Iceland: If You Dare

Iceland: If You Dare

Visit Iceland in winter and experience first-hand the harsh conditions which played a significant role in the emigration of a quarter of the Icelandic population from Iceland to North-America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Traveling in a small group of 4-8 people, you will also enjoy plenty of exciting winter activities, Icelandic food and festivities. This tour is ideal for North-Americans of Icelandic origin or anyone who would like to learn more about the emigration. Available from end-January to mid of March.

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From:1,750 EUR
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  • Taste Icelandic food, from the time of emigration to modern cuisine
  • Attend Þorrablót or Kvöldvaka - traditional feast with the locals
  • Tour the remote Unadalur Valley and get a sense of the extreme living conditions of former times
  • Swim in an outdoor geothermal pool
  • Learn to dance traditional Icelandic dances 


  • Transfer by 4x4 jeeps from the morning of day 1 to the afternoon of day 4 with a local guide
  • 3 nights’ accommodation at Kolkuós Guesthouse, rooms with private bathroom, breakfast 
  • Dinner at restaurant Sólvík in Hofsós village
  • Fish dinner, caught and prepared by the tour group at Kolkuós Guesthouse
  • Traditional Þorrablót feast or Kvöldvaka with the locals
  • 3 x lunches
  • Ice-fishing at Lake Höfðavatn
  • Snowmobile ride to Þórðarhöfði Cape
  • Farm visit and traditional Icelandic coffee and pastries
  • Super jeep ride to Unadalur Valley to see the locations of old turf farms from where many families emigrated to the New World
  • Access to Hofsós outdoor geothermal swimming pool
  • Introduction to Icelandic food and cooking in former times
  • Morning spent at the Icelandic Emigration Center at Hofsós
  • Traditional Icelandic dance lessons

Tour background and accommodation

During the second half of the 19th century Iceland went through spells of unusually cold winters. Many residents of remote farms faced total isolation for 8-9 months or even longer. Frost did sometimes not leave the ground until late June or early July meaning that the crucial haymaking never materialized. Such circumstances forced many families off their land with little alternative but to immigrate to America.
This 4-day tour will help you understand the above predicaments, the isolation and the cold – but with the comfort of modern technology, 4x4 jeeps and a warm and cozy guest house! For the duration of the tour you will stay at the comfortable Kolkuós Guesthouse in Skagafjörður in North Iceland. Kolkuós is located by the shore where in former times there was a small village. Today the only house standing is this newly renovated guest house offering 4 rooms with private bathroom, a living room and a small dining room - a true home away from home!


Day 1 | Kolkuós in Skagafjörður

10:00 a.m. pick-up at your hotel in Reykjavík, after which you will head up north with your local guide. On the way you will stop for some traditional Icelandic meat soup or kjötsúpa, for lunch. Early afternoon arrival at Kolkuós Guesthouse. Before dinner you will get a chance to go for a swim or enjoy a soak in the hot tubs at the outdoor geothermal pool at Hofsós which offers an excellent view over the Skagafjörður fjord. Welcome dinner at restaurant Sólvík in Hofsós village before the return back to Kolkuós Guesthouse.

Insider info Geothermal hot water
Swimming - Geothermal hot water has been used throughout the centuries in Iceland but at first only where it surfaced naturally. Technology then gave us the opportunity to use it much more; to produce electricity, heat up our houses and swimming pools and cultivate vegetables in greenhouses all year round. Going swimming is something Icelanders do all year round, to keep fit or just to warm up in the ‘heitir pottar’ (hot pots) as we call them. Many of our foreign guests find a certain charm in going swimming when it is freezing outside or maybe even snowing!

Day 2 | Ice cool activities and Unadalur Valley

Breakfast at Kolkuós and then a drive to Lake Höfðavatn were you will go ice-fishing in the style of Vestur-Íslendingar (Western Icelanders). After hopefully a good catch you will head to Þórðarhöfði Cape by snowmobile.

After this outdoor adventure you will head to farm Vatn for a visit and a light lunch including traditional Icelandic kaffi og kökur (coffee and pastries).

In the afternoon you will meet up with local drivers of 4x4 modified super jeeps who will take you to Unadalur Valley. You will gain insight into the isolation and difficult conditions that people left to find a better life in the New World. Today, no one dares to enter the valley during winter except on good 4x4 vehicles.

Upon arrival back at Kolkuós Guesthouse, you will get a chance to help with the preparation of the day’s catch for dinner; cleaning, preparing and cooking. After dinner everyone will gather in the living room for a good Icelandic kvöldvaka (evening get-together) filled with traditional stories, songs and an introduction of Icelandic food through the centuries from a local expert including tastings.

Insider info Remote farms 
With the growing population in the 19th century, people ventured into the remote valleys and heaths to search for arable land. Living in simple turf houses in such isolation was difficult enough in a good year but during cold and long winters, keeping the livestock alive was extremely difficult. News of the New World and possibilities overseas seemed like the only choice for many.

Day 3 | Emigration history, dancing and Þorrablót / Kvöldvaka

Breakfast at Kolkuós after which the morning will be spent at the Icelandic Emigration Center and museum. At the museum you will get to know the history of the emigration from Iceland as well as find more about your ancestors and their origins.

Lunch at Kolkuós Guesthouse, followed by traditional Icelandic dance lessons to Icelandic folk songs. New skills that might come in handy this evening!

An afternoon of free time and relaxation, or more time at the Icelandic Emigration Center. You will then spend the evening at a local Þorrablót (Jan-Feb), a traditional Icelandic festival featuring traditional food, song and dance or a traditional Kvöldvaka (Feb-mar) with Sagas, song, dance and local food. You never know, you might even meet some of your frænka and frændi!

Insider info: Þorrablót
This is an Icelandic midwinter festival originating in pagan times. Back then, Þorri was a month in the old Icelandic calendar, the period from mid-January to mid-February. The second part of the word – blót – refers to worship, in the honor of the Norse god Þór. The first festival was apparently organized by Icelandic students in Copenhagen in the middle of the 19th century. It gradually caught on in Iceland and has since then always been based on traditional Icelandic food. The feast certainly gives first-hand insight into the various food items found in every Icelandic home throughout history. But there is more to the celebration as singing and dancing play a significant role.

Insider Info: Kvöldvaka 
Evening get-together. Icelanders lived for centuries scattered on farms in the country side. During the long dark winter days any form of communication with neighbors, family or friends in other parts of the country was very limited. People did not travel during those months but carried on with life in total isolation at home. When the daily chores were completed and supper had been served, the „kvöldvaka“ began. In a poorly lit room, the only warm placeon in the farm, people gathered. In times of neither radio nor television, any form of entertainment was in the hands of the household. There was reading from the Sagas, reciting of poetry and folktales were told. The singing of rhymes was a popular event in every home.

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Day 4 | Farewell and return to Reykjavík

Late breakfast.  Departure around noon and arrival in Reykjavík in the afternoon.

Prices & departures

Please contact us for price and departures

Minimum 4 people
Maximum 8 people

Not included

- Flights to and from Iceland
- Lodging in Reykjavík before and after the tour

We are happy to take care of all arrangements before and/or after the tour:
- Book private transfer upon arrival from the airport to Reykjavík
- Book hotel/guest house in Reykjavík
- Arrange for an extension to the tour

For all further information please contact us or telephone us (+354) 570-2700


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