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This thrilling week long guided tour visits some of Iceland's most celebrated natural wonders, with the added bonus of searching for orcas and the northern lights. Explore the famed Golden Circle route, the spectacular Snaefellsnes Peninsula and travel the South Coast past waterfalls, glaciers and volcanoes to reach the incredible glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon.
- Two whale watching boat trips in search of orca
- See the icebergs at Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon
- Spend three nights in a countryside hotel with views of mountain and sea
- Learn about wildlife and the northern lights from our award-winning guides
- Tour the scenic wonders of the South Coast, Golden Circle and Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Search for the northern lights in spectacular spots away from light pollution
In search of killer whales
From mid-December to mid-April, the seas around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula are often swarming with herring – an irresistible lure to large pods of killer whales and dolphins as well as numerous seabirds. This exciting tour is based in the ancient fishing village of Hellnar where you might even glimpse orca from shore! The two boat trips included in the holiday are often rewarded by close encounters with these charismatic cetaceans – our expert wildlife guides will shed light on their behaviour and help you identify dolphins and seabirds.
Northern lights watching in Hellnar
Spending three nights in a country hotel at the western tip of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, far from any artificial light pollution, you are well placed for witnessing the northern lights on this holiday. If the aurora borealis appears, simply step outside to witness the spellbinding spectacle. Our guides are experienced aurora hunters and photographers and will be able to help you capture the phenomenon with your camera.
More natural wonders
As well as orcas and aurora, this holiday is packed with other natural wonders – from the Golden Circle (featuring Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park) to the South Coast (Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, black-sand beaches, volcanoes and glaciers). You will also be able to enjoy wonderful short hikes along the rugged coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, with the Atlantic on one side and a snowcapped volcano on the other. The jewel in the crown, however, has to be Jokulsarlon on the South Coast, where you will be able to witness the spectacle of a lagoon filled with icebergs and walk among their crystalline remains on a nearby black-sand beach.
Contact our Iceland experts now
We had a totally amazing time and can’t believe how lucky we were with the weather, the northern lights (which we saw 5 nights out of 7) the whales (easily over 100)...Carina Watson, Killer Whales & Northern Lights
We saw more orcas than people and the northern lights were absolutely spectacular... we could not have wished for more.Kim Savage & Lizz Whitehouse, Killer Whales & Northern Lights
Itinerary & Accommodation
- Option A – Snaefellsnes and the South Coast (4th March)
Day 1: Arrive Iceland
Arrive at Keflavik Airport and transfer to Hotel Hellnar on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, a drive of around 3 hours. Check in for a three night stay, on half board basis. This evening take advantage of the hotel’s remote location and keep an eye out for the elusive northern lights.
Day 2: Searching for whales
Take a morning whale watching trip by boat out into the fjord. The length of the boat trip depends on whale sightings (usually around 2-3 hours). Time for lunch, before sightseeing en route back to the hotel. Enjoy a delicious dinner back at the Hotel Hellnar, keeping an eye out for the northern lights.
Day 3: Orcas and Exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
After breakfast set off for another morning whale watching trip by boat out into the fjord. Time for lunch, before continuing to tour the Snaefellsnes Peninsula by coach. See sweeping lava fields and the mystical Snaefellsjokull; a glacier sitting atop a sleeping volcano. This area was the setting and inspiration for Jules Verne's famous book 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.
Day 4: Golden Circle
Make an early start and visit the sights of the Golden Circle, Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir. End the day with dinner at Hotel Frost and Fire then keep watch for the northern lights.
Day 5: South Coast
Check out of Hotel Frost and Fire and head east towards Jokulsarlon stopping at the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss before arriving at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, our base for the next two nights. Dinner followed by an evening tour to Jokulsarlon for aurora viewing (duration 4 hrs) subject to weather conditions.
Day 6: Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon
Today we explore Skaftafell and Jokulsaron. Tonight we have another opportunity for aurora viewing at Jokulsarlon (duration 4 hrs) subject to weather conditions.
Day 7: South coast and Thorvaldseyri Museum
We had back along the south coast and visit Thorvaldseyri museum, learning about how the farmers living and working closest to Eyjafjallajökull coped during the eruption in 2010. Continue to Hotel Frost and Fire and enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Day 8: Transfer to Keflavik Airport via Reykjavik
Leave Hveragerdi after breakfast, and transfer back to the airport with a stop en-route in Reykjavik with time to explore at your leisure before continuing to the airport for the afternoon flight home.
- Option B - The South Coast and Snaefellsnes (17th March)
Day 1: Arrive Iceland
Arrive in Iceland, transfer to Reykjavik and check into Fosshotel Reykjavik for an overnight stay (breakfast basis). Time at leisure to explore the city..
Day 2: South Coast and Waterfalls and transfer Klaustur
Meet your driver and guide and head to the south coast. Gaze out over the black sand beaches and wave-lashed cliffs of the south coast and feel the spray on your face as you stand at the foot of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, two mighty curtains of cascading glacier meltwater. You will also drive past the base of Eyjafjallajokull, the infamous glacier covered volcano which erupted in 2010 and make a stop at the small museum and exhibition (entrance fee included), opened by the local farmers whose lives were forever altered by the huge ash fall created by the eruption. Check in at Hotel Laki for a 2 night stay (half board basis).
Day 3: Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon Start the day by continuing east along the southern rim of Vatnajokull glacier, the largest in Europe, towards Skaftafell National Park where you can walk to a viewpoint over a glacier tongue riddled with deep crevasses. Then enjoy a visit to the photo friendly lagoon at Jokulsarlon, an Iceberg filled lake created by the discarded remains of a glacier in retreat. A short walk from here will lead you to the black sand beaches where the icebergs that have been swept out to sea and whose appearance has been naturally re-sculpted by the waves, later wash back up on to the shore. Here you will be able to get a closer look at the ice and even break some off to taste the purity of the water held within This evening head back to Hotel Laki for another overnight stay.
Day 4: Golden Circle sightseeing and transfer to Hotel Glymur Iceland's Golden Circle is a trio of famous natural wonders which are a must see for any first time visitors to the country: view the much admired Gullfoss, a thunderous two-tiered waterfall; watch the geyser Strokkur erupt time after time and explore Thingvellir National Park, where the historic Althing assembled amongst imposing volcanic rifts and brooding mountains. After this long but rewarding day of sightseeing, transfer to the peaceful Hotel Glymur for dinner and a chance to relax in the outdoor hot tubs as you await the possible appearance of the northern lights.
Day 5: Journey to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and transfer to Hotel Hellnar Travel around the base of Snaefellsjokull, an ice-capped volcanic cone and see the cluster of shapely craters and rugged lava flows in the heart of the national park - the inspiration for Jules Verne's science fiction novel 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'. Admire coastal rock arches, shaped by the pounding surf, look out for sea birds and possibly Arctic foxes along the basalt cliffs. Sightseeing stops along the way. Arrive at Hotel Hellnar where you will spend the next 3 nights (half board basis).
Day 6: Morning whale watching boat trip Morning whale watching trip from Grundarfjordur out into the fjord. The length of the boat trip depends on whale sightings (usually around 2- 3 hours). Return to Grundarfjordur for lunch before heading back to the hotel around 14:30 for free afternoon. Enjoy a delicious dinner at the hotel before a relaxing evening awaiting the northern lights.
Day 7: Orcas and Exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula Another morning whale watching excursion by boat from Grundafjordur. Time for lunch, before continuing to tour the Snaefellsnes Peninsula by coach. See sweeping lava fields and the mystical Snaefellsjokull; a glacier sitting atop a sleeping volcano. This area was the setting and inspiration for Jules Verne's famous book 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.
Day 8: Reykjavik sightseeing and transfer to Keflavik Airport Leave Hellnar after breakfast and drive down to Reykjavik, the lively capital city, for a brief opportunity to do some sightseeing and souvenir shopping. In the early afternoon, head to the airport and say your goodbyes to the guide and the rest of the group, before checking in for your flight home.
- This itinerary is based around flights which arrive at Keflavik at 16:00. Other flight options are available from the UK but may involve a short wait upon arrival in Iceland or require extra nights to be added in Iceland before and/or after the tour. Please contact our team of travel specialists to discuss the options available to you.
- All dinners are a three-course set menu.
- The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and therefore can cause substantial delays which can result in the need to re-arrange or extend your holiday itinerary. Whilst we and our contacts in Iceland will do everything possible to minimise any disruption, it is important that you check the details of your travel insurance and allow for some flexibility in your plans.
- The appearance of orca around the shores of Iceland is an unpredictable event. Their arrival time has varied from year to year and we cannot guarantee sightings. If the orca are not in the region at the time of your visit, alternative arrangements may be made
- Grade: Superior
- Type: Hotel
Fosshotel Hellnar is a charming country hotel on the sou…
Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
- Grade: Superior
- Type: Hotel
Brand new hotel opened in summer 2016 and located betwee…
Prices & Dates
Flights are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our experts are able to provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.
These are starting prices in £ per person based on rooms with private facilities, unless otherwise stated.
|Departure Dates||Two Sharing||Single||Availability|
|04 March 2018||£2,128||£2,602||Available|
Prices include 7 nights accommodation in rooms with private facilities on a half board basis; two lunches in Snaefellsnes; two whale watching boat excursions; transfers and day trips as per itinerary; the services of a driver/guide as detailed in the itinerary; Northern Lights Bradt Guide.
Prices exclude flights, travel insurance, personal expenses, tips and gratuities.
Your expert guides
A true Iceland expert, Cathy has worked as a guide in Iceland for 26 years, is author of the Horizon Visitors' Guide to Iceland and contributor to several other publications on travel on the island. From 2006 to 2008 she worked during three winter seasons as a whale watch guide in Tysfjord and Lofoten in northern Norway, where hundreds of orcas gathered to feed on overwintering herring in the fjords.
"Taking visitors out to see orcas was the most challenging, exciting and rewarding job I've ever done."
Sometimes working alongside orca research teams, she gathered a wealth of knowledge on killer whales, one of the most enigmatic of cetaceans. Cathy has also worked as a natural history guide and tour leader in Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Azores, Dominica and Bahamas.
Fascinated by wildlife since childhood, Alexa began studying cetaceans off the west coast of Scotland for her Masters degree in Ecological Management 16 years ago. After falling in love with the Hebrides, she spent many years living on the Isle of Mull, guiding whale watching trips while studying harbour porpoises and minke whales.
She has since worked as a researcher, guide, campaigner and consultant on a wide variety of marine mammal research projects, including visual and acoustic surveys in the Baltic Sea, photo-id of cetaceans in South Africa and New Zealand, and an aerial survey of the Great Barrier Reef.
Alexa is a keen wildlife photographer, passionate about conservation, and has combined her cetacean research with her love of guiding and sharing her knowledge of the marine environment. She has led whale watching trips for Discover the World in Scotland, Iceland and South Africa and is thrilled to be returning to Iceland this year.
Maximum 20 people.
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