for views of wondrous, otherworldly landscapes
- Jökulsárlón Lagoon – a magical voyage through iceberg-studded waters
- A plethora of unforgettable walking trails amongst the dramatic scenery of Iceland’s south coast
Note: Adjustments to our itinerary may be required by the location of hotels ultimately secured.
- Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
- Flight between Reykjavík and Akureyri
- All land travel as outlined
- Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
- 16 meals: All breakfasts and 7 dinners as denoted (BD)
- 11 walks as listed (6 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)
- Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $1225.
- Þingvellir National Park
- Geysir geothermal area
- Gullfoss waterfall
- Goðafoss waterfall
- Vatnajökull National Park and Dettifoss waterfall
- Námafjall geothermal area
- Jökulsárlón Lagoon iceberg cruise
- Skaftafell National Park
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
- Skógar Folk Museum
- Skógafoss waterfall
- Reykjanes Peninsula tour
- Plus more fun stops and amazing sights than we can list!
- Húsavík whale-watching cruise (Day 3)
- Húsavík horseback riding experience (Day 3)
- Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition (Day 6)
“I have never been disappointed in any aspect of a Walking Adventures trip. The trips always exceed my expectations… I wouldn’t think of traveling with anyone else.”
-Thelma G; Richmond, IN
“Thank you for your professional attitude and obvious great effort in giving the best value for the dollar. We will look forward to joining you again on another travel/walking adventure.”
-Jim M; Keizer, OR
“I thoroughly enjoyed all the walks. Paul and I would never have found these on our own.”
-Nancy S; Portland, OR
“Too many tours have Americans looking at displays but not really meeting local people or getting the feel of the country. WAI does these last two as well as I hoped it would.”
-George B; Puyallup, WA
“I loved this trip and I wish I didn’t have to leave so soon.”
-Dawn G; Alexandria, VA
“Friendliness, skill of guides (both American and International) is what prompts me to come back to WAI.”
-Jo Ann K; Timonium, MD
“We believe that WAI provided us with an excellent opportunity to see Iceland…There were so many highlights and varied experiences that no single one stand out. It was a truly memorable vacation in a harsh, yet beautiful environment.”
-Steve & Delores L; ON, Canada
“Overall lovely walks. Enjoyed the waterfalls and the challenge walks. Found I had lots of time for all the walks and was not rushed…Getting to see and experience things in a country like Iceland that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have done on my own is what prompts me to travel with WAI.”
-Marion B; ON, Canada
“My Iceland adventure was excellent and memorable…Loved walking in areas of natural beauty: glaciers, waterfalls, canyons, geysers.”
-Beverly D; Lancaster, NY
“Really enjoyed the country walks, flowers, scenery etc…Scenery was spectacular…Tim and Jeannette made the tour fun and interesting.”
-Sue O; ON, Canada
“Wonderful tour – I love WAI and will certainly travel with you again.”
-Jane G; Little Rock, AR
“I am extremely happy with this tour. It was challenging, but something I enjoy. The trip planning – walks, excursions etc. , were great.”
-Patricia B; Jacksonville, FL
“I love traveling with you folks. Everyone of our 24 trips have more than met our expectations.”
-Jill S; Vacaville, CA
“Excellent selection of nature walks on this trip – unique and interesting…Glacier tour, whale watching, seeing the icebergs – really enjoyed. Liked the variety of the walks. Enjoyed walking in the National Parks and seeing the waterfalls. Gummi (national guide) was excellent. Fantastic trip and many memories to take home with us.”
-Les & Lucy Y; Leavenworth, KS
“I have heard nothing but good things about WAI and this trip lived up to your reputation.”
-Mary Ann G; Richmond, VA
“I loved the nature walks on this trip. Every place (outside cities) is pristine in water and air. Dan and Tim (along with Gummi) made sure we were always safe and knowledgeable in the walk expectations. I also enjoy the full itineraries – and awaiting adventures…I always have the highest expectations of my WAI trips and have never been disappointed.”
-Valerie N; Camano Island, WA
“Outstanding country walks in a variety of settings. Especially liked the challenge additions which pushed me to achieve more.”
-LaVunn M; San Antonio, TX
“What a unique country and how well you showed it to us. Thanks.”
-Jane E; ON, Canada
“Words cannot describe all the wonders that make up Iceland. The scenery, technology, friendliness. Awesome, amazing! This was my best WAI trip!”
-Thelma Y; Spokane, WA
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Tim & Jeannette Friesen look forward to returning to the Island of Ice & Fire with you! Tim serves as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, while Jeannette works part time in the WAI office helping travelers over the phone and generally keeping the rest of us organized. Tim and Jeannette currently lead summertime walking adventures, primarily in Europe, and are looking forward to the time they can leave their day jobs behind and hit the trail on a year-round basis.
NOTE: Adjustments to our itinerary may be required by the location of hotels ultimately secured.
Day 1-July 31: Arrive Reykjavík (D)
Reykjavík Nordic Capital Walk – 8 km, rated 1B
A representative of Walking Adventures will meet you as you exit customs at Keflavík International Airport and transport you to our hotel near the center of Reykjavík where WAI guides will orient you to the hotel and surrounding area. 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.
Day 2-August 1: Activities from Reykjavík (B)
Þingvellir Parliaments and Plates Walk – 6 km, rated 1D
Gullfoss Canyon Walk – 2.5 km, rated 1C
The renowned Golden Circle Tour brings us to our walk of the day at Þingvellir, Iceland’s oldest national park. We start at the Lögberg, medieval meeting point of the AlÞing, the Icelandic Viking parliament established in A.D. 930. We continue from North America to Europe as we cross the easily identifiable rift zone marking the tumultuous meeting of these two tectonic plates. Next on our route are stops at Geysir, the cluster of geysers that gave their name to this geological phenomenon, and Gullfoss, which offers an easy hike up the canyon to what is arguably the most spectacular waterfall in the country!
Day 3-August 2: Reykjavík – Lake Mývatn (BD)
We depart by plane early this morning for the northern reaches of Iceland and the pleasant little town of Akureyri, on the shores of the Eyja Fjord. Leaving Akureyri, we stop to admire the pulsating drama of Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), one of many impressive falls that contribute to the fantasyland feeling of idyllic Iceland. Upon arrival in the whale watching port Húsavík, there will be free time for lunch, followed by a menu of three optional activities to choose from:
Whale Watching with Salka Whale Cruises: Though whale activity can never be guaranteed, odds are good that we’ll encounter humpbacks, minke whales, and dolphins. This is a weather dependent activity and the company we use gives passengers the opportunity to cancel at the last minute if you prefer not to brave the elements. Cruises never sail under dangerous conditions. Estimated price: $115
Horseback riding from Lava Horse Farm: Iceland is renowned for its amazing little horses. Relatives of the medieval Norwegian horses that can still be found in the fjord country of Norway, these beautiful animals are reputed to be unusually easy to ride, have an abnormal fifth gait compared to the usual three or four gaits other breeds have, and are carefully bred and protected from off-island diseases and genes; and once shipped off the island, are never allowed to return. The Húsavík region is a wonderful area to explore on horseback! Estimated price: $95
Free time in Húsavík: Take a few hours off and enjoy the unique north Atlantic ambiance of this delightful little town. Diversions include the picturesque wooden church, The Húsavík Whale Museum, The Exploration Museum, dedicated to the history of human exploration with interesting exhibits on Apollo astronaut training that took place nearby in 1965, and a picturesque port area.
We spend the next two nights enjoying the remote serenity of Lake Mývatn!
Day 4-August 3: Activities from Lake Mývatn (B)
Ásbyrgi Canyon Walk – 5 km, rated 1A
Hljóðaklettar Walk – 1.8 km, rated 2A
Dettifoss Walk – 2.6 km, rated 2B
This morning we depart for Vatnajökull National Park and Dettifoss, considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe. We explore this diverse geological smorgasbord on a series of three walks: Ásbyrgi, a horseshoe canyon with a lovely pond at the end; Hljóðaklettar, with its astounding array of honeycomb basalt formations; and Dettifoss, where we get two breathtaking waterfalls for the price of one – Dettifoss and its upstream little sister, Selfoss! We return to the hotel to enjoy its unique setting in the Lake Mývatn area.
Day 5-August 4: Lake Mývatn – Breiðdalsvík (BD)
Dimmuborgir Black Lava Castles Walk – 10 km, rated 2D
Lake Mývatn is a geological wonderland brimming with geothermal and volcanic surprises. From our hotel amongst an emerald moonscape of “pseudo-craters”, we depart by bus for a walk at nearby Dimmuborgir. The route traverses a convoluted labyrinth of “black castles” – oddly shaped pillars and crags created 2000 years ago (give or take a day) by trapped lava flows. After stopping at the hot mud pots of Námafjall, this afternoon’s drive takes us across the island’s interior, a mesmerizing volcanic wasteland, to East Iceland and our hotel in Breiðdalsvík on the shore of a picturesque fjord.
Day 6-August 5: Breiðdalsvík – Smyrlabjörg (BD)
We continue south along Iceland’s east coast today, enjoying more sweeping vistas as our coach navigates along fingers of the sea that push deep into the East Iceland coast. Spectacular seaside scenery combines with a short walk to a lovely waterfall and a fun stop for lunch in a tiny fishing village on one of our more relaxing days. Consider joining us this evening for an exciting after-dinner option!
Optional Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition: The Vatnajökull icecap is the largest in Europe (and the 3rd largest on the planet), covers 8% of Iceland, and is over 1300 feet thick on average. Our evening excursion onto this massive mountain of ice starts from our hotel in Smyrlabjörg. Experienced guides drive us up a winding mountain road to the glacier in four-wheel drive jeeps. After a short break, we continue across the glacier for breathtaking views of deep ice-sculpted valleys, barren peaks of East Iceland’s mountains and, of course, the enormous sheet of ice that is Vatnajökull itself. Estimated price: $290
Day 7-August 6: Smyrlabjörg – Vík (BD)
Skaftafell Svartifoss Walk – 4 km, rated 2B
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Walk – 3 km, rated 2B
First stop today is at Jökulsárlón Lagoon, a 600-foot deep river lagoon crowded with icebergs calved from the glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. A short cruise in amphibious vehicles takes us amongst these floating crystal pyramids. In Skaftafell National Park, today’s trail 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. Following a short coach ride, part two of the walk explores Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a stunningly stark gorge with a remote lagoon fed by a glacial waterfall.
Day 8-August 7: Activities from Vík (BD)
Remundargil Canyon Walk – 6.5 km, rated 2B
Hjörleifshöfði Headlands Walk – 4.5 km, rated 4B
This morning’s walk requires a change in vehicles as we motor inland on a winding gravel road. As much as any, this area demonstrates that “green” is a very Icelandic color. Mosses and grasses assume a wide spectrum of shades of green and gray, and almost glow when the light is right. After lunch in Vík, a challenge hike takes us up steep slopes of a headland offering spectacular 360-degree views of sea, sand, glaciers, and the green hills of south Iceland. At the top, we discover a Viking grave – Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, foster brother of the founder of Iceland, Ingólfr Arnarson. This could be the best hike of the Adventure!
Day 9-August 8: Vík – Selfoss area (BD)
Views from our hotel beckon us to explore with a morning stroll out to Dyrhólaey Rock, southernmost point in Iceland, which offers one of our best chances to see puffins. We continue to the homey Skógar Folk Museum for a memorable review of a wide collection of rural Icelandic memorabilia. Another spectacular waterfall visit to Skógafoss concludes another day exploring the delightful coast of southeast Iceland. Later tonight, we’ll enjoy a special Farewell Dinner as we reminisce about our adventures together.
Day 10-August 9: Depart from Reykjavík (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 dramatic seaside vistas at Reykjanesviti Lighthouse, Iceland’s oldest. 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!
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 this Adventure.
Already Early Birded?
If you are among the travelers who submitted a $50 Early Bird deposit, you have until August 18, 2017 to secure your spot with an additional $450 (total of $500) registration. After this date, your spot on this tour will be released, and your Early Bird deposit refunded or transferred to the tour of your choice.
Why this could be the Iceland Farewell Tour
Iceland is currently experiencing what we believe is a tourism bubble. This is a country with less than 400,000 inhabitants. Most of the communities we visit outside the capital city of Reykjavík are small towns and villages. As a result, the vast expanses of mesmerizing natural areas through which we’ll be passing offer very few hotels.
The world has discovered Iceland, and demand for these few hotels is high, yet because this demand is only consistent during the summer months, not enough new hotels are being built. The economic formula of supply and demand stipulating price has never been more true than in Iceland. Prices are skyrocketing, reaching stratospheric levels with which the travelers’ willingness to pay may not be able to keep pace.
We hope prices return to reasonable levels, and will be watching developments in Iceland with great interest. For now, however, we regard this 2018 departure as the Iceland Farewell Tour.
Impending increase in VAT tax
If market driven price increases were not enough, the Icelandic government has given warning that it expects to increase its Value Added Tax (VAT) to 24% sometime in mid-2018. If this tax increase takes place, we will be forced to assess a surcharge of about $450 to cover travel costs.
Note on Hotels
Adjustments to our itinerary may be required by the location of hotels ultimately secured.
“Hiking” Iceland or “Walking” Iceland
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 memorizing for its blend of moonscape lava flows, often covered by layers of green and grey moss. 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”!
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.
First Time Traveler Savings
In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on this international tour!
Check out this page for more details on Traveler Savings.
Group Travel Credit
If you are part of a Group, remember that your full deposit of $500 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible for submitting your name in writing to us before you register, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit, but a full deposit is needed to officially reserve your place. Your Group Travel Credit will be reflected on your final statement.
Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.
General Tour Conditions and Registration Form
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!
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 Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
A few other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
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 about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Walks on the Iceland tour tend to be more strenuous due to the terrain—see “Hiking” Iceland or “Walking” Iceland for more details. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Your enjoyment of the walks, and the success of walking as a group activity, is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. 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 system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this is presented as follows:
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.
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.
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. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 2 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 Farewell Tour as we explore unearthly volcano-sculpted panoramas punctuated by pristine fjords, dramatic rainbow-studded waterfalls, and the largest icefield in Europe, all surrounded by a soft, surreal mosaic of moss!