Capture images of enchanting lava landscapes, towering waterfalls, and sea birds in flight, shooting alongside a National Geographic photographer. Explore Iceland’s coastal geology by Zodiac or kayak. Cruise among the icebergs of the Jökulsárlón ice lagoon in a small boat or go by 4×4 jeep into the highlands of southern Iceland. Learn from a team of naturalists while exploring geothermally active Mývatn, and take in the beauty of Goðafoss waterfall.
Arrive in Reykjavík, Iceland, the world’s northernmost capital city, which lies only slightly below the Arctic Circle and receives just four hours of sunlight in winter and 22 in summer. Enjoy a guided overview of the Old Town, including Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral with its 210-foot tower, and perhaps shed some light on Nordic culture at the National Museum, with its Viking treasures and artifacts, and unusual whalebone carvings on display. Embark National Geographic Explorer.
Enjoy a leisurely morning at sea, learning about Iceland and its incredible diversity. Spend the afternoon on the remote eastern side of the Westfjords to experience rural Iceland. This corner of Iceland is difficult to access and is seldom visited by many people but boasts spectacular beauty and rich history. Take advantage of the dramatic landscape of the fjord to offer hiking, leisurely explorations of the tundra, and perhaps photography of wildflowers. The tiny town of Djúpavík held its place on the map because of the golden age of herring. During its heyday in the 1930’s, its herring plant was the largest concrete structure in Iceland. The plant closed in 1954 but remains as a small museum and a memory of the rich productivity of the herring industry in Iceland. Visit the museum and learn about the significance of this resource to all of Iceland in the 20th century.
In the early morning, your ship will glide into beautiful Arnafjörður, along the northwest coast of Iceland. For a more active experience, disembark early and hike several kilometres along the base of the fjord to visit spectacular Dynjandi Waterfall. Alternatively, join the expedition staff on the bow of the ship as you venture ever deeper into the fjord and then go ashore by Zodiac to walk up to the base of the waterfall, passing nesting arctic terns along the way. This afternoon, sail past the immense Látrabjarg Cliffs, the westernmost point of Iceland and home to a huge population of razorbills. The cliffs are an area once famous for egg collecting; the men were tied to ropes and lowered like spiders down onto the ledges. Conditions permitting, they may also launch the Zodiacs to see the incredible cliffs from the waterline.
The Westman Islands were formed by undersea volcanoes between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and are among the youngest of the world’s archipelagos. In 1973, Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbour. Drive between the two volcanoes of the island then visit the ruins of old Viking houses dating back to the year 900 AD. Opt to hike up Eldfell volcano, formed during the 1973 eruption, and have amazing views of areas that were engulfed by lava. In some places the ground is still warm with thermal vents. Watch for nesting Atlantic puffins and gannets along the shores of the island. In 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey—a newly designated UNESCO World Heritage Site—which we see as we cruise past the coast.
Today you will arrive back in Reykjavik after completing the circumnavigation of Iceland. Spend the day enjoying the Blue Lagoon thermal baths or visit some local hot springs. You also have the option to visit the geothermal power plant and a horse farm before heading to the airport for your flight home.