Iceland is a country of extremes, where geysers and lava flows coexist with powerful waterfalls and calving glaciers. Located at the edge of the Arctic Circle, much of the island remains under ice, yet it is also one of the planet’s most volcanically active countries. Take advantage of long days and bright nights to explore the wonders of these otherworldly landscapes.
The expedition begins with a swim in Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool, the Blue Lagoon, followed by an orientation in Reykjavík, Europe’s northernmost capital. Get essential background on the geology of this subarctic island nation, and learn about the impact of climate change. Hike to the top of a nearby volcano and immerse yourself in Viking heritage at some of Reykjavík’s cutting-edge historical museums. Head out to the Golden Circle and discover Gullfoss, a thundering waterfall that appears to vanish into the earth. Then continue to Geysir—home to the earliest geyser known to Europeans—where boiling water can rocket up to 210 feet in the air. Tour an ultramodern geothermal plant that provides much of Reykjavík’s energy with an expert guide. Iceland is at the forefront of the sustainable power movement, with 70 percent of its energy derived from renewable sources. Explore ancient lava flows to learn how volcanism continues to shape Iceland’s dynamic landscape. Hike along the shores of Thingvallavatn, the country’s largest lake, and learn about the geological forces that created the islands and canyons around this body of water. Summer days are very long this far north, and much can be seen and done in a single day.
Next, journey east to Höfn, a remote gateway to the mighty Vatnajökull glacier, the world’s largest ice cap outside the Arctic and Antarctica. Photograph a glacial lagoon full of fantastically shaped icebergs. Participate in dynamic field-based seminars with experts on glaciology and climate change. Stay near the vast glacial moraine at the heart of Skaftafell National Park. Don crampons and ice axes to trek over the massive ice cap with certified local guides. Photograph unique rock formations along black-sand beaches; or visit the original landing place of Iceland’s first settlers, a headland of rugged cliffs dotted with puffins. Investigate changes in the composition of fish stocks and seabird populations caused by warming waters. Explore Iceland’s southern coast and remote glacial valleys with your On Assignment team, and report your findings back to the group.
Iceland straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates diverge. This unique position makes it one of the most volcanically active countries in the world. Head north across the uninhabited interior to the wild volcanic area around Lake Mývatn. Explore bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, and the craters of dormant volcanoes. Hike on congealed lava flows from a series of massive eruptions that occurred in the late 1970s. Visit magnificent Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, where gray glacial meltwater from Iceland’s interior blasts through a spectacular basalt canyon. Bathe in the blue mineral waters of a natural thermal pool surrounded by black lava beds, and visit Akureyri, a thriving modern city set along a fjord. Hike to roaring glacial waterfalls, ride colorful Icelandic horses, wander through a 3,500-year-old ice cave, and enjoy your final days together as you put the finishing touches on your On Assignment projects. Present your work in Akureyri, then return to Reykjavík before flying home.