From our first conversation with Chris, my husband Bob and I were “wowed” by his enthusiasm for Iceland travel. That, and his preference for a trip in which we did the driving and much of the touring on our own, with specialized guides at key sites, made choosing Chris’ operation an easy decision.
The timing, both time of year and number of days, was perfect for a trip with our two 14-year-old grandsons. We had plenty of time to explore the south coast, spending more time where we chose to. We knew that the boys would love adventure and Chris provided ample opportunity for that. We explored caves, a geyser, and many waterfalls, hiked in national parks and in an ice cave, and kayaked at sunset through a glacial lagoon.
Most visitors to Iceland have opportunities to soak in thermal baths, such as the famous Blue Lagoon. But I doubt if many get to hike to a heated river, where the guide blocks the water flow, thereby creating a pool for private soaking, and cooks your meal over the heated rocks.
Chris provided top-notch guides and special, unusual experiences. His restaurant recommendations were excellent (especially in Reykjavik) and hotel choices were perfect for us. He was available to trouble-shoot if needed.
Bob, Tyler, Ben and I give Chris a thumbs-up across the board.
Just back from Iceland with activities planned by Chris Gordon. The day-to-day activities were terrific, including super-jeep drive, ice cave, ATV ride on a black beach. Our particular highlight was a hike down to a thermal pool to enjoy a natural hot tub and also to get a superb salmon cooked meal by the same geothermal stream. The view and the environment were fantastic! Chris’s selection of guides and drivers were excellent! Restaurant suggestions were spot-on and we ate incredible food. Great memories!
Chris must live on Iceland time at his home in upstate New York. Far as I can figure, there is no time you cannot reach him. He boasts concierge service for his travelers, and he delivers. When we texted at 2 a.m. East Coast time with a query, Chris was on it immediately.
Not only did he create a well-planned self-driving itinerary for us with action-packed days, but he was available throughout our trip, whether we needed to sort out a glitch or decide where to eat dinner.
There were so many highlights: transiting a glacier cave via criss-crossing planks above roaring glacial runoff; a private sanctuary tour that had us inches from two beluga whales; experiencing tolt, a unique gait of the flowing-maned Icelandic horses; Zodiac-ing among icebergs to the face of a glacier.
I would encourage anybody who loves the outdoors to visit Iceland. There are hikes galore: you can transit behind a towering waterfall, ascend to the rim of an active volcano, or visit an extraordinary black-pebble beach. We boated by Surtsey, the newest island on earth, a dozen years younger than I am.
We just came back from an amazing week in Iceland, organized by Chris Gordon of Icepedition. Chris did a detailed intake with us, in order to customize the trip – we were a family of 4 (ages 51, 50, 21, 18), and everyone loved it! We were active every day, ate really well (we had heard the food in Iceland wasn’t great, but Chris guided us extremely well), and stayed in beautiful hotels. He set us up with two great private tours, which were our highlights – an ice cave tour and a secluded hot springs trip, both of which had super knowledgeable and friendly guides. We rode ATVs, hiked, and snorkeled in the tectonic rift. Besides Chris’ insider knowledge of great tour companies, restaurants, and hotels, he was also in regular contact with us all week – one day was too windy to do anything outside, and he had great ideas for how to handle this and other inevitable travel hiccups. Chris is ideal, especially for a traveler who wants help with all of the planning and booking, as his company did it all. Everywhere we went, our reservations were set, including all of our dinners. This was our first experience with such a “travel specialist,” where the trip is fully organized, and paid in a lump sum (rather than itemized for each hotel and activity). We found that this not only gave us a fabulous trip, but saved lots of money along the way, thanks to his insider rates and knowledge. Chris added tremendous value to the trip, and I would strongly recommend him for yours!
Chris did an amazing job planning our trip. We were three “active” adult couples, and we had an incredible variety of appropriate and fun activities for our week in Iceland. We were in the shoulder season, traveling from 4/17-4/24, so not all activities were available. We spent the first day overcoming jet lag with an easy tour of Reykavik and then started our tour around the southeastern part of Iceland. Chris recommended we hire a guide/driver instead of renting our own car, as 6 of us would require a large vehicle and the weather can be very iffy during April. Our guide/driver Borgia was amazing, very informative and flexible, and made the trip so enjoyable and easy. We spent a day with River Adventures, where our guide made a “hot tub” from hot springs. We walked through ice caves, rode Icelandic horses and drove ATVs on the black beaches. And of course, we saw amazing scenery including glaciers and waterfalls. All of the restaurants and accommodations were perfect for our group. I also mentioned our interest in bakeries and ice cream, and a bakery was our first and one of our last stops. Chris really did a great job of listening to the interests of the group and then putting together the perfect tour. He was easy to work with and responsive, and even gave the most comprehensive “things to think about/packing list” that I’ve ever seen. I would highly recommend Chris for any Iceland tour. I’m only sorry he doesn’t specialize in other countries!
Chris did a great job of pulling together a last-minute trip to Iceland in April. There were a few hiccups, as there are on most trips, but Chris worked magic and solved them. He even managed to change hotels at the last minute from one that was sub-adequate to one that was as good as any Inn I’ve been to.
A few comments — The guide Boga was excellent—friendly, informative, and flexible. The weather in Iceland is always a roll of the dice—plans had to be shifted often due to weather. Boga did a great job and was a huge part of creating a great experience.
Skalakot Manor was lovely and restaurant was great.
I rejected Black Beach Suites — I admit to insisting on luxury-level accommodations. Surprised Chris didn’t fire me on the spot.
The great accommodation was Hotel Ragna — Great rooms, fantastic food, and an owner/host who was there for every meal and often in the lobby talking to guests. The hotel and the staff are warm. The food is truly excellent and mostly locally based. The owner takes great pride and enjoyment from the quality of the food and the hosting. He makes a real effort to connect with each guest. I have been to many acclaimed hotels all over the world and Hotel Ragna is as good as any of them.
The Hotel Ragna team placed a phone call at 11pm the first night to inform that the northern lights could be seen. I had trouble seeing the lights — maybe because I’m color blind but more likely because they were low-level intensity. The good news was that with a wide-angle lens, F1.4, ISO 2000, a 10-second exposure, and a tripod — I was able to get great northern lights pictures — well at least for an amateur.
The Blue Lagoon was interesting and the Retreat was nice, but I wouldn’t suggest staying more than one day. I found the place to have a great level of service and amenities but to be sterile and not warm. The lagoon itself was enjoyable for an hour or two, but again one visit is enough. Moss restaurant was a true foodie tasting-menu experience and mostly delicious, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Hotel Ragna’s restaurant. Again, it was a nice performance art but sterile and cold.
Saw waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes, lava fields, caves, etc. Enjoyed Reykjavik including the famous lamb hot dogs. Didn’t see an ice cave on the itinerary due to higher than normal temps making them impassable. Also cancelled ATVs and and outdoor hot springs dip due to rain and wind. The wind on day two exceeded 60mph.
All in all a lovely trip thanks to Chris. I strongly recommend both Chris and Boga, but come to Iceland with a flexible mindset.
Response from Trusted Travel Expert Chris Gordon:
It was a genuine pleasure helping Mr. Rifkin in Iceland and we take his feedback very seriously. Black Beach Suites has only received rave reviews from our guests, however upon sensing Mr. Rifkin’s dissatisfaction we immediately comp’d him two free nights in the Executive Suite at Hotel Ranga which greatly pleased him. We regret Mr. Rifkin did not fully enjoy the five-star spa resort, the Retreat at the Blue Lagoon, which is Iceland’s single most highly-rated property, however we respect individual preferences and have elevated his feedback about their staff to their Senior Management.
My wife, a friend of ours and I travelled to Iceland this fall on a two-week trip planned by Chris Gordon. We had a rocky start in the planning stages because Chris was overwhelmed by requests. However, once he focussed on our trip he was FANTASTIC. He took what we told him we liked to do and planned the perfect trip for us. Moreover, he gave us a very detailed itinerary, which was very useful for our self-guided car trip.
Chris provided experiences for us that were truly unique. My favorite was when we got into a jeep, travelled a few miles inland and then began a hike. After a short while the guide dammed the hot spring and made a private hot tub for us in the middle of the wilderness. While we soaked he cooked a salmon lunch for us over a fumarole. Spectacular!
We circumnavigated Iceland and felt we did not miss a thing. Chris steered us to the best restaurants, best sites and best lodging. We even saw the Northern lights on our last night there. Talk about timing!
We went the beginning of September and the timing was perfect. We did not experience the summer crowds. The weather was cold but bearable. We had 12 hours of light each day. Everything was open for business.
I would recommend Chris without a second thought. While we were traveling he would call us every day. I once remarked it was 3:00 in the morning for him. He responded he does not sleep and is always available to his clients. Service does not get any better.
I would recommend Iceland to anyone who is looking for a trip with adventure and outdoor activities. The landscape is spectacular, encompassing both thermal and ice. Sometimes I felt like I was on the moon. Other times I felt like I was in the middle of a volcano. Imagine hiking in an ice cave too! I have travelled many places but Iceland is certainly unique. As a final benefit, everyone speaks English, the country is very tech-savvy and you never need to change money—everyone accepts credit cards for even the smallest purchase. Very easy.
Going to Iceland has been a dream of mine for many years. My friend Robyn and I started planning a trip. Then she found Chris, who helped turn a regular trip to Iceland into a Magical Icelandic Adventure full of private tours and adventures. His recommendations were amazing and he helped us create memorable experiences and remarkable encounters we never could have done without his help.
Iceland is a beautiful, unique island, and it has a very powerful positive energy. You are surrounded by nature everywhere you go. It wakes you up, it makes you feel alive, and you take notice of every remarkable and unbelievable view you see. It helps you appreciate nature in a brand-new way. With Chris’ help, we also met so many incredible and hospitable Icelandic people, who love nature and appreciate their land. They are easygoing, kind, and entertaining storytellers.
When we arrived early in the morning, our driver/guide Boga took us to an Icelandic Bakerí for our first taste of the many scrumptious treats. From there we went on a tour in a Super Jeep to a Hot River Soak in a geothermally-active mountain range. The views were incredible as we descended into the steaming geothermal activity in the Valley. The Hot River soak was very relaxing and really made us feel like we were connected with the gorgeous nature surrounding us. It was also invigorating, as the outside temps were in the low 40’s. After the soak and a very scenic lunch, which included fresh-caught salmon cooked in a hot spring and stories of Icelandic sagas from our entertaining guide Andreas, we continued along the Ring Road to visit the most well-known waterfalls on the South coast, Seljandsfoss and Skogafoss. We also saw the Black Sand beach in Dyrhoaley, which provided us with a sample of the crazy winds Iceland is known for.
Next came our tour of the Katla Ice Cave with our guide Ari. On the drive he entertained us with Sagas about Katla and other unique Icelandic facts. Arriving at the Glacier felt almost like we arrived on another planet, the environment was so unique. Once we climbed inside the Ice Cave, it made you feel incredible, you are standing in and around 800-year-old ice. It was beautiful and dazzling, it literally takes your breath away. It was also a little frightening, getting us outside our comfort zone.
Along the way, we had private shopping experiences at a Cooperative and then Petra’s Stone Collection with incredible Icelandic Gems and crystals. Once shopped out, we met our guide Engo to go on a Safari to look for Reindeer and discovered he had a private Car Museum that we added to our tour on the fly, after he learned we had classic car fever.
Driving North into the Lake Myvtan area was a land like no other. We heard Neil Armstrong and many other astronauts have come here to train due to the unique landscape. Traveling throughout the north of Iceland was an experience and we enjoyed all the activities, especially the Geospa. It was so relaxing, with an incredible view of the fjords.
We continued on our way with a dynamic, pastel-colored sunrise greeting us to another beautiful day in Iceland. Our journey today included a stop at Godafoss waterfall, which is powerful and tremendous to see in person. Then we spent a pleasurable afternoon in Aykureri and really enjoyed a side stop at The Christmas House, which was very whimsical in a fun way. Our drive to Sigluförður was very scenic and our view from our hotel room was stunning. I loved the deep blue color at dusk and it seemed more vibrant here. We enjoyed a beer tasting at Seagull 67 Brewery and a walk through town, which had beautiful Christmas lights shining.
Continuing to the Western side of Iceland was picturesque. We enjoyed the many beautiful Icelandic horses and farms. We had a lovely stop at Hvitserkur, a mystical stone dragon in the sea with incredible views in every direction. The night brought us to the 500-year-old seaport town of Stykkisholmur. We then headed to the Golden Circle and experienced a one-of-a-kind sensory experience at Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse and restaurant. The scent, the views, the presentation, the sounds, the delicious tastes. Everything mixed together created an awesome experience!
At the end of our adventure, we spent a little time in Reykjavik and enjoyed exploring the beautiful architecture along with the shopping, museums, fun experiences, and lots of different tasty foods. Our last night we spent at The Retreat at Blue Lagoon. Just stepping into the lobby you could tell it would be a one-of-a-kind experience. The hotel, the Blue Lagoon waters, spa, and dinner at The Moss restaurant were the perfect way to end our magical tour of Iceland.
All the Hotels throughout our travels had enchanting views and each was unique and had its own character, charm or coziness to it. The breakfast buffets were always delicious, full of many choices and presented attractively.
Thank you Chris for the magical experience. All the drivers and guides were excellent and well chosen for this amazing adventure!
I think we have fallen in love with the country and its people, and plan to return very soon and often.
I want to say thanks to Chris Gordon for arranging our trip to Iceland. Chris was with us remotely all the time, making our semi-self-guided tour much easier. He knew all the places we were going very well, so he was able to provide suggestions for alternative/additional activities.
We went on a short trip (7 days total) to Iceland from Nov 27 to Dec 3 but felt like we did everything we wanted. We followed Chris’ itinerary: driving the south cost of the island, seeing the aurora borealis in Vik, meeting up with local guides to walk in an ice cave, and driving ATVs on a black sand beach. The best part of the trip was that all the meals and lodgings were excellent. We would go back to stay at all the hotels we stayed in for this trip, especially The Retreat in Blue Lagoon.
It was such an amazing trip that my husband and I keep thinking and talking about it. We are thinking about going again in a different season to see more of the island.
Thank you Chris, again, for such an amazing trip.
I would highly recommend Chris to help arrange trips to Iceland.
Hands down, 1000% recommend working with Chris Gordon when going to Iceland. My husband and I went Oct 4-14, 2022. He just knows everything and his itinerary and communications are amazing. Honestly, I don’t know when he sleeps, because he was texting with us every day! We truly felt that we saw and did everything that we should and a few more! It was such a great option to be able to rent a car (through him) and do a driving trip—so easy there—and that made the trip so flexible. His hotels and room/suite choices were spot on. He even had dinner recommendations and reservations for every night—who does that! “Chris, I want a handmade Iceland sweater”—boom, text with where to stop. “Chris, we changed our minds and we don’t want to do this pre-booked activity any longer”—boom, cancelled, refund coming to you. There was a storm and a ferry scheduling issue, and he was all over it and got us sorted. LOVED working with him!!!
Great experience using Chris Gordon as travel planner for 10 days in Iceland Sept 2022. Excellent supporting materials provided, with useful details and suggestions to make the trip not just easier, but more meaningful. As Iceland lends itself to outdoor activities, we included horseback riding near the ocean, kayaking amongst icebergs, ATVs on backroads, hiking, etc. Chris was helpful before, during the trip—tipping us off to Northern Lights probabilities as our location changed—and after, when follow-up with Hertz was needed.
Our trip to Iceland, planned by Chris Gordon, was fabulous. The hotels, restaurants, driver/guide. and specialty guides were all wonderful. I have no complaints. Chris checked in with us every day and was available to answer questions or make suggestions 24/7, literally. I don’t think he ever sleeps. A couple of the special days — the trek into a spectacular ice cave inside a glacier, and bathing in a hot spring bath “built” on the spot by our guide — gave us experiences that we would never have gotten on our own. My wife and I — both octogenarians — could not be happier with our time in Iceland.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We visited Reykjavik and south Iceland from 7/25-31. Chris Gordon arranged our trip and wonderful itinerary. This is the first time we have used a trip planner, so we did not know what to expect. We have 2 children ages 10 and 12, and our number one goal on this trip was to have age appropriate activities that are adventurous enough for the adults as well. Chris really did a wonderful job highlighting this beautiful country and making sure our children were entertained as well. The trip plan he gave us was very thorough, including step-by-step driving instructions. Mountain bathing, ice-cave hikes, glacier lagoon boat ride, and horseback riding were just some of the highlights. The first day was a bit hard given the time change and the lack of dark nights for sleeping. We loved having our own itinerary tailored to our needs and being able to see the landscape on our own. Chris arranged all the dining logistics as well, so that took the pressure off us having to find restaurants with 2 kids in tow. He was very responsive to any issues that came up, available by texts or phone calls. We had minor hiccups with one restaurant losing our reservation. That was quickly fixed by Chris and the meal was taken care of by the restaurant. Iceland is a very easy country to travel to with children, so we highly recommend this destination to families. We plan on going back and visiting the western and northern parts in the near future. When we do, we will use Chris’ expertise again for sure. As far as Covid concerns, there were no restrictions at this time in Iceland. We tried to avoid very crowded areas like bars and tightly packed restaurants. The great thing about having a personalized itinerary is that you’re never on a tour bus with a bunch of other people. Given also that all the activities we did in Iceland were all outdoors, we were not concerned about contracting Covid. A huge shoutout to Chris for making this trip so memorable for our family!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris planned for us an 8-day driving trip to Southern and Western Iceland in July 2022 (two adults, two kids ages 14 and 21). My adventure-loving family was looking for a vacation where we could spend most of our time outdoors and active – and Chris fully delivered! Although I contacted Chris only about 6 weeks before departure, he quickly pulled together an action-packed itinerary with something for everyone. We could not have been more pleased with the results. He was in contact with us frequently during the trip and quick to address any potential issues: for example, he kept an eye on the weather and texted us the night before a whale watching cruise to give us an alternative plan in case the weather forced cancellation – then texted again in the morning (middle of the night his time) confirming that the trip was on. As other reviewers have said, I’m not sure when Chris sleeps! He was always cheery, upbeat, helpful and responsive and the extremely detailed driving itinerary he created made everything so easy. The experiences he chose for us (after a detailed consultation about our interests) were amazing – too many to mention them all here – but highlights were a private RIB boat trip in Reyjkavik looking at whales, dolphins and puffins (the dolphins were jumping literally right next to our small boat); riding ATVs on a black sand beach near Vik; a private Superjeep tour though an otherworldly landscape and visit inside an ice cave; a hike to and soak in a hot-tub temperature river; a “Viking Sushi” cruise where we ate scallops just dredged up from the ocean floor; day rooms at the incomparable Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa, and many, many more! I have worked with several other WOW-listed agents but Chris was hands down the finest travel agent I’ve ever engaged – true concierge service, 24/7. This was the best trip our family has taken in a long time – I can’t wait to go back to Iceland, and without question, I will have Chris do all the arrangements. WOW!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris Gordon planned a nine-day itinerary that allowed us to explore Iceland’s spectacular, diverse and often other-worldly landscapes. Chris rented us a 4WD car that we drove to less frequented towns and sites on the eastern, northern, and western coasts. When we arrived back at Reykjavik and toured the golden circle, we really appreciated that most of our trip was spent far from the hordes of tourists who congregate at those locations.
My birthday occurred during the trip and by sheer luck, it was a perfect sunny day. The day began with a puffin and whale watching excursion from the port of Husavik. Chris had jokingly promised some extra whales for my birthday, but he must actually have connections with these mammals because we saw multiple humpbacks diving in synchronized unison. After a delicious lunch of Plokfiskur (Icelandic stew) at a waterfront café, we soaked in thermally heated saltwater infinity pools overlooking Iceland’s northern fjords. Heaven. Other special excursions included a glacier trek, and bathing in an isolated geo-thermal mountain river.
Chris is detailed oriented and attentive. He prepared a multi-page itinerary for each day of the trip describing the best driving routes, sites of interest, area hikes, a choice of restaurants and recommended “pit stops.” Many mornings, Chris sent us texts with weather advisories and suggestions for modifying the route if we wanted to shorten our daily drive. We texted him a few times with questions and he always answered immediately – essentially a concierge in our pocket.
We encourage anyone thinking about travelling to Iceland to immediately contact Chris!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL This was a fantastic trip. Chris listened to our request and provided a perfect itinerary, that hit on on all of our requests. We loved the pacing of the days and the variety of activities. It was a great blend of guided activities and self-guided activities.
The hotels were all great and had their own unique features that made them special. Each of them had great restaurants and we thought the breakfasts were really good. We had an issue at one of the hotels and Chris jumped into action to address the issue and set the hotel straight.
Each guided activity we had was great as well. They treated us in a way that made us feel special and while they may do the same for other clients, they all left us with the impression that they were doing this “just for us.” They all clearly loved what they were doing as well (and we loved the big inflating/deflating wheels they had on their trucks).
As people will tell you, the food is expensive in Iceland but it’s easy to forgive that when it’s so delicious. I’m going through fish withdrawal as I write this :-)
We had initially asked about driving the Ring Road. I’m so glad Chris talked us out of that as we only had 7 days. Having been there, I think that would have been way too much driving to get it done so quickly.
We marveled at how responsive Chris was to any and all requests – from the “good morning” emails with a reminder of the day’s activities and any logistics to the on the spot lunch suggestions – we felt extremely well taken care of.… It was like having a portable concierge. He knew the country well and thought of little things like WiFi for the car, the best places to park, clothing recommendations, and even when and where to look for gas stations.
I would say this was a once in a lifetime trip, but we’ll definitely be coming back for more Iceland adventures… and we’ll definitely be using Chris!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Not only did we get a trip planned by Chris Gordon, it was EXCEPTIONAL!!
Every night and every day we felt couldn’t be better, and yet the next day was spectacular again!
It FIT our family perfectly, like he customized to meet our travel wants and needs!
In one town, at check in, the hotel personnel could only speak of what a lovely individual Chris is as a person, and the people he sends are seemingly happy!
We met a woman at one small event (our family and her), and Chris had also tailored her trip, she was moving through different cities than ours and different events. She, too, was also incredibly happy! It was also confirmed, these aren’t cookie cutter trips, he curated the days to fit our family of 4!
We thank you for making this connection!!!
And if all of your guides in places are this good, we will be back for recommendations again!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had an amazing trip to Iceland during the peak holiday season that was planned by Chris. I have used many travel planners recommended by Wendy Perrin and Chris was by far the best!
We started planning the trip relatively late and Chris worked some miracles to find us accommodations. He also found us fabulous guides and experiences. He truly was available 24-7 and provided us with morning updates on weather/road conditions and alerts for the best viewing of the Northern Lights (which we saw on our first night!). He even planned out walking guides of Reykjavik based on the types of stores/sites we wanted to visit.
There were no real problems on the trip but he did smooth out some small bumps we encountered, such as moving dinner reservations to comply with Iceland’s new Covid restrictions. It gave me great peace of mind knowing that we had Chris to support us if we had encountered any problems or tested positive while we were there. I highly recommend that anyone considering travel to Iceland should work with Chris!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris Gordon put the WOW in WOW Planners. He is unbelievable. Receptive, upbeat, created amazing itinerary with us which changed many times not only in pre-planning but during the trip. He was on 24-7 response time and we talked, texted, emailed constantly.
He sent a gorgeous daily itinerary with pictures, maps, details for driving place to place. It was a mastery of easy-to-read details for each day.
We had great adventures, accommodations, meals.
It was a trip of a lifetime. Chris was in daily contact about driving conditions, Northern Light possibilities and anything else. He responded to changes immediately. He took care of every detail.
Unfortunately my daughter, Lindsey tested positive for Covid. He sent us to an easy testing center, but it was the day before New Year’s Day, so the follow up usual procedures collapsed. My son and I returned home from Iceland and my daughter and husband are still there. Chris has been involved every step of the way and was able to get them a phone number to the health system that found her record.
I can not say enough great things about Chris. He has customized a fabulous trip, been involved in every detail and has been in constant contact.
Although we thought Iceland was a good choice during Covid, one of 4 got sick. We are all thrilled with our Iceland experience, but not the Covid experience. It is not a simple thing to travel internationally at this time. If you travel Xmas and leave after New Years, at least Iceland is not set up 24-7 to deal with Covid.
I can not praise Chris enough. He is the top of The WOW List for us. I would definitely recommend Chris Gordon for anyone going to Iceland.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We used Chris for our Iceland trip 11/14-19, 2021. While booking my 3rd trip to Icleand, I decided I needed the help of an expert this time. All of my previous trips were in the summer and pre-pandemic. So I thought I might need a little extra assurance of an expert factoring weather, changing pandemic protocols and things to do off the beaten path and dig a little deeper. Chris is amazing. I’m not sure when he sleeps, as I got a text every morning (Iceland time, which was middle of the night for him) with road conditions or itinerary updates. Those really helped ease any worries and start the day off right. Our itinerary was excellent, as I could tell he really took to heart all our wishes from our in depth conference call and few revisions. We had an Icelandic wild game meal I never could have arranged on my own, a secret hot spring excursion that is seared in our memory (along with eggs and hot chocolate cooked in a steam vent), and we even saw the northern lights! I know Chris wasn’t responsible for those, but he made sure every hotel we stayed at had a northern lights wake up call in our reservation notes, so that definitely helped when we got the call at midnight the 2nd night we were in country. His accessibility and quick response time before and during the trip were excellent. His knowledge of things I hadn’t already done was quite extensive. He even suggested some fascinating caves that have only been giving tours for a little over a year. And arranged a private tour and Icelandic whiskey and beer tasting in them. We ended the trip with relaxing massages and serious geothermal pool time. I planned this for my husband and another couple that had never been to Iceland before. Our friends kept saying what a great trip I had planned, but I owe most of it to Chris for turning our emails and conference call into a memory-making itinerary.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris covered all of the bases for my first visit to Iceland Oct. 28-Nov. 7, 2021 as a solo traveler, from the perspective of COVID safety, comfortable accommodations, ground transportation, guided and self-guided activities, cultural exchanges, historical and educational material, crowd-pleasing food recommendations, a packing list, and 24-hour concierge availability.
I originally planned to go to a three-day music festival in Reykjavík and stay there for another week, but it was cancelled so I decided to drive the Ring Road. At the time of my trip planning, Iceland had over 70% vaccination rate and low infection rates. A majority of my activities were outdoors and the timing of my trip was during the shoulder season, so there weren’t any crowds at popular destinations around the country and social distance was easy to achieve.
Before the pandemic, I probably wouldn’t have thought about using a travel service, but I needed local expertise to navigate the ever-changing public health protocols and resources. Chris has over 20 years of immersive insights into all things Iceland, and possesses a deep fondness for the land and people, which resonated with me. Logistically, he made everything easy and straightforward.
I especially valued that Chris sent daily morning road conditions updates, since I circled the entire country on my own. Naturally, I encountered a couple snow storms on the Eastern and Northern regions. One morning, Chris let me know and made arrangements to change my driving route through a toll tunnel passage instead of along the fjord, which was a safer option at the time.
My travels around Iceland wouldn’t have been the same without Chris. First, because he made sure I could safely drive to my next stop every day. Second, I could text him any kind of question and he responded right away, like what to do when my rental car maintenance light turned on in Mývatn or where to find shark meat. Third, the guided activities were with local Icelanders. There are so many tour companies but supporting local folks was important to me. Fourth, he scheduled my appointment for me to get a rapid COVID test in order to return home – super appreciated. Finally, I could send him a photo of the magical things in Iceland, like Goðafoss, and he knew exactly what I was experiencing! For me, as a solo trekker, it was nice to share that with someone who understood. Also, the detailed, printed itinerary, was very useful, and due to a shipping snafu, Chris sent me a souvenir copy.
Chris also had to manage my expectations. I had a very long list of things I wanted to see and do, but doing everything just wasn’t feasible with my dates. He was right.
Not surprising, however, there are several highlights of my trip: the secret hot river soak, glacier hiking, nature baths, waterfall and canyon treks, having the black-sand beaches all to myself, seeing the Northern Lights from a lighthouse cliff in Stykkishólmur, and breaking bread with local Icelanders in their homes. It’s no wonder why I feel like I have to go back for more than just 10 days.
After returning home and sharing photos and videos of my trip to Iceland with family and friends, many have said they now want to go see for themselves. I hope to visit again next year to see and do some things I didn’t get to my first go-round, but also a few things that I want to do again. Chris, thank you for sharing your love of Iceland with me!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL When we told people we were going to Iceland for 19 days, the most common response was: “Won’t you get bored? What is there to do? We went for four days and that was plenty. Why would I ever go back?” Having returned from our trip, we have some answers. There are lots of things to do and learn about. In fact, there is so much that we could have used another couple of days. There are excursions: ice caving, ATVs, horseback riding, thermal bathing, hiking, caving in a lava tube, flight-seeing (fixed wing and helicopter), volcanoes (both dormant and active), reindeer safari, Super Jeep tours, etc. There is wildlife: birds, reindeer and whales. There are good museums: National Museum of Iceland, Herring Era Museum (Siglufjördur), Whale Museum (Husavik), Sigurgeirs Bird Museum (Myvatn), West Fjord Heritage Museum (Isafjördur) and Volcano Museum (Westman Islands) among others. There are a few truly excellent restaurants including a destination restaurant: Tjöruhúsið in Isafjördur, the best fish restaurant I’ve ever visited and, unfortunately, one of the least accessible. There are islands nearby: Westman Islands, Faroe Islands and Grimsey where you can go snorkeling with puffins. We did all of the above, except the Faroe Islands, which were closed, and Grimsey Island. There are only a few first class places to stay, but the number is growing. For hotels and restaurants, you need someone who knows the territory. Finally, the Icelandic people are wonderful. The only problem is it can be hard during high tourist season to get past the tens of thousands of imported workers to meet the locals.
But all these attractions are only available if you have someone knowledgeable enough to sort through your desires and put something together that matches your interests–someone like Chris. Our trip had a few issues but overall, we had a great trip.
When Iceland announced in late spring 2021 it would begin to admit vaccinated Americans I decided my husband and I would break our pandemic travel famine by going to Iceland. We entered the pandemic March 17, 2020, upon return from a four-week Australia trip planned by Stuart Rigg. It was apt to end our famine by using another of Wendy’s experts to plan a trip to the safest place we could find: Iceland. She directed us to Chris, whom she was testing for inclusion in her WOW List. He designed a wonderful and unusual trip. He used his knowledge and unique connections to add special opportunities. He stayed in close touch and solved numerous problems (a few big ones like rental car problems and some smaller ones) along the way. Like many service providers reopening after long closures, a few things slipped through the cracks.
Chris has unbounded enthusiasm for Iceland and now that we’ve been there we understand why. It is a country with incredible adventure-travel options and spectacular scenery. His choice of excursions was excellent; his chosen guides superb. We had great excursions, wonderful guides, “best available” accommodations and good restaurant recommendations, which Chris booked in advance. Iceland is an undervalued destination most travelers see in only a short time. For those for whom a quick tour of Iceland would suffice, Chris’s skills and contacts would be wasted; any tour company can handle those. Wendy’s experts have extensive contacts and can whip up the out-of-the-ordinary trips. On that score, Chris fills the bill. He arranged ice caving, a reindeer safari, horseback riding, ATVs on a black sand beach, birding with the head of Iceland’s only bird observatory, whale watching, mountain thermal river bathing and more. Because Iceland’s tourist industry serves vast hordes relative to its population (360,000 vs. six times as many tourists — over 2.3 million in 2017), it has to import workers. Most visitors don’t meet Icelanders in hotels, restaurants and tourist sites, which severely limits cultural exchange. Chris, however, has lots of contacts with native Icelanders with whom he arranged many special and unique excursions. That was a recurring high point of our trip. We got great pleasure from our interactions with locals. Icelanders are knowledgeable, warm and friendly.
Chris too is personable and very friendly. He worked very hard to get us the trip we wanted. He had lots of great suggestions about things we might want to do and how to work them into our schedule. He listened to what we had to say. Given the time we planned this trip relative to reopening of Iceland’s tourist industry, Chris overcame a lot of slow responses from Iceland. There was much not known about how reopening would be implemented and things were changing rapidly. Chris is also superb at problem solving on the fly—and we had several problems with which we needed help (mostly pertaining to wind damage to our rental car). Regardless of time of day (or time zone), he was always available when needed. He also knows and picks not only the best hotels but reserved for us the best rooms in those hotels. Iceland is not noted for its fine hotels, but he picked several that were memorable. These included Skalakot Manor on the south coast, noted for its stables and its chef, and Siglo Hotel in Siglufjördur, which would be memorable anywhere.
Chris knows and picked the right restaurants (reservations ahead of time are essential). In Iceland, if you don’t have a reservation, you might not get food especially where demand is high and choice scarce. Our most memorable dinner was at Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður. We were seated with two Icelandic couples and had a great evening of both conversation and food. This dinner is pretty much fish and I, who am not a fish eater, loved it (and even ate some fish). Chris used his insider connections to move our reservation at Tjöruhúsið back one night when we had to change our plans. This place is completely booked up way in advance. I don’t know how he did it. He also had good suggestions for lunch places.
He provided incredibly extensive material to help us find our way and anticipate things we might want to see or do. We really valued the daily pages during the trip though two-sided printing would have made it less bulky to deal with.
As we traveled just as Iceland was reopening, it’s not surprising Chris seemed to be gearing up working alone. That led to a few problems. Presumably he has gotten past these “restart” issues.
Chris designed us a wonderful trip that we value even more in retrospect as Iceland’s Covid status deteriorated from Level 1 when we were there to Level 4 after our return. We understand it is recovering from its summer wave and is Level 3 as I write this. Just as we look back with great fondness on our Feb/March 2020 Australia trip as our last semblance of pre-pandemic normality, so, too, we look back on our June 17-July 6, 2021, Iceland trip as a marvelous vacation from unhappy pandemic life. We very much treasure our time in Iceland. We really like Chris and recommend him to others who are looking for a not-just-the-usual-itinerary for Iceland.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris planned the trip of a lifetime to Iceland for me from September 16-26, 2021.
I contacted him only two weeks before departure, since many other trip plans had fallen through due to Covid. He put together an incredibly detailed itinerary, including reservations at the top hotels and restaurants. He also arranged fascinating extra experiences, such as hiking to an ice cave inside a glacier, bathing in an outdoor thermal pool overlooking a fjord and mountains, and a stay at the spectacular private Retreat at the Blue Lagoon.
Iceland was the perfect Covid destination, since the population is very low density and almost all activities are outside. There also are stringent entry requirements for international travelers. I felt very safe everywhere I visited.
I was traveling alone by car, so safety was a big concern. Chris prepared a comprehensive manual with detailed maps, sightseeing tips, and locations of gas stations and rest stops (very important in Iceland, given the distance between facilities). He also was available by text day and night and checked in every morning to update me on driving conditions and discuss the day’s itinerary.
Iceland and its scenery were magnificent, and I got to experience the best of it all thanks to Chris’s expertise and enthusiasm.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL After more than a year of no travel, we felt housebound and anxious to get back to experiencing foreign lands. We’ve never been to Iceland and our research indicated it had a low infection rate and high vaccination numbers. Having used Wendy’s WOW List successfully multiple times (at least 9), we went directly to Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Agents. We used Chris Gordon for our trip to Iceland.
We were his first clients since the easing of travel restrictions to Iceland caused by the Pandemic.
We had several phone conversations, lots of email communication which created a strong bond and a comfortable sense that we were on the same page and that we were dealing with someone who was professional, warm and understanding but, most importantly, someone who listened carefully and patiently.
The resulting itinerary, given our finances, age and extensive travel was top notch. He clearly listened to our concerns and readily matched those to a perfectly delineated itinerary. He knowingly addressed our concerns about COVID Testing both upon arrival and departure. We had talked about using a guide but he indicated that both the expense and the breadth and scope of the itinerary pretty much precluded the need. He instilled both a confidence and a virtually mile-by-mile narrative of what we would see and experience throughout the journey.
His knowledge and love of Iceland gives his recommendations an absolute sense of authenticity. He was able to perfectly match his expertise to our interests. Thus, the traveler no longer feels like a stranger in a foreign land. Conversely, one is made aware of the culture, travel conditions, places to see, vistas to visit, and where to dine. Every recommendation matched our interests and limitations.
I live on email. When I was teaching online courses almost twenty years ago (the internet was in its infancy) I was in constant communication with my students whether from New York, India or Spain. I wanted students to know that they were not isolated and that they could always get in touch with me. It gave them a sense of reassurance when they were confused or disoriented by an assignment. Chris treated us the same way. I would email him with a concern, request some advice or, because of weather, notify him of the need to cancel a particular venue. Despite the time difference, he was on it. He frequently responded within minutes with either, a) information relevant to the request or b) advice on how to proceed. It was like having our own personal guide at every turn. No request was beyond his scope of expertise and if he could not answer immediately he got back to us within a few hours after he had communicated with his wealth of contacts within country.
Even when, after the trip, we had to file an insurance claim with our credit card company for a damaged windscreen (apparently fairly common on roads in Iceland) he walked us through the process and immediately provided the insurance company with all the necessary documentation.
Bottom line: I’ve used at least nine WOW agents to date and using a 10th for Hawaii in February so I can speak and write with a high degree of certainty that Chris Gordon would be a valuable addition to your cadre of WOW agents. Iceland travelers would be well served by his presence on The WOW List.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL This August 16-24 trip differed from one we might have taken before the pandemic because we wore masks inside and took a Covid test where we were visiting in France 3 days before our flight to Iceland and took a Covid “home-test” 3 days before our flight home to the US. Chris is very engaging and worked hard and well with me to plan exactly what I wanted for our trip to Iceland. He is very responsive. We were self-driving and participated in private experiences and were supposed to participate in 1 group excursion that we declined when we arrived and saw 14 people packed in a van for a 25-minute ride each way to an ice cave. Only the front seat windows went all the way down, the rear windows only vented. Several people were not wearing masks correctly. We texted Chris and he said that he would refund us and contact the company. The information packet that he prepared for us was on paper (not available by PDF or online portal). It was extensive and detailed – with our itinerary, vouchers, suggested stops, maps, and beautiful photos. He made all our dinner reservations ahead of time. The trip went very smooth and the hotels, meals, spa treatments and planned excursions were clearly laid out with vouchers for each. We texted throughout the trip asking him to add something or make a change. Chris always did it right away. He provided an internet hotspot for our car which turned out to be very useful. We had a wonderful trip. Chris diligently worked out every large (helicopters lost their landing spot at the volcano) and small (changing dinner reservation times) problems or requests. The Covid test requirements changed several times when we were planning the trip and he always kept us apprised. The nature in Iceland is stunning. When you engage Chris to plan your trip…Hike to the hot river! Boat on the Iceberg Lagoon and walk from there to Diamond Beach, where the icebergs float out to sea and roll back in, creating the most beautiful sculpture show on the black-sand beach! Hike to the Volcano! Tour a Geothermal Plant! Explore the black sand beach near Vik! Go down roads that seem to go nowhere and be surprised (if you have 4-wheel drive).
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris planned a wonderful 6 day itinerary to Iceland August 3-10, 2021. Then Hertz with only a 2 week notice canceled our rental car. This major impacted the first 3 days of our trip when we were going to drive around. Chris was good to get us a hotel in Reykjavik for the part of our trip that was impacted. (We already had a hotel in Reykjavik for the last 3 days of the trip that Chris had booked) I used local day tours to fill those 3 days. It was not an easy task for him to find us a hotel in a good location. Since many of the cars were canceled hotel bookings were at a premium. He did not give up though and found us a wonderful accommodation. He also booked us a transport to the Blue Lagoon for which he had already reserved time for us for our last part of the stay since we no longer had a car. Chris refunded the difference in the trip cost and waived his planning fee due to all the changes. He booked us wonderful dinner reservations and told us where to get the Covid test we needed to re-enter the US. The day trips I booked were based on our original drive around itinerary. They just meant longer days but the scenery was worth the drives. My daughter and I hiked lava fields, took a boat ride among icebergs, stood on black sand beaches, were lowered into an inactive volcano, observed beautiful waterfalls and were pampered at the Blue Lagoon Spa. I highly suggest if you plan to go to the Blue Lagoon splurge extra on the Retreat Spa for a private relaxing experience. We had a private dressing room and could order drinks and food easily. It was not crowded at all. The highlight of our tours was our jeep tour to Landmannalaugar. Every turn of the hike provided breathtaking views. This tour was so worth the long day. Thing to know is if you plan to do the inside the volcano experience it is a little over 2 mile hike to the volcano and again 2 miles back again. It was worth the walk for the experience but might not be as pleasant if it were rainy and cold.
I had booked our flights on United. The day we were to leave I woke up to find our flight had been canceled and rebooked to the next day. I booked us on Icelandair out to Chicago that afternoon. Used points to stay at the airport hotel and then booked us home on United the following morning. My daughter had planned a trip to Cancun leaving two days from our original arrival time so we did not want to risk another delay not being able to get home. Lesson here is in these uncertain travel times where flights are canceled at times (ours was due to crew issues), it is best to not have set plans in case of a cancelation. United was good to refund the unused portion of my ticket for the flight they canceled. Everything worked out with my daughter having a day and a half to get repacked and ready for her trip.
Also be aware testing requirements can change. Ours did to enter Iceland the week we were to leave for Iceland. I was in Colorado at a conference not returning until Sunday night. I had to find a place where I live to do a PCR test on Monday morning to have results before I flew out Tuesday. That was poor planning on my part to not be home to get the test with time for results return since Iceland would not accept a quick antigen test.
In summary, Iceland is beautiful and so unique. Chris knows it well and can help direct you to your interests. He did not give up when things were changing that were out of his control but still helped us to have a wonderful trip. He was a joy to work with. Pre Covid I would go on annual missions trips and the leader would always tell us to be flexible because the itinerary could and probably would change. That is how traveling is now. Pack your patience and your flexibility. For all the changes we had, my daughter and I still think Iceland was one of our best vacation locations.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We just returned from a fabulous 4-day trip to Iceland coordinated by Chris at the very last minute (due to cancellation of another trip to an area with a major Covid outbreak). Chris responded to my request immediately, and treated me like a long-time client, even though we had just met.
Even if the trip weren’t last minute, I would have given Chris a five-star rating. He put together the perfect trip for our family (kids ages 21, 19, and 14), combining Iceland must-sees with great adventures. We marveled at the waterfalls, snowmobiled on glaciers, rode ATVs on black-sand beaches, and hiked all over. Every guide/driver he employed was excellent and patient, and our hotel was perfectly located in the center of town. He also arranged all of our Covid testing. How he managed to do everything in the 11th hour is beyond me.
Chris means it when he says he’s available 24/7. He told me he sleeps with his phone in his hand, and I believe it. Any time I texted him, such as when the rest of my family got our Covid results but not my oldest daughter, he responded within minutes. He was always positive and optimistic and just overall the kind of guy I felt I could trust immediately.
I could keep writing about Chris, but I’m probably bordering on gushing. I’ve used lots of WOW experts before and I think Chris is WOW.
Thanks again for recommending him and for all of your travel advice. I’ve been reading you for years and you are always spot on.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our destinations within Iceland were Snaefellsness Peninsula, Golden Circle, Myrdal and Reykjavik. I chose Iceland due to being a covid safe place to travel being most things you do are outdoors (never high on my list of places to visit) and extremely glad I did. This was one of the our most memorable trips we have taken. Chris planned the perfect trip for our family. Prior to our trip, I spoke with Chris at great lengths letting him know our likes and dislikes when traveling. He kept updating me on all covid related travel advisories and requirements. Chris made sure the guide would take us to be tested for covid prior to our return flight.
After receiving the itinerary I did question some of his choices (a private concert in a church, a whiskey tasting in a cave with a cellist and a food tour of Reykjavik) thinking they would be very touristy. In the end, I am extremely happy Chris was insistent on leaving those experiences in our itinerary. The concert was amazing and the whiskey tasting with a fabulous cellist was fantastic, and we loved our food tour (the two women guides were extremely knowledgeable on the foods of Iceland). We found the tour of the glacier on the zodiac surrounded by seals to be a fantastic experience along with the ATVs on the black beach. Every restaurant recommendation Chris suggested were perfect choices for us, especially Frideheimer Tomato Restaurant. Our hotels were clean, comfortable and well located for the areas we wanted to be in. All the hotels were following covid safety protocols. Masks must be worn in the lobby, hand sanitizers everywhere and rooms were immaculate. Chris had vetted the companies he hired for our excursions, giving us a sense of safety.
When some mishaps occurred (not due to Chris or our guide), Chris was available to us 24/7 and was able to make new arrangements for us at a moment’s notice. When our flight was delayed from the U.S. by a day, Chris was able to rearrange our itinerary so we would not miss anything. Our Cave and Under Volcano Tour was canceled due to the cave not being safe. Chris was able to arrange for a refund and booked a Lava show and horseback riding on the beach (two excellent alternatives). The guide Chris had chosen for us (Fred) was extremely knowledgeable on the history of Iceland, extremely accommodating and very pleasant to be with. The Mercedes van was clean, comfortable, had wifi and always stocked with Icelandic water. In the future, should I return to Iceland, I would not have anyone other than Chris to arrange my trip.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Chris planned a wonderful 2 week stay in Iceland for us. We wanted longer stays in fewer places – which proved a challenge – but Chris came up with a great itinerary that fit our wants and needs. We kayaked in a glacier lagoon, went on ATVs on black beaches and had some amazing hikes with really beautiful weather. Chris sent a package with day-to-day itineraries for us that had lots of ideas for stops and sites to see. He also planned really great restaurants for us in Reykjavik that we loved. Chris took lots of time to plan just want we wanted and our first trip to Iceland was perfect. We had an easy covid test before we left – we were in and out in 20 minutes. I can’t imagine not using a planner like Chris for our trip. We would have floundered. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I traveled to Iceland from 7/8/21 to 7/18/21. Chris Gordon arranged our trip. He was great. Chris really knows Iceland. The activities he chose for us were spot-on based on our interests. He also recommended things to do (glacier ice cream stop, artisan collective) that we never would have found on our own. Importantly, he allowed us to optimize our time by skipping more commonplace activities like the Golden Circle. We also liked our hotels, which aren’t easy to find once you get outside of Reykjavik. Re. COVID, Iceland is pretty straightforward if you’ve been vaccinated. His suggestions, coupled with our independent research, enabled us to navigate testing and entry requirements.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Planning an eleven day driving trip around Iceland’s Ring Road is a major undertaking. There are so many possible destinations, stops and detours – Chris does all the work for you. First, he sent a multi-page exhaustive list of every activity, adventure or experience to determine our interests and plan the perfect trip for our family. Every activity he booked, such as ice climbing on a glacier, ATVs on a black sand beach and other beautiful landscapes, a whale watching tour from Husavik in which we saw the most humpbacks and minke whales we’ve ever seen in one day, hot spring/spa visits, kayaking among icebergs, visits to stunning waterfalls and valleys, among others, was great. He even surprised us by adding a private ice cave tour to the itinerary at no extra cost. It was one of our favorite experiences, especially because of the terrific Icelandic guide. Chris provides maps to every single destination and descriptions of every stop (of which there are many), and notes places to get gas/ stop for bathrooms etc. He even made all of our restaurant reservations for us – no other adviser has done so, and we greatly appreciated having reservations set up each night. Many hotels are small and have limited seatings for dinner and limited hours. Most towns are very small and there may not be many (any?) other options. We also loved the restaurants he reserved for us in Reykjavik.
Luckily, Chris provided as part of the extensive materials that were organized by day, letters listing the confirmation number for every single reservation. He knows that many hospitality workers in Iceland are young and inexperienced (many told us it was their first or second day at work). On every occasion but one, the employees were able to locate our reservation using the confirmation number. On one occasion, the hotel receptionist insisted (nicely) that we had no reservations and that the confirmation number didn’t have the right number of digits and was therefore not theirs. I texted Chris on the special number he provides for issues while in Iceland. He responded immediately, called the hotel, and sent them the email chain in which they confirmed the reservation. The receptionist then admitted the error was the hotel’s. Chris obtained a refund for one of our three rooms, since the hotel had given away the nice room we booked.
From a Covid standpoint, Iceland is ideal. It has experienced 0 (not a typo) cases since late May. It’s easy to obtain the required covid test for returning to the US (despite a line we were out of the testing site within about 10 minutes; of course, Chris told us where to go). Also, Iceland is the most stunning country we’ve visited, and right now you can safely visit an erupting volcano only 45 minutes from Reykjavik.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Iceland booking by Chris was covid appropriate. We had an initial phone call with our family of 4 so Chris could learn about our desires and help determine the best activities and itineraries. A few days later, he called to discuss choices in more detail as well as discuss each hotel option. After the first draft of the itinerary, we had another discussion to fine tune it. He was so enthusiastic and put together a great trip for us. That is standard in the industry. Where he stands out is his customer service and “extras”. When he said he was available for us during the trip 24/7 he was not kidding. When we checked into our first hotel after 14 hours of travel, they had the wrong room type for us. They agreed to let us nap there while they found another room. Before we took a nap, I emailed Chris to let him know. When we woke up, everything was straightened out and he bought us box lunches to make up for the inconvenience. Another extra was the dairy free birthday cake he gifted us for our daughter’s birthday! Another dairy free extra was when we realized the special bread they bake in the ground at the Fontana spa had milk in it, he called the bakery and asked them to provide a special dairy free one for us. They had never done this before and did it especially for us. We were in contact with Chris in real time by email throughout the trip with logistical questions which he answered immediately. We had a problem at one hotel (room was not as advertised) and by morning he had arranged for us to move to an “apartment” on the property and negotiated free breakfast for us which was not included in the apartment price. These things added so much value to our trip. Chris was genuinely pleased to be helping us and always made us feel so well cared for. The trip was a breeze as he provided an inch thick packet filled with vouchers, detailed maps and even photos of where we were going. The restaurant choices were all excellent and each activity was fun. We especially loved the private retreat at the Blue Lagoon, the Ice cave adventure, the kayaking in the glacier lagoon with Icebergs, the Feather Canyon hike and the town of Reykjavik. We decided not to do what was planned for the last day and Chris came up with an excellent alternative immediately without blinking an eye. The only advice I can share to avoid any unpleasant surprises during the trip is to communicate each day with the activity provider about the expected weather and plan for the worst case. We had a worse case weather experience at the river bathing and were not as prepared as we should have been. We were safe but it was a challenge. Iceland is beautiful and a relatively covid safe trip being outdoor for most activities. Everyone is covid tested at the airport on arrival even if they are vaccinated. The only time I saw people in masks were on the tour buses. The restaurants and hotels are pretty well staffed and there are not too many crowds of tourists yet. Everyone speaks perfect English and the food is excellent. Chris did a wonderful job for us on very short notice.
Advice for other travelers: Plan to use the bathroom before you get off the plane. We made the mistake of using it in the airport once we landed and we ended up at the back of the line of over 100 travelers or more. There are 4 lines to wait in: passport check, covid vaccination card check, covid test and rental car. We were at the end of each of these lines and it took us 2 hours to get out of the airport :(
Bring food on the airplane. There might not be any. There also was not food available at the Iceland airport. At Newark we landed at 8 pm for our connection to Iceland and the food was either sold out or closed.
We flew to Keflavik on June 14, 2019, returning July 1, and during that time we had a spectacular trip. Of course this depended, at base, on all the wonderful things Iceland has to offer–but the choices Chris helped us make defined what we saw and did.
From the start, Chris wanted to understand what we were really interested in doing and seeing. Beginning there, he made more suggestions on things that might interest us but always kept in mind our initial input and the nature of our reactions to his input. He knew that we were mostly interested in nature, local food, and learning firsthand more about the Icelandic people and their culture. He kept those interests foremost in his planning. Basically he planned a circumnavigation of the island on the Ring Road, with excursions off that main highway.
An example of one of his suggestions was to take the ferry to Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands)–something we would not have planned for ourselves–but which was one of several high points of our trip. The excursions that he included–a boat trip, a visit to an ice cave, an ATV excursion, and horseback riding–were all exceptional. In fact, when the boat trip company suddenly ceased operating the trip he had booked for us, Chris immediately contacted us in Iceland, through our hotel and by email, with a rescheduled trip.
Chris also provided a wealth of information (in printed form, including helpful maps and photos) on the various places he suggested we visit, suggestions as to restaurants, tips on obtaining gas and where to refuel, and indications of things to be aware of relative to the routes we were driving. In fact, Chris made reservations at restaurants for every night of our trip. In many locations, these were absolutely necessary, given the volume of tourists. And the restaurants were always the best available, and usually they were exceptional.
Chris has been enormously helpful. He sent me 3 extremely thorough itineraries for 3 Iceland trips of different lengths, as I wanted to know what all my options were. I wish I could show you these itineraries – they are beyond thorough, organized and clear. I will definitely use him to do our trip when we decide to go. Is impossible for me to plan anything until COVID is behind us but is good to have the information at my finger tips. I am confident that he will plan a very special and wonderful trip for us when we are ready. Thank you again for steering me in his direction!