The land of fire and ice
9 day itinerary
Formed by the pure, raw energy of glaciers and volcanoes, Iceland offers a fascinating landscape – from flat plateaus and mountainous peaks, to ice cold glaciers and steaming thermal springs. Small towns and villages are clustered on the edge of dramatic fjords and thunderous waterfalls.
Once settled on your charter yacht in Rejkavik, the northernmost capital city, head straight off with your private guides to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula, a UNESCO Geopark – your first taste of Iceland. Walk across the Mid Atlantic Ridge at the only point in the world where it comes ashore on the Bridge between Continents linking Europe and North America. Head to Gunnuvher, a bubbling, boiling area of thermal springs and steam vents – also home to Iceland’s largest mud pool. Visit the fishing village of Grindavik set in the lava fields. Finally, immerse yourself in the warm, mineral rich geo-thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon – perfect to ease the kinks after your flight. For cocktails and dinner explore the vibrant town of Rejkavik; try The Lobster House for wonderful fish and seafood or perhaps The Food Cellar with great cocktails and piano bar.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Arrive in Grundafjordur overlooked by the Kirkufell Mountain. Earlybirds may like to take a pre-breakfast stroll to the Kirkufellsfoss – the waterfalls at the base of this spherical mountain. After breakfast, head for the Snaefellsjokul National Park with your local guide team. Make an attempt at the Snaefells mountain – a stratovolcano topped by a glacier, made famous by Jules Verne who used this mountain as the starting point for his famous novel; more recently it will be recognisable to fans as locations in the Game of Thrones blockbuster series. Take a snowmobile or snowcat to reach the summit. Go underground at the 8000 year old Vatnshellir lava cave; visit the black sand beach of at Djupalonssandur or Black Pearl Beach, so named for the perfectly smooth round pebbles of lava. Snap the money shot of the Snaefellsjokull glacier through Gatklettur – a hole in the rock which perfectly frames the glacier. Enjoy a delicious dinner on board.
Wake up as the yacht arrives at Flatey Island. This is the largest of a group of 40 islands in the bay of Breidafjordur. The colourful, well-preserved houses are over 100 years old – great for your Instagram. See the fertility god Freyr fashioned from driftwood by artist Jon Gunnar Arnason.. Visit the church: the ceiling mural is of the local landscape and residents of the island. Jesus is depicted wearing an Icelandic sweater. Enjoy the scenery as the yacht cruises round to the Latrabjarg Cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland. These impressive cliffs – the largest sea-bird cliff in Europe - are home to countless nesting seabirds such as puffins, gannets, razorbills, fulmars and guillemots. The photogenic puffins will pose obligingly providing more Instagram moments. Cruise round the and north-western coast of the Westfjords to the stunning Arnafjordur. Enjoy a gourmet dinner in these magnificent surroundings under the midnight sun.
HORSERIDING AND HIKING
Make an early start to hike to the Dynjandi Waterfalls or take the tender ashore to its base. Dynjandi are the largest falls in Westfjords, cascading down 100m of tiered rock. Enjoy a late breakfast while the yacht continues its journey around the craggy coast to Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords, first established as a trading post in the 16th century. Take a stroll around the town; visit the Maritime Museum and the Museum of Modern Life for a true insight into the Icelandic culture and day to day life. Hike to the top of Naustahvilvt, 500m high, known as the Troll’s Seat, overlooking the town. Horseriding can be arranged with treks through the valley or take to the water for some kayaking. A private visit can be arranged to Aedey Island, home to one farming family breeding Eider ducks for the production of Eider down. Head into town for dinner – try Tjoruhusid for great fish and seafood or stay on board for another gourmet feast from your chef.
Wake up off the spectacular Hornstradir National Park. There are 580 square kilometres of stunning views including what was formerly known as the Western Horn, Hornbjarg, which has cliff peaks reaching 534 metres above sea level providing habitat for many seabirds. This nature reserve is a haven for wildlife; with no roads and uninhabited by humans since the 1950’s, the Arctic fox, the birds, seals and plantlife have all thrived. Spend the day with your professional guides exploring this wonderful wilderness. Hike to the top of the spectacular Hornbjarg; trekking south, see Iceland’s most northerly glacier, Drangajokull, in the distance. Keep your cameras at the ready for any wildlife spotting – the arctic fox particularly is unafraid of human contact since hunting has been banned for many years. Hike through the lowlands in the footsteps of Iceland’s famous outlaw Fjalla Eyvindur – the man of the mountains. After a long day, soak in the hot tub sipping a cocktail before enjoying dinner in the tranquillity of your surroundings.
An overnight cruise brings you to the pretty town of Siglufjordur. Siglufjordur’s interesting heritage was as the main processing port for herring on the north coast and it is still reliant on fishing – although no longer for herring. Now it is a nice well-established town. Visit the Era of Herring museum to learn of the challenges faced. There is also a pictorial memorial to be seen in the Photographic Museum. The town’s second claim to fames is as the setting for the dark TV drama ‘Trapped’. Golfers can finally get their fix at the 9 hole course just outside the town and shoppers can hunt for some local handicrafts. Take the kayaks for a tour of old shipwrecks or go hiking in the surrounding mountains with local, knowledgeable guides. Visit the Folk Music centre located in one of the oldest houses in the town, Madame House, to see recordings of people playing folk instruments, chanting poetry and nursery rhymes. Take a tasting tour of Icelandic beers at Segull 67 brewery before enjoying dinner in town.
'BAY OF HOUSES’
Husavik is a picturesque fishing town worthy of snaps for your envy-making Instagram account. The highest building in the town is the stand-out wooden church of Husavikurkirkja which was built in 1907. Husavik is one of oldest settlements in Iceland dating back to 864. It is the ideal point for whale watching tours and is known as the Whale Capital of Iceland. Visit the Whale Museum with its 22m long skeleton of a Blue Whale. Up to twenty three species of whale can be found in and around the bay, as well as large colonies of puffins. Take a private tour with your professional guides, armed with full camera and video batteries for those special moments. Take the Story of Fire Saga tour based on a story of Eurovision song entrants Lars and Sigrit, Husavik locals, which is now a Netflix movie with the title song named after the town. Back on board your crew will be waiting to serve your pre-dinner drinks and another gourmet dinner.
CROSSING THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
Walk to the north of Grimsey island to cross the Arctic Circle; see the large concrete sphere marking the current position. It is calculated that by the year 2050 the Arctic Circle will have moved north beyond the island and, indeed, Iceland due to the shifting in the earth’s axis. See thousands of birds, including puffins, perching on the basalt columns of the cliff face. Cruise south into the Eyjafjordur past the island of Hrisey to the capital of the north, Akureyri. Akureyri is immediately identifiable by the distinctive Akureyrarkirkja, the Lutheran Cathedral designed by Guojhon Samuelsson in the 1940’s. See the impressive Botanic Gardens which thrive in the microclimate of the one of the northernmost cities. Head to Glerartorg Mall for some shopping or follow the Glera river along the walking trail. Enjoy the lively evening scene in town. Try the local beer Viking or why not bathe in beer at the Kaldi Beer Spa?
THE FATHER OF THE FALLS
After a hearty breakfast on board your professional guides will collect you to drive you inland to the most geologically active area in Iceland, Myvatn. The lake, at 277m above sea level, provides panoramic views of boiling mud pools, surreal formations in caves and craters in the lava fields wetlands rich in birds and plantlife. Experience hot spring bathing at Myvatn Nature Baths. Take a dog sled ride with Siberian Huskies across this stunning landscape. The trip will continue to Godafoss – the ‘waterfall of the gods’ – a hundred foot wide spectacle of water tumbling over the cliff. Adrenaline junkies may like to take a separate trip to the Jokulsa Austari – the East Glacial River Gorge - do some exhilarating whitewater rafting. Return to the yacht for a farewell cocktail party organised by the crew.
The following day, enjoy a champagne breakfast and some last minute souvenir shopping ashore before heading for the airport for your connecting flights home.