Northern Lights & Natural Wonders of Iceland
Available September - April
Iceland is a country overflowing with tectonic energy, where the landscapes are continually changing and where nature is constantly rumbling, steaming, bubbling and gurgling. Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the country is a hotspot for volcanic and geothermal activity, characterised by towering mountains and volcanoes, enormous glaciers and spurting geysers. With 11% of its land mass covered in glaciers, including Vatnajökull, the largest in Europe, Iceland boasts enchanting landscapes, incomparable to anywhere else in the world.
The varying and spectacular geological makeup of Iceland is undoubtedly one of the country's primary attractions, inspiring artists, photographers and authors from around the world. From cascading waterfalls and gushing rivers to peaceful lakes and meandering streams, light and reflection can provide inspiration for the most beautiful photographs and inspiring paintings. The blue crystalline shapes of glaciers and icebergs, combined with inky black beaches and rugged mountain terrains, make the sculpted landscapes of Iceland provide unparalleled photography opportunities.
Iceland's waters, particularly those of the Silfra Fissure are some of the clearest in the world, providing wonderful opportunities for diving and snorkelling. Meanwhile, Iceland's coastal waters are among the top ten places in the world for whale watching, with 23 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise have been recorded. The 6 species most commonly observed include humpback, minke, orca, white beaked dolphin and harbour porpoise. North Iceland is in fact the start and end point of our 10 day East Greenland Voyages, with the Denmark Straits providing excellent opportunities to encounter blue whales, where an estimated 10% of the world's population are estimated to visit annually. Shorter whale watching day trips from Iceland can also be highly rewarding.
Icelanders take full advantage of the natural environment: volcanically heated water provides geothermal energy, meanwhile, the myriad of rivers convert to hydroelectricity. These rivers are also ideal for an adventurous day of rafting or a leisurely kayak. The abundance of rivers has consequently made way for innumerable waterfalls, so many in fact that not all of them have names.
Influenced by the Gulf Stream, Iceland has a generally cool temperate ocean climate, giving way to cool summers (average 10°C) and fairly mild winters (average 1°C): however, the weather here can at times be quite changeable, reinforcing the need for visitors to pack wisely and be prepared for the unexpected.
Spring time in Iceland brings with it the migration of around 200 bird species, which flock here in their millions to nest, including puffins, various gulls, guillemots, kittiwakes, gannets and fulmars. Other wildlife that inhabits Iceland includes the Arctic fox, the hardy Icelandic horse and the introduced reindeer.
Encircled by mountains and sea, Iceland's capital Reykjavik is a thriving cosmopolitan city of striking contrasts; a place where Icelandic national traditions and international influences combine to create a unique culture where old embraces new. In just minutes, you can escape the electrifying buzz of the city and retreat to the beautiful and peaceful countryside, which comprises nature reserves, National Parks, rugged volcanic terrain and over 170 geothermal pools. Reykjavik is the ideal base from which to explore many of Iceland's most interesting sites, however, for those wishing to venture further, the northern towns of Akureyri and Ísafjörður are also worth considering. Self drive is a fantastic option for this; providing you with the flexibility and freedom to explore the country at your own pace.
Iceland is a fantastic place to visit throughout the year. Whilst Summer provides longer daylight hours for extended trekking, kayaking, camping, rafting and mountain biking adventures, come Winter time, Iceland is often enveloped in snow (perfect for dog sledding and snowmobiling), with skies making way for the appearance of the phenomenal natural light display of Northern Lights.