Iceland & Greenland: A Nordic Discovery

© 

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1: Keflavik, Iceland / Reykjavik
Arrive at Keflavik International Airport where you are met on arrival and transferred to our hotel in Reykjavik, about a 45-minute drive. This evening, join our Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant, with an orientation to all the adventures that lie ahead in this geological wonderland.

Day 2: South Shore—Lava Center / Waterfalls / Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Explore Iceland’s south coast today, an area known for its volcanic black sand beaches and countless waterfalls. We are in the region affected by the powerful 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano, an event brought to life at the Lava Center, which features interactive exhibits depicting the colossal natural forces that have created Iceland over tens of millions of years. Our knowledge of Iceland’s dynamic geology is enhanced as we learn about the eruptions and lava flows, rift systems, faults and glacial floods that make the island a showcase of volcanism. The center introduces us to the UNESCO Katla Global Geopark plus Iceland’s elaborate monitoring system for surveying volcanoes and earthquake zones.

Continuing along the south coast, we stop at several thundering waterfalls, including powerful Skogafoss and Kvernufoss. Another highlight is Reynisdrangar Rocks, a trio of columnar basalt sea stacks. Legend holds that they were formed after two trolls were out fishing in a three-masted ship. When the trolls did not return to their cave before sunrise, they and their vessel turned into needles of stone, since trolls cannot tolerate daylight. Here, we'll have a chance to walk on the famous black sand beach before continuing to our hotel in Kirkjubaejarklaustur for dinner and to spend the night.

Day 3: Fjadrargljufur Canyon / Hiking in Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Our day begins with an early hike at Fjadrargljufur Canyon, a narrow, serpentine gorge contained by 300-foot-high vertical walls covered in bright green moss. Walking along the rim, we look down into its shadowy depths where the twisting, silver Fjadra River flows below. Our focus then turns to Skaftafell, a national park now absorbed inside the larger Vatnajokull National Park established in 2008. Known for its rugged landscapes, mountains and glaciers, Skaftafell contains about half of the Vatnajokull Glacier, Europe’s largest ice cap. No roads penetrate the park’s wild recesses, but it's popular among hikers, and we explore a slice of it on foot, getting a close perspective on a portion of the massive glacier for which the park is famous. Return to Kirkjubaejarklaustur for a second night.

Day 4: Exploring Iceland's Central Highlands
Few visitors to Iceland get beyond the well-trodden routes along the coast, but we devote a full day to exploring a wild tract of its high inner recesses. Traveling into the remote highlands by 4x4, we stop first for a trek to Ofaerufoss waterfall. The only way to see this dramatic two-tiered cascade is on foot, where hikers are rewarded with a view of the 130-foot-high falls as it drops down a stark basalt face covered in thick green moss. The waterfall pours into the Edlgja Chasm, a broad volcanic canyon formed after huge fissure eruptions in the Myrdalsjokull region in the 10th century. The vivid colors of the vegetation on the canyon walls make this landmark even more spectacular.  

This afternoon we explore Landmannalaugur, one of Iceland's most distinctive regions in terms of both geology and natural beauty. Accessible only by 4-wheel-drive, this vast region lies next to the jet-black Laugahraun lava field, a massive expanse of dried magma that originally formed in an eruption in 1477. Landmannalaugar itself is made up of windswept rhyolite mountains, a silica-rich rock that appears in a spectrum of colors including shades of red, pink, green, blue and yellow. The region is also known for its natural geothermal baths. With two guides, we are able to divide our group by physical ability level, to offer a suitable hike for all guests. After a picnic lunch, continue to Sigoldugljufur, a dramatic canyon also called the Valley of Tears for its sheer number of waterfalls that pour from its walls. Reachable only via primitive 4x4 roads, this rarely visited feature is renowned for its otherworldly feel, a fantasy landscape of rockbound walls, vivid turquoise water and abundant green vegetation. We spend tonight at a hotel near the highlands.

Day 5: Gjain / Hjalparfoss / Reykjavik
Beginning our journey back to Reykjavik today, we find several entrancing sights en route. Gjain, on the edge of the highlands in the uppermost part of Thorsardalur Valley, is an exquisite little fairyland, where visitors often say they feel the presence of Iceland's mythical elves and trolls. The cave-riddled landscape, covered in lush, lime-green vegetation, is shaped by columnar basalt, delicate volcanic tuff formations, and several small waterfalls that pour into clear pools, feeding the Rauda River coursing through the small canyon. Although Gjain was featured in the popular television series Game of Thrones, it remains a largely unknown secret to most Iceland travelers. Our next stop is Hjalparfoss, a conjoined pair of waterfalls where the rivers Fossa and Thjorsa meet. The two rivers fall at about a 45-degree angle from each other, and their cascades merge as they tumble into a serene blue pool. The lava field this feature falls from was created in one of the many eruptions of the nearby Hekla volcano. Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active, unpredictable and explosive volcanoes, so ferocious that it earned the nickname "Gateway to Hell" after a particularly violent eruption in 1104, when onlookers thought the Earth had opened up and Hell was exposed. Birds seen flying around the crater were believed to be souls swarming around the entrance to the fiery underworld.

Once we return to our hotel in Reykjavik, it's time to say farewell to your Iceland Expedition Leader. This evening, you'll meet your Greenland guide team at an orientation and welcome dinner hosted by your new Expedition Leaders for the second portion of your adventure. 

Day 6: Private Whale Watching Tour / Reykjanes Peninsula / Fly to Kulusuk, Greenland /Tasiilaq
It's time to head to Greenland today! But more of Iceland's nature is on display before we depart late this afternoon. Our day begins with a classic harbor cruise in search of the abundant whales and seabirds that frequent these waters. Chances are good to see minke and humpback whales, harbor porpoises and white-beaked dolphins, as well as seabirds including northern fulmars, northern gannets, and, in season, Atlantic puffins. In the afternoon, we venture further into the Reykjanes Peninsula to explore the geothermal wonders at Gunnuhver, a collection of enormous steaming mud pools and springs. Raucous in their power and sound, the area was named after a female ghost supposedly entrapped in the main spring by a priest some 400 years ago. We also visit Leif the Lucky’s bridge, a small footbridge that spans a major fissure separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Serving as a symbolic connection between Europe and North America, the bridge travels through time and space as it showcases the geologic forces shaping our planet.  

Continue to Keflavik, returning to Iceland's international airport where we board our flight to Kulusuk, Greenland. As we approach, get a preview of the magnificent scenery to come, with icebergs drifting below and perhaps even a chance to spot a whale from the air, if you've got a window seat. From Kulusuk, make a scenic transfer by helicopter or boat to Ammassalik Island, landing in Tasiilaq, the small administrative center of East Greenland. Tasiilaq's collection of charming wooden houses painted in bright primary colors surveys King Oscar’s Harbor, surrounded by pointed peaks iced with glaciers. The town of 2,000 is a hub for outdoor adventure, from hiking and kayaking in summer to dog sledding and glacier skiing in winter. Most of East Greenland is uninhabited, however, except for a handful of small subsistence hunting communities. Greenland's east coast is often called "the back side" by those on the west, where most of the population, its capital and institutions are located. East Greenland's people had no contact with the outside world till the beginning of the 20th century, and that isolation has fostered a distinct and resilient culture. Our introduction to Greenland begins here where Arctic wilderness and traditional lifestyles meet. Once we check in to our hotel, we gather for dinner, surveying the 180-degree view of the town below and mountains beyond.

Day 7: Tasiilaq—Valley of Flowers & Town Tour
Though interior Greenland is covered by a massive ice cap, a few habitable areas exist around the bays and coastal islands, and the region we visit enjoys a surprisingly mild and dry summer climate. Set out this morning with our Expedition Leader to explore the area around Tasiilaq on foot, hiking into the Valley of Flowers above the scenic bay that fronts the town. Bring your camera: the ice-clad gneiss and granite peaks provide a striking backdrop for waterfalls and small lakes fringed by northern wildflowers in season. After lunch, we head into town to learn more about the region's history and contemporary daily life here. The small Ammassalik Museum is a highlight, showcasing Greenlandic Inuit culture and traditions. Its collection featuring East Greenlandic masks, kayaks, sleds, tools, beadwork, old and new tupilak figures, and works by local artists. This afternoon, we'll also hear firsthand experiences from a local resident, sharing personal perspectives on daily life and year-round subsistence in this remote Arctic realm, and, if time permits, we'll survey the coastline on a scenic walk.

Day 8: Tasiilaq / Nat Hab's Base Camp Greenland
Depart by boat for Nat Hab's private wilderness Base Camp, located on the east side of Sermilik Fjord. Our destination is near the tiny village of Tinit, which we'll visit during our stay. This hilltop hamlet is one of the most picturesque outposts in East Greenland, surveying a panorama of Sermilik Fjord littered with huge icebergs, with the Greenland ice sheet in view beyond. Behind the town, glacier-clad peaks rise over a mile high, jutting up like sharp black teeth through the ice. Tinit is home to fewer than a hundred hardy people who live a subsistence lifestyle, fishing and hunting amid the constantly shifting ice.

Keep an eye out for whales as we travel, as they are often seen in these waters when ice conditions permit. The area is filled with evidence of ancient habitation, including graves and ruins of old Inuit sod house foundations, and it is an evocative place to learn more about Inuit history and lore. Reaching Base Camp Greenland, we find ourselves in one the most remote places on the planet. After settling in to our private tent cabins, sit down for coffee or tea in the yurt where we have an orientation to our environs, followed by a gear fitting to prepare for our Arctic adventures ahead. After lunch, our first exploratory venture is likely to include a paddle among the small icebergs and calm waters of our protected bay if weather permits. Then we'll gather for dinner and a lecture to acquaint us with the region's natural history. Through presentations and personal visits during our stay, we also learn about Greenland’s cultural heritage and aspects of modern life. Traditional Inuit identity remains dominant in East Greenland, and we share an authentic encounter with this enduring ancient culture that still exists in close harmony with nature.

Days 9–11: Base Camp Greenland—Exploring Sermilik Fjord
The landscape along Greenland’s isolated and rarely visited east coast is dramatic. Great fjords indent the coastline, penetrating far into sheer-sided mountains capped by the world’s second-largest ice sheet—and Sermilik Fjord is the mightiest of them all. The 60-mile-long "iceberg highway" is primarily fed by the highly active Helheim Glacier, the fastest-flowing tidewater glacier on Greenland's east coast. Our base camp provides a safe and comfortable outpost from which to explore this vast expanse of wild terrain just below the Arctic Circle. Beyond our location at the mouth of a glacial valley, the wider region is dotted with a few isolated villages where Greenlandic Inuit people have thrived for centuries in this uncompromising Arctic environment. In varied encounters, we learn about their culture and how they are retaining their traditions while adapting to contemporary life in the 21st century.

On Zodiac excursions, navigate among a flotilla of blue icebergs in an array of wild shapes, some as big as buildings. While marine life sightings are sporadic, we sometimes see seals and less frequently whales. The latter are found seasonally in these waters, and when ice conditions permit—if we are lucky, we might catch a glimpse of a fin, minke or humpback, all of which are occasionally present. Guided sea kayaking is also an option for an eye-level view on the frigid waters and bobbing ice. Ashore, choose among walks and hikes of varying physical demands as we traverse the mountainsides and wander near glaciers that wind down from the Greenland ice sheet. This huge ice mass—second in size only to Antarctica—stretches more than 1,500 miles from north to south, is nearly 2 miles deep at its thickest point, and covers 80 percent of the island. Learn about the crucial role the ice sheet plays in regulating Earth’s climate, and see with your own eyes how rapidly it is being affected by a warming climate.

Long hours of summer daylight allow for extensive exploration. Witness the effect of geological forces on naked bedrock, and walk atop patches of tundra. Amid fields of Arctic cotton grass and miniature berry bushes, look for Arctic fox and birdlife including ptarmigan, northern wheatear, and possibly gyrfalcon. Each evening, we retreat to Base Camp for creative meals freshly prepared by our accomplished chef. After dinner, gather for interpretive presentations by our naturalist Expedition Leaders, who share their extensive knowledge of Greenland's geology, glaciology, ecology and human history. And, though the sun gleams late into the evening just below the Arctic Circle, a good night's sleep is in order to refuel for the next day's adventures. Wrapped in profound silence in our isolated cabins, we're sure to get it. On our late-season departures, we may even have a chance to see the northern lights, if the aurora is active in the darkening night sky.

Day 12: Base Camp Greenland / Kulusuk
Our day begins with a last morning activity from Base Camp, which may be a hike over the tundra in search of wildflowers, or another option, depending on the weather. Then it's time to begin the long journey back to more civilized climes, as we first make our way back to Kulusuk by helicopter or boat, depending on conditions. On the return trip, survey jagged peaks and huge U-shaped valleys gouged by glaciers, forever awed by the grandeur of Greenland. On arrival in Kulusuk, we check in to our hotel surrounded by more of East Greenland's imposing mountains—the small town is a well-known gathering point for adventurers and scientists heading out to the ice sheet. If time permits, we'll make an exploratory walk around Kulusuk before a private performance of traditional Greenlandic drumming and dancing.

Day 13: Private Glacier Walk / Kulusuk Town Tour / Keflavik
This morning, we board a boat to head out for a half-day glacier walk excursion, navigating the open waters of the Greenland Sea. In addition to large chunks of ice calved from glaciers that feed the region's fjords, we can also see tabular icebergs—ocean-going slabs of ice, some of which have been drifting for months, driven down the coast by the strong East Greenland Current. Reaching a small island, we disembark to walk on a glacier. We’re treated to spectacular views of fjords and mountain ranges, with plenty of time to explore unique formations such as moulins, whirlpool-like shafts in the ice. Mesmerized by shades of blue, we’ll walk a bit farther for a full view of the glacier’s face, perhaps witnessing an iceberg calve from it into the sea. Returning to Kulusuk,

Returning to Kulusuk, we'll celebrate an extraordinary adventure of discovery and camaraderie over a farewell lunch at the hotel. Then, following an afternoon spent touring our environs further on foot, we'll gather for an early dinner and afterward meet our plane for our flight to back to Iceland's Keflavik International Airport with a late evening arrival. We spend the night at an airport hotel nearby to facilitate easy departure connections for tomorrow.

Day 14: Keflavik / Depart
A transfer is included from the hotel to Keflavik International Airport to meet departing flights.

Physical Rating: Moderate to Difficult

Repeater Layout : vertical
Questions?
We've Got Answers!
Talk with an Adventure Specialist
Call Our Boulder Office at 800-543-8917 or contact your travel advisor.
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS
Physical Requirements
WWF Logo

Learn More

Customize Your African Safari

Let our in-house safari experts create your perfect African adventure. Whether you'd like to travel as a private group on this safari or you'd like to create an itinerary all your own, simply fill out the form to the right or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Learn More
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your interest!
We'll be in touch soon to help with your custom African safari!

Learn More

Customize Your Trip

Let our in-house trip experts create your perfect adventure. Whether you'd like to travel as a private group on our ${tripName} or you'd like to create an itinerary all your own, simply fill out the form to the right or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Iceland & Greenland: A Nordic Discovery
Learn More
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your interest!
We'll be in touch soon to help with your private trip!

Download Trip Details

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Get our downloadable trip details in PDF format, a handy resource for your travel planning. Inside, you'll find all the info from our website—highlights of the trip, itinerary, accommodations, and full details on dates, prices and logistics—plus a few extras!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Download Trip Details
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Your download awaits…

Thank you for your request! Click here to see your trip details PDF now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Ask a Question

Ask a Question

Fill out our form to receive additional information about our ${tripName}, or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Iceland & Greenland: A Nordic Discovery
Ask a Question
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your note!

We’ll be in touch soon with more details.

Send Me Travel Emails

Get the Inside Scoop on the

World of Nature Travel

Our weekly eNewsletters highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Request Your 2023 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2024 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the magnificent places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2024/2025 Catalog
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend,
Get $250 Off
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab credit you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab credit you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.

Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2023 Digital Catalog

View Our 2024/2025

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Expeditions

Photography Expeditions

Women's Adventures

Women's Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Contact Us

Have a question or comment?
Click any of the buttons below to get in touch with us.

Hours
Mountain Time

  • 8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday
  • 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday
Call 800-543-8917
Questions? Click to Chat
Questions? Click to Chat
/europe/iceland-greenland-nature-adventure/itinerary/