A Christmas Island Escape
I am so glad you have flipped the holiday season on its head and, rather than head south like other wintering birds, you are looking northwards to the land of fire and ice. And, with luck, to the Northern Lights! While NOTHING is for sure in Iceland – 8 seasons can occur in 24 hours – this is the best time of year to see the lights dance across the night sky and to enjoy winter pursuits in a habitat that seems tailor made for them.
You will stay in a private house which, in Iceland, is called a lodge. Your lodge is a small private and exclusive gem, hidden in the mountains of the Langjokull glacier. This perfectly restored home thrives on contradictions: hand-hewn log cabins exquisitely furnished; food of startling quality; a fitness room with facilities for pampering massages; sensuous hot springs beneath shimmering snow banks. By day, your guide will take you off on all kinds of excursions, from dog sledding across snowfields with teams of huskies to exploring lava tunnels. You can ride Icelandic ponies, ski, snowshoe, take a spin in arctic buggies, even visit the National Museum to view the marvelous Icelandic Sagas. Spend your evenings curled up beside great log fires playing games, reading, and watching movies.
Day 1. Arrival
Your trip to Iceland from the East Coast is so quick and easy. On arrival in Reykjavik our special guide will meet you and drive you 20 minutes to the Sand hotel. Spend the day visiting the National Museum of Reykjavik to see the Icelandic Sagas you were so curious about, and stroll past the galleries and shops that lead to the interesting Cathedral of the city. After a delicious lunch at one of the capital’s best fish restaurant, drive 45 minutes out of town to the lodge. Settle in and get ready for a glass of wine around the great fire in the living room.
Day 2. Geysir, Waterfalls & Arctic Buggies –
Around 9:30 this morning, leave the lodge for an exhilarating spin in your arctic buggies. Imagine sitting shoulder to shoulder, zooming through this unique, vast and often moon-like landscape safe within the confines of the robust roll-cage and 4-point seat belts. With a hefty appetite, head to Fridheimer Greenhouse and Horse Farm where you will have a delicious lunch featuring tomato soup and freshly baked bread, surrounded by the tomato plants from which your soup is made. If you are interested in seeing how the Fridheimers produce their crops year-round with the help of the geothermal energy, we can make arrangements for a private walkabout. I know, though, that you love riding, and, after lunch, step over to the stables where the gorgeous Icelandic horses are kept. As you know, Icelandic horses are marked by their 5 different gaits – and I would say also by their Tina Turner manes!
In the afternoon you will visit the Geysir at Haukadalur as well as the stunning waterfalls of Gullfoss. These are musts on any visitor’s agenda and important to see, preferably at the start of your trip, as they give your guide an opportunity to contextualize your geological understanding of this island.
Return to the comforts of your lodge.
Day 3. Dog Sleds & Lava Tunnels
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and depart around 9:45 for the lava tunnels. Iceland is remarkable for above ground manifestations, but it is just as fascinating to see where those eruptions come from. The total length of the lava tunnel you are visiting today is an impressive 4500 feet, the main tunnel being 3000 feet. The tunnel is up to 90 feet wide with headroom up to 30 feet high, making it one of the most expansive lava tunnels in Iceland. Near the entrance of the tunnel the ceiling has caved in, creating inside three beautiful columns of light. At the end of Raufarhólshellir, the tunnel branches into three smaller tunnels where magnificent lava falls and formations are clearly visible.
After lunch at the seaside, head to the snowfields where we have three teams of huskies waiting for you for your afternoon’s sledding towards the mountains. I know, Jack, that this is something you have always wanted to do, and my friend, Karl, has made his dog teams available. They are beautiful, and I think this will be a highlight of your trip. Afterwards, should you want to go for another horseback ride, we can have horses brought to the lodge, and you can ride the trails behind the house.
Day 4. Black Lava Beaches & Snowmobiling Along the South Coast
You will drive along the coast today, passing some of Iceland’s best-known waterfalls. You are never far from snow and ice on this island, and never oblivious to the roiling fires underground. Your destination this morning are the black lava beaches on the world-famous Reynisfjara shore. Widely regarded as the most impressive black-sand beach in Iceland, Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach and features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid. Out in the sea but clearly visible from the beach are spectacularly shaped basalt sea stacks, the Reynisdrangar. According to folklore, two trolls attempted to drag a ship to land but were turned to stone as daylight broke, turning them into the stacks. The waves at Reynisfjara are especially strong and unpredictable, and fatal accidents have occurred at this beach, so please take care. If you have your binos with you, enjoy the rich diversity of birdlife which includes puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
After lunch, we have arranged an afternoon of fun out on the glacier. Meet your snowmobiles at the main base where you will have a short briefing and receive your protective clothing. Then, take your machines to the top of Eyjafjallajokull glacier, a vantage point that gives you a breathtaking view of South Iceland, and zip across the open wilderness,
Return to the lodge for your final evening at home.
Day 5. Departure & Back to Reality