On Assignment Projects
Meet Your Expert
Iceland is a nation of dramatic extremes, where geysers and steaming lava flows coexist with powerful waterfalls and vast calving glaciers. Located at the edge of the Arctic Circle, much of the island remains under ice, yet it is also one of the most volcanically active countries on the planet. Take advantage of long days and bright nights to explore the unforgettable natural wonders of this otherworldly landscape. Choose your On Assignment project— Photography, Climate & Geology, or Film & Video—and set out to discover one of the most dynamic physical environments on Earth.
Reykjavík and the Golden Circle
Days 1-4The expedition begins with a swim in Iceland’s famous geothermal pool, the Blue Lagoon, followed by an orientation in Reykjavík, Europe’s northernmost capital. Get essential background on the geology of this subarctic island nation, and learn the basics of climate change. Hike to the top of a nearby volcano and learn about Viking heritage at some of Reykjavík’s cutting-edge historical museums. Head out to the Golden Circle and discover Gullfoss, a thundering waterfall that appears to vanish into the earth. Then continue to Geysir—the earliest geyser known to Europeans—where boiling water can rocket up to 210 feet in the air. Follow a guide through an ultramodern geothermal plant that provides much of Reykjavík’s energy. Iceland is at the forefront of the sustainable power movement, with 70 percent of its energy renewable and much of that derived from its prodigious geothermal sources. Explore ancient lava flows to learn how volcanism continues to shape Iceland’s dynamic landscape. Hike along the shores of Thingvallavatn, the country’s largest lake, and learn about the geological forces that created the islands and canyons around this body of water. Summer days are very long this far north, and much can be seen and done in a single day.
Höfn and the Vatnajökull Glacier
Next, journey east to Höfn, a remote gateway to the mighty Vatnajökull Glacier, the world’s largest ice cap outside of the Arctic and Antarctica. Cruise through a glacial lagoon between fantastically shaped icebergs. Participate in dynamic field-based seminars with experts on glaciology and climate change. Camp on a vast glacial moraine in the heart of Skaftafell National Park. Don crampons and ice axes to trek over the massive ice cap with certified local guides. Ride Icelandic horses; photograph unique rock formations along black-sand beaches; or visit the remote original landing place of the Vikings, a peninsula of rugged cliffs dotted with puffins. Investigate changes in the composition of fish stocks and seabird populations caused by warming waters. Explore Iceland’s southern coast and remote glacial valleys with your On Assignment team, and report your findings back to the group.
Lake Mývatn and the Northern Coast
Walking on glaciers and floating through lagoons was amazing. I was also collecting data for my On Assignment project, which gave me focus, and helped me remember and value my trip.
Iceland straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates diverge. This unique position makes it one of the most volcanically active countries in the world. Head north across the uninhabited interior to the wild volcanic area around Lake Mývatn. Explore bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, and the craters of dormant volcanoes. Hike on congealed lava flows from a series of massive eruptions that occurred in the late 1970s. Visit magnificent Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, where gray glacial meltwater from Iceland’s interior blasts through a spectacular basalt canyon.
Bathe in the blue mineral waters of a natural thermal pool surrounded by black lava beds, and visit Akureyri, a thriving modern city on the Arctic Ocean. Hike to roaring glacial waterfalls, wander through a 3,500-year-old ice cave, interview local researchers, and enjoy your final days together as you put the finishing touches on your On Assignment projects. Then, return to Reykjavík to present your work before flying home.
We will stay in small hostels and cabins, and spend several nights camping in tents.