Smithsonian Journeys (tel. 877/338-8687; www.smithsonianjourneys.com), affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, hosts several educational trips focusing on geology, hydro power, and Icelandic culture.
Astronomy Magazine leads a 6-day "Northern Lights & Lava Fields of Iceland" in October and January, hosted by an astronomy professor and focusing on Iceland's natural wonders. Bookings are through MWT Associates (tel. 877/707-7827; www.melitatrips.com).
Natural Habitat Adventures (tel. 800/543-8917; www.nathab.com) has "Iceland: Fjords & Glaciers," a late-May tour where naturalists give lectures aboard a Russian oceanographic vessel in a 9-day circumnavigation of the island. Prices start at $5,000 (£2,500) per person, not including airfare.
Ísafold Travel (tel. 544-8866; www.isafoldtravel.is) has educational tours in geology and energy technology.
Cross-Culture Journeys (tel. 800/491-1148 or 413/256-6303; www.ccjourneys.com) based in Amherst, MA, leads 9-day tours focusing on arts, museums, and saga history, with plenty of nature thrown in. Prices are $3,400-$3,700 (£1,700-£1,850) per person, including airfare.
Storyfest Journeys (tel. 301/791-9133; www.storyfest.com) leads a saga and folklore tour in May, though dates may change.
If you want to learn Icelandic, start with this online list of study programs around the country: www.nordals.hi.is/page/other_courses.
The Snorri Program (tel. 551-0165; www.snorri.is) provides an opportunity for young North Americans of Icelandic descent to explore their heritage. The main 6-week program (mid-June through July) is for ages 18 to 28, but older visitors can join a modified 2-week program in late August.
J.R.J. Super Jeeps (tel. 453-8219; http://frontpage.simnet.is/jeppaferdir) customizes tours for those tracing their Icelandic ancestry.
Seeds of Iceland (tel. 845-6178; www.seedsiceland.org), a non-profit group founded in 2005, sets up volunteer 2-week "work camps" for projects ranging from environmental cleanups and trail marking to preparation for local cultural festivals.
Iceland's Environment and Food Agency (tel. 591-2000; http://english.ust.is/of-interest/conservationvolunteers) recruits around 130 volunteers each summer for conservation projects lasting 2 to 11 weeks, and ranging from trail work to wilderness management.
The Earthwatch Institute (tel. in North America 800/776-0188; in the U.K. 01865/318-831; www.earthwatch.org) leads a week-long volunteer trip in August to study glaciers.
Volunteer Abroad (tel. 720/570-1702; www.volunteerabroad.com) maintains an excellent database of volunteer vacation opportunities, with several options in Iceland.
Tours for Women
Canyon Calling (tel. 928/282-0916; www.canyoncalling.com), based in Sedona, AZ, leads a cost-conscious 8-day multi-activity trip for women in early July. Activities include dog sledding, rafting, whale-watching, and horseback riding.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.