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Iceland Tour

The Icelandic Experiment

Led by Urdur Gunnarsdottir, our Iceland Tour explores the country’s economic and environmental challenges, and see at first-hand the effects of global warming.

Dates: 18 – 26 August, 2018

Cost: £4000.00

Single Supplement: £500.00

Most meals and all accommodation are included in the price. Flights are not included and need to be arranged with your own travel agent. We will advise you as to which flights best fit the itinerary nearer to the tour.

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    Tour Itinerary

    Iceland is a stark and stunningly beautiful land of glaciers, mountains and waterfalls that’s also home to a unique and fascinating political landscape. Despite it being one of the countries worst hit by the global financial crisis in 2008, resulting in a constitutional crisis and international bail-out, the country is bouncing back.

    The economy is booming again, thanks in no small part to tourism, and perhaps reflecting its ambivalence to EU membership it has become home to one of the most radically anti-establishment political movements in Europe.

    We’ll explore the country’s environmental challenges, and see at first-hand the effects of global warming – temperatures are rising here at an accelerated pace compared to other parts of the globe, resulting in the rapid melting of the islands glaciers. What are the lessons here for the rest of the world?

    We’ll look at how Iceland has successfully harnessed renewable energy and examine the country’s more controversial harvesting of its own population’s genetic profiling – a unique project that has gathered the DNA data of the entire population.

    This country of just 350,000 people punches above its weight culturally, financially and politically. It has no army, little crime, and one of the highest rates of gender equality in the world. Iceland, and it’s unique political and environmental solutions are sure to take you by surprise.

    Former journalist and Icelandic Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Urdur Gunnarsdottir, leads our nine-day tour that will include meetings with Iceland’s leading politicians and business figures. Together they provide an inspirational look at how the country is tackling some of the biggest challenges of our time.

    Day One

    An introduction to contemporary Iceland and the week ahead, with Urdur Gunnarsdottir, over dinner at 7pm.
    Overnight, Reykjavik

    Day Two

    We are introduced to Iceland’s pocket-sized capital, Reykjavik, with a local expert on a walk around the city centre. We’ll see the blooming colourful art and culture scene, and the imposing Hallgrímskirkja church. The island was a relatively sleepy backwater with an innovative domestic agriculture and strong fisheries sectors. But in the 1990s it undertook an experiment that made it a fast growing financial hub. We get an introduction to the gamble that ultimately left the country incredibly exposed.
    Overnight Rejkjavik

    Day Three

    Significantly, Iceland’s parliament – the Althing – that was founded in 930 and remains the oldest surviving parliament in the world. When the crash unfolded it affected the whole Icelandic system, ultimately resulting in a constitutional crisis. We speak with the prosecutors charged with digging into the process, and ultimately imprisoning some of the country’s leading bankers. Later we look at a different experiment. Iceland’s small population and genealogy has made it a global centre for genetic research. We meet the creator of deCODE Genetics, the company behind the island’s genetic decoding project.
    Overnight Rejkjavik

    Day Four

    We leave Reykjavik behind and head east along Iceland’s south coast to visit the Sólheimajökull Glacier. Global warming is taking place at a rapid rate in Iceland and the island has already experienced temperature increases that the rest of Europe will only see at the end of the century. A meteorological expert and environmentalist explain the immediate impact of global warming on a visit to the glacier. We stay overnight at a local farm, that creates its own energy – all from a waterfall in the back-garden.
    Overnight near Sólheimajökull

    Day Five

    In the morning we take a hike across the glacier and see how it is rapidly changing (this is a safe optional walk, and does not involve climbing or any technical experience – participants need to be fit enough to walk for 2 hours). After lunch we look at how the flora and fauna of Iceland are changing. Icelandic farmer are now growing new crops, an upside of global warming. Iceland’s geysers and hotwater springs also permit scientists to understand how a much hotter climate could affect nature.
    Overnight near Sólheimajökull

    Day Six

    We head back towards Reykjavik and stop en route at Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station and learn about the remarkable success story of renewable energy production in Iceland. Almost all electricity and heating is powered by renewable energies. We tour the power station and learn about plans to export the cheap and carbon free electricity from hydro and geothermal to the UK. There are contradictions though to Iceland’s green credentials. Its transport sector also relies heavily on aviation and the car. Back in the capital we learn about a new kind of politics gripping the state – most notoriously in the form of the Pirate Party – a direct democracy movement co-founded by Birgitta Jonsdottir.
    Overnight Rejkjavik

    Day Seven

    What next for Iceland? Iceland is repeatedly named the most peaceful and gender equal in the world. The only war in the last 8 centuries is the cod war it fought with the UK in the 1970′s. Half of its parliament are women. But is all this too good to be true. Experts look at how much Icelandic society has recovered from the crisis. There are scars still left and the economic recovery also has its downside. With tourism overwhelmingly at the forefront, 1.7 million visitors in 2016, there are questions about its impact – upsetting a small housing market.
    Overnight Rejkjavik

    Day Eight

    Our last full day is an opportunity to put questions to the people at the top. We visit a national newspaper to get their view and meet members of the government and opposition. After lunch there is free-time to wander Reykjavik before our farewell dinner and look back over the week.

    Day Nine

    Tour ends after breakfast. Departures for airport.

    If you would like to book a tour please click here to fill in our booking form. Or call us on 0843 289 2349 or email us at [email protected] to find out more.

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