Circumnavigation of Iceland

Circumnavigation of Iceland

Nature & Wildlife
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Circumnavigation of Iceland

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Circumnavigation of Iceland

Iceland—a land of hot springs, glaciers, lava fields, and waterfalls—is a nature lover’s paradise. Explore the country’s fabled Golden Circle—Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir Center—and look for a variety of breeding seabirds, including kittiwakes, guillemots, and puffins.

Sail aboard the luxurious Le Bellot

Le Bellot is currently in the process of being built, and will be completed in 2020. It will feature innovative and environment-friendly equipment, elegantly designed suites, and lounge areas that open onto the outside. All suites feature ocean views and private balconies, while public spaces include an underwater lounge, as well as a pool, outside bar and dining area, theater, single-seating dining room, panoramic lounge, sun deck, salon, and a spa and fitness room. Le Bellot will carry a fleet of Zodiacs.

Daily Itinerary

Circumnavigation of Iceland Itinerary

Le Bellot
  • Day
    1

    DEPART HOME

    Board your independent, overnight flight to Reykjavik.

  • Day
    2

    REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

    Arrive in Reykjavik this morning and transfer to our hotel. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure to enjoy this fascinating and colorful capital city. Gather this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner and overnight at our hotel. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    3

    REYKJAVIK / BOARD LE BELLOT

    After breakfast, set out to explore Iceland's classic scenic wonders known as the Golden Circle. Begin with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by mountains and encompassing a vast lava plain of green moss and wildflowers. Continue to Gullfoss Waterfall where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two voluminous cascades. The Geysir Center is a huge geothermal field of both boiling and tranquil, multi-hued hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and geysers. Then visit a traditional farm where Icelandic horses are raised. After lunch in these picturesque surroundings proceed to the pier, making a photo stop at a scenic viewpoint before boarding Le Bellot. (B,L,D)

    Gullfoss Waterfall
  • Day
    4

    HEIMAEY ISLAND / SURTSEY ISLAND

    On Heimaey Island, join a local tour of this incredible town with roots dating back to 650 AD. From Storhofdi, the views over the island are simply spectacular. Passing between two volcanoes, one that formed 5,000 years ago, the other in 1973 when its eruption engulfed parts of the town and almost closed the harbor. Drive right across the younger volcano’s crater and into the town known as the “Pompeii of the North.” Later this afternoon circumnavigate Surtsey, a fire-and-brimstone resulting from a 1963 undersea eruption. This island is now an important natural scientific experiment on how island flora and fauna evolves, with approximately 56 species of vascular plants now occurring. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    5

    DJÚPIVOGUR

    The tiny port of Djúpivogur is the gateway to Europe’s largest glacier. While most of Iceland is pastoral and green, its southeastern corner is covered by the shimmering white Vatnajökull Glacier, a 1,000-foot-thick ice field. A variety of tour options exploring the area around Djúpivogur will be available, including hiking on black sand beaches; nature walks to absorb the beautiful scenery and spot a multitude of bird species; cultural tours highlighting local history; and an unforgettable boat ride on Jökulsárlón Lagoon, to cruise among its aquamarine icebergs. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    6

    SEYDISFJÖRDUR

    The 11-mile cruise along Seydisfjördur showcases a scenic wonderland of stunning geology, cascading waterfalls, and soaring mountains. At its head, a natural harbor shelters the fishing town of the same name, renowned for its brightly painted 19th-century wooden buildings. Options this morning include Skálanes Nature Reserve to explore an important archaeological site and search for of birds, or a hike to the magnificent Hengifoss Waterfall. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    7

    RAUFARHÖFN

    Take a walking tour of this small town and visit the Arctic Henge, a huge stone monument overlooking the town. (B,L,D)

    Husavik
  • Day
    8

    GRÍMSEY ISLAND

    Though Grímsey Island sits astride the Arctic Circle, it enjoys a mild climate and is covered with rich vegetation. Weather permitting, go ashore to visit the Viking hamlet of Sandvik, home to about 100 permanent residents who earn their living from fishing and fish processing. A Zodiac cruise along Grímsey's basaltic cliffs provides fantastic views of the incredible birdlife which includes kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, and puffins. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    9

    HÚSAVÍK / AKUREYRI

    After an early breakfast, depart on a full-day inland tour of the Mývatn region. Thousands of years ago, volcanic eruptions created this dramatic landscape of labyrinthine lava formations, seething sulfur pits, and boiling mud pools. Oasis-like Lake Mývatn sits on the edge of a vast highland lava desert; one of Europe’s richest waterfowl breeding areas, it supports enormous numbers of breeding ducks and whooper swans. Continue to Akureyri to reboard Le Bellot.

    Be on deck this evening to search for humpback whales, with a possibility of dolphins. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    10

    SIGLUFJÖRDUR

    In the afternoon, visit Siglufjördur, once the undisputed herring fishing capital of the Atlantic. The Herring Era Museum vividly depicts this period and a lively song and dance reenactment, accompanied by local delicacies, brings the herring boom era to life. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    11

    ÍSAFJÖRDUR / VIGUR ISLAND

    After breakfast step ashore in Ísafjördur, the trading and cultural center of the West Fjords. A cultural tour reveals the history and daily life of one of Iceland’s oldest fishing settlements and visits the region’s scenic highlights. In the afternoon, take a walking tour of small, verdant Vigur, the summer home to vast numbers of puffins, black guillemots, Arctic terns, and eiders. The tiny community dates back to the late 1800s and boasts Iceland’s only windmill. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    12

    FLATEY ISLAND / LÁTRABJARG

    By Zodiac, trace the coastline of Flatey Island before going ashore for a guided walk with our naturalists through the tiny village. View the uniquely painted island church and the restored houses of islanders that are now mainly used as vacation homes. This evening sail past Iceland’s westernmost cape, the Látrabjarg cliff, a breeding ground for millions of seabirds. (B,L,D)

    Ringed seal
  • Day
    13

    REYKJAVIK / DEPART

    After breakfast, disembark for a short city tour, visiting the central part of the city, Perlan, and the Hallgrimskirkja Church. After lunch, transfer to the airport and your independent flight, arriving in the USA the same day. (B,L)

Accommodations

Le Bellot

Le Bellot

Le Bellot is currently in the process of being built, and will be completed in 2020. It will feature innovative and environment-friendly equipment, elegantly designed suites, and lounge areas that open onto the outside. All suites feature ocean views and private balconies, while public spaces include an underwater lounge, as well as a pool, outside bar and dining area, theater, single-seating dining room, panoramic lounge, sun deck, salon, and a spa and fitness room. Le Bellot will carry a fleet of Zodiacs.

Field Leaders

Brent Stephenson

Brent Stephenson

Expedition Leader

Brent was born in New Zealand and has been a birder since childhood. In 2005 he completed a goal he had from a young age, with the conclusion of his Ph.D., studying the breeding biology of Australasian gannets in New Zealand. This further heightened his interest in seabirds, and in 2003, along with Sav Saville, he rediscovered the “extinct” New Zealand storm-petrel, a bird known previously from only three museum specimens collected during the 1800s. With support from National Geographic, he led a team conducting further research on this enigmatic seabird. His passion for travel, birds, and the ocean has led him to many corners of the world working on small Expedition ships. It’s a great way of seeing remote and inaccessible places and their wildlife. Brent has traveled to many parts of the world, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, including Australia, Solomons, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, French Polynesia, China, Americas, and Africa, and worked on ships in many of these places. His passion and knack for wildlife photography has led to increasing publication of photos and articles in books and magazines, both within New Zealand and overseas. When not working on ships and traveling, Brent lives between Napier and Buffalo, and spends much of the southern summer in New Zealand, where he co-owns and runs Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ.  In 2013, with co-author Paul Scofield, he completed Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide.

John Yersin

Expedition Leader

John is a microbiologist who worked in the industry for 33 years investigating the impact of industrial wastes and products on the environment. The tools of his trade included diving, hovercraft piloting, and powerboat driving. He conducted marine, freshwater, and terrestrial surveys and then reported the results. Since retirement, John has done consultant work, taught powerboat handling, and worked as a fitness instructor. His extensive experience in powerboat and Zodiac driving makes John an asset to our team. Having spent a lifetime in environmental sciences, he is a keen environmentalist with some sympathy for industry. John's interests are wide ranging and include swimming and physical fitness, motorbikes, wine tasting, and good food. Any free time is used restoring old bikes and building kit cars.

A Note About Field Staff

This is just a selection of the Expedition Leaders and Naturalists who may lead your ecotour.  A particular departure may be escorted by any one of them.  If you would like to find out which leaders are scheduled to lead each departure, please contact our office.

From: $10,980 per person
Duration
13 Days, 12 Nights
Guest Capacity
160 Guests
Trip Type
Land & Sea
Expedition Destinations

Trip Highlights

  • Explore Iceland's fabled Golden Circle—Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir.
  • View vast colonies of breeding seabirds; kittiwakes, thick-billed and common murres, black guillemots, fulmars, and comical Atlantic puffins.
  • Meet the residents of colorful fishing villages and stroll through archaeological sites that recall the height of Viking exploration.
  • Photograph Iceland's stunning landscapes—bubbling hot springs, glittering glaciers, soaring volcanoes, and plunging waterfalls.
  • Cruise in search of whales and other marine mammals that congregate here in the summer months.