Few places are as off the beaten path as the remote Westman Islands, an archipelago off of Iceland’s southern coast blessed with a kaleidoscopic beauty of red cliffs, black sand, and green countryside, framed by blue sea and sky. Experience the scenic, historic, and cultural gifts of one of Iceland’s major fishing ports and the premier home of the Atlantic puffin. This is a unique destination rarely seen by Americans.
- It's Included:
- Airfare from the Westman Islands to Reykjavik
- Ferry from Reykjavik to the Westman Islands
- Accommodations for 2 nights in the Westman Islands and 1 night in Reykjavik
- 7 meals—3 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 3 dinners
- 5 small group activities
- All land transportation
- Services of our own OAT Trip Leader
- NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
- All transfers
You’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Reykjavik, Iceland.
In Reykjavik, we’ll be met at the airport by an OAT representative and transferred to the coach that will carry us along a scenic coastal route to Selfoss. Here, we’ll pause for breakfast before continuing on to Landeyjar Hofn Harbor, where we’ll board a ferry bound for the Westman Islands. This small cluster of about 15 volcanic islands and 30 skerries off Iceland’s southwestern coast is sparsely populated and rarely visited by Americans, but it delights those who do. Enjoy time to settle into our hotel on Heimaey—the largest and only inhabited Westman Island—and enjoy lunch on your own before gathering with our small group for a stroll through the downtown area and dinner at a local restaurant.
We enjoy a morning tour of Heimaey, the largest of the Westman Islands. Most of Heimaey’s 4,800 residents depend on the sea—and never was that more true than in 1973, when the island was devastated by massive eruptions of lava that sprayed into the air through fissures in the ground. Amazingly, the entire fishing fleet was in harbor, and everyone on the island was rescued. Eruptions continued for five months, reshaping the island, adding about 15 percent to its territory, and creating Eldfell, a volcanic cone. The island’s major town, also called Heimaey, has since been rebuilt, and today it is one of Iceland’s major fishing ports.
We'll discover the effects of the volcanic eruptions of 1973 on a Worlds of Fire walk on the lava fields. In some areas of Heimaey, the ash rose as high as the tops of telephone poles, and as you walk above streets and buildings, you may come upon excavations that let you catch glimpses of the town as it existed before that fateful year.
After an included lunch at a local restaurant we will visit the Museum of Natural History. In the museum's aquarium, view uniquely Icelandic marine species such as the jelly cat, often brought here by sailors eager to preserve their country’s natural wonders. The museum also features displays of stuffed birds and fish, as well as one of the world’s best collections of Icelandic minerals, such as agate and jasper. You'll also visit the Byggdasafn Folk Museum.
This evening, you’ll have a chance to find out more about what life is like today in this remote hinterland as we enjoy dinner at a restaurant, followed by entertainment presented by some local residents.
After this morning's briefing, we'll view the Westman Islands’ scenic splendor from a different perspective—on a boat tour. Then, after lunch on our own, we'll enjoy a scenic hike at Storhofdi, a peninsula off the southern tip of Heimaey. Next, enjoy an afternoon at leisure before taking the short flight back to Reykjavik, where we dine together at a local restaurant this evening.
Today we meet the rest of our group as we begin our Untamed Iceland adventure.