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Northern Lights Discovery

This tour is the combination of two popular winter programs: the Northern Lights Exploration and the North Iceland Aurora Challenge. Additionally we include a Northern Lights fjord cruise in Reykjavík. This 15-day escorted winter tour is designed to discover West, South and North Iceland and to maximize the chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights. Included are a lot of cultural experiences and museums visits. You take part in winter adventures and activities: fjord cruise by day and night, snowshoe walk, volcano climb, torch hike to search for the Aurora Borealis and bathing in geothermal lagoons.

Duration: 14 Nights, Winter

Price: From $6,895 per person

Highlights

  • 12 evenings of educational Northern Lights program and searches
  • Iceland tour with focus on nature, culture and winter adventures
  • Must-see locations and off-the-beaten path discoveries
  • Wellness at the Blue Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Bath
  • Explore, learn and share with a group of international travellers
  • Excellent value for money

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Included:

  • Arrival & departure airport transfer by FLYBUS Plus shuttle (no guide)
  • Fully escorted 12-day bus tour with an English-speaking guide as per program
  • 14-nights accommodation as listed below including breakfast
  • 3x light lunch, 4x dinner and 8x midnight refreshments
  • Fjord Cruise on Breiðafjörður fjord and lunch in Stykkishólmur
  • Visit to traditional shark curing farm
  • Hot spring Tasting with geothermally cooked bread and eggs
  • Visit to Icelandic horse stables & geothermal greenhouse
  • Visit to multimedia presentation at Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Information Center
  • Entrance fee to Skógar folk museum and turf houses
  • Entrance with towel at Blue Lagoon
  • Visit to natural history & seal museum
  • Visit to herring museum and local micro beer brewery
  • Hot steam baked bread tasting in North Iceland
  • Entrance with towel at Mývatn Nature Baths
  • Snow shoe hike (or hike if no snow) in lava labyrinth
  • Visit to Mývatn bird museum
  • Visit to Christmas house & garden near Akureyri
  • Visit to Víðimýri turf church, Glaumbær folk museum & turf farm and tannery in Skagafjörður
  • Horse show, coffee & cake at local horse farm
  • Northern Lights fjord cruise from Reykjavik (in case of cancellation, tour is replaced by a dinner at Kopar Restaurant in Reykjavík)
  • Northern Lights program during 12 evenings with a combination of lectures, presentations, film and guided searches for the Northern Lights
  • Use of winter & Northern Lights explorer equipment: simple non-slip snow & ice grippers spikes for shoes and a flash light that is helpful when walking in the dark and operating your photo camera at night

 

- Flights to and from Iceland
- Travel Insurance

ACCOMMODATION: Comfort tourist-class hotels, in rooms with shower/wc (subject to change):

Day 1: Reykjavik: Centerhotel Plaza
Day 2+3: West Iceland: Icelandair Hotel Hamar
Day 4: South Iceland: Fosshotel Hekla
Day 5+6: Vatnajökull Region: Hotel Laki near Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Day 7+8: Reykjavik: Centerhotel Plaza
Day 9: North Iceland, Siglufjörður: New Hotel Siglo
Day 10+11+12: North Iceland, Mývatn: Hotel Sel-Mývatn
Day 13: North Iceland, Akureyri: Hotel Kea
Day 14: Reykjavík: New KeaHotel Skuggi
Note that the hotel list is subject to change.

 

IMPORTANT: The Northern Lights Discovery Tour is a combination of two popular one-week holidays. During the first week you travel with the Northern Lights Exploration group and on the second week you travel with the North Iceland Aurora Challenge group with a maximum of 16 persons. Most likely there is a different guide each week. 

EXTRA COSTS FOR DINNERS TO BE PAID AT THE HOTELS: During the first week: Fixed 2-course dinners with fish, meat or vegetarian main courses are available at the hotels starting at ISK 6.000 (about EUR 45) per person per night. Note, that the country hotels do not offer a la carte meals and there are no other restaurants nearby. Paying for a 2-course dinner directly at the hotel is less expensive than to have it included in the tour package.

During the second week: In Reykjavik, Siglufjörður and Akureyri, the dinner is on your own. The stay at Lake Mývatn includes 3x 3-course dinner and 2x 2-course lunch.

If you have any special diet requests or allergies, please let us know at the moment of your booking. Lunch stops are made at small country restaurants or petrol station diners.

 

 

NATURE FEES: There is a possibility that some of the nature attractions around Iceland might charge an entrance fee during the trip. These entrance fees are not included in the tour price and need to be paid by all tour members additionally on the spot, when entering any of these nature sites. Locations, amount of entrance fee, form of payment and other details are not known at the present time and are subject to change.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: This program includes during 12 evenings a combination of presentations, lectures, film and guided evening walks or excursions at spots that are likely to offer a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights. All hotels outside Reykjavík and Akureyri offer a Northern Lights wake up call for guests that register for that special service at the hotel reception. This tour series is designed to maximize the chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights, still the tour is dependent on weather and therefore sightings are not guaranteed. The Northern Lights are 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 is not a TV show that you can just turn on and off). But it is worth the patience which is much required. Because they 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, hats and whatever else makes you comfortable while you await patiently this truly outstanding event. For the best photos we recommend using a tripod.

CHANGE OF PROGRAM: Itineraries may be subject to change at short notice during severe weather conditions and certain outdoor activities/day trips may be cancelled during the winter season in Iceland. In these rare cases, where situations of force majeure apply, excursions/activities cannot be refunded but the local guides will try their best to find reasonable alternatives where and whenever possible.

 

 

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik.jpg

Day 1, FRI:

Welcome to Iceland

Individual transfer by Flybus shuttle bus from Keflavik Airport to your accommodation in Reykjavík where you spend the night. We provide you with ideas how to explore Iceland's capital on your own.

Driving distance: 50 km/31 mls

West Iceland -  Bifröst and View from the top of Grabrok Volcano.JPG

Day 2, SAT:

Reykjavík City Tour & Borgarfjörður Saga Valley

At 09:00 meet your tour guide who shows the group the highlights of Iceland's exciting capital. Then we head west. Borgarfjörður is known as the Saga valley because of its many important historical events. We get a chance to climb the Grábrók volcano crater and get warmed at Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring which produces 180 liters per second of water that is nearly boiling - 97° Celsius. Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls pouring from beneath a wide lava field. Barnafoss – the Children's falls, is nearby with its own tragic tale. We spend two nights in Borgarnes, West Iceland. The afternoon includes a lecture about Northern Lights. After dinner, we step into the hotel garden in search of the Northern Lights followed by a hot cup of chocolate or tea.

Driving distance: 245 km/152 mls

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Day 3, SUN:

Snæfellsnes Peninsula & Fjord Cruise

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. We travel to the charming fishing town of Stykkishólmur for a cruise in the Breiðafjörður fjord. After a light lunch, a uniquely Icelandic "treat" awaits us at Bjarnarhöfn, where they make Hákarl - the fermented shark. Depending on road and weather condtions, 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, Mt. Kirkjufell. On the way back to Borgarnes, the guide gives you some practical tips on how to photograph the Auroras as part of the Northern Lights Academy program. Naturally, once darkness falls, we are out in the hotel garden to chase the Northern Lights and to soak in the hotel's outdoor hot tubs.

Driving distance: 250 km/155 mls

Gullfoss.JPG

Day 4, MON:

Golden Circle, Geothermal Taste & Icelandic Horses

Today we travel along the Hvalfjörður fjord. The first stop is at an Icelandic wool outlet store, just to see what they do with all those sheep! We continue inland to Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We travel the Golden Circle route and see steam rising from the Geysir geothermal fields as we arrive. There is a variety of hot springs and bubbling pools. The original geyser is now dormant but has been replaced by Strokkur "the Churn" which erupts at 5-10 minute intervals. The chef of the Restaurant Geysir invites you to taste freshly baked hot spring bread served with Icelandic butter, geothermally boiled eggs and herring. It is best served with a small glass of Geysir Schnapps, very cold – nearly freezing. On we travel to Gullfoss, a double waterfall that tumbles 34 meters into the Hvítá river and attracts tourists and travellers in summer and winter. In the afternoon, you learn about the Icelandic horse, its special qualities and history and visit a geothermal greenhouse, before we reach the accommodation in South Iceland. Tonight, step into the darkness and search for the elusive Northern Lights, while best enjoyed from a comfortable hot tub in the garden of the hotel, amidst the peace and stillness of rural Iceland.

Driving distance: 220 km/136 mls

Bus tour to Skogafoss waterfall.jpg

Day 5, TUE:

Natural Wonder of South Iceland & Eyjafjallajökull Volcano

Today we travel along the South coast. At the Eyjafjallajökull Information Center, we learn about living next to a glacier and an active volcano. Further east we visit one of Iceland's finest folk museums. This museum contains an outstanding collection of farm and domestic artifacts from Iceland's past and several turf-built houses. Nearby is Skógafoss waterfall which is 60 meters high and one of the most impressive waterfalls in the country. In the afternoon we take a stroll on the black lava beach and along bird cliffs at Reynisfjara in South Iceland. We spend 2 nights near Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the Vatnajökull National Park region, located in complete darkness and ideal for Northern Lights search.

Driving distance: 220 km/136 mls

Vatnajökull - Glacial Lagoon.JPG

Day 6, WED:

Skaftafell National Park & Vatnajökull Glacier

Today's program is all about glaciers, ice and icebergs. We travel to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon filled with floating icebergs, and we explore the extraordinary site and might see seals swimming in arctic waters. You can walk on the black sandy beach where large icebergs get stranded. In the afternoon we visit the tiny turf church at Hof and spend time at Europe's largest national park, which has Iceland's highest mountains, an alpine environment, and Europe's largest glacier. In the evening enjoy a film presentation about the Northern Lights as part of the Northern Lights Academy program. Be careful not to go to bed too soon in this remote and quiet location or you may just miss out one more chance of seeing the Northern Lights shimmering and dancing across the night sky.

Driving distance: 280 km/174 mls

Blue Lagoon in Iceland.jpg

Day 7, THU:

South Shore, Reykjavík & Blue Lagoon

From Kirkjubæjarklaustur, we head across the Eldhraun lava field to the village of Vík, where we make a photo stop. The black lava beach, with high bird cliffs and pounding waves is very impressive. Further west, we reach the high but narrow Seljalandsfoss waterfall which plunges from the mountain. There is a trail that goes behind the falling water and offers interesting views, if you are prepared to get wet! In the afternoon, we return to Reykjavik and have about 2 hours leisure time to explore Iceland's capital on our own, visit museums, do some shopping or simply rest after all this touring.

In the evening, we get to soak in the famous Blue Lagoon, followed by an Icelandic dinner at the Northern Light Inn Hotel and followed by one last nocturnal tour to seek more Northern Lights. Around midnight, we reach Reykjavík, where you stay 2 nights.

Driving distance: 370 km/230 mls

Northern Lights fjord tour.JPG

Day 8, FRI:

Reykjavík Leisure Day & Northern Lights Fjord Cruise

Enjoy a leisure day for exploring Iceland's capital, visit museums, do some shopping, go for spa treatments or take an optional whale watching tour. Included is an evening Northern Lights hunt by boat to escape the city lights. Please note, that if the tour is cancelled due to weather conditions, no refund is available but you can use the tour voucher for dinner at Kopar Restaurant at the harbor.

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Day 9, SAT:

Volcano Crater, Seals, Fjords & Mountains

Start the second part of the tour and travel west. Meet your tour guide and travel west, passing the town of Borgarnes and climb again the Grábrók volcano crater. We visit a natural history & seal museum and further north we stop at the turf church of Víðimýri. We travel along scenic fjords and over several challenging mountain passes until we reach Siglufjörður, Iceland's northernmost town. We overnight at the new and beautifully located Hotel Siglo which offers spectacular geothermal hot tubs built into the local fjord. In the evening, if weather permits, we take a little walk or drive to search for the Northern Lights.

Driving distance: 400 km/248 mls

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis Iceland.jpg

Day 10, SUN:

Iceland's Northernmost Town

In the morning we explore Siglufjörður, Iceland's northernmost town, known as the herring capital of the North Atlantic. In Siglufjörður, we visit the herring museum, the largest seafaring and industrial museum in the country. In the afternoon, we drive along Eyjafjörður, Iceland's longest fjord, which offers an amazing mountain panorama and explore Tröllaskagi Peninsula. Along the way, we stop at a deserted fjord valley, that even most Icelanders have not yet seen. Later, we stop at a local brewery and taste one of Iceland's micro-beers. We continue to Lake Mývatn, a winter wonderland, where we stay for 3 nights. Join an evening lecture about Northern Lights and don't miss the chance to search for the magical auroras after dinner.

Driving distance: 170 km/106 mls

Dimmuborgir (1).jpg

Day 11, MON:

Search for the Trolls & Snow Adventures

This morning, we go for a snowshoe trip (or a normal hike if there is no snow) through the lava formations of Dimmuborgir "the dark castles", hoping to get a glimpse of the trolls who are said to live there. The afternoon is free at leisure to explore the many pseudo craters or walk along the lake shores. Also available is an optional tour on cross-country skis or snow-mobiles. In the evening, we take a relaxing soak at Lake Mývatn Nature Baths and get ready to chase the elusive Northern Lights.

Driving distance: 30 km/19 mls

Hverir at Myvatn.jpg

Day 12, TUE:

Explore Lake Mývatn

Lake Mývatn is known for its geological wonders and active bird life, but also for having Iceland's coldest temperatures. We take an easy walk through the bizarre lava formations and landscape with great views to the lake, bird life and trees. Later, we explore the hot spring area of Námaskarð, with bubbling mud pools and steaming solfataras. We taste traditional dark bread baked underground in the geothermal heat. In the evening, enjoy a video presentation about Northern Lights as a part of the Northern Lights educational program. After a delicious dinner, don't forget to keep an eye out for the Northern Lights.

Driving distance: 50 km/31 mls

Christmas House near Akureyri.jpg

Day 13, WED:

Birds, Christmas Garden & the Capital of North Iceland

We visit the Lake Mývatn bird museum and travel to Goðafoss, the waterfalls of the Gods. Next stop is the Christmas Garden, a small museum and shop where you find countless items connected to Icelandic Christmas traditions. The afternoon is free at leisure to explore Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland on your own. There are some excellent local museums and a great geothermal swimming pool. Depending on weather, there is a short excursion into the darkness to hunt the Aurora Borealis.

Driving distance: 120 km/75 mls

Horse show in South Iceland (2).jpg

Day 14, THU:

History, Design & Horses in Skagafjörður

We travel back west, over the mountains to Skagafjörður, the valley of horses and home of many ancient farms. We visit the folk museum and turf farm at Glaumbær. Enjoy a guided tour through the only tannery in Europe which makes fish leather. Later we stop for coffee & cake at a horse farm, where we learn about the history and the special gaits of Icelandic horses. We reach Reykjavík, depending on weather and road conditions, between 18:00-20:00 where you stay one night in Iceland's capital.

Driving distance: 420 km/261 mls

Reykavik city center.JPG

Day 15, FRI:

Departure Home

Individual transfer by Flybus airport shuttle from your accommodation in Reykjavík to Keflavík Airport.

Driving distance: 50 km/31 mls

Note:

IMPORTANT: The Northern Lights Discovery Tour is a combination of two popular one-week holidays. During the first week you travel with the Northern Lights Exploration group with a maximum of 45 persons and on the second week you travel with the North Iceland Aurora Challenge group with a maximum of 30 persons. Most likely there is a different guide each week. Note that in winter 2016/2017 the tour is operated Tuesday-Tuesday with a maximum group size of 16 persons for the entire bus tour.

DAILY DRIVING: Total mileage without airport transfer is about 2.775 km (1.720 miles) which is an average of 232 km (143 miles) per day. You spend about 3,5 hours per day on the bus, depending on road conditions, traffic and daily distances. On some days the driving might be longer than on some other days, especially day 7, 9 and 14.

CHANGE OF PROGRAM: In rare cases, a change of itinerary might be necessary during winter programs in Iceland, should snow, road and weather conditions not allow to follow the scheduled itinerary, and certain outdoor activities might be cancelled. In this case no refund will be given, but GJ-Travel will try to find reasonable alternatives where and whenever possible.

New for winter 2016/2017 compared to winter 2015/2016:

- Tour is operated Tuesday-Tuesday instead of Friday-Friday
- Small group travel with maximum 16 persons instead of 45 persons

Price October 2017 - March 2018
max 16 persons:
Per person in single $ 8,184
Per person in twin/double/triple $ 6,895

Note that most double rooms in Iceland are actually twin bedded rooms

TOUR START: Arrival in Iceland on Tuesdays and guided bus tour starts on Wednesdays at 09:00

END OF TOUR: The guided tour ends on Mondays between 18:00-20:00 for a last overnight in Reykjavík. Departure from Iceland is on Tuesdays.

DURATION: 15 days / 14 nights

GROUP SIZE: Winter 2017/2018: Maximum group size: 16 persons during the whole program

LANGUAGES: English only

MEALS: 14x breakfast, 3x light lunch (day 3, 11 & 12) and 4x dinner (day 7, 10, 11 & 12)

CHILDREN DISCOUNT: Not available

Available dates 

2017-2018 Availability
OCT 03-OCT 17, 2017 YES
OCT 17-OCT 31, 2017 YES
OCT 31-NOV 14,2017 YES
NOV 14-NOV 28, 2017 YES
JAN 30-FEB 02, 2018 YES
FEB 06-FEB 20, 2018 YES
FEB 13-FEB 27, 2018 YES
FEB 20-MAR 06, 2018 YES
FEB 27-MAR 13, 2018 YES
MAR 06-MAR 20, 2018 YES
MAR 13-MAR 27, 2018 YES
MAR 20-APR 03, 2018 YES

 

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Views from Northern Lights Discovery

  • Aurora Chaser Reykjavik (6).jpg
  • Bus tour to Skogafoss waterfall.jpg
  • Blue Lagoon Iceland (3).jpg
  • Christmas House near Akureyri.jpg
  • Borgarfjördur (3).JPG
  • Dimmuborgir (1).jpg
  • Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik.jpg
  • Horse show in South Iceland (2).jpg
  • Vatnajökull - Glacial Lagoon.JPG
  • Nature baths Lake Myvatn (3).jpg
  • Vik (3).JPG
  • winter travel iceland (2).JPG
  • Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis Iceland.jpg
  • Mývatn - hot springs and lava fields (3).jpg
  • Reykavik city center.JPG
  • West Iceland -  Bifröst and View from the top of Grabrok Volcano.JPG
  • Northern Lights (4).jpg

Highlights

  • 12 evenings of educational Northern Lights program and searches
  • Iceland tour with focus on nature, culture and winter adventures
  • Must-see locations and off-the-beaten path discoveries
  • Wellness at the Blue Lagoon and Mývatn Nature Bath
  • Explore, learn and share with a group of international travellers
  • Excellent value for money

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