Depart on an overnight flight to Reykjavík.
Arrive in Reykjavík, the world’s northernmost capital, which lies only a fraction below the Arctic Circle and receives just four hours of sunlight in winter and 22 in summer. Have 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.
Explore Iceland’s western frontier, visiting Flatey Island, a trading post for many centuries, for walks around the charming little hamlet that grew here, and take a Zodiac cruise along the coast. 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.
4Exploring Northwestern Iceland
Explore the beautiful and peaceful Westfjords region of Iceland. Perhaps take a hike to a remote waterfall or a Zodiac cruise alongside stunning scenery. Enter Ísafjarðardjúp and land at Vigur Island to visit the Eider Farm and view the down cleaning process.
Located in the Westfjords, Ísafjördur is surrounded by water on three sides, sculpted by glaciers. Explore by Zodiac and hike ashore to view the local landscape and photograph flowering plants.
6Siglufjördur and Akureyri
Siglufjördur was the center of Iceland’s once-thriving herring industry. We stop by the Herring Museum for a re-enactment and a tasting. Continue to picturesque Akureyri, backed by snow-capped mountains. Explore the old town, with its beautifully maintained period houses, or visit the botanical garden.
7Lake Mývatn and Húsavík
Begin the day by visiting an unforgettable sight: Goðafoss, the waterfall of the gods. Next, drive to Mývatn, the most geologically active area in Iceland. This is world-class field geology! See the bizarre mud pools at Hverarönd — so hot they actually bubble. At the Krafla geothermal area see the explosion crater at Viti. After lunch ashore, meet the ship in Húsavík, and watch for whales as we sail north to the land of the midnight sun. Take Zodiacs ashore to the tiny island of Grimsey, which lies exactly on the Arctic Circle. Here we celebrate being officially in the Arctic, in the company of nesting arctic terns, fulmars, and puffins in burrows, all bathing, courting and fishing — another wonderful photo op.
8Exploring Northeast Iceland
With plenty of rarely-visited coastline, this day is left open to explore Iceland's rugged east coast. Perhaps join our naturalists for a hike along a stretch of the Langanes Peninsula or we may have a Zodiac cruise to view the beautiful stacks near Raudanes. We will keep it flexible to be able to choose the best option for the day.
Dock in Djúpivogur and drive down the coast to explore the vast Vatnajökull icecap and the deep blue icebergs of the large ice lagoon of Jökulsárlón. Alternatively, go by 4x4 vehicle to visit some of the secluded valleys and remote waterfalls in the countryside around Djúpivogur or visit a local farm to meet the families living in rural Iceland.
10Islands of Heimaey & Surtsey, Westman Islands
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 1963, the world witnessed on film the birth of its newest island, Surtsey — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — which we see as we cruise past the coast. In 1973, Heimaey was threatened by lava flows that nearly closed off its harbor. We visit the crater, where the earth is still hot, and have amazing views of areas that had been engulfed by lava.
Today we complete our circumnavigation of Iceland, disembarking in Reykjavík. Choose to visit the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths or enjoy the hotsprings, geothermal power plant and horse farm prior to flights home.