After picking you up from your hotel we head towards Hvalfjordur , if the weather permits. Hvalfjordur is a calm fjord, surrounded by dramatic landscape, waterfalls and cliffs but it’s also famous for its history. We push onward over the Dragi mountain pass called and to the Skorradalur valley with its crystal clear lake and myths about a monster. We will also visit the hot spring, Deildartunguhver , which is famous for having the highest flow of any hot spring in Europe. The water there comes out at 97 degrees centigrade and the flow rate is over 180 L/s.
Next we get out at Reykholt, a small village in the Reykholtsdalur valley. Snorri Sturluson, author of the Edda Sagas and one of Iceland's most significant authors, historians and politicians,lived in Reykholt for a time. His work left invaluable records of the Old Norse language and medieval Icelandic mythology which are of great importance to modern day academics. The oldest hot tub in Iceland is also his legacy.
This is one of the highlights of this day, situated just a stone’s throw away from Reykholt. The falls consist of a series of waterfalls formed by streams flowing over a distance of about 900 metres through a very porous lava field. The waterfalls discharge into the River Hvita from ledges formed by the less porous rock in the lava. Only a few steps up from the Hraunfossar Falls we will see the Barnafoss waterfall . Its name means "the Waterfall of the Children", and it comes from an accident which is said to have happened there in ancient times. According to the tale, once upon a time there was a natural bridge over the waterfall where two children from a nearby farm fell and died while crossing the river. It is believed that their grief stricken mother destroyed the bridge. We will then move on to the Hnappadalur valley and pass the magnificent crater of Eldborg on the way. We will also see Gerduberg , an awe-inspiring wall of beautiful basalt columns forming geometric patterns in the cliffs. We will have a break at the mineral spring of Raudamelsolkelda in Hnappadalur.
Our drive will take us further west along the peninsula where we’ll travel through peaceful countryside with a dramatic backdrop of towering cliffs and peaks. Rhyolite from the ancient volcanos makes the mountains glow in bluish and pastel tones. We’ll spend the night at a local guesthouse on the south coast, near a wide sandy beach where if we are lucky we might spot some seals. We can also enjoy magnificent views of the mighty Snaefellsnes glacier where the well known story, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes place.
After breakfast on the second day, we carry on with our journey around the Snaefellsnes peninsula . First we’ll drive to a ravine named Raudfeldsgja . You’ll see a gorgeous brook flowing from deep inside a huge crack in the mountain wall which cuts all the way down to the roots of the mountain. We might take a short hike into the dark depths of the ravine but in winter it’s not always possible to do it.
Arnarstapi Fishing Village
As we get to the beach of Arnarstapi, we will view a sculpture of Bardur Snaefellsas who was believed to have been half human and half ogre. Legend has it that he vanished into Snaefellsjokull ice cap after some dramatic events in his life. We’ll do a short hike along the coast at Arnarstapi to admire the caves, ravines, basalt columns and sea birds. Next up we’ll travel to Hellnar , which is another quaint little village where we will enjoy a hike to explore the cliffs, watch the sea birds and admire the gorgeous scenery towards the sea and to the Snaefellsjokull glacier. After this refreshing hike we might stop for a cup of coffee at the smallest coffeeshop in Iceland by the pier at Hellnar.
The Black Sand Beaches
Our next stop is at the black sand beaches of Djupalonssandur and Dritvik , where fishing was the main occupation of the local population in the olden days. You can still see the debris of two shipwrecks from a few decades ago spread along the beach. These stunning beaches are very interesting to see with their unusual cliff formations and black pebbles. If we are doing well for time, we will take a short 30 minute hike along the coastline linking the two beaches so we can enjoy the amazing scenery surrounding this area.
One of the tour highlights is this easy cave excursion in the Snaefellsnes National Park. Vatnshellir is the result of a volcanic eruption which took place around 7,000 years ago. Visiting this beautiful cave offers a one-of-a-kind experience. You don’t need to be particularly fit to explore Cave Vatnshellir. We will provide you with helmets, gloves and torches during this guided visit.
There are two main sections Inside the lava tube. In the upper section you can see unique formations of lava statues carved on the sides of the lava tube. The lower area of the lava cave, accessible via a long narrow staircase, will take us deep down underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world for thousands of years. In the total darkness of the lava cave where there is also no sound, most of your senses will shut down and the sense of smell will become dominant.
After Cave Vatnshellir we’ll visit the small fishing villages on the north side of the peninsula. First stop will be at the longwave radio mast at Hellissandur, a 412 m high guyed radio mast for long wave transmissions at Gufuskálar near the Hellissandur plains . At one time this mast was the highest structure in Europe. We will stop here mostly to look at some peculiar rock shelters that are thought to be the oldest man-made structures in Iceland. After that we’ll make a stop at the waterfall with the iconic mountain Kirkjufell in the backdrop, on our way from Olafsvik . At the bottom of the mountain we’ll see the peaceful little village of Grundarfjordur , where we might buy some lunch. From Grundarfjordur we continue through the small fjords of Hraunsfjordur and Kolgrafafjordur after which our drive takes us through the Berserkjahraun lava field. Your guide will tell you interesting legends about the Swedish berserkers who laid the road here in exchange for the farmer’s daughter but paid with their life. After that we turn south and drive across the Vatnaleid mountains and then back to Reykjavik.
We should be back in Reykjavik city between 19:00 - 21:00 on the second day. You have two options - being dropped off at your hotel, or come to our switching point and, after some refreshments, join our Magical Auroras northern lights tour at 21:00, free of charge. If you choose the second option, the northern lights evening tour, drop-off back at your accommodation will be between midnight and 1 am. You can let the guide know which option you prefer, on the way back to Reykjavik.
Note: Due to weather and limited daylight during winter time the itinerary can vary between days. The guides evaluate circumstances and take the best informed decision possible.