Revamped Itineraries Highlight the Land of Fire and Ice

Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- Clients interested in seeing the volcanoes, geysers, glaciers and other natural wonders of Iceland can select from a variety of tour programs and independent packages available through wholesalers.

To entice travelers to visit this land of fire and ice, several operators have launched bolstered itineraries for 1997:

* For example, Bennett Tours, which has been taking people to Iceland for about five years, introduced an eight-night escorted Iceland Complete program.

The program, which begins and ends in Reykjavik, takes visitors to Borgarnes, Sauoar-

krokur, Akureyri, Neskaupstaour, Hofn and Vik.

Along the way, participants will see the Golden Falls, the hot springs at Geysir, Lake Myvatn and Skaftafell National Park.

Other highlights of the tour include a trip to the isolated fjords near Iceland's highest bird cliff, in Neskaupstaour, and a cruise on a glacial lagoon.

The package is priced from $1,555 per person, double, and departures are scheduled from April 29 through Oct. 7.

The cost includes roundtrip air fare from New York, Baltimore or Boston; accommodations; transfers; some meals; services of a tour escort, and baggage handling.

Bennett also offers a five-night escorted Iceland's Southern Highlights tour, priced from $1,780, and a two-night Stopover in Iceland, priced from $200.

The two-night programs are designed for travelers heading to other parts of Europe who would like to spend a few days in Iceland's capital before or after their journey.

The costs mentioned above are per person, double, and include air fare from New York.

For information and reservations, contact Bennett here at (212) 532-5060 or (800) 221-2420.

* Euroseven, also based here, offers Iceland on its own and as part of longer programs to Scandinavia and Scotland.

As a result of the popularity of the combination packages that were launched this year, the company is extending them through next summer, said Wendi Mehlman, marketing manager for Euroseven.

"People love being able to pay one price and visit two countries," she said.

The Iceland & Scotland program, priced from $589, features two nights in Reykjavik and the choice of two nights in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Under the plan, travelers start each day with continental breakfast and spend three days exploring Scotland by car.

Clients who would prefer to combine Iceland with Scandinavia can do so with the Scandinavia Week With Iceland Option program, which is priced from $999.

After spending six nights in Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway, or Stockholm, Sweden, travelers head to Reykjavik, Iceland, for one night for an extra $35 per person.

The company also offers a Reykjavik Weekend plan, Mehlman said.

The two-night package starts at $389 and includes roundtrip air fare from New York, Baltimore or Boston; accommodations; daily breakfast, and hotel taxes.

All prices listed above are per person, based on double occupancy. Euroseven can be reached at (800) 890-3876; fax (212) 255-9844.

* Gogo Worldwide Vacations, based in Ramsey, N.J., entered the Iceland market at the end of 1995 and is pleased with the response it has received so far, according to Jacques DiCroce, the firm's director of marketing for Europe.

Gogo is selling Icelandair's tour products, such as Iceland Midweek Madness, priced from $299 through March, and the Adventure Getaway, priced from $379 through April.

Both two-night packages are priced per person, double, and can be booked by calling any Gogo operator.

For 1997, Gogo plans to combine the two-night packages with other European destinations.

DiCroce said there is a growing "demand to discover more" of Iceland and that the firm will launch escorted and fly-drive packages this summer.

* Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Passage Tours features a semi-escorted, eight-night program called Iceland Crescendo, which circles the island with optional extensions to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Highlights of the program include the lava fields of Kirk-jubaejarklaustur, a cruise in the Jokulsarlon Lagoon, the fishing village of Husavik, Lake Myvatn, the Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir geothermal area.

The trip, which has nine departures scheduled in July and August, is priced at $2,298 per person, double ($2,198 for the Aug. 21 departure), and includes roundtrip air fare from the U.S.

Two-night extensions to Greenland and the Faroe Islands are priced at $1,098 and $698 per person, double.

Passage Tours can be contacted at (954) 776-7070; fax (954) 776-7188.

* Scantours, based in Los Angeles, has created several Iceland programs ranging from three to seven nights.

Some of Scantours' most popular itineraries are the three-night Iceland Hot Spots tour, which highlights the southern part of the country and includes visits to the Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Hot Springs and an Icelandic farm, and the six-night Iceland Complete program.

The Complete program takes participants on a circular tour of major sites such as Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Hot Springs, Lake Myvatn and Myrdalsojkull Glacier.

The tours are priced per person, double, from $705 and $1,333, respectively, and include accommodations, most meals, sightseeing, a tour guide, taxes and service charge.

Departures are scheduled from May through October for the Iceland Complete program and June through August for the Hot Spots Tour.

The company can be reached at (310) 636-4656 and (800) 223-7226; fax (310) 390-0493.

* Clients interested in discovering Iceland the way the Vikings did might opt for Marine Expeditions' Iceland & Greenland sailing.

Passengers spend a few hours exploring Reykjavik before boarding the Marine Discovery for an 11-night journey.

The voyage takes travelers along the western coast and calls at Heimaey, a fishing town in the Westmann Islands with a population of about 4,000; Flatey, and Latrabjarg, the westernmost point in Iceland.

The Marine Discovery cruises along the nine-mile long bird cliffs that are home to the world's largest razorbill colony and where numerous sea caves are found.

The remainder of the cruise is spent exploring Greenland before returning to the U.S.

The trip is priced from $1,995 per person, double, including roundtrip air fare from New York or Baltimore.

* Nonni Travel, a local operator based in Akureyri, specializes in environmentally-friendly adventure programs.

The company created several new programs for 1997, including winter tours in a four-by-four vehicle.

Other adventures in Nonni's Iceland offerings include whale watching in Eyjafjurdur, kayaking, Zodiac cruising and hiking tours during the summer.

Prices vary depending on the program and the number of participants.

The company, which also offers programs in Greenland, will custom design itineraries to meet group or individual needs.

The tours can be booked through Mountain Travel Sobek at (510) 527-8100 and (800) 227-2384 or Icelandair Holidays at (800) 223-5500; fax (410) 715-3547.

Nonni Travel can be reached directly at (011) 354-461-1841; fax (011) 354-461-1843.

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