Day 1: Þingvellir National Park - Geysir - Gullfoss - Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss - Vík
Today we visit some of Iceland´s most beloved sites. The first stop will be at the World Heritage Site Þingvellir National Park. This is where, in the early 10th century, a national assembly was established in the dramatic landscapes created by the Mid Atlantic Ocean ridge that surfaces in this area. After exploring the area on foot we continue to the geothermal area Geysir. It is believed that the international name “geyser”, a rare phenomenon of water violently and intermittently, discharging from the ground, originates from here. After the next stop at Gullfoss, the mighty “Golden Waterfall,” we continue our journey to the south coast. Along the way we stop at the beautiful waterfall Seljalandsfoss, which you can walk behind, and the impressive waterfall of Skógafoss. We continue eastward through the village of Vík, where in May and June we can discover the country's largest arctic tern colony. A walk to the black sand beach is dominated by coastal cliffs and rocky needles protruding from the ocean. Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 4 hrs. total Walking: 3 hrs. total (accumulated)
Day 2: Skaftafell - Jökulsárlón
Heading eastward along the coast, the road crosses the major flood plains of Mýrdalssandur and the vast lava fields of Eldhraun, which was one of the greatest lava flows of historic times. Passing Skaftafell we head to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lake dotted with icebergs that calve from the massive Breiðamerkurjökull, one of the wonders of this region. We will do some hiking along the lake. Optional boat tour among the icebergs (Price: 5000 ISK). With a return to Skaftafell our first exploration of the area will depend on the time of arrival. This magnificent park at the foot of the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, is overlooked by Iceland’s highest peak Hvannadalshnúkur. Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 3 hrs. total Walking: 3 - 4 hrs. total (accumulated)
- A boat trip on the lagoon Jökulsárlón: 5 000 ISK.
- An excursion (2.5 h) in crampons on the glacier Svinafellsjökull accompanied by a glacier guide: 11 900 ISK.
Day 3: Skaftafell National Park – Landmannalaugar
In the morning we hike in the Skaftafell National Park, a green oasis of arctic birch surrounded by steep mountains and powerful glacier tongues. Decorated with colorful valleys, rivers, waterfalls and flowers it rises above the vast black flood plains of Skeiðarársandur. We ascend to the waterfall of Svartifoss, a cliff of basaltic columns. Returning to the vehicle we drive west. After the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur the road turns inland towards Eldgjá. The "canyon of fire" probably dates back to 934 according to ash and ice core samples carried out in Greenlandic glaciers. The eruption is shown to have been as powerful as the one in Laki in 1783. Eldgjá is only a small section of the long mid-Atlantic rift, which for the last 200 million years has been slowly pulling America and Europe apart. Under the pressure of the lava, the rift diverges here at an average speed of about 2.5 cm per year. We continue on to Landmannalaugar where a colorful landscape of ochre yellow to reddish or blueish inclusions awaits us. Sleeping bag accomodation a mountain hut.
Driving: 4 - 5 hrs. total Walking: 3 – 4 hrs. total (accumulated)
Day 4: Landmannalaugar
Walking day to explore some of the many trails of Landmannalaugar. In addition to its high geothermal activity, Landmannalaugar is particularly interesting for its great variety of volcanic formations. Rhyolite domes and casts of acid rock situated side by side with cinder cones, explosive craters, pseudo craters and crater lakes. The day ends with a bath in the hot springs! Sleeping bag accomodation a mountain hut.
Driving: none Walking: 6 – 7 hrs.total (accumulated)
Day 5: Sprengisandur
Departing from Landmannalaugar, our first stop of the day is the Ljótipollur crater. Formed during a series of eruptions that shook the region at the end of the 15th century, this crater is over a kilometer long and carries a beautiful lake surrounded by black and red walls. After that we travel towards the basaltic ash desert of Sprengisandur. This barren landscape sits between Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe (8100 km²), and Hofsjökull, the country’s third biggest (950 km²). This desert’s closest comparison is perhaps the moon as it contains no traces of plant life sometimes for stretches of kilometers. In the middle of the country we pass the foot of the Tungnafellsjökull glacier that lies within the valley of Nýidalur, home to a variety of beautiful arctic flowers. Sleeping bag accomodation a mountain hut.
Driving: 4 - 5 hrs. Walking: short walks
Day 6: Nýidalur - Mývatn
Continuing our journey along the track north, the landscape becomes even more vast and desert-like. The track leads us to the beautiful and powerful waterfall of Aldeyjarfoss, a waterfall that crosses a cliff of basaltic columns. Here we hike to a second waterfall nearby. After that we head towards Lake Mývatn, a unique harmonic sanctuary for geologists and ornithologists. Our first discovery of the site will depend on the time of arrival. Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 4 - 5 hrs. Walking: 2-3 hrs.
Day 7: Mývatn
There is so much to see! This clear water lake is surrounded by the Mývatn region’s many concentrated volcanic formations. Amongst others the Krafla volcano, with strings of volcanic fissures and vast lava flows, erupted nine times between 1975 and 1984. We also find the enormous explosive crater Hverfjall, the crater of Víti, Námaskarð and its boiling water pots, and the bizarre erosions of Dimmuborgir. The pseudo-craters of Skútustaðir are truly unique as they are not real craters. With no chimney and underground lava system, these pseudo-craters were formed when lava flowed over the lake thus resulting a build-up of giant steam bubbles, which then created these craters after finally bursting. Optional bathing in Mývatn Nature Baths, Jarðböðin (approx. price: ISK 4 000 per person). Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 0,5 - 1 hrs. Walking: 5-7 hrs.
Day 8: Mývatn - Góðafoss - Akureyri - Laxárdalsheiði - Þurranes
Onwards to Akureyri, the capital of the North, located at the bottom of the longest fjord in the country, Eyjafjörður. Along the way we will make a stop at Goðafoss, a vast curtain of water cut in half by huge rocks known as the “Waterfall of the Gods.” With almost 20,000 inhabitants, Akureyri is the second largest city in the country. The city offers a beautiful city center and a rich botanical garden with 400 out of 950 of Iceland’s indigenous plants. After a short tour of the city, we again head west. After the pass of Laxárdalsheiði, we descend slowly towards the great fjord of Hvammsfjörður. On the other side of a small peninsula past the fjord we arrive at our accommodation. Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 5 hrs. Walking: short walks.
Day 9: The West Fjords
Throughout the day, as we cross a dozen of fjords, the road generally hugs the coastline. Stopping on a peninsula west of Djúpifjörður we discover the beach and the numerous sea birds, various species of ducks and waders roaming around. Continuing down the road past the great Barðaströnd beach, a crossing of another peninsula brings us to the deep fjord of Patreksfjörður. Now it’s time to turn off the main road and head to Breiðavík where our accommodation for the next two nights awaits us. Here we find ourselves at most western point of Iceland! Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 4 hrs. Walking: Small breaks during transfer.
Day 10: Látrabjarg
This day is dedicated to the discovery of the enormous cliffs of the area, which at times exceed 400 meters in height and over 15 kilometers long. Home to many European birds, the cliffs are filled with sea birds in tens of thousands such as puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and northern gannets. Bjargtangar lighthouse, at the end of the cliff, is the western most point of Europe. Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 1 hrs. Walking: 5-6 hrs.
Day 11: The "bay of a thousand islands" - Grundarfjörður
Heading back we cross the small chain of mountains constituting the backbone of the peninsula to arrive in the fjord of Vatnsfjörður. From here we take the ferry to cross the bay of Breidafjörður, known as the "bay of a thousand islands" as it bears its name from the hundreds of islets that occupy the bay. Disembarking at the beautiful village of Stykkishólmur we then continue on towards Grundarfjörður. Sleeping bag accomodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 5 hrs. (including ferry transfer) Walking: 1-2 hrs., about 3 hrs. ferry transfer.
Day 12: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Exploring the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula our view is dominated by the magnificent Snæfellsjökull volcano and its glaciers. It is the volcano that Jules Verne described in his novel, Journey into the Center of the Earth, as the entrance into the depths of the Earth. We spend part of the visit in the Snæfellsjökull National Park and then in the former fishing center of Djúpalónssandur, where sailors and fishermen used to test their strengths on three different sized rocks still lying on the beach today. Then, we take the famous trail along the coast between Hellnar and Arnarstapi, a chaotic lava field beaten by countless waves. In the late afternoon we drive back to Reykjavík.
Driving: 3 hrs. Walking: 4 hrs.