Has the price of your school trip increased following the EU referendum? Find out what our no surcharge guarantee means for you
Picture the scenario, you’ve just paid the deposit for a once-in-a-lifetime school trip to realise further down the line the price has gone up drastically due to a weaker sterling.
Instead of dreaming of glacier hikes, milky blue lagoons and Northern Lights you’re frantically worrying about having to ask your students for additional payments, even after your chosen travel operator confirmed the final tour price!
This is a nightmare that no teacher should ever experience and thankfully, by booking a trip with Discover the World Education you can be sure to have complete peace of mind as soon as you confirm your booking with our fantastic no surcharge guarantee.
First things first, what is a surcharge fee? A surcharge is a fee that is added to a trip and may not be included in the originally quoted booking price. It may be a temporary measure to defray the cost of increased pricing such as fuel, changes in exchange rates, taxes or other unexpected costs. With sterling now at a record low, many operators are passing the costs to their customers.
Therefore, be warned when looking to other providers for your quote; most travel operators reserve the right to surcharge for a variety of reasons, some even up to 30 days prior to departure, which could cause a huge bill to settle when you should be getting excited about your trip. In recent months, as a result of the weak sterling, many school groups have found themselves in this very position. However, those who have booked with Discover the World Education have been fully protected by our no surcharge guarantee.
Discover the World Education’s brilliant no surcharge guarantee means from the moment your booking is confirmed, we will give you our 100% guarantee that there will be no price increases or additional fees to be paid. Whatever happens to the pound, oil prices, and taxes anywhere in the world, it will not affect the cost of your study trip! No 'ifs' or 'buts' – that’s our guarantee and we’ll stick to it!
Not only do we offer the no surcharge guarantee, all our study trips are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority, meaning all educational trips to and from the UK are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When paying for your trip, you will be provided with an ATOL Certificate which confirms you have complete financial security for your booking. For study trips outside the UK, the ABTOT bonding also provides protection for your booking as set out in our booking conditions.
We are also members of ABTA Travel Association and AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators). Should the unexpected happen whilst your group are away, our simple Travel Disruption Charter ensures you will be looked after when travelling with us.
Our no surcharge guarantee and complete financial protection make up just two of the twelve unique reasons why we’re a specialist tour operator. You can read all twelve reasons why you should choose Discover the World Education for your next study trip here, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much more we offer you.
5 Reasons to visit Azores now
The Azores. The name may sound familiar, but how much do you really know about these islands? How many are there? What are they like? Can you name any? Where even are they?
Here are the top five reasons you should visit the Azores now.
1.Because you’ve never heard of them
Think about a famous city and a famous holiday destination you’d like to visit. Odds are you know a fair bit about them already; you’ve probably seen photos, you may know people who’ve been there and told you all about it and you'll likely have a strong sense of familiarity despite never having visited yourself.
Not so with the Azores. And that’s exactly why you should go.
A visit here is a journey of discovery and adventure, of exploring unknown exotic lands and experiencing the unfamiliar. The 9 volcanic islands are not a popular mass market destination and that’s a very good thing - it means no crowds, no queues and the sense that you are stepping beyond the norm and venturing to a very special place which few others know anything about.
2.Modern and forward-thinking
This sense of exploration doesn’t come at a price. The islands may be far-flung and unknown to many, but are an autonomous region of Portugal; the infrastructure is first-class and standard of living is good. You won’t want for home comforts here!
The islands are self-governed and the clear focus has been to develop the islands in the modern world, whilst ensuring the protection of their natural resources and cultural identity. Sustainability is an ever-present theme and the Azores became the world’s first and only Platinum sustainable tourism destination in late 2014 having received the Quality Coast Gold Award for four consecutive years from 2010 onwards.
The islands are a remarkable demonstration of how a sustainable, high quality modern lifestyle can be achieved by careful planning and development.
3.Full of unique experiences
One of the joys of travel is to experience the unfamiliar and unusual. The Azores deliver in abundance and will reawaken your sense of wonder at the world.
Marvel at scarcely believable views of shimmering lakes of green and blue, nestled inside the vast craters of volcanoes. Visit a volcano which didn’t even exist just 60 years ago, with an award-winning visitor centre buried inside. Bathe in natural geothermally-heated rock pools underneath a forest canopy. Sample food slow-cooked for hours underground by volcanic energy. See flora and fauna unique to the islands, including the world’s only non-nocturnal bat.
One of the real joys of a visit is island-hopping between the main island of Sao Miguel and the quieter, more remote islands of Pico and Faial - by ferry or aeroplane it’s incredibly easy and the views are astounding, whilst each island is very different in character.
4.Nature at its most natural
Man has had such a dominant impact on the environment it’s sometimes hard to reconnect with nature. For example, there are few places in the UK from which you can’t see or hear some sign of civilisation - a town, road or railway, or even a power line - and it’s almost unfathomable to imagine the UK covered in its native forests, as was the case only a few centuries ago.
The Azores reconnect you with nature in a very real and visceral way. Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and spanning three tectonic plates, the islands were formed from powerful volcanic activity and are a constant reminder of the potent natural forces beneath our very feet.
It’s easy to get away from the towns and villages and to see the islands in their natural setting, exposed to and forged by the elements. Forests, lakes, mountains, waterfalls, cliffs and deep ocean can all be found in the Azores and are home to a wonderful array of plant and animal life.
The Azores are one of the best places in the world to go whale-watching and bird-watching, offer world-class trekking and walking and act as a living classroom for geographers and scientists alike.
5.They're surprisingly accessible
The Azores are on the very edge of Europe, lying 900 miles west of Lisbon in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Despite this, they’re surprisingly accessible. Direct flights from London take less than 4 hours, whilst even flying indirectly via Lisbon can be done comfortably in a day.
A visit is also surprisingly good value for money. Whilst the air fare isn’t budget-airline cheap it’s certainly not expensive considering the distance, and once there you’ll find the cost of living is cheaper than most places in Western Europe. Which means your group can experience the Azores for a similar price as a trip to Iceland.
Finally, Azoreans are passionately proud of their home and incredibly welcoming and open to visitors. Locals welcome visitors as friends and you won’t feel like just another tourist. People are genuinely curious as to why you’ve visited and will go out of their way to ensure you leave with the best possible impression of the islands and their inhabitants.
Are you interested in the Azores? Click here to find out more.
Thinking about travelling to the Iceberg Lagoon, Iceland?
Are you thinking about visiting the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland on your next study trip? We have a brand-new opportunity for you to visit more parts of rural, rugged Iceland whilst saving yourself time for more activities for your group. This is an unmissable experience, read on for the details...
From October 2017, we are offering an exclusive opportunity to continue along the magnificent south coast trail and fly out of Egilsstadir, instead of driving back along the same route to fly out of Keflavik. Groups will now be able to explore the lesser visited region of East and North Iceland, whilst significantly reducing their travelling time.
How does it work? Until recently, nearly all school groups had to fly in and out of Keflavik. Groups would drive approximately 420 km to Jokulsarlon and then drive all the way back along the same route. Whilst the scenery is certainly breath-taking and there are many amazing stops en route, driving back along the same route is time-consuming and all too familiar.
Fly in from Keflavik and travel East to Jokulsarlon and Egilsstadir from October 2017!
But the adventure doesn’t have to end there…
Scroll down to reveal a snapshot of some of the spectacular sites you can witness if you take the road less travelled up towards Egilsstadir and even to the north. (which are certainly not to be missed)
Hengifoss (One of the highest waterfalls in Iceland!)
Vatnajokull (Europe’s largest icecap)
Husavik (Europe’s Whale Watching Capital)
Neskaupstadur (A fishing port, with the largest population of any of Iceland’s eastern towns)
Hofn (A small harbour town known for its diverse fishing opportunities)
Skaftafell (A geographer’s wonderland and one of Iceland’s primary areas of natural beauty)
Nature Baths - (Milky-blue geothermal waters)
Krafla (an active volcanic region)
The flights are exclusive to Discover the World and are the only direct flights to Egilsstadir and Keflavik from London. For more inspiration of the East, you can view some suggested highlights here. For 5 day itineraries click here, 6 days click here and 7 days click here.
Inquire with one of our friendly Travel Specialists here to grab this fantastic opportunity to make your trip a once in a lifetime experience for you and your students.
Off The Beaten Path: Top Ten Unmissable Locations in North and East Iceland
When you think of the “must see” sights in Iceland, you would be forgiven for listing the sights found in the South West - Reykjavik, Geyser, Gulfoss, and the Blue Lagoon; after all, most visitors to Iceland visit this popular region.
With Discover the World’s direct flight from the UK to Egilsstadir in the east, from October 2017, it will be easier than ever before to get off the beaten track and explore what North and East Iceland has to offer.
During the Easter holidays, Sarah, Helen and myself were lucky enough to go and explore this lesser known region, and it is no overstatement to say that all three of us were blown away by the beauty of the landscape on this unforgettable road trip.
Our excitement grew for the journey ahead on our short internal flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri, when we were blessed with clear skies and a spectacular sunset over the Langjökull ice cap and remote Iceland hinterland. As we flew into Akureyri at the head of the Eyjafjörður fjord, carved out by Ice Age glaciers, I knew that the north wasn’t going to disappoint.
I hadn’t heard much about Akureyri, despite it being Iceland’s second largest city, apart from it being named the number one place to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet. With a population of just 18,000, we found this compact city to be surprisingly cosmopolitan and it was easy to see why it had earned the accolade from Lonely Planet. Situated at the edge of the Arctic Circle, at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord (60km), Akureyri is surrounded by breath-taking mountain scenery and is a well worthy stop off for school groups. At the end of an action packed day the outdoor geothermal pool rivals those in the south with its slides and hot pots. I will definitely return to experience the ski slopes and hiking trails surrounding this beautiful city.
The Diamond Circle
The 260km long ‘Diamond Circle’, the north’s answer to the Golden Circle, offers a wealth of fascinating and beautiful natural attractions and really is a geographer’s dream. We travelled this route during the peak Easter break and yet we only had to share the sights with a handful of other tourists. At times hours went by before we saw another person. Given the choice, the Diamond Circle wins hands down for me, and these were some of our highlights.
Goðafoss, ‘Waterfall of the Gods’, or ‘The Beauty’ in contrast to ‘The Beast’ (Dettifoss), is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. The 30-metre-wide waterfall, situated on the Skjálfandafljót glacial river, falls elegantly into a horseshoe shaped canyon carved into the 7000-year-old lava field. It certainly lives up to its name, and is not done justice by my photo skills!
The whale watching capital of Iceland, Husavik, is a quaint fishing town with a population of around 2,500. With spectacular scenery and a higher chance of seeing whales than anywhere else in Iceland, a boat trip from Husavik is a great year round activity. The most common species seen in Skjálfandi Bay are the white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and humpback, minke and blue whales. Unfortunately our time didn’t allow for a boat trip; however we did stop by the Whale Museum, located in an old harbour slaughterhouse. This fascinating museum, works in partnership with the University of Iceland, and houses an impressive display of skeletons from a wide range of whales, including a huge blue whale. The friendly and enthusiastic museum team offer talks and guided tours to help you understand more about whales, their conservation and the controversial history of whaling. Highly recommended!
Situated on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, Mývatn has a landscape unlike anywhere else in Iceland, with an incredible variety of geothermal and volcanic features. The beauty of this area is that all the sights are just a short drive from each other, so more time can be spent exploring and learning about this unique landscape, with less time sat on a coach.
We found the first of these features, a group of pseudo-craters, and a short stroll from our hotel at Skútustaðir, on the southern edge of the enormous Lake Mývatn. The lake is Iceland’s fourth largest at 14.5 square miles; it is serenely beautiful with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. We took one of the shorter walking routes through the craters, formed by steam explosions when hot lava encountered the water, and stumbled across the film set of the latest Fast and Furious film. A variety of tanks, sports cars and monster trucks had descended on the frozen waters of the lake, which was apparently the cause of some local controversy when one car fell through the ice. Despite a detour via the trailers sadly we didn’t bump into Vin Diesel.
Dimmuborgir & Hverfjall
A short drive from Mývatn brings you to the impressive lava formations at Dimmuborgir. A choice of walking trails of different lengths (10 minutes to 1 hour) lead you through the twisted pillars of rock in this completely unique lava field. Lava formations like this can’t be found anywhere else in Iceland, in fact the only known feature similar to this is under water, off the coast of Mexico; no wonder we were impressed! According to Icelandic folklore, Dimmuborgir is home to a homicidal troll named Grýla, her husband and mischievous sons, The Yule Lads. Originally told as a story to stop children misbehaving, the Yule Lads are now associated with Christmas. I must remember to bring a homicidal troll into the stories I tell my boys to see if it has the desired effect!
A longer trail takes you to the top the Hverfjall volcanic crater, which looms over Dimmuborgir in the distance. Hverfjall is a tephra crater about 1 kilometre in diameter, 1,300 feet high and 140 metres deep. A steep path leads to the top where you are rewarded with spectacular views over the crater and Lake Mývatn beyond.
A little further from Mývatn, at the foot of the steaming Námafjall mountain, close to the active Krafla volcano, we stopped off at the geothermal area of Námaskarð. Over a large expanse of red and brown steamy ground we found an array of fumaroles, hot springs and boiling mud pools; an exciting visual reminder of the energy under our feet. Numerous trails lead you through the thick clouds of steam and if you have time you can hike the steep trail to the top of Námafjall, where you can fully appreciate the other worldly and contrasting landscapes surrounding Mývatn. The beauty of having all these extraordinary sights almost to ourselves made the trip even more special, and made us feel incredibly lucky.
Mývatn Nature Baths
At the end of a long day we ventured to the Nature Baths, nicknamed the ‘Blue Lagoon of the North’, and yet so very different, not only in price (£10 versus £40 per person). The Nature Baths offers a smaller, more intimate lagoon, with the most stunning long distant views. The 40°c soothing water was in great contrast to the -7°c air on the outside when we visited, and frozen hair is something of a first for me. The Nature Baths are not on the same grand scale as the Blue Lagoon, and therein lies their charm; however, they offer groups ample changing facilities and a small café with viewing gallery. We loved the Baths and were in agreement it was definitely our favourite swimming spot in Iceland and a must for anyone visiting the north.
Our last stop in the north, before heading onwards to the eastern fjords, was Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall; hence the nickname ‘The Beast’. Situated on a river flowing from the Vatnajökull glacier, the waterfall is 100 metres wide and drops 45 metres down into a canyon that leads north to Ásbyrgi, with its great hiking trails and rich vegetation. The backdrop and power of Detifoss are breath-taking and we were amazed to hear that during our visit the water volume was just one eighth of that in the summer months. ‘The Beauty’ and ‘the Beast’, two stunning waterfalls on the lesser visited Diamond Circle of spectacular natural wonders.
The north has so much to offer our school groups that want to get off the well trodden path and experience another side of Iceland; I promise you won’t be disappointed!
All you need to know about fieldwork courses in Iceland
Renowned as the UK’s foremost biodiversity and ecology education organisation, the Field Studies Council (FSC) welcome almost 3,000 schools per year to their 18 UK centres to study GCSE, AS and A-Level geography and science. But now, for the first time, the FSC are offering a range of fieldwork courses in Iceland exclusive to Discover the World Education.
With the changes to the new geography and science specifications at GCSE and A-level, fieldwork and practical work is now more relevant than ever for the school curriculum. These courses offer both geography and science students the opportunity to consolidate their classroom learning and develop new investigative skills in a completely new and totally unforgettable environment.
Here’s six reasons why fieldwork courses in Iceland are best suited to your student’s learning and development:
1 – High quality courses
The courses have been written by Field Studies Council tutors who have experience writing courses and schemes of work and delivering outdoor fieldwork session in the FSC’s UK centres. The Iceland courses are of the same standard as you’ll experience in the FSC’s centres.
2 – Satisfy the new exam specification
Both the geography and science courses have been written to complement the new exam specifications which are being taught from September 2016. They cover a number of topics, enhancing and complementing the work done in the classroom, as well as helping students to develop their practical and analytical skills.
3 – Tailored to your needs
The courses can be adapted to suit your school’s requirements. Whether you’d like a 2-hour taster suitable for GCSE students or a detailed 4-hour investigation for your A-Level class, the tutors will adapt the course and work as appropriate. There are also a range of resources which you can use after the course to help build on the work done and evaluate and analyse your results.
4 – Wide variety of topics
The courses cover a variety of topics on the geography and science specifications, allowing you to choose a subject (or subjects) which are most applicable to your lessons. Geographers might investigate the water and carbon cycles, tectonic processes and hazards or contemporary urban environments, whilst scientists can study ecosystems, variation, biodiversity, adaptation & natural selection and human impacts on the environment.
5 – Convenient locations
The FSC courses are available in four sites across south-west Iceland, close to Reykjavik, Keflavik international airport and the Golden Circle, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist routes. The courses can be easily slotted into the itinerary, making them extremely accessible for the majority of school groups following a typical Iceland itinerary. A great way to add further value to your tour, and demonstrate the benefits of an Iceland trip to parents or headship teams!
6 – Reliable and trusted operators
The FSC courses are available exclusively on Discover the World Education Iceland trips. Discover the World are the world’s leading tour operator to Iceland and one of the UK’s leading educational tour operators and have won a host of awards for their tours and educational resources. The FSC lead the way in outdoor learning, constantly exploring new approaches to improve the experience for everyone and striving to inspire, deepen knowledge and broaden horizons. Both organisations are Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge holders, recognising their commitment to the benefits of outdoor education, whilst ensuring strict safety standards are met at all times.
The fieldwork courses with Discover the World Education available between 15 – 26 October 2017 and 3 – 12 April 2018. For more information on the FSC courses and how you can get your students involved please click here
How does a study trip to Iceland work with the new geography curriculum?
The new Geography curriculum is set to be taught in September 2016. This post will explain why a study trip to Iceland is now as relevant as ever as it focusses towards the new geography school curriculum.
The table below, which identifies Iceland and its relevance to the new geography National Curriculum, marks Iceland as a study trip destination which is suited to 15 out of 17 topics. We have selected the top study topics in the curriculum that shows Iceland can improve a student’s understanding of exam-level geography classwork.
1. Glacial processes & Landforms & Management
Around eleven percent of Iceland is completely covered in permanent ice. Ice caps and valley glaciers are clearly represented – their margins are easily accessible and the landforms that they produce are readily studied. GCSE students will be learning about the processes that sculpted the UK’s glacial landscape in the last ice ages. A study trip to Iceland offers the opportunity to effectively travel back in time to see the power and influence of ice on the landscape. Students are given the chance to take an excursion out onto the frozen glacial tongue of Solheimajokull, to experience a hike over the surface of a glacier itself.
Glacial Walk Video
The nation‘s mid-Atlantic isolation and sparse population provide both threats and opportunities to their resource management. How do the Icelanders do it?
Being temperate, glaciers produce a lot of meltwater which carries vast quantities of fluvioglacial material towards the sea. The characteristics and features of these outwash deposits, glaciations including fjords and glaciated valleys, can be studied in several locations in both the South and West regions.
2. Climate change
Iceland’s glaciers are in relatively temperate environments compared to others at similar latitudes and so are sensitive and responsive to variations in climate. A study trip to Iceland will examine the impacts of climate change on the glaciers of Solheimajokull and Snaefellsjokull which are both retreating at a significant rate each year. Sea-ice has also become thinner in recent decades, with arctic-wide average thickness reductions estimated at 20% Students can ask themselves: does this confirm the established theory of global warming and what does the future hold for Icelandic glaciers?
3. A sense of place, Urban change and growth
The new geography specifications have a heightened emphasis on a sense of place and to support the 2016 curriculum change at GCSE and A level, we have introduced two new activities to help add further value to the urban change and growth modules. Students will have opportunities to use quantitative and qualitative field techniques to investigate the development and present day functions of Hveragerdi, a unique Icelandic settlement.
Iceland offers fascinating comparisons with UK settlements at Hveragerdi. It has many similarities with a large UK village in terms of services and development, but its identity and history are very different. It owes its existence to the hot geothermal springs that has a varied history of fuction and landuse, today providing for the advantages of living in a tectonically active area. Discover the World Education offer the optional case study trip to Hveragerdi town trail for GCSE case study fieldwork.
Hveragerdi Case study highlights
Hveragerdi is a town of 2,400 inhabitants in south-west Iceland. It is the first significant settlement reached by the Route 1 national ring-road as it heads south-east out of Reykjavik, a half-hour drive out of the city.
- The town lies in a rift zone as the North American plate drifts westward and the Eurasian plate moves eastwards, creating a separation rate of 2.5cm per year. This leaves the area prone to earthquakes, but usually weaker ones, rather than those at conservative or destructive boundaries which see a greater build-up of friction.
- At 15:46 on 29 May 2008, an earthquake with magnitude 6.3 struck with its epicentre just 2km from Hveragerđi and at a depth of 10km. It was the third strongest earthquake in Iceland in the last century. It lasted just eight seconds.
Students can also examine the sense of place and urban change of the capital city, Reykjavik. They will investigate how the physical geography of Iceland influenced the local culture and traditions of Reykjavik and also compare the similarities and differences of the Reykjavik infrastructure with other major European cities. Reykjavik provides a case in difference compared to most European cities, with rural-to-urban migration prominent through recent decades. Students will experience the changes and challenges that have led to and resulted fthe regeneration of zones of central Reykjavik
With a growing population and increasing tourism, Reykjavík is undergoing rapid changes. Spending time exploring the city is a great way to demonstrate how the nature of a city changes following the transition from an industrial to a service-led economy. In contrast to most European cities, Reykjavík is still experiencing rural to urban migration, so there are contrasts to be drawn with changes in UK cities. Iceland is seen as one of the most equal societies in the world. How do they maintain such a good quality of life and a sustainable urban environment? You can take a tour of the city on foot, by bike or in a coach to find out.
4. Food, Water & Energy Resource Management
The new geography curriculum is placing a renewed focus on resource management. It is well known that Iceland is a country of extremes. An abundance of water, geothermal power and fishing grounds contrasts with scant opportunity for many forms of agriculture, thanks to challenging soils and climate. The nation‘s mid-Atlantic isolation and sparse population provide both threats and opportunities to their resource management. How do the Icelanders do it?
Iceland’s precarious climate and remote location have caused a history of food insecurity. Today, innovative strategies from hydroponics to geothermally lit and heated greenhouses are used to provide a reliable and more varied food supply for the country. Food export is of great importance to the Icelandic economy. How do they ensure sustainability of fragile supplies?
Students are presented with a number of optional activities and excursions which present the issue of resource management in Iceland:
- Geothermal Greenhouses Tomatoes are grown all year, using state-of-the-art technology in an environmentally -The nation‘s mid-Atlantic isolation and sparse population provide both threats and opportunities to their resource management. How do the Icelanders do it? friendly way. Green energy, pure water and biological pest controls make for tasty and healthful tomatoes. Geothermal stations are found along the north-east to south-west axis across Iceland, where mid-Atlantic divergence creates magma intrusions as the plates separate.
Ljosafoss (Golden Circle)
- One of three hydroelectric plants that harness water from the River Sog as it travels between the lake and Iceland’s southern coast. Iceland’s hydroelectric stations are found along major rivers, mostly sourced by the nation’s glaciers. Iceland produces more electricity per person than any other country. Much of this is utilised by the expanding aluminium industry that contributes 5% of the country’s economy and represents a third of export values.
Both hot and cold water are plentiful in Iceland, yet conflicts over its use and supply can arise. Rivers and lakes cover 6% of Iceland, mostly sourced from glacial areas. Students can investigate how present and future climate change are impacting on the resources needed to sate the country’s increasing demand for residential and industrial water supply.
Iceland is blessed with abundant renewable geothermal energy, which has been harnessed for power and heating. Most homes in Iceland are provided with natural hot water and in the south it is widely used for horticulture. Visits to a geothermal and a hydro-electric power station provide excellent first-hand opportunities to view renewable and sustainable energy in motion.
Working in partnership with the Field Studies Council to provide field study courses in Iceland means Discover the World Education’s study trips provides students with invaluable hands-on experience and excellent case studies for both coursework and exam preparation.
Click here to enquire about a study trip to Iceland for your students.