Witness the extreme powers of the Earth in Iceland, discovering geological wonders—from massive glaciers to bubbling geysers. With dynamic trip leaders and a National Geographic expert, photograph rushing waterfalls and craggy lava fields, witness volcanism in action, and delve into Icelandic folklore amid stone monuments built for Icelandic heroes.
Our trip begins with an orientation walk through Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital and home to nearly one quarter of the country’s population. Learn photography techniques, and begin practicing your new skills by taking photos of the futuristic, glass-walled Harpa concert hall and the colorful houses that line the city streets. Cap off your time in the capital with a dip in the hot springs of the famous Blue Lagoon.
Travel north of the city, and hike through fields of purple lupines to reach the top of one of Iceland’s highest waterfalls. Visit a traditional dairy farm and try ice cream made from skyr, a thick and creamy Icelandic yogurt, before continuing on to our base on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This rugged and wild peninsula holds many of the incredible geological features found throughout the rest of the country, including lava fields and black sand beaches, its own volcanic chain, geothermal hot springs bubbling from the earth’s crust, and a glacial ice cap that crowns a volcano.
Over the next several days, explore the wonders of Snæfellsnes. Ride an Icelandic horse at the base of the Snaefellsjokull glacier, made famous by Jules Verne in his novel, “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”. Local legend has it that this ice sheet—which caps the crater of the Snaefellsjökull volcano—is protected by the giant Bárður of Icelandic saga. Learn about the glacier’s unique magnetic field, which serves as a pilgrimage site for mystics and others who practice Norse paganism. Visit Stykkishólmur’s Volcano Museum, founded and run by world-renowned volcanologist and National Geographic grantee Dr. Haraldur Sigurôsson. Join a local storyteller for a hike among cairns—or stacked stone formations—which mark the routes of ancient Viking paths. Go fishing with local anglers off the coast of Grundafjörôur, and learn how climate change is affecting their trade as you watch for puffins nesting on the surrounding sea cliffs.
Travel to Iceland’s interior highlands and discover the iconic Golden Circle along the way. Use your camera to create a time-lapse film of the thundering Gullfoss waterfall, walk between two tectonic plates at Thingvellir National Park, and witness boiling water shooting 210 feet in the air at the Geysir geothermal field. Visit a modern geothermal plant that provides much of Reykjavík’s energy. Spend a day in Landmannalaugar, trekking across a landscape of stunning blue lakes, multi-colored mountains, and far-reaching lava fields before soaking in some of the area’s natural hot spring pools.
Continue to the southern coast, where we’ll hike behind the stunning falls at Seljalandsfoss, and listen to local legends of Viking gold buried beneath the thundering cascades of Skogafoss. Our home base here is Vík, a small coastal town and our jumping-off point for a trek atop the Sólheimajökull glacier. Don crampons, wield ice picks, and learn how glacial morphology has molded the landscape of the region. Witness the impacts of climate change firsthand while examining evidence of the glacier’s recession alongside experienced local guides.
Return to Reykjavík for the final night of our expedition, and celebrate your adventure with your new friends before flying home.