Science of Iceland with Steve Spangler

Steve Spangler’s Science of Iceland Adventure

Teachers and science enthusiasts alike have enjoyed Steve Spangler’s Science at Sea experience in Alaska for the past decade. The Spangler team has a reputation for creating educational travel experiences that motivate and inspire participants to think differently about the world in which they live. In 2022, Spangler launched the first-ever educational travel experience in Iceland, and we are excited to announce our return to this amazing country in 2023.

Highlights from the 2022 Experience

Your journey with team Spangler starts in Reykjavik and travels along the southeast coast to explore Iceland through the eyes of the country’s best environmental scientists, naturalists and science enthusiasts. There is nothing like this trip offered anywhere because of the world-class naturalists and educators that Spangler has assembled for this experience. The customized excursions, educational lectures, and elite access to the Spangler team of native Iceland experts are only available to Science of Iceland participants.

Video Highlights

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The 2023 Trip at a Glance

  • The dates are June 7-15, 2023. You’ll arrive and depart from Reykjavik.
  • This is not a cruise – it’s a land tour to some of the most spectacular places in Iceland. The luxury motor coach will take us everywhere.
  • Some of Iceland’s most notable tour guides, experts and scientists will lead our private, custom excursions.
  • You will stay in 5 hotels throughout the journey, each with their own unique charm. Maximum occupancy is two people per room (not our rules).
  • Breakfast is included each day along with 6 group dinners and a very special final night dinner celebration.
  • This experience is limited to 50 people (ages 16 and up) – that’s the capacity of the motor coach. The age limitation is at the request of our travel guides in Iceland.
  • There will be a lot of walking and hiking each day – some days more than others. Please take this into consideration as you think about the trip.

Science of Iceland is truly a trip of a lifetime with other educators who value the importance of experiential learning. As a past Science at Sea participant, I didn’t think the Spangler team could raise the bar of excellence… but they did. We woke up every day to a new adventure- volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, canyons, and geysers… and that was just the first three days!

Kristen Wilder – Gov. William Pitkin Elementary School, East Hartford, CT

Who Should Attend?

  • Our goal is to create an experience where educators and science enthusiasts get an up and close look at Iceland’s amazing ecology, innovations in renewable and green energy, food science, architecture, education system, and better understand this science-rich treasure. If this experience seems interesting, you’re a prime candidate.
  • First priority will go to people who have personally attended Science at Sea or Science in the Rockies in the past. Why? We want to honor, acknowledge and reward past participants with the opportunity to register before spaces are made available to other science travel enthusiasts.
  • If space is available AFTER we have given past participants ample time to register, we will open up the remaining spaces to “first-timers.”
  • The limit of 50 participants is based on two things… the size of the luxury motor coach and the size of the hotels.
  • This trip requires a SIGNIFICANT amount of walking and a sense of adventure. You’ll log an average of 18,000+ steps per day on your favorite health app. The excursions that we’ve planned will require a fair amount of uphill and downhill walking each day.
  • The ideal participant should enjoy traveling by bus, like to walk and hike, must be able to pack light, enjoy experiencing different hotel locations and to put up with Steve’s shenanigans (but you already know that).

2023 Agenda at a Glance

  • This is the tentative itinerary for 2023 – subject to change as new opportunities in Iceland appear!
  • June 7 – Arrive in Reykjavik in time for our evening kick-off celebration at the hotel at 7:00pm
  • June 8 – Explore Reykjavik via an amazing food tour, then have some shopping time on your own, and end the evening at the amazing Sky Lagoon thermal spa
  • June 9 – Hiking, volcano adventure, geothermal science and more
  • June 10 – Skaftafell National Park, more waterfalls, a boat trip on the iceberg lake at Jökulsárlón, and “Diamond Beach”
  • June 11 – Travel to Sólheimajökull and walk on a glacier, see some amazing waterfalls and check out the most popular black sand beach at Reynisfjara Beach
  • June 12 – We will see Gullfoss, Geysir, and Skálholt Church and stop to learn about greenhouse growing and the Icelandic horses
  • June 13 – Travel to Vestmannaeyjar Island via the ferry. Exploration!
  • June 14 – Wake up on Vesmannaeyjar Island and travel to Þingvellir National Park.
  • June 15 – Depart Reykjavik… or decide to stay a little longer
Our Iceland Route

What’s the Cost?

  • The cost of trip is $7,300 per person (double occupancy), plus airfare to and from Reykjavik. Double occupancy means that you will be sharing a hotel room with your spouse, partner, significant other, family member or friend. This is your “plus one.”
  • The cost for single occupancy (just you alone in the hotel room) is $8,300 per person.
  • You’ll need to budget for the cost of airfare to and from Iceland and the cost of airport transportation to and from the hotel in Reykjavik.
  • See everything that’s included in the section below.

What’s Included?

  • Kick-off celebration party on the evening of June 7
  • Ground transportation to each location on a luxury motor coach.
  • 8 nights accommodations in 5 separate hotels
  • Breakfast each day at the hotel
  • Group dinner for 6 of the nights (two nights will be on your own)
  • Daily customized excursions – all excursions are private for our group
  • One-on-one access to the expert tour guides, lecturers and scientists who are embedded with our group
  • Gratuity for the travel guides that lead each of the excursions as well as the Iceland team of naturalists
  • Final night celebration dinner and farewell party
  • A few Spangler surprises along the way

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city on the planet. The city gets as few as four hours of sunlight in the winter months and as much as 21 hours in the summer. The area was first settled in the 870s. The steam rising from the hot springs in the area gave Reykjavik its name, which means “bay of smoke.”

Travel Inside a Volcano

We will visit the Þríhnúkagígur volcano which is safely dormant and has not erupted in over 4000 years. First, we will walk 2 miles on a mostly flat course to the volcano, with a slight incline near the end of the hike. We will then travel 700 ft below ground on an open elevator, similar to the system used to carry window cleaners on tall buildings. The total ground space for walking around inside the volcano is 160 x 220 ft. It is huge! No knowledge of hiking or climbing is required, but you need to be able to walk about 2 miles (3 km).

Skaftafell and Vatnajökull National Parks

This landscape looks similar at times to the Swiss Alps. The Svarifoss (Black Fall), named from the black basalt columns behind it, flows from 65 ft high (20m). We will see Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. The highlight of the day will be Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon as we hop on a boat and sail right by free floating icebergs that have calved off the glacier as they make their way to the black sand beach and flow into the ocean.  The experience is once in a lifetime!

Golden Circle

The traditional Golden Circle Tour of Iceland includes stunning topography stops. Þingvellir National Park is where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart and cause a great deal of Iceland’s volcanic activity. Gullfoss is a multi-tiered waterfall created in a gorge in the Hvitá River. Flash flood waters in the basalt lava layer forced their way through cracks and created this magnificent waterfall. You can hike quite a distance along landscape and view this spectacular site from many angles.

Vestmannaeyjar Island

Vestmannaeyjar (Western Islands) is an archipelago off the southern coast of Iceland and was formed by underwater volcanic eruptions. The population is approximately 4300. The islands give home to the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world. Our group will take the 40 minute ferry ride to one of the islands. We will visit the Eldheimar Exhibition and learn all about the greatest natural disaster in Icelandic history. 

Questions?

In addition to the information provided above, we’ve tried to anticipate a few of your questions below. You’re welcome to call Renee Spangler at (303) 933-2500 or email your questions to [email protected].

HOW DO I REGISTER?

We’re starting the process by collecting a list of people who are serious about going on the trip.

 

WHAT’S THE DEPOSIT? WHAT IS THE CANCELLATION POLICY? (2023)

We are collecting a deposit of $2,500 per person to hold your spot on the trip.

This deposit (less a $200 processing fee) is fully refundable up until December 1, 2022. With only 50 spaces available, this deposit means that you are indeed serious about attending this experience. If we (Team Spangler) cancel the trip before December 1, 2022, no processing fee will be withheld and you will receive a refund of your full deposit.

The remaining balance of your registration fees will be automatically charged to the credit card used at registration on March 1, 2023.  

Due to advance planning of this trip, here is how the cancellation policy will work:

If you cancel between December 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023, you will be eligible for a 50% refund of your $2,500 deposit.

If you cancel between March 1 and April 6, 2023, you will be eligible for a 50% refund of the full payment collected.

No refunds will be issued after April 7, 2023.

We are aware that many unforeseen factors can result in the cancellation of a trip. We are working closely with the hotels, bus company and travel experts in Iceland to help ensure full refunds in the event of another outbreak similar to what we experience with COVID.

HOW WILL THE REGISTRATION PROCESS WORK?

We’re excited that you’re interested in being a part of this new adventure. We also want to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we gather all of the interest forms.

The first step is to complete the interest form.

If we have more than 50 people who are seriously interested in moving forward by putting down the deposit, we will use a lottery system to select our participants.

 

 

DO I NEED TO PURCHASE VACATION INSURANCE?

No, you don’t have to, but most folks recommend doing so, especially when traveling overseas. First, your regular medical coverage/insurance may not cover you at outside the US. Traveling without this insurance means you will have to pay for emergency medical treatment expenses up front if you become ill, injured or require minor or major medical attention, including the remote possibility of an emergency evacuation. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you should purchase travel insurance because medical coverage does not exist outside of the US.

WHEN SHOULD I PLAN TO ARRIVE AND LEAVE REYKJAVIK?

Plan on booking your flight to arrive in Reykjavik on or before June 7, 2023 at 5:00 pm. Please note that many US flights fly overnight to Iceland and therefore arrive the following day with the time difference, which means you need a departure date of June 6, 2023.

We have witnessed some issues when airlines cancel or delay a flight leaving the passenger(s) unable to arrive on time.

Our kick-off party is at 7 pm on Wednesday, June 7. Our final group event is late into the evening on Wednesday, June 14th. There are no planned events on June 15th, so your first departure flight opportunity is the morning of June 15th.

Keflavik International Airport (KEF) is the name of the international airport near Reykjavik. Visit www.isavia.is/en/keflavik-airport to find flights or learn more about the airport. The drive time from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik is approximately 45 minutes.

WHAT MIGHT AIRFARE COST FOR THIS TRIP? (2023)

It will vary tremendously depending upon a lot of factors (gas, oil and the airline industry are only the beginning). If you get your seats early (more than 250 days out) you will likely get your best deals as airlines typically sell their least expensive seats first…and they only have a couple at that “least expensive” rate. Also, your cost will vary depending upon where you live and even what time of day you choose to leave. I have seen tickets range from $950-$1700 per person (luggage fees may or may not be included). You may also have frequent-flyer tickets you can use…but book those quickly…they are usually the first seats to go! You also might check into using different airlines to come and go as that may save you some cash (using IcelandAir to get there and United Airlines to return, for example).

HOW DO I GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE REYKJAVIK HOTEL?

There are several transportation options for getting from the airport (KEF) to the Fosshotel Reykjavík Hotel in Reykjavik. You will need to make your reservation for this transfer BEFORE leaving the US.

One suggestion is Flybus Airport Transfer at https://www.re.is/tour/flybus/.  This is a bus that costs about $44 USD per person.

I booked the six of us on Airport Direct using their Premium Transfer option because I didn’t want to make a bunch of bus stops along the way. Our cost per person was $54.36 in 2022 with all the fees including delayed flight coverage at today’s exchange rate.

Gray Line Airport Express at https://grayline.is/airport-bus-transfer also offers a similar service, but has less schedule availability.  Their service will cost about $155 USD. I would recommend choosing the service that takes you to our hotel, not to the bus depot.

Blue Lagoon has an airport bus combo with their spa time, if your flight is leaving later in the day.

Taxi prices can run as high as $200-$300 USD from the research we have seen.

Uber is illegal in Iceland and therefore not an option.

A great blog post to learn more about airport transfers is at FullSuitcase.com.

ARE CHILDREN ALLOWED TO ATTEND?

At the request of our travel guides and coordinators in Iceland, we are only accepting children ages 16 years old and up.

WHO IS GOING FROM THE SPANGLER TEAM?

Team Spangler includes Steve, Renée and Bryan Higgins. Steve and Renee traveled to Iceland in 2019 to scout locations, visit hotels and to pull together a team of naturalists, geologist and other experts to lead the adventure. The duo returned to Iceland in September 2021 to put the final touches on everything.

HOW ARE WE TRAVELING ACROSS ICELAND?

Everyone will travel together in a luxury motor coach (okay, that’s a nice way of saying big bus). This is the best way of seeing the country. We have planned plenty of stops during each day’s journey. We will rotate the seating each day to insure each person is guaranteed a great view while traveling along the beautiful scenic landscape of Iceland. We even have a system to ensure everyone gets a chance to sit in different seats on the bus each day. Trust us… it works.

WILL WE BE IN A DIFFERENT HOTEL EVERY NIGHT?

We have selected 5 different hotels for our accommodations during the 8 nights of the trip. Nights one and two are at the same Reykjavik hotel. Nights three and four are at the same hotel in Vik. Nights five and six are near “The Golden Circle.” Night seven is on Vestmannaeyjar Island. Our culminating hotel is back in Reykjavik.

HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE ON THE TRIP WITH ME?

This experience is limited to 50 participants. This number is based on the size of the motor coach and the available rooms at each of the hotels.

WILL EVERY MOMENT OF OUR ADVENTURE BE SCHEDULED?

No, but a lot of your time will be scheduled.  This will not be like Science at Sea where there were blocks of time for you to roam the ship on an “at sea” day.  We are leaving each hotel right after breakfast and packing in a lot of activities and driving each day. You will have limited time to shop as we will maximize our exploration time.

HOW MUCH LUGGAGE CAN I BRING?

You are HIGHLY encouraged to pack light. According to the tour bus guidelines, you are allowed to bring one suitcase per person with the dimensions of 30.5 x 22 x 12.5 inches (77.5 x 56 x 32 cm) and weight not exceeding 66 pounds (30kg). You are allowed one personal sized carry-on bag which must be small enough to store in overhead bins or under the seat in front of you on our motor coaches. Carry-on bags should not exceed the dimensions of 12 x 11 x 6 inches.

The tour bus company will not be able to make accommodations for a second suitcase or any luggage exceeding these limits. For safety reasons, wheeled carry-on bags are not suitable as hand luggage on motor coaches.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

Daily life is casual and relaxed, so dress for comfort and pack layers, much like you did for Alaska. It will likely rain during our trip. Bring your swimsuit as we have an excursion the first day to one of the amazing thermal spas in Reykjavik. You will also want to bring good hiking shoes. A more specific packing list will be provided later.

CAN I CLEAN MY CLOTHES?

Yes, as we are at several hotels for 2 nights. You should be able to hand wash your items in the sink upon arriving and hopefully they will have time to dry before we leave.  Make sure to pack your own laundry soap.

WHAT KIND OF CAMERA SHOULD I BRING?

As you know from your Science at Sea experience, we will have a photographer with our group.  Bryan Higgins is our staff photographer and will get photos of our journey.  He will share his photos in a gallery for all of us to use.  So, if you would rather not travel with a larger SLR camera, something like the newest iPhone that fits in your pocket, will do a great job for you.  Cameras are a very personal preference item.

CAN I USE MY ELECTRICAL DEVICES, SUCH AS COMPUTERS, CURLING IRONS, SHAVERS AND MORE?

Electrical plugs differ so you will need a universal travel adaptor suitable for Iceland. Iceland uses the standard “Europlug” socket with two round prongs. For these plugs, you can use adapter types “C” or “F.” Electricity in Iceland is 230 volts with alternating electric currents of 50 cycles per second. Be sure to check each device you wish to bring as each will list its voltage range. You may need a voltage converter as well as the plug adaptor. It is best to bring a dual voltage curling iron and shaver.  All of our hotels have hair dryers provided.

DO I NEED A PASSPORT?

YES. You must have a valid passport. Your passport should be valid for at least six (6) months beyond your planned date of departure from Iceland. However, you do not need a Visa.

WHAT IS THE TIME DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOME AND ICELAND?

Iceland luckily has one time zone.  We all live in different states, so to make things easiest, I will answer for the Mountain Time Zone. Iceland is 6 hours ahead of the Mountain Time Zone when we are in Daylight Savings. If the current time in Denver is 8:21 pm, the time in Iceland is 2:21 am. Click here for a time zone map.

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN ICELAND?

The average high temperature in June is 48°F (9° C) but can go as high as 59°F (15°C) or more. The average low temperature is 42°F (5.5°C). Always be prepared for rain in Iceland, however June generally has the lowest rainfall of the year. Just so you know… sunrise is approximately 3:30 AM and sunset is approximately 11:30 PM.

WHAT IF I WANT TO EXTEND MY VACATION?

No problem. By all means, make whatever plans you wish before June 7th and/or after June 14th.  Remember that our final event is the evening of June 14th.  We will drive you back to a hotel in Reykjavik for the evening of June 14th as part of our experience.  We have no plans for the group at all on June 15th because flights back to your home can leave at any time that day and it is difficult to plan for varying itineraries.

Our 2022 group highly recommended extending your stay rather than traveling in earlier, if given the choice between the two.  They liked knowing what they saw and making plans to explore more after they knew what our trip was.

HOW DO I EXCHANGE US DOLLARS FOR ICELANDIC CURRENCY?

You obtain Icelandic Krona, the local currency, at exchange bureaus, banks, airports and major hotels in Reykjavik, or use your ATM/Credit/Debit card to obtain local currency. Most of the areas we will travel accept major credit cards. I would recommend knowing the PIN for TWO credit cards you bring with you. Also, be sure you are not charged foreign exchange fees from your credit card companies. Iceland also accepts Apple Pay in many areas. If you want some foreign currency before you go, call your local American Express office, larger bank chains, or an international bank and take cash for the exchange.

WHAT ARE MY DINING OPTIONS?

As this is not a cruise ship, food will not be available 24/7, sadly. Breakfast will be provided at each hotel location. We have stayed at most of the hotel locations and experienced great breakfasts. They all provided a vast selection of choices.  We will give them all dietary needs for our group well in advance.

Lunch will be on our own in some locations as that is just the easiest way to feed the group while on excursions. There are a few locations where lunch is provided, and that information will also be given to you in advance.

Dinners will typically be served at the hotel where we are spending the night. In our experience, there is usually a meat, seafood and vegetarian option. We will have more details on this as time passes.

There is no need to dressy attire.

MEMORIES FROM OUR PREVIOUS EXCURSIONS

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