Scenic winter tour with great ocean view, northern lights hunting and an easy cave exploration in Cave Vatnshellir, making this two-day tour great value for money. Snaefellsnes’ truly stunning and varied landscape has given it the deserved nickname “Iceland in miniature”.
We will look for the northern lights if weather conditions allow.
When we have picked you from your hotel we will begin the tour when we drive to Hvalfjordur, if weather allows, which is an interesting fjord which has some very nice views and is peaceful and is never crowded. We travel onward over a mountain pass called “Dragi” to the valley of Skorradalur where there is a lovely view over a lake. We will visit the hot spring, Deildartunguhver, which has the highest flow of any hot spring in Europe. The water temperature is 97 degrees and the flow rate is over 180 litres per second.
Our next stop is at Reykholt, a little village in the valley of Reykholtssdalur. Snorri Sturluson, author of the Edda Sagas and one of Iceland’s most significant people in historic times, lived in Reykholt. He was a famous poet and politician whose work left records of the Old Norse language and medieval Icelandic mythology which are invaluable to modern day scholars.
One of the highlights of this tour is probably Hraunfossar Falls, which are not far away from Reykholt. The falls consist of a series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 900 metres through a very porous lava field. The waterfalls pour into the River Hvita from ledges composed of the less porous rock in the lava.
Literally a stone’s throw upstream from the Hraunfossar Falls we will find the waterfall of Barnafoss. This name means “the Waterfall of the Children”, and is derived from an accident which is said to have taken place there in ancient times. The tale says that once upon a time there was a natural bridge over the waterfall and two children from a nearby farm fell to their deaths using that bridge to cross the river. It is said that the grief stricken mother had the bridge destroyed.
We will then continue to the valley of Hnappadalur, passing the magnificent crater of Eldborg. We will see Gerduberg, an impressive wall of beautiful basalt columns forming geometric patterns in the cliffs. There is also a mineral well in the valley of Hnappadalur, called Raudamelsolkelda, which has the highest water volume of any well in Iceland.
We reach Vegamot, an important crossroads on our way to our accommodation. We drive over the mountain pass Vatnaleid and through the lava field of the Berserks, a road which is believed to be one of the first man-made roads built by two Swedish Berserk men.
Today, after breakfast, we will continue our journey around the peninsula of Snaefellsnes.
We make a stop at the waterfall with the iconic mountain Kirkjufell in the backdrop, on our way to Olafsvik. We may buy some lunch pack there. Then we move on to the other quaint fishing villages of Rif and Hellisandur on the northern side of the peninsula.
The long wave radio mast at Hellissandur is a 412 metre high guyed radio mast for long wave transmissions at Gufuskálar in the vicinity of Hellissandur plains. We will make a quick stop here. This mast, which is one of the tallest structure in Europe, is insulated against ground and guyed in five levels by steel ropes, which are subdivided by insulators.
The black-sand beaches
Our next stop will be the black sand beaches of Djupalonssandur and Dritvik, where there were fishing operations in the olden days. The debris of two shipwrecks from some decades ago is still spread along the beach. These beaches are stunning and extremely interesting places to see with unusual cliff fromations and black pebbles.
If time allows, we will take a short 30 minute hike along the coastline connecting the two beaches to see the amazing scenery in this area.
One of the tour highlights is this easy cave exploration in the National Park of Snaefellsnes.
There’s no need to be in any particular physical condition to explore Cave Vatnshellir. Helmets, gloves and torches are provided to all travelers during this guided visit.
Inside the lava tube there are two main sections. The upper section has great features and unique formations of lava statues curved on the sides of the lava tube. The lower part of the lava cave which can be reached by a long and narrow staircase takes us deep down underground to a place which was hidden from the outside world for thousands of years. Vatnshellir was created in an volcanic eruption some 7,000 years ago.
Visiting this beautiful cave offers a unique experience. In the total darkness of the lava cave most sense shut down and the sense of smell becomes dominant, deep underground there is absolutely no sound.
We will then travel on to Hellnar, which is another really nice little village were we will enjoy a hike to explore, seeing the cliffs, seabirds and beautiful views towards the sea and to the glacier of Snaefellsjokull. From Hellnar we drive to the fishing village of Arnarstapi (Eagle’s Cliff) to enjoy the extraordinary shoreline, the scenery here is beautiful and unusual with some weird basalt rock formations.
Arnarstapi fishing village
We will see a sculpture of Bardur Snaefellsas at the beach of Arnarstapi, who was half human and half ogre. After some quite dramatic events in his life he is reputed to have vanished into Snaefellsjokull ice cap.
From Arnarstapi we drive to a ravine named Raudfeldsgja. There is a very beautiful brook flowing from deep within an enormous crack in the mountain wall which cleaves all the way down to the root of the mountain. We can enjoy a short hike into the ravine.
From Raudfeldsgja we will drive back towards Reykjavik, by-passing Vegamot and Borgarnes. If we are lucky we might be blessed with a display of the northern lights, aurora borealis, the beauty of which words cannot convey.
It is also possible that we might include some extra hiking if the weather and circumstances are suitable.
Our arrival time in Reykjavik will depend on whether there’s aurora activity, and the cloud cover allows for viewing.
Pick up from your hotel or guesthouse, tour by minibus, caving tour in Cave Vatnshellir (very easy), English guidance, accommodation with breakfast, and northern lights hunt.
Lunch and dinner are not included in the price.
Winter clothing to wear
Please take into account that the weather in Iceland is ever changing and winters can be very cold. Therefore it is very important to dress accordingly.
Be sure to bring good hiking shoes and warm socks, windproof and rainproof outer layer, light and warm inner layer, such as wool, fleece or thermal.
Also remember balaclavas and winter gloves. Jeans and trainers are not suitable. If you do not have good hiking shoes you can rent them from us.