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Walking and Hiking in South Iceland: The Drama of Nature

Program Number: 10537RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/4/2013 - 6/12/2013; 7/28/2015 - 8/5/2015; 8/11/2015 - 8/19/2015; 5/31/2016 - 6/8/2016; 7/26/2016 - 8/3/2016; 8/9/2016 - 8/17/2016; 8/31/2016 - 9/8/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Iceland
Price starting at: $3,095.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 22; 7 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

The world’s 18th-largest island is also one of the most fascinating, where eons of glaciation, combined with an active molten core, have resulted in a landscape like few others on the planet. Traverse the landscape and national parks on foot, studying Iceland’s natural and cultural history with local experts. Don’t miss a chance to revitalize in one of South Iceland’s many thermal pools.


• Learn about Iceland’s energy source at a geothermal power plant.
• Explore Skaftafell National Park, which spans three glaciers on the southern edge of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest icecap.
• Soak in a naturally heated river in the colorful, volcanic Landmannalaugar region.

Activity Particulars

Hiking up to six miles a day (4-6 hours). One field trip up to nine miles (eight hours including lunch break). Trails with uneven surfaces, often hilly or mountainous. Elevation rise up to 530 feet over one mile.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.

Date Specific Information


The itinerary for this date is as follows: Arrival Reykjavik, coach to Selfoss, 2 nights; coach to Kirkjubćjarklaustur, 2 nights; coach to Skaftafell National Park, 2 nights; coach to Reykjavik, 1 night; departure. See detailed itinerary for specifics.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Reykjavik, coach to Hveragerdi, 2 nights; coach to Kirkjubćjarklaustur, 2 nights; coach to Skaftafell National Park, 2 nights; coach to Reykjavik, 1 night; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrivals Reykjavik
Coach to Hveragerdi
2 nights

Begin your invigorating expedition in Iceland with a soak in its famous thermal waters, the Blue Lagoon. Hike the shores of Thingvellir Lake near the site of Iceland’s Saga-era parliament, and venture to the Geysir geothermal area and the Golden Waterfall of Gullfoss.

Coach to Kirkjubćjarklaustur
2 nights

En route to Kirkjubćjarklaustur, drive along the south shore between sea and glaciers, and stop to learn about historic rural life at the Skogar Folk Museum. A full-day walking excursion explores the beautiful Fjardargljufur Canyon, Systrastaspi mountain, Systrafoss waterfall, and Kirkjugolf (Church Floor), a fascinating expanse of columnar basalt in the earth that has the appearance of a tiled church floor.

Coach to Skaftafell National Park
2 nights
Coach to Reykjavik
1 night

In Skaftafell National Park, an extraordinary blend of natural forces join together to create a pristine environment. Hike the birch-covered hillsides and try to catch a glimpse of an arctic fox, then continue your walk near the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. A boat ride brings you up-close to the ice- riddled water. Learn about the volcanic and glacial action that continues to shape this region.


This island nation near the Arctic Circle comprises icy glaciers, active volcanoes and an abundance of bubbling, steaming geothermal pools that provide a unique and steady source of heat and energy. Viking history and 13th-century sagas pair with Iceland’s modern citizenry and abundant natural resources to create a vibrant country for the 21st century.

Hveragerdi: Eco-friendly hotel in the countryside. Kirkjubaejarklaustur: Quaint country hotel. Skaftafell National Park: Resort near one of Iceland’s most impressive glaciers. Reykjavik: First-class hotel in the heart of the city.
Meals and Lodgings
   ION Luxury Adventure Hotel
  Selfoss, Iceland 2 nights
   Country Hotel Geirland
  Kirkjubćjarklaustur, Iceland 2 nights
   Fosshotel Skaftafell
  Fagurholsmyri, Iceland 2 nights
   Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
  Reykjavik, Iceland 1 night
 ION Luxury Adventure Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Situated in one of Iceland’s most breathtaking natural settings, near Thingvellir National Park, ION Luxury Adventure Hotel is a new premier hotel. Just 30 minutes from Reykjavik, it is beautifully located on the slopes of Mt. Hengill, with a great view over Lake Thingvallavatn and the mountains surrounding the lake.
  Contact info: Nesjavollum
Selfoss,  801 Iceland
phone: +354 482 3415
  Room amenities: Each room has a telephone, television, radio and wireless Internet access.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar with panoramic scenic views, outdoor hot tubs, sauna & small fitness room, lounge, and free high-speed Internet access.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior:  Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Country Hotel Geirland
Type: Hotel
  Description: Hotel Geirland is located near the small village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur. A quaint country hotel, it has excellent service, delicious food and breathtaking surroundings.
  Contact info: In Sida
Kirkjubaejarklaustur,  880 Iceland
phone: +354 487 4677
  Room amenities: Each room has WIFI Internet access and coffee & tea making facilities.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, lounge, phone in the reception, and Internet access.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Fosshotel Skaftafell
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Fosshotel Skaftafell is a splendid resort located near Skaftafell National Park. The hotel is sheltered by vegetated glacial moraines in front of one of Iceland’s most impressive glaciers, the Svínafellsjökull glacier. It truncates from the biggest volcano and highest mountain in Iceland, Örćfajökull (2119 m). Behind the hotel, there are many of the highest and most impressive glacier peaks in the country. In front, a vast glacial outwash plain stretches to the sea, some 20 km away.
  Contact info: Freysnesi
Oraefum,  785 Iceland
phone: +354 478 1945
  Room amenities: Each room has a private bathroom with shower, telephone and television.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, lounge with television, Internet station and a small gift shop.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum is a first-class hotel in the heart of Reykjavik. It is located on one of Reykjavik's oldest streets, Adalstraeti, in a newly renovated building, the oldest part of which was built in 1764. During renovations, the remains of a Viking longhouse from the Settlement Period were found. In 2006, an attractive exhibition center opened under the hotel, where the longhouse's remains are on display together with related exhibits. Among the finds excavated were Iceland's oldest human remains, dating from approximately 870 AD.
  Contact info: Adalstraeti 16
Reykjavik,  101 Iceland
phone: +354 514 6000
  Room amenities: Each room has a satellite television, telephone, high speed wireless Internet access, mini-bar, radio, iron and board, hair dryer, safe box, and tea & coffee set.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, lounge with cafe and bar, wireless Internet access, laundry service, fax machine, and pay phone.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Reykjavik, Iceland. 7:00 AM pick-up at Reykjavik/Keflavik Airport. You will be staying at ION Luxury Adventure Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Reykjavik, Iceland. After lunch on the last day. You will be staying at Hotel Reykjavik Centrum the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: See above.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Selfoss
  Nearest city or town:  Mosfellsboer
  Nearest highway: Nearest road: #360 Nearest highway: #1
  Nearest airport:  Keflavik International Airport
  Transportation to site: Take the Flybus from Keflavik International Airport to Reykjavik BSI bus terminal - approx. 1 hr, 60 km, and ISK 2,500 (2013 price). Then take a taxi from Reykjavik to ION Luxury Adventure Hotel - approx. 40 min, 50 km, and ISK 17,000 (2013 price).
  From End of Program
  Location:  Reykjavik
  Nearest city or town:  Reykjavik
  Nearest highway: Ringroad #1
  Nearest airport:  Reykjavik/Keflavik International airport
  Transportation from site: Take the Flybus to Keflavik airport. There is a free pick up service available from Hotel Reykjavik Centrum to the Flybus terminal. The terminal is located at BSI bus terminal. Reservations are made at the hotel reception desk. The Flybus schedule is based on departures from the terminal and passengers are picked up approx. ˝ hour prior at the hotel. There are departures in connection with all departing flights. The price is approx. ISK 2,500 per person (2013 price) and the duration is approx. 40-50 min.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: In Transit
(Tuesday, June 4)
 In Transit: International overnight flight to Reykjavik.

Day 2: Blue Lagoon / Thingvellir National Park
(Wednesday, June 5)
 Morning: Arrive and meet at Keflavik Airport. We will enjoy breakfast at the Northern Light Inn. After breakfast drive to the Blue Lagoon where we go for a nice warm bath. Following the relaxing bath we drive to the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel.
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we will have an introductory meeting and then we head to Thingvellir National Park where we have a lecture on "Thingvellir: Geological Study." Thingvellir was the site of parliament during the Saga Age (930-1262). We will take a 2-3 hour guided walk around the site with commentaries.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: ION Luxury Adventure Hotel
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant / Mount Hengill
(Thursday, June 6)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: An excursion to Nesjavellir geothermal power plant. We will then take a 2-hour walking field trip in the Mount Hengill area by Thingvellir lake.
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: We explore the Mount Hengill area further this afternoon with a 3-4 hour walk.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: ION Luxury Adventure Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Gullfoss / Kirkjubćjarklaustur
(Friday, June 7)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: We drive over Lyngdalsheidi heath towards Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall) and Geysir geothermal area, where we are likely to see the hot spring Strokkur spout to the height of 25-30 meters.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Our route to Kirkjubćjarklaustur takes us along the south shore between sea and glaciers. Stops include magnificent waterfalls and the Skogar Folk Museum.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Country Hotel Geirland
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Kirkjubćjarklaustur
(Saturday, June 8)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Full day walking field trip in the area of Kirkjubćjarklaustur. We will see Fjardargljufur canyon, Systrastapi mountain and Systrafoss waterfall, Kirkjubćjarklaustur’s chapel and the Church Floor (Kirkjugolf), an approx. 80 m2 expanse of columnar basalt, eroded and shaped by glaciers and waves.
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: We continue our morning field trip.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Country Hotel Geirland
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Jökulsárlón glacier / Skaftafell National Park
(Sunday, June 9)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Drive to the National Park where we will be welcomed at the Visitor Center. We will then take an approximately 1.5 hour walk in Skaftafell National Park.
 Lunch: Lunch at Skaftafell.
 Afternoon: We head for Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon for a 1-hour walking field trip followed by a boat ride on the lagoon.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Fosshotel Skaftafell
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Skaftafell National Park
(Monday, June 10)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: A full day walking field trip (approx. 8 hours) in Skaftafell National Park.
 Lunch: Lunch pack en route.
 Afternoon: Continue our field trip in Skaftafell National Park.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Fosshotel Skaftafell
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Landmannalaugar
(Tuesday, June 11)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: An excursion in Landmannalaugar, an oasis in the harsh interior of Iceland where we take a swim in the naturally warm pool. Our stay in the area will be for 2-3 hours. We continue past volcano Hekla on our way to Reykjavik. In June this route may be closed to traffic in which case we will have an alternative schedule.
 Lunch: A picnic lunch at Landmannalaugar.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Reykjavik. Check-in and get settled.
 Dinner: Hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Departures
(Wednesday, June 12)
 Breakfast: Hotel dining room.
 Morning: Morning at leisure.
 Lunch: Hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: Departure for Keflavík International Airport (KEF) to check-in for departure flights.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Reykjavik Reykjavik Bike Tours
Enjoy a bike tour of Reykjavik. For additional information, visit
  The Culture House
Some of Iceland's most wonderful national treasures are on display in the Culture House's featured exhibition, "Medieval Manuscripts: Eddas and Sagas." For additional information, visit
  The Settlement Exhibition
The Settlement Exhibition provides insight into the environment of the Reykjavik farm at the time of the first settlers. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic

Author: E.C. Pielou

Description: Our best-selling book on the Arctic, this guide covers the geography and climate, plants, birds and wildlife of the circumpolar north.

Birds of Europe

Author: Lars Svensson

Description: Featuring 3,500 glorious paintings by Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterstrom, the second revised edition of this exquisite guide has been brought up to date with revised text and maps.

Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories

Author: Herman Palsson (Translator)

Description: This collection of the most famous of Icelandic sagas includes stories with titles like Thorstein the Staff-Struck and Ale Hood. Dating from the 12th century, these tales vividly recreate the society of medieval Iceland.


Author: Einar Mar Jonsson, Guillaume Cannat, Patrick Desgraupes (Photographer)

Description: The French landscape photographer Desgraupes captures the natural beauty of Iceland in 175 color-saturated photographs.

Iceland Adventure Map

Author: National Geographic Society

Description: A detailed, double-sided traveler's map at a scale of 1:465,000 by National Geographic.

Iceland, Land of the Sagas

Author: Jon Krakauer (Photographer), David Roberts

Description: Krakauer and colleague David Roberts hike and climb around Iceland in this classic travel narrative, reissued as a paperback and featuring Krakauer's color photographs. The book interweaves the natural and cultural history of the island with the authors' own adventures.

Independent People, An Epic

Author: Halldor Laxness

Description: Rich in local color, this great mock-epic by the Icelandic Nobel Prize-winner features the indelible Bjartur of Summerhouses, a hard-headed, independent-minded sheep farmer.

Insight Guide Iceland

Author: Insight Guides

Description: With wonderful photographs, maps and essays.

Jar City

Author: Arnaldur Indridason

Description: Indridason's first moody police procedural finds Reykjavik detective Erlendur Sveinsson investigating the brutal murder of a lonely pensioner, and the man's connection to the deaths of a number of young women. Made into a darkly superb film.

Last Places, A Journey in the North

Author: Lawrence Millman, Paul Theroux (Introduction)

Description: Millman explores the culture and history of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in this often-hilarious account of his travels in the wake of the ancient Vikings.

Lonely Planet Iceland

Author: Deanna Swaney

Description: This concise guide to Iceland includes short essays on history, culture and attractions and plenty of practical travel information.

Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings

Author: John Haywood

Description: The history of the Vikings told through a series of innovative maps and excellent photographs. This book traces the route of the 9th-century Viking merchants and explorers throughout Europe and on to the New World.

Ring of Seasons, Iceland, Its Culture and History

Author: Terry G. Lacy

Description: A longtime resident of Reykjavik, Lacy weaves tales of family life, anecdote, lore and history into this illuminating personal portrait of Iceland.

The Arctic, A Guide to Coastal Wildlife

Author: Tony Soper

Description: An essential handbook for the ship-based traveler, this compact guide to the plants, marine mammals and birds of the circumpolar north features handsome watercolor illustrations and lively text. This new edition includes a section on the Bering Sea.

The Control of Nature

Author: John McPhee

Description: In the classic McPhee tradition, these sparkling essays explore our generally feeble attempts to combat all-powerful nature, including valient efforts by Icelanders to control the flow of a volcano across the harbor at Heimaey in the Westman Islands.

The Sagas of Icelanders

Author: Jane Smiley (Introduction), Robert Kellog (Illustrator)

Description: Nine sagas and six tales composed between the years 1000 and 1500, including an account of Leif Eriksson's voyage to North America, all newly translated. With an introduction by Jane Smiley.

The Vikings, Lords of the Seas

Author: Yves Cohat

Description: An indispensable reference that fits in your pocket, this slim volume is packed with maps, archival photographs and illustrations. It tells of the Norse homeland, discoveries and settlements, and features a useful chronology and excerpts from the Viking Sagas. Part of the "Discoveries" series.

Volcanoes, Fire From the Earth

Author: Maurice Krafft

Description: By the great French volcanologist (who died on the job on Mount Unzen in Japan in 1992), this pocket guide features hundreds of full-color paintings and traces the study of volcanoes from early myth and legend to modern science.

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