Is Iceland on Your List?

Is Iceland on your list?  Decisions, decisions….If Iceland is on your list, when are you thinking of going? And are you going on an independent journey, or do you wish to travel with some kind of tour? I first published this post in 2017, and have updated it from year to year. Here is yet another revision.

February/ March- you may find fewer tourists perhaps, lower prices, of course cooler weather, and likely the Northern Lights.

  • June-August, the tourists are out in full force, prices are higher, but the weather is normally warmish and less inclement, and the days are long.
  • September/ October, you are back to fewer tourists, etc. etc.
  • Winter Months in general- fewer tourists, lower prices, and Northern Lights!

Independent Travel

Today I am concentrating on winter travel in this blog post for those you have Iceland on their list. If you wish to travel there in the summer, please see the posts entitled “Off to Iceland” and “Visiting Iceland“.

Icelandair has long had packages for independent travel- self drive tours, day trips from Reykjavik etc. They regularly run advertised specials at various price points…….

By working with a travel advisor, we can find the perfect trip just for you.  Are you going primarily for the Northern Lights?  Always a bit risky given that they are not guaranteed.  Do you want to go into the hinterlands, or stay in the city?  Do you want to book day tours or drive yourself?  What about an actual tour where someone else does the driving on those rough Iceland roads?

Northern Lights

 Group Travel

If travelling independently is not quite what you are looking for- consider travelling on a small group adventure trip- i.e.  with G Adventures or Intrepid Travel……or forming your own group with an itinerary made for your own interests- photography, relaxation, adventures………you would be surprised at how inexpensive this can be!  Four people sharing a vehicle is a great inexpensive option to explore.

I would be more than happy to work with you to form a group with an itinerary of your choosing……

Adventure One with G Adventures

Iceland Northern Lights & Golden Circle is an option for an adventure winter vacation. Most people that visit Iceland go in the summer, but there’s a whole other side to this place in the winter months. (It is called “Iceland,” after all.)

Exploring Iceland the Classic Style

Iceland’s otherworldly aura seems to heighten at the winter months, when viewing of the Northern Lights is at its peak and the contrast between the cool, crisp air and its steaming geothermic hot springs heightens. Couple that with hiking through Þingvellir National Park, meeting the famous Icelandic horse, exploring lava caves, and chasing waterfalls, and you’ve got yourself a spectacular winter adventure like no other.

See another side of this amazing country. Priced from $1649 plus flights, this is another option if you didn’t feel like exploring Iceland independently.

Adventure Two with Intrepid Travel

For a more comfortable vacation , consider this trip- Premium Iceland in Winter– an 8 day trip with the itinerary below. This trip is for those people hoping to enjoy comfort at night with wonderful accommodations, and  adventure during the day. Priced from $3885 plus flights, etc.

Exploring Iceland with Premium Style

Search the sky for dancing lights by night and discover natural wonders by day on this eight-day Premium adventure. Travel with a local leader who brings the landscape to life as you view the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, drive through hardened lava fields in Skaftafell National Park, see the eerily calm waters of the Glacier Lagoon and wander among Reynisdrangar’s imposing basalt sea stacks. Take in dramatic views from your feature stay hotel and journey from Hvolsvollur to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in pursuit of mother nature’s most spectacular show.

  • Experience the breadth of Iceland’s incredible natural phenomena – ancient volcanic rock formations, black pebble beaches, glacial lakes and geothermal lagoons.
  • Travel with an experienced local leader who will explain geographic features, share stories of Iceland’s history and folklore and narrate your nightly sky watching with the science behind aurora borealis.
  • Stay in the stylish Fosshotel which offers up priceless views of the surrounding landscape, modern comforts and an excellent restaurant that uses the freshest Icelandic produce.
  • Discover the secrets of Icelandic cuisine during a home cooked dinner on a local farm and unleash your appetite on Reykjavik’s exciting food scene.
  • This trip is designed to give you the best chance at seeing the spectacular dancing lights of the aurora borealis in the northern sky.

Adventure Three with Collette Travel

Iceland’s Magical Northern Lights is another option in the world of tours……larger groups then the two above, which often means great economy of scale.

Experience the “land of fire and ice” and chase the aurora borealis across an ethereal wonderland. In the dark of the night, search for the northern lights as you drift along on an evening starlit cruise. Travel the “Golden Circle,” home to renowned natural wonders, and spend time at Thingvellir National Park, gaze at Gullfoss waterfall, and see the explosive geothermal fields at Geysir. Explore Skógar Museum and see traditional turf-built homes. Walk on a black volcanic sand beach. See Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon filled with floating icebergs. Relax in the warm, mineral-rich water of the Blue Lagoon. Spend your days surrounded by natural wonders and your nights in search of the elusive dancing lights.

Exploring Iceland in Winter with Collette

Priced from $2199 plus flights, this also provides a reasonable option for some major exploration.

All this to say, if Iceland is on your list, there are lots of ways of exploring this wonderful country. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me…….if not this year, why not plan for next?

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International Travel in 2021

It’s been just more than a week since I returned from my trip to Greece. As I was travelling, I was thinking about what had changed for international travel in 2021. And so, voilà, here is a post to let all of you know. Someone had to be the test case for international travel in 2021, and although it was a difficult job, I took it on!

Exploring The Acropolis and The Temple of Athena with a Local Guide

First a little bit about how I ended up in Greece. My friend and client, Heather P and I, had originally scheduled a barge cruise for September of 2020, then September 2021, and as you can guess, both of the trips were cancelled. When the last cancellation happened in July 2021, both of us were extremely disappointed, and started tossing around trip destination ideas over lunch. We eventually settled on Greece.

Greece Upgraded

Why Greece you might say? First of all their Covid rates were reasonable, and their entry requirements decent. Secondly, there is much to see in Greece if history is of interest. Add in a couple of islands, and the trip was settled. I switched our deposits from the France trip to the Greece trip is August with G Adventures, and the game was on.

Our Itinerary for Greece Upgraded

With just 12 travellers on the tour, private transportation, and excellent hotels which strictly followed safe protocols, G Adventures managed this trip as promised with their “Travel with Confidence” policy. In practical terms, what did this mean?

First of all, at our welcome meeting, our CEO (Chief Experience Officer for those who don’t know) Chris talked with us about health and safety while on our trip. Masks inside everywhere- hotels, the small bus which transported us from place to place, the ferries, the stores and restaurants. I would be very remiss to not mention the flights as well with Air Canada. Secondly, hand sanitization was encouraged everywhere. In the hotels, towels often came wrapped in plastic with signs that mentioned health and safety. There were signs as well in the rooms. In the restaurants, utensils were wrapped in cloth, or even cardboard holders.

We were required to show our proof of vaccination for museums, and the odd restaurant where we ate indoors. (Most of the time, of course we were eating outside.) Also, we were required to show our proof of vaccination for the ferry and of course the in country flight from Santorini to Athens. Was any of this a hardship? Of course not. No different than at home in Canada!

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements for international travel in 2021 were, in my opinion, only slightly more onerous than before. Of course, I can still remember filling out lengthy forms for my visa for India, and various other countries for entry. So I am looking at this from a different perspective than some of you.

For Greece, this was what is currently needed in October 2021:

  • Proof of vaccination (This is needed for flights in and out of Canada shortly anyway.)
  • A Passenger Locator Form completed before dropping your luggage at the airport (Many passengers did not have this. On the other hand, we were pulled out of the line and bypassed 25 or so people because it looked like we likely did have it! The advantages of booking with a travel advisor- oh and likely profiled due to our age)
  • Random Covid tests were possible at the other end- we didn’t see anyone pulled aside for this

For Canada, this is what is currently needed in October 2021:

  • A Negative PCR test (Our CEO or tour leader helped a few of the passengers set up their tests- i.e. walked them to the local pharmacy. I on the other hand, made my appointment in Canada for them to come to my hotel in Santorini on Day 10- we left on Day 12- and we had our results in 25 minutes. Price was 120 euros for this service or about $172 CAD- less than PCR tests for travel in Canada and they came to our hotel.)
  • ArriveCan app filled out- you will need your proof of vaccination
  • At the airport they will check for both above before you drop your luggage
  • Random Covid tests are possible on arrival in Canada (A client cruising in Greece at the same time was pulled aside for this upon her return)

We landed in Montreal and our arrival process was smooth as silk. I was sitting in the bar 20 minutes or so after I walked off the plane. Need I say more?

International Travel- Yes or No?

All of this to say, international travel in 2021 or 2022 is very doable. At no time did I feel unsafe. I was glad I was in the travel business as most of the travellers on the trip did not use a travel advisor, and were very unclear about their entry requirements back into their respective countries.

Therefore if you are looking to travel, it is helpful to work with a travel advisor. I personally keep an eye on rates of vaccination, and have access to a great deal of information about travel requirements as well as restrictions in various countries. Restrictions and requirements change on a constant basis. Another option for travel, as I said, is cruising. Contact me for more details.

The Caldera at Sunset in Santorini

Travelling just once will completely change your perspective. It’s all about the fear of the unknown, and once that first post-Covid trip was out of the way, I realized that the world is waiting. (Eastern Europe next fall anyone?)

Know that when you are ready, I am ready to help you plan and book that trip!

Posted in Beyond Adventure Travel- All, Europe, General Travel Information, Newsletter Posts | Leave a comment