Incentive to Iceland: Sample programme – 3 nights

Day 1 Arrival – Viking welcome – Blue Lagoon – Reykjavik

When arriving at Keflavik airport we are met by our local guide.  He will show us to our private Coach that will be waiting for us outside. The luggage will be transported directly from the airport to the hotel, and will be waiting in the rooms when the guests arrive.

We will start our incentive travel in Iceland by visiting the Viking museum in Keflavík, the town at the airport. We will have our welcome drink at the museum while enjoying the Viking exhibition. A full scale Viking ship, skin-books and weapons are among the things you will see at the exhibition.

We will have canapés and cocktail in the main hall underneath the magnificent Viking ship, stroll around the museum to look at the exhibition and to top it all we can have Vikings in full dressing fighting outside the museum.

After enjoying the refreshments and the exhibition we will board the private coach again and drive 15 min. to the famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa, one of Iceland’s most unique and popular attractions.  The lagoon is rich in a unique combination of natural minerals which gives the lagoon its soft, milky aquamarine color.  Enjoying a bath in the warm water of the lagoon, surrounded by black lava is a perfect way to start an exciting incentive to Iceland.

After the bath we head to Reykjavik city to our hotel and freshen up for a late dinner down-town.

 Restaurant Perlan,

“The Pearl” is built on top of the hot-water storage tanks, in the outdoor area Öskjuhlíð. The space-ship-like building is very interesting from the architectural point of view with the dome of the Pearl consisting of reflecting glass panels on hollow steel frames. The restaurant rotates a full circle in 2 hours and affords a splendid view over the city, bay and surroundings. The Pearl is a first-class restaurant, famous for it’s superb cuisine. The chefs of the restaurant have won several awards worldwide.  (www.perlan.is)

 

Day 2  Glacier experience – highlights of Iceland

At 08:00 in the morning our Super Jeeps await us outside the hotel.

Our Super Jeeps are heavily modified 4wd jeeps. The tires are large, 38-44 inches in diameter, giving the Super jeep very high clearance from the ground. The way these specially equipped jeeps are used in Iceland is unique in the world.

We drive out of the city eastbound for approx.40 minutes towards Thingvellir national park. Home of Iceland’s parliament from 930-1798 Thingvellir is also the point on Earth’s surface where the North Atlantic ridge splits the two geological continents of North America and Eurasia. In the mind of many Icelanders this is the place where the heart of the nation is kept, being the location of so many historic events.

From Thingvellir we continue our journey through the lava fields towards the highland.

On the way we will stop for refreshments at Laugarvatnshellir cave. This cave, which was inhabited until 1921, and the old turf houses still to be seen on few locations, is a good reminder of how much the Icelandic society has developed in just a few decades. While enjoying hot drinks and some Icelandic delicacies in these unusual surroundings we will listen to stories about the cave and its inhabitants, both of people, ghosts and the “hidden people”.

From the cave we will continue for about 40 minutes to Gullfoss waterfall, our last stop before going up to the glacier.

Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls. The „Golden waterfall“  falls 32 meters in two stages, with water coming from the glacial river Hvítá, which has its source underneath the glacier Langjökull, and flows 133 kilometers into the Atlantic ocean.

Who could imagine that we have one woman’s relentless struggle against government officials to thank for this powerful waterfall’s existence today.  A local woman, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if the government would continue with the idea of harnessing the river above the falls and therefore destroy this beautiful and magnificent waterfall.  We will walk down to the waterfall (5 minutes) for a closer look and some pictures, and here you can really feel the forces of nature. This stop will take about 30 minutes.

Next destination – Langjökull Glacier, approx.30 minutes from Gullfoss. Now we will start our Glacier adventure.

Langjökull (The Long Glacier 1355m) is the second largest in Iceland. It has an area of about 950 km² and most of it rises between 1200 and 1300 m above sea level. It rests on a massif of hyaloclastite mountains. Many glacier snouts crawl down to the lower lying regions, and each of them has a name. Very little water runs off from The Long Glacier on the surface. It, however, supplies the largest natural lake of the country and the lakes to the north and geothermal areas in the West and the Geysir area as well.

Upon reaching Langjökull we are met by our glacier guides who will help us gear up and give us instructions for our snowmobiling tour. We will have a 45-60 min. drive around the glacier on snow scooters.

A snowmobile (or snow scooter) is a land vehicle propelled by one or two rubber tracks, with skis for steering. They are designed to be operated on snow and ice, and require no road or trail. Most snowmobiles are powered by two-stroke gasoline/petrol internal combustion engines. Overalls, helmets and boots will be provided for the ride.

After the snowmobile tour the passengers will explore the glacier further by foot and in our Super jeeps. Our main object will be to visit the Ice-cave, a 2-3m high and 300m long structure inside the ice. The conditions of the ice caves on the glacier change rapidly between years, so who knows exactly how they will look when your group arrives.

 **The ice-hiking and visit to cave is pending on conditions on the glacier at each time**

Glacier buffet

After the excitement up on the glacier, everyone is ready for lunch. Our buffet has been carved out of the glacier, ready just moments before we arrive so it is fresh and unique. Our professional chef will by waiting with a spread that is not possible to refuse. With the best that Iceland has to offer both for the food as well as the setting for a lunch that takes your breath away. This lunch option is the ultimate incentive experience.

After our adventurous visit to the glacier we head to Geysir, probably the world’s most famous hot spring area. The Great Geysir, or Stori-Geysir, has for centuries been one of the greatest natural attractions of Iceland and where these natural phenomenons, “geysers”, get their name from.  Since Great Geysir has been dormant since 1916, the main attraction of the area is now Strokkur (The Churn), another geyser 100 meters south of the Great Geysir, which erupts at regular intervals every 10 minutes or so.  Its white column of boiling water reaches as high as 30 m up in the air. Although Strokkur is the only spouting geyser, the whole area around it is covered with hot pools and boiling pits – so be careful where you step outside the marked paths.

Our next destination is Kerid, a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes area half way between Geysir and Reykjavík. The drive from Geysir takes around 30 minutes.

Kerid was created as the land moved over a localized hotspot, but it is the one that has the most visually recognizable caldera still intact. The caldera, like the other volcanic rock in the area, is composed of a red (rather than black) volcanic rock. The caldera itself is approximately 55 m deep, 170 m wide, and 270 m across. Kerid’s caldera is one of the three most recognizable volcanic craters because at approximately 3,000 years old, it is only half the age of most of the surrounding volcanic features.

While most of the crater is steep-walled with little vegetation, one wall is sloped more gently and blanketed with a deep moss, and can be descended fairly easily. The lake itself is fairly shallow (7-14 meters, depending on rainfall and other factors), but due to minerals from the soil, is an opaque and strikingly vivid aquamarine.

At Kerid we will be welcomed by an Icelandic artist, one of Iceland’s best tenors will perform for us in this unique surroundings. The guests can choose to either sit down in the grassy slopes surrounding the water, or to stand on top of the hill to watch the entertainment below. Our caterer will be waiting with drinks for the group as it arrives, served at the top before people descend into the crater.

The acoustics at Kerid are very good so we will witness an exceptional event, while enjoying our drinks.

From Kerid we head back to Reykjavík city where we will arrive at our hotel late in the afternoon, just in time to freshen up before dinner.

 The Fishmarket   (www.fiskmarkadurinn.is )

Walking into Fiskmarkaðurinn or the Fish Market in Aðalstræti, right in the centre of Reykjavík, is like entering a tropical oasis. The restaurant which opened in 2007 offers a playful mix of Asia and Iceland both in athmosphere and the cuisine on offer.

The restaurant is the creation of young Hrefna Rósa Sætran, who is Iceland’s first female celebrity chef.

Dining is on two floors. On the upper floor you have the bar where you can sip your aperitif on orange and black leather benches and sofas before commencing your meal. The main dining room is in the basement where you can choose between conventional table service or a seat at the robata-grill.

 Day 3 – Whale watching and optional activities

After breakfast at our hotel we get ready to see some of the biggest animals in the world. Whale watching tours are scheduled from the old harbor in Reykjavik from beginning of April through October. Whales most frequently seen are the Minke whales, Humpback whales, Dolphins and Porpoises.

We depart from the old harbor of Reykjavik from the pier Ægisgarður, which is located down of Ægisgata. We do hear about the seabirds and the nature in the bay Faxafloi.  It is different how much is announced it depends on sightings, conditions and season.

It depends on the tide and sea state if we start the trip going to either Akurey or Lundey to watch the puffins (May 15.-aug 15.) There are no two whale watching trips the same, therefore, we have to be flexible and line the trips up regarding conditions, weather and sightings.  It is different how far we have to go, but we rarely have to go further than 30 min from the harbor.

After the whale watching tour we will have lunch at a down town restaurant before departing for the activities we have chosen for the afternoon. Those who choose to have a free afternoon can just walk straight into the down-town shops and explore the city center.

 Duration of the whale watching tour is 3 hours.

 Option A:  Helicopter sightseeing to Eyjafjallajökull volcano       Duration 3-5 hours                                                  

We will drive to the domestic airport in Reykjavík where we will meet up with the helicopter pilots and their planes. The 30 minutes flight over to Eyjafjallajökull volcano takes us over some of the most beautiful spots in Iceland and the scenery from above is really breathtaking. We have a view upto the highland as well as down to the black beaches and the sea. It is magnificent to see Vestmanna Islands rising from the sea just off the south coast of the mainland.

We will circle the volcano area before landing on or as close to the volcano as possible, depending on the situation of the day. We explore the territory  around the landing area, taking pictures and collecting samples of ash and lava. The area is all covered in new lava and the ash from the volcano is covering the area for many kilometers around it, even the glaciers can be black with ash.

And of course we will bring out the champagne to celbrate your visit to this infamous but beautiful location, which was the cause of such a disruption in flight traffic all around the world.

From the volcano we will fly to Hotel Ranga, a 4* lodge hotel close to the volcano area, where we will enjoy lunch before flying back to the domestic airport in the city.

 Option B: Beyond the Arctic circle                                        Duration approx.6 hours

Our journey starts at the domestic airport in Reykjavík. A chartered plane will take us to the small island of Grímsey.

Grímsey island, bisected by the Arctic Circle, lies about 40 km away from the closest point on the mainland and is only inhabited by 100 people.  Its highest point (103 m) is at the northern end where it slopes gently undulating southward in green fields and pastureland.
The island is about 2 km wide and 6 km long with an area of 5.3 km2, the second largest of the islands around Iceland. The island is girded by bird cliffs where a multitude of sea birds nest.
All in all about sixty species of birds nest on this fascinating island.

Close to Basar farm on the island‘s northern half, a signpost at 66 degrees and 33 minutes north marks the Arctic Circle. Travelers will get a certificate from the local authorities to show that they have crossed the Circle.

A local guide takes us on a walking tour of the island, explaining what we see as we go along. We will have lunch at the only restaurant on the island and taste some local dishes. After lunch we will take a boat trip around the island and experience close up the magnificent birdlife on the island, and hopefully see some of the marine life around the island.

After the sightseeing the Mayor of the island will give us our certificates and off we fly back to Reykjavík city. As you will fly over half of the country on the way to and from this northernmost town in Iceland, we cannot fully describe the beautiful landscape which will meet your eyes on this flight.

The visit to the island will take approx.6 hours.

Option C:  ATV Quad biking        Duration approx.3 hours                                               

We drive to a place called Bolalda, which is just outside the city limits.

Bolalda is an area which was given to the motocross people in Reykjavik by the city government, a fantastic outdoor area where you can have fun all day long, surrounded with lava and mountains, amazing nature and still so close to Reykjavik. When we arrive at Bolalda the ATV Quad bike guides will start by gearing us up with overalls, helmets and raincoats if necessary. Before the tour hits the road, the tour guide instructs the riders about safety rules and how to drive the ATVs. The guide estimates the ability of the group and explains the route of the tour.

All the ATVs are equipped with 4WD and automatic transmissions /shifting. These ATVs are very stable and designed for rough driving in the wilderness.

The route taken depends on the time dedicated for the tour. One option would be to go to Hengill, the volcano of mystery, a totally new and amazing world that we can explore up close and personal on bikes. We continue to discover the rough Icelandic landscape, driving up mountain hills, down into valleys and crossing rivers.

ATVs are fun and easy to ride and if you are 17 or 67 – this off-road adventure will gear you up for an exhilarating mountain experience.  All tours are guided by qualified tour guides for your safety and enjoyment. All riders should note that it is also necessary to wear strong boots and good trousers

After the exhilarating ride on the quad bikes we return to our hotel in Reykjavík.

Option D: Horseback riding                                           Duration approx. 3 hours

We drive directly (15 minutes from hotel) to the stables at Íshestar. This ranch/stable is located in the outskirts of the city at the edge of the lava fields.

When arriving at the stables we are met by our riding guides, which will help us to get our riding gear (helmet, boots and raincoat if needed), and to saddle the horses and fix the stirrups. Now it is time to try out the friendly Icelandic horse.

For more than a thousand years, from the settlement of the country in the late 9th century to the early 20th century, the small but amazingly strong Icelandic horse has played a vital role in Icelandic history. Dubbed “The most useful servant”, many Icelanders credit the horse for the survival of the Icelandic people. The settlers brought with them horses from Norway and the British Isles, strong and muscular they served their masters in war and peace.
In recorded Icelandic history, which spans over 900 years, no horses have been imported to Iceland. In the 11th century import was made illegal, so the present day horse is very similar to what they were 900 years ago. This isolation has preserved certain traits lost to other European horses. Among these are the five gaits the horse is famous for.

In Iceland these gaits are used depending on terrain and preference of the rider. While most horses have three gaits: walk, trot and gallop, the Icelandic horse has two extra gates. Icelanders call them tölt and skeid (pace), with the tölt gate being better known throughout the world. The tölt is a gait in a quartered beat with equal intervals and is a gait that, with unaltered footfall can escalate its swiftness from a mere step to great speed. You can hear the tölt distinctly as a constant four-beat staccato and if you watch a horse in tolt you can see that the horse carries the rider smoothly in an even four-beated rhythm, perfectly still in his saddle, without the tossing movement of the trot.

After this refreshing riding tour we return to our hotel and relax for a couple of hours before going out to dinner.

 Option E: Spa treatments                                                      Duration 1-3 hours

For those who really want to pamper themselves they can enjoy treatments at a local Spa, which offers Jacuzzis, massages and beauty treatments. You have a choice of three spas, one of them being the Nordica spa located at the Hilton Nordica hotel.

 NordicaSpa

NordicaSpa is the ultimate escape to nurture and soothe the mind, body and soul. A sense of comfort and well-being in our guests is the aim of everyone at NordicaSpa provided in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. NordicaSpa emphasize both spiritual and physical well-being where guests can indulge themselves and drain away the day’s strains.

Spa treatments: NordicaSpa offers a variety of treatments to help the guest to relax and feel refreshed. The guest can choose from a wide range of body and facial treatments, massages and aromatherapy. There are two Jacuzzis and one hot tub, two steam baths with different aromatic oils as well as a special relaxation room. A shoulder massage by one of our masseurs is always offered in the Jacuzzis. Guests can experience an outdoor sauna in a Nordic log cabin and enjoy the fresh Arctic air in an adjacent garden. Guests are encouraged to take time before and after the treatments to enjoy the Jacuzzis, steam baths and sauna to get the most out of them.
Fitness centre: The fitness center is furnished with the latest cardiovascular machines and weight lifting equipment and gear and the workout area is bright and spacious. A personal trainer assists you with your workout each time you come to train.

Farewell dinner at Iðnó restaurant

The Iðnó restaurant is located in the heart of the city of Reykjavík, beside the City Pond, directly opposite the City Hall. The Iðnó restaurant welcomes groups of upto 120 to dine in one of the city’s most historic buildings.

Iðnó was built in 1897 and reconstructed in its original form in 1997. It remains as it was in 1897, testament to the grand vision of Iceland’s artisans. The theatre hall on the ground floor can accommodate up to 120 people for seated dining and 300 for standing receptions.  The second level of Iðnó features a restaurant accommodating up to 60 people for seated dining and 80–100 for standing receptions. Here you will find the Iðnó art collection, comprising paintings by most of Iceland’s greatest painters of the twentieth century. On the third level is the saloon. Here you can enjoy an aperitif to your meal in the restaurant or simply indulge in coffee and brandy in this delightful saloon full of antique curiosities.

After dinner, those who want to carry on with the partying can explore the colourful weekend nightlife in Reykjavík.

 Day 4    Reykjavík – Departure

A morning of free activity until the private bus takes you to the airport at least 2,5 hours before departure.