Northern Lights, South
Northern Lights in South Iceland
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeDiscovery, Family, Guided Tours, Short Breaks, Trekking
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
Elusive and unpredictable, the Northern Lights are one of the best reasons to come to Iceland. There are a lot of variables to consider for seeing them: season, weather, length of stay, location and luck. Statistically, the best time to see the Aurora is near the equinox, when the air is cold and clear. Therefore, we chose two different weeks in March for this dedicated trip. We bring extreme cold weather gear to spend the evenings outside, make warm drinks and stay up all hours of the night. We sleep in, eat good food and have some spectacular adventures along the way! This trip, at the end of March will provide an opportunity to explore the southern part of Iceland, an area known for glaciers that flow to the sea, providing icebergs and stranded ice on black sand beaches.
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners & dining
- All accommodation
- All transportation once in Iceland including internal
- Expert tour and trekking guides for entire journey
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Visa fees and entry clearing fees
- Liquors, beers and alcoholic beverages
- Flights to Iceland
Arrival in Iceland
Typically, flights into Iceland arrive early in the morning. We will arrange transportation for you to get from the airport to the hotel in Reykjavik after you land. You will be able to leave your bags at the desk while you explore Reykjavik until check-in time. Our first meet-up of the Big Chill Adventure team will be in the hotel lobby that evening, and then we head out for dinner at our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik. After dinner everyone is free to explore the town on your own or rest up in your room before we meet first thing in the morning for breakfast! If you are interested in arriving a day or two early and being on your own, resting up or exploring, we can help you find accommodations and transport into town.
Our first stop will be at an operating geothermal plant, the Hellsheidi. See how the energy below the surface of the planet is harnessed to provide power and heat to many homes and businesses in Iceland! Our journey east will take us through geyser fields and to one of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland, Gullfoss, translates as the “Golden Falls”, since on a sunny day the water plunging down the three step staircase and then tumbling in two steps down into a deep crevice truly looks golden. We will continue on to Thingvellir National Park. In addition to being a site rich in cultural history, research has made it clear that Thingvellir is a natural wonder on an international scale, with the geologic history and the biosystem of Lake Thingvallavatn forming a unique entity, a magnificent showcase!
We will visit is the highly active Geysir Hot Spring Area with boiling mud pits and the lively Strokkur Geyser which spouts water 100 feet into the air every few minutes.
One of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland, Gullfoss, translates as the “Golden Falls”, since on a sunny day the water plunging down the three step staircase and then tumbling in two steps down into a deep crevice truly looks golden. Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson, who owned the waterfall in the first half of the 20th century, lived at a farm nearby and loved Gullfoss as no one else. During this time there was much speculation about using Gullfoss to produce electricity. Sigríður Tómasdóttir protested intensely against these plans and threatened that she would throw herself into Gullfoss to kill herself. To make her threat believable she went barefoot on a protest march from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. In those days the roads weren’t paved and when she arrived after 120 kilometers her feet were bleeding and she was in very bad shape. The people believed her, and listened to her, and the power plant at Gullfoss was never built. There is a memorial site of Sigríður that depicts her profile at the top of the falls.
After checking into our guesthouse for the evening we will visit the Secret Lagoon – a natural hot spring. Maybe we will see some Northern Lights while we are soaking!
After a leisurely breakfast we will leave our guesthouse and travel east (about an hour) to the Skogafoss Waterfall, one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls on the island, with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters. On a sunny day the combination of spray and sun guarantees a rainbow!
The hamlet of Skogar is home to our next stop, the Skogar Folk Museum, a cultural heritage collection of 15,000 regional folk craft artifacts exhibited in 3 museums and 6 historical buildings.There is a café on site where we will have lunch.
Our afternoon drive will bring us to the 120 meter high promontory Dyrholaey, which is the southernmost tip of the mainland of Iceland. It offers a breathtaking view and features spectacular outcrops and rock formations. The name Dyrholaey literally means “the hill island with the door hole”, and boats and even a daredevil pilot have made their way through the massive arch. The top has an old lighthouse and spectacular views. And if you take the lower road you can enjoy the black sand beach, where the waves and rock formations provide an impressive sight.
We will spend the night nearby. After dinner we will watch for the Northern Lights!
Our destination on this day Skaftafell National Park. The park is home to the black waterfall,Svartifoss, which tumbles over columnar basalt. After the short hike to the waterfall, about an hour round trip, we will meet up with the Iceland Mountain Guides for a unique glacier walk. The 3-4 hour excursion onto the glacier will provide opportunities to explore some small glacier caves.
For those who want a lower-activity level but still want to see inside a glacier, we can make alternate arrangements with one of our local vendors.
Our destination on this day is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Jökulsárlón is one of Iceland’s natural crown jewels. The ice lagoon is right next to Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier. Vatnajökull and its surrounding area is Iceland’s largest national park, and the second biggest national park in Europe. The lagoon is formed naturally, from melted glacial water coming from the glacier and is getting bigger each year, as big blocks of ice crumble from the ever decreasing glacier into the lagoon.
Although the lake is becoming more impressive as it increases in size, it takes its toll on the glacier, visibly demonstrating the effects of global warming. That makes the lagoon and the nearby glacier tongue even more special, since it will look and be different each day. The glacier tongue coming down into the lake is very close to the sea, the lagoon is connected to the sea, and the seawater also aids in melting the ice from the glacier. The chunks of ice that fall into the lagoon slowly melt and drift out to sea, where the Atlantic waves crash on them at the black volcanic beach that’s found there. This black stretch of sand gets covered in translucent, compact pieces of ice that are thousands of years old and glisten in the sun, much like diamonds. This is how the beach has earned itself the nickname Diamond Beach.
After we explore the Lagoon and Black Diamond Beach for the afternoon, we will go to our evening lodgings where we will also have dinner. If the Northern Lights come out we could go back to the Lagoon to watch!
Hotpots and lighthouses
oday we move away from the typical tourist routes and into the wilder parts of Iceland. We will wind our way to Hofn, stopping at the Hoffell hotpots, taking a soak at an iconic location overlooking the eastern-most glaciers in Iceland. Then a lobster feast for lunch in Hofn!
After lunch we will continue to the lighthouse and nature area of Djupivugar. In the late seventeenth century the islands east of Úlfseyjarsund were all surrounded by sea. Since then they have become part of the mainland, surrounded by sand brought in by the tide and local rivers. Over the last two decades Kalkur and Togl also have met their destiny in the same way. Fýluvogur is probably the first commercial harbour on Búlandsnes. German merchants received a certificate for trading in Fýluvogur in the year 1589.
Hengifoss and a troll church
We leave Djúpivogur in the morning and head towards the Eggs! Eggin í Gleðivík is a large sculpture showing the all the egg shapes and sizes from birds native to Iceland. Once we’ve taken some pictures of this truly Icelandic installation, we’ll head to a natural wonder, the Hengifoss waterfall, renowned for its red stripes. We will end the day in Egilsstadir, staying at one of our favorite hotels. And this ends our Icelandic adventure together, the flight from Egilsstadir to Reykjavik leaves in the morning so you can make a flight back home later in the day or spend a few extra days in Reykjavik. For this who want to join us for a 2nd week and finish the Ring Road, we will travel on to Akureyri to spend the night before picking up the group the next morning.
- Download full itinerary pdf available
Warm beds and hot showers at every stop along the way.
Bring a couple of options!
Waterproof, winter boots and slippers (for the hotel).
You are welcome to pick up items from duty free on your way into the country.
The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman
88 Stories Around Iceland by Armann Reynisson (not available by regular printing in the US, but you can sometimes find a used version on Amazon); this is about Icelandic as you can get and you will immediately be dropped into how Iceland is today
Any of the Inspector Erlendur Icelandic murder mysteries (by Arnaldur Inridason)