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10537
Iceland

Hiking in South Iceland: The Drama of Nature

Discover stunning natural beauty as you explore colorful volcanic landscapes, bubbling geothermal pools and sparkling waterfalls with local experts.
Rating (4.83)
Program No. 10537RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
650
Iceland

Hiking in South Iceland: The Drama of Nature

Discover stunning natural beauty as you explore colorful volcanic landscapes, bubbling geothermal pools and sparkling waterfalls with local experts.
Length
9 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
650
Program No. 10537 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 8 - Jul 16, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Jul 22 - Jul 30, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Aug 5 - Aug 13, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Aug 19 - Aug 27, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Sep 9 - Sep 17, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Sep 23 - Oct 1, 2022
Starting at
3,999
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 8 - Jul 16, 2022
Starting at
4,899
Jul 22 - Jul 30, 2022
Starting at
4,899
Aug 5 - Aug 13, 2022
Starting at
4,899
Aug 19 - Aug 27, 2022
Starting at
4,899
Sep 9 - Sep 17, 2022
Starting at
4,899
Sep 23 - Oct 1, 2022
Starting at
4,899

At a Glance

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.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Challenging
Hikes can be between 6-8 miles on uneven terrain; both established trails and “off trail” routes, elevation changes up to 1,500 feet on hikes.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • 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.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Iceland Imagined
by Karen Oslund
This cultural and environmental history explores the geography, literature, language, culture, politics and symbolism of Iceland, Greenland, northern Norway and the Faroe Islands.
Butterflies in November
by Brian Fitzgibbon (Translator), Auour Ava Olafsdottir
Scorned by love, a quirky, unapologetically independent 33-year-old woman takes a spontaneous trip along Iceland’s Ring Road, her best friend’s 4-year-old deaf-mute son in tow. Evocative of the Icelandic spirit.
Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings
by John Haywood
This history of the Vikings tells their story through a series of innovative maps and excellent photographs. It traces the routes of 9th-century Viking merchants and explorers throughout Europe and the New World.
Insight Guide Iceland
by Insight Guides
This guide emphasizes culture and history, with wonderful photographs, maps and essays from experts.
The Arctic, A Guide to Coastal Wildlife
by Tony Soper
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 Vikings, Lords of the Seas
by Yves Cohat
An indispensable reference that fits in your pocket, this slim volume is packed with maps, archival photographs and illustrations.
The Windows of Brimnes, An American in Iceland
by Bill Holm
In these provocative essays, Minnesotan Bill Holm writes about the fate of America from his fisherman's cottage on the shore of a creek in northern Iceland.
Last Places, A Journey in the North
by Lawrence Millman, Paul Theroux (Introduction)
Millman explores the culture and history of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in this hilarious account of his travels in the wake of the ancient Vikings.
Song of the Vikings, Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
by Nancy Marie Brown
Brown brings to life not just the great Norse tales of medieval Iceland but also the life and times of the worldly Icelandic chieftain, known as the "Homer of the North."
Letters from Iceland
by W.H. Auden
Written with fellow poet Louis MacNiece, this quirky, under-appreciated masterpiece captures the spirit of Iceland, its people and landscapes.
The Sagas of Icelanders
by Jane Smiley (Editor), Robert Kellog (Introduction)
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.
Jar City
by Arnaldur Indridason
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.
Auroras, Fire in the Sky
by Dan Bortolotti, Yuichi Takasaka (Photographer)
These 80 color photos by Yuichi Takasaka celebrate the beauty, history, folklore and science of the northern lights.
Independent People, An Epic
by Halldor Laxness
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.
Iceland, Land of the Sagas
by Jon Krakauer (Photographer), David Roberts
Krakauer and colleague 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.
Iceland Adventure Map
by National Geographic
A detailed map at a scale of 1:465,000, printed on handy tear- and water-resistant paper.
North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland
by Evan Sung (Photographer), Jody Eddy, Gunnar Gislason
Catering to a rising interest in Nordic cuisine, this cookbook celebrates Iceland’s food alongside its haunting landscapes, portrayed in starkly beautiful, full-color photos.
The Almost Nearly Perfect People, Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
by Michael Booth
Guardian journalist Booth writes with laugh-out-loud humor and brutal candor about the Scandinavians, mixing history and his own experiences in Nordic regions in this searing cultural portrait.
Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World
by Jeff Kanipe, Alexandra Witze
Two science writers discuss the political and natural ramifications of the 1783 eruption of Iceland’s largest volcano, Laki, which led to global death, famine and even revolution. Great for the geologically minded but accessible to all with an interest in volcanoes.
The Control of Nature
by John McPhee
In the classic McPhee tradition, these sparkling essays explore our generally feeble attempts to combat all-powerful nature, including valiant efforts by Icelanders to control the flow of a volcano across the harbor at Heimaey in the Westman Islands.
A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic
by E.C. Pielou
A primer on Arctic climate, geography, plants, birds, mammals and insects in a single nicely written book. It's a highly recommended, enthusiastic guide to natural history throughout the Circumpolar North.
Ring of Seasons, Iceland, Its Culture and History
by Terry G. Lacy
A longtime resident of Reykjavik, Lacy weaves tales of family life, anecdote, lore and history into this illuminating personal portrait of Iceland.
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9 days
8 nights
22 meals
8 B 7 L 7 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Iceland, Blue Lagoon, Check-in, Orientation
Hveragerdi
B,L,D
Hotel Ork

Activity note: Walking from the airport terminal with luggage to the coach to driving 10 minutes to Viking World. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 15 miles to Blue Lagoon, approximately 1/2 hour; about 35 miles to hotel, approximately 1 hour. If you wish to swim in the Blue Lagoon, please remember to pack your bathing suit in your carry-on luggage. Towels will be provided. Slippers, bathrobes and spa treatments are available at an additional cost.

Breakfast: At Viking World.

Morning: After meeting our group at Viking World, we will depart via motorcoach at approximately 11 a.m. to the Bridge Between Continents to see where Europe and North America meet.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will board a motorcoach and continue our Icelandic adventure with a soak in the mineral-rich, geothermally heated waters of the Blue Lagoon. (Entrance fee and towels included at Blue Lagoon; slippers and bathrobes available at additional cost.) There are other “blue lagoons” but this one is truly unique. The stark volcanic terrain that surrounds it creates an otherworldly feeling. The lava field is surely natural, but in fact the lagoon owes its existence to a geothermal power station built in 1975. Superheated water from a nearby lava flow feeds into the power plant system and finally flows into the lagoon, where the temperature stays between 98°-104°F (36°-40° C). Minerals from the underground geological layers account for the coloration. Not only is lounging in the waters delightfully comfortable, the minerals and white silica mud are reputed to provide benefits for skin conditions. After, we'll continue our transfer to Hotel Ork for check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Meals will feature local cuisine, Water is included with all meals. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. The remainder of the evening is free to continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars. Then settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
Thingvellir National Park, Mount Hengill
Hveragerdi
B,L,D
Hotel Ork

Activity note: Walking up to 5 hours on uneven terrain and dirt paths. Ascend approx. 984 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll begin our day in the Hengill area this morning, with a visit to Thingvellir National Park. The UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, site of the original parliament, which is known as the most sacred place in Iceland due to its geological and historical significance. The Althing, or General Assembly, was established here in 930 CE and is the world’s oldest existing parliament. We’ll meet a park ranger, who will enlighten us about the geology of the park, situated right on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We’ll then take a walk around the site with our Group Leader to discover more about the abundant history of this ancient place

Lunch: We’ll have a packed lunch during our hikes.

Afternoon: We’ll explore the Mount Hengill area further this afternoon with a 2-3 hour hike, with the opportunity to take a dip in the geothermal river. We’ll return to the hotel by motorcoach at the end of our field trip.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Gullfoss, Thjórsárdalur Valley
Fludir
B,L,D
Highland Center Hrauneyjar

Activity note: Walking up to two hours, 5 miles, on uneven terrain including gravel and dirt.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride to 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. We’ll then visit Espiflot and learn about how flower greenhouses work.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll continue by motorcoach into the Thjórsárdalur valley, a wide region on the western side of Mt. Hekla that is home to a National Forest. We’ll stop at the lovely Hjalparfoss waterfalls, and continue to the ruins of a Viking settlement and reconstructed farmhouse at Thjóðveldisbærinn. Research suggests that the original farm, Stöng, was destroyed when Mt. Hekla erupted in 1104.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Landmannalaugar
Hofn
B,L,D
Hotel Laki

Activity note: Walking up to 3-4 hours on uneven terrain including gravel and dirt. Ascend approx. 660-800 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll travel to Landmannalaugar, an oasis in the harsh interior of Iceland, for a walking excursion and a swim in the naturally warm pool (towels are provided on-site).

Lunch: Packed lunch en route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our field trip at Landmannalaugar, then board a motorcoach and ride to Kirkjubaejarklausturvia the Fjallabak Nature Reserve.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Skaftafell
Fagurholsmyri
B,L,D
Hotel Skaftafell

Activity note: Walking 2 hours on uneven terrain including gravel and dirt, approximately 3-4 miles.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon for a scenic field trip, including a short boat ride on the lagoon. We’ll enjoy commentary from a local expert as we sail among the icebergs.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll ride to the Skaftafell conservation area, where we will stop by the Visitor Center and take a 1- to 2-hour walk through a natural wonderland of powerful glaciers, turbulent waterfalls, lush birch woodlands, and vibrant wildflowers with fantastic views of the mountain and its sliding glaciers. We will then transfer to the hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Skaftafell
Fagurholsmyri
B,L,D
Hotel Skaftafell

Activity note: Walking up to 8 hours, on uneven terrain including dirt and rocky paths. Ascend approx. 700-984 feet, up to 12 miles of total walking.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll venture deeper into Skaftafell on a 6- to 8-hour hike. The Nature Conservation Council (now the Environment Agency of Iceland) recommended the establishment of a National Park here in 1961, in recognition of the area’s natural beauty including wonderful mountain views, the largest valley glacier and the widest variety of vegetation in the country. Skaftafell was finally established as a National Park by government regulation in 1968.

Lunch: Packed lunch en route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our field trip at Skaftafell. In 2008, the Skaftafell National Park was merged with Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and a number of other areas of natural beauty to form the huge Vatnajökull National Park, the second largest in Europe.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Reynisfjara, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, Lava Center
Reykjavik
B,L,D
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 4 1/2 hours with many stops along the way, approx. 200 miles. Walking up to 2 miles.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and begin our transfer to Reykjavik. Our first field trip en route will be to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, home to a multitude of nesting seabirds. Local folklore holds that the hexagonal basalt column formations of Reynisfjara’s cliffs, reminiscent of Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, are marauding trolls turned to stone when daylight struck them at dawn.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our transfer via two magnificent waterfalls, Skógafoss, which thunders over a cliff 60 meters tall, and Seljalandsfoss, which it is possible to walk behind, as long as you don't mind getting wet! Then, after hiking in the shadows of active volcanoes for the past few days, we’ll get an inside look at the Lava Centre. Here we’ll learn how volcanic activity is monitored in modern Iceland, and how eruptions continue to shape the island. We’ll board the motorcoach for a field trip to the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant. The largest in Iceland, it’s the second largest in the world, situated in the Hengill volcano area. We’ll learn about this renewable resource and how geothermal energy is used in Iceland in one of the most powerful geothermal areas in the world. Once we complete our transfer to Reykjavik, we’ll check in and have some time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant to enjoy a farewell meal. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Departures
Reykjavik
B

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Lunch: On your own based on departure flight time.

Afternoon: Staggered transfers to Keflavík International Airport (KEF) to check-in for departure flights. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys






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