Departures for this brand-new Wild Women Expeditions’ foray into the land of ice and snow are Feb. 23-March 2 and March 9-16, 2019. These dates coincide with prime viewing conditions for the Aurora Borealis. The per person rate of $5,495 includes local female guides, seven nights shared accommodation (a private upgrade is $425) in guest houses and mountain huts, meals, activities-related gear and equipment including snowshoes and poles, ground transportation and drop-off at airport in Reykjavik and all local taxes. See: Website
This time of year the light from a low-lying sun sheds a warm glow for a short eight hours, time enough to strap on snow shoes to stride (hikes average 10km) through volcanic valleys where steaming mud pots, hot rivers and frozen waterfalls await. Over on a glacier, crampon-clad women will explore an ice cave and tunnels with an accomplished glacier guide. One mountain region along the sea displays a multitude of bird species nesting on treacherous cliffs, beaches of sand and pebbles popular among horsemen and rock skimmers, and remnants and relics scattered here and there of times and ways of life long past. Iceland’s unique geology and cultural history come into focus when visiting Thingvellir National Park, home of the country’s seat of power from the 10th to 18th centuries.
Guests meet up in Reykjavik where a walking tour and thermal soak demonstrate how Icelanders enjoy themselves. The itinerary offers daily opportunities to soak in water warmed from the belly of the earth. While lodging in mountain huts, guests help prepare Icelandic meals. But there’s no lingering at the dinner table here, as throughout the day anticipation mounts for the spectacle du jour, the Northern Lights, witnessed in off-the-beaten-track locales where otherwise dark skies preside.
The sojourn calls for people-to-people meet-ups too. At Ullarselið, a center for displaying and selling, staff will show the group the importance that wool plays in this cold clime. In 1994, 50 women from nearby villages worked for 18 days (432 hours) to make the biggest sweater in the world! It is knitted with hand-spun wool; 179 pieces are sewn together with black thread. The sweater has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. (Icelandic sheep, breeding here over 1,000 years, yield white and shades of gray, brown and black wool. The prolific breed carries a gene that can produce sextuplets.)
On a western peninsula where fishing and tourism rule the economy, guests spend time with two female entrepreneurs who set up a slow travel company in the town of Stykkisholmur. They will share first-hand insights into the way of life – yesterday and today, including how and why Icelanders are said to be some of the most well-read people on the planet.
Founded in 1991, Wild Women Expeditions is the world’s largest women-only travel company. Its initial focus was on canoeing on remote Ontario waters. Through an unwavering focus on Canada, one of the wildest, most pristine countries in the world, Wild Women Expeditions became Canadian experts in a pioneering niche that introduced small groups of women into wilderness settings. Even though the company now hosts guests all over the world, it retains a national focus with more trips and more women-only, back country camping adventures in Canada than any other women’s travel company in the world.
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