Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Nature view of snæfellsnes peninsula, Europe

Iceland Winter Adventure

REI Adventures
4.4 . Great
100%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
7 days
From: $ 3,399 $ 486 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Hike, snowshoe and take a glacier walk on this active winter exploration of Iceland
  • Discover Iceland's beautiful winter landscapes, sculpted by fire and ice
  • Search the night skies for multicolored displays of the Northern Lights
  • Take a soothing dip in the waters of the geothermally-heated Blue Lagoon
  • Set out in search of Orca and other wildlife on a whale-watching cruise

Short Description

The people of Iceland make the most of all seasons, and winter is no exception. Come and explore stunning countryside while it's embraced by winter's icy—and beautiful—grip. Hike the rugged coast, snowshoe across ice-covered lava fields, and walk on crystal-blue glaciers. Along the way we'll be mesmerized by frozen waterfalls, burbling hot springs, and ethereal Northern Lights before retiring to our cozy hotel each night.

Stride Take

REI members get a discount for this hiking and snowshoeing journey around Iceland when darkness blankets much of the day – and the aurora borealis lights the sky.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Internal airfare and ground transport
Start City Reykjavik
End City Reykjavik

Trip Includes

  • Hotel/guesthouse accommodations (6 nights)
  • All meals as noted on the daily itinerary
  • Guides, group transfer from/to Keflavik Airport
  • Transportation within Iceland
  • Whale-watch cruise, snowshoes and crampons and ice ax (for glacier walk)
  • Entrance to all national parks and Blue Lagoon thermal pool

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Itinerary

Day 1: Enjoy a soak in the Blue Lagoon. Explore the Leidarendi lava tube.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Your trip begins today in Reykjavik, Iceland. Upon arrival at Keflavik airport this morning, we're met by our Icelandic guide and drive across the Reykjanes peninsula – a lunar landscape filled with hundreds of craters, bubbling mud pots and hot springs – directly to the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon spa is a giant, manmade pool fed and heated by the mineral-rich waters of the nearby geothermal plant and a stop here offers a perfect opportunity to relax and rejuvenate after our overnight flight. After a soak in the spa pool, we jump back aboard our private vehicle and refreshed, continue on to Leidarendi cave. Approximately 2000 years old, Leidarendi is a great example of lava tube geology with frozen flows of various patterns and formations easily visible within the cave in addition to an assortment of small stalagmites and stalactites. In winter, the cave is often filled with glistening icicles of all shapes and sizes creating ephemeral artworks of ice. Some crawling is required but most of Leidarendi is accessible on foot giving easy access to this cool underworld of the Icelandic lava field that surrounds Reykjavik and large parts of Iceland. We spend time exploring the cave with headlamps, taking special care to not damage any of the formations as the stalagmites and stalactites are extremely fragile and if broken, are gone forever. In mid-afternoon, we transfer to Reykjavik and check into our centrally-located hotel. Before our welcome dinner, we have some time at leisure to relax or perhaps stroll the streets of this colorful capital city and experience the first hints of its lively vibe.

Caving: 1-2 hours

Day 2: Go whale-watching in search of Orca, other marine mammals, and seabirds.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We set out from Reykjavik this morning en route to the Snaefellsnes peninsula and the small town of Grundafjordur from where our whale-watching cruise departs. In recent years, large schools of herring (estimated to weigh several hundred thousand tons) have gathered during winter months in the Grundarfjördur and Kolgrafarfjördur fjords on the north coast of Snaefellsnes peninsula. This has attracted Orcas, dolphins and Minke whales to the area as well as thousands of fulmars, gannets, gulls and a variety of other seabirds. It's estimated that on some days, as many as a few hundred whales gather in the fjords simultaneously to feed. The crew of our boat has extensive experience in the Snaefellsnes waters and is adept at locating any marine mammals in the area. After returning to shore, we enjoy an authentic taste of Icelandic culture when we pay a visit to Hildibrandur, a local farmer in nearby Bjarnathofn known to produce some of the best hakari (fermented shark) in the region. Icelanders like to say that hakari is an "acquired taste" but the courageous among us will have an opportunity to try some of this local delicacy along with Brennivin schnapps, Iceland's signature distilled liquor. After our tasting, Hildibrandur will show us around his place and provide some insight into the rural Icelandic lifestyle. Our destination this evening will be a small guesthouse on the Snaefellsnes peninsula from where, conditions permitting, we have our first opportunity to scan the dark winter skies for signs of the northern lights. Iceland is one of the world's premier destinations for viewing these dancing, multicolored waves of light caused by the collision of charged particles in the upper atmosphere and we take advantage of our nights here by devoting time on multiple evenings to searching for them.

Note: Depending on weather conditions and whale activity, our guides may opt to switch Day 2 and Day 3 of the itinerary.

Day 3: Discover Snaefellsnes National Park on a scenic coastal hike.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We hike along old fishermen's trails in Snaefellsnes National Park today with fantastic views of dramatic coves, inlets and sea cliffs; the cliffs acting as nesting sites for a host of bird species that spend their winters here. Some of Iceland's best fishing grounds are located off this coastline and hardy fishermen have plied their trade in this area for hundreds of years. Mt. Snaefellsjokull (4,744') is the dominant feature of the surrounding landscape. An 800,000-year-old stratovolcano with a small glacier covering its summit, Snaefellsjokull is one of the most famous mountains in Iceland due to its iconic shape and its starring role as the starting point for the "Journey to the Center of the Earth" as described in Jules Verne's classic novel. The geology of the peninsula is the result of cataclysmic events that occurred both pre- and post-ice age with the prevalent lava fields along the south coast created by a series of 20 volcanic eruptions. In addition to the natural highlights, our hike takes us past the ruins of old fishing villages, lighthouses, and even some shipwrecks that serve as a reminder of how the forces of nature impact the course of life on this island in so many different ways. We return to our comfortable guesthouse tonight for dinner and a good night's sleep.

Hiking: 6.5 miles (4-5 hours). Elevation gain/loss: minimal (approx. 100'-200').

Day 4: Marvel at Iceland's winter landscapes and search the night skies for the Northern Lights.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today's exploration includes visits to some of southwestern Iceland's loveliest landscapes and fascinating geological phenomena. We bid farewell to the Snaefellsnes peninsula this morning and follow the main road to Gullfoss (Golden Falls), one of Iceland's most spectacular natural wonders. This magnificent double waterfall, partly frozen in wintertime, tumbles into a deep canyon and the nearby trail network allows us to get within feet of the cascading torrent. Close by is the Great Geysir (which has given its name to all other such water spouts around the world) and its more reliable companion Strokkur. Although the Great Geysir is only active a few times each week, Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes, spouting water almost 70 feet in the air. We'll explore the steaming vents, mud pots and fumaroles of this active geothermal area before continuing on to Thingvellir National Park, the site of the world's oldest democratic parliament dating back to 930 A.D. Thingvellir became Iceland's first national park in 1928, not only due to its great historical significance but also because of its haunting natural beauty. In geological terms, this area is also of great interest because nowhere else in Iceland can the divergent drift of the American and Eurasian plates be seen more clearly. A five kilometer wide strip of land in between the plates has sunk over 180 feet in the past 10.000 years and a rift valley has formed. Conditions permitting, we'll go for a short walk in the rift valley and around the site of the ancient parliament and learn more about Iceland's fascinating cultural history. We stay in a small hotel near Gullfoss tonight.

Day 5: Strap on your crampons and take a walk on Solheimajokull glacier.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In a country teeming with natural wonders, Iceland's high concentration of breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls always leaves an indelible impression on those who visit. Our day begins with stops at two particularly photogenic cascades, Seljalandfoss and Skogarfoss. We have time to appreciate the scale and power of the falls before returning to our waiting vehicle and continuing on to Solheimajokull, the location of today's exhilarating hike. Solheimajokull, an outlet glacier extending from the great Myrdalsjokull glacier, is a wonderland of ice sculptures, crevasses, and long, narrow ridges. After strapping on our crampons and grabbing our ice axes, we set out on a glacier walk accompanied by an experienced mountain guide, making our way up the icy ridges and witnessing firsthand some of the powerful forces that have shaped Iceland's unique geography over the millennia. Some of the crystal blue ice visible in the glacier is over 1000 years old, its remarkable color the result of hundreds of thousands of tons of compression squeezing all oxygen out of the ice. If atmospheric conditions are favorable, we head out in search of the aurora borealis again tonight!

Hiking: 5-6 miles (4-5 hours) depending on conditions. Elevation gain/loss: 350'.

Day 6: Snowshoe in the Blue Mountains. Tour vibrant Reykjavik.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Our adventure continues in the Blue Mountains this morning where we snowshoe over snow-covered lava fields and enjoy views of the surrounding winter landscape. During our walk, we explore ancient volcanic craters including Thrihnjukar, a dormant volcano which last erupted over 4,000 ago. All of Thrihnjukar's magma has drained away as though a plug was pulled at the bottom of the magma chamber, making it the only hollow volcano in the world. After our snowshoe hike concludes, we return to Reykjavik and take a walking tour of the city, stopping at a variety of notable sights and landmarks before heading back to our hotel to freshen up for our farewell celebration dinner. We enjoy a final Icelandic meal with our traveling companions and newfound friends before tomorrow's departure.

Snowshoeing: 5-6 miles (4-5 hours) depending on conditions. Elevation gain/loss: 300'.

Day 7: Spend a final morning in Reykjavik before catching your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, we have the remainder of the morning and early afternoon on our own to explore the sights of Reykjavik and finish up our souvenir shopping (perhaps purchasing a few samples of fermented shark to bring back for that special someone) before transferring to Keflavik airport for our flights home. Most flights returning to the U.S. depart in late afternoon, and we arrive at Keflavik airport with ample time to check in. 

Availability

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Price From $ 3,399
Price Per Day: $ 486 per day
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  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 499

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Stride Featured in

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9 REI Adventures Travel Reviews & Ratings

100%
4.4 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 7
Great 1
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 1
Value
4.4
Guide
4.4
Activities
4.4
Lodging
4.4
Transportation
4.4
Meals
4.4

Iceland Winter Adventure

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Company Reviews

Trip of a lifetime

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I loved this trip. The equipment was in very good condition. The fjords are awe strikingly beautiful. The water is clear and the Norwegian people were incredibly nice and hospitable.

Our guides were top notch. They worked very hard to make our trip the best it could be for us. Lots of personal service from REI Adventures. I have to look back at my pictures to make sure I actually took the trip. It was a life altering experience for me.
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Great way to see a country with a group

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
REI's tour groups are a blast. You're able to see much more of the country than you would if you were on your own. The trips are very organized and you never feel bored or too rushed. There's a wide variety of tours to pick from based on region and activity.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Internal airfare and ground transport

Group Size:

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 14

Trip ID#:

icewinrei

Trip Excludes

  • Air transportation to/from Iceland
  • 1 lunch
  • Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
  • Guide gratuities
  • Travel insurance
  • Laundry expenses
  • Items of a personal nature

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