Volcanic Highlands – T6AG

Tour type: Discovery adventure with sightseeing and hikes

Difficulty:

EASY

HARD

Price from:  

Adult: 360.000

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

What's included: Guide, full board, accommodation, transportation

Departures: June, July, August

Duration: 12 days

Accommodation: Camping

Group size: 6-15 participants

Language: English and French

Walking per day: 3-10 hours total

  • Tour Description

    Highlights of the Tour

    • Complete experience of Iceland’s landscapes.
    • Crossing the country via the great volcanic rift.
    • Exploring the crater and the lava fields of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.
    • Enjoying longer hiking days.

    This trip outlines a wide loop around the highlands of Iceland but doesn’t shy away from the coast. With outstanding basecamps to start our treks from, the hiking experience will take us through much of what Iceland has to offer.  The geothermal center of Kerlingarfjöll and its ochre hills, the lake of Mývatn, spread between lava flows and craters, the multicolored landscapes of Landmannalaugar, Skaftafell and its great kingdom of glaciers, the famous waterfall of Skógar on the edge of the ocean, and the Þórsmörk valley and its lava flows from the March 2010 eruption are only some of the brilliant highlights along the way.

    Included: Guide, public transportation, lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 12, camping fee. 

    Not Included: Mývatn Nature Baths, Icelands highest peak, glacier walk in Skaftafell.

    Note: For this tour to be confirmed, the minimum number of passengers has to be met. If the tour is not confirmed you will get full refund. 

    Available upon request: Accommodation in Reykjavík 

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  • Tour Itinerary

    Day 1: Geysir – Gullfoss – Kerlingarfjöll

    Departure in the morning from Reykjavík to Geysir. The English word geyser derives from Geysir , which describes a rare phenomenon of water violently and intermittently discharging from the ground.  With a short transfer we arrive at Gullfoss or the “Golden Waterfall,” which cascades into an impressive gorge of the Hvítá, the “White River.”  From the waterfall we will continue north into the interior of the country via the Kjölur road, which crosses the high plateau between the two glaciers of Hofsjökull and Langjökull.  We arrive in the beginning of the afternoon in Kerlingarfjöll.   This is one of the country’s major sites, wonderful ochre rhyolite hills dominated by small glaciers.  Exploring the site on foot, we experience a place of high geothermal activity.  Unlike Landmannalaugar this place is less frequented and wild!  There is possibility of bathing in the area’s hot springs. Camping
    Driving:  5 hrs. (including stops at Gullfos and Geysir)                        Walking:   3-4 hrs. 

    Day 2: Kerlingarfjöll – Akureyri – Mývatn

    Further discovery of Kerlingarfjöll area, then in the early afternoon departure by bus for Akureyri.  Known as the capital of the North, this town is located deep inside Iceland’s longest fjord Eyjafjörður.  Home to almost 20,000 inhabitants, it has a botanical garden containing 400 out of 950 of Iceland’s indigenous plants. From there with a bus we head to Mývatn, arriving in the evening.  Break camp for three nights.
    Driving: 7 hrs. (including stops)                         Walking:  3 hrs. 

    Day 3-4: Mývatn

    There is so much to see!  This clear water lake is surrounded by Lake Mývatn’ss numerous volcanic formations.  The region of Mývatn is a massive concentration of numerous volcanic formations.  The day is dedicated to visiting these various geological phenomena such as: The Krafla volcano (pronounced “Krabbla”) with strings of volcanic fissures and vast lava flows, the enormous explosive crater of Hverfjall, the crater of Víti (silent since 1724), Námaskarð and its solfataras (pots of boiling water), the bizarre formations of Dimmuborgir, and the pseudo-craters of Skútustaðir. The lake is also a paradise for onithologists. Optional bathing in Jarðböðin, comparable to the Blue Lagoon by Reykjavík (approximate price: ISK 4 000 per person, about 28 €). Camping.
    Driving:  none                        Walking:   5-6 hrs. 

    Day 5: Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss waterfalls – Nýidalur – Sprengisandur desert – Landmannalaugar

    Today’s part of the tour takes us back into the interior of the country.  Goðafoss, known as the fall of the gods, is our first stop of the day.  A vast curtain of water cut in half by huge boulders, 30 meters wide and 12 meters high.  Right after visiting the equally impressive Aldeyarfoss that flows through a cliff of basaltic columns, we head south to cross the high plateaus again.  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, where we stop  for a picnic.  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.  Arrival in Landmannalaugar is set at the end of the afternoon where we will break camp for two nights and where we can bathe in the hot springs to close out the day!
    Driving:  10 hrs. (including 3 stops)                     Walking:  Small excursions during transfer. 

    Day 6: Landmannalaugar

    We devote the entire day to exploring Landmannalaugar and its colorful landscape of ochre yellow to reddish or blueish inclusions and geothermal plume vapors.  A stroll through some of the many trails will take us into areas of 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.  Another chance to relax in the hot spring located next to the campsite. Another night at the same campsite.
    Driving: none                         Walking:   6-7 hrs. 

    Day 7: Landmannalaugar – Eldgjá – Ófærufoss – Skaftafell

    Another hike at this spectacular site.  In the middle of the afternoon, however, we will continue south, towards the coast.  Along the way we’ll stop at Eldgjá or the “Canyon of Fire,” which was formed in 934.  This eruption was almost as powerful as the Laki eruption 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.  Within the canyon is Ófærufoss, a waterfall which waters plunge in two majestic leaps into the depths of the Eldgjá fault.  We continue south and upon reaching the main road head east past the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.  Arrival in the Skaftafell National Park in the evening. Breaking camp for three nights.
    Driving:  4-5 hrs. Total (including 1 hr 45 minutes at Eldgjá)                     Walking:   4-5 hrs. 

    Day 8: Skaftafell National Park

    The Skaftafell National Park sits at the foot of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull.  It is a green oasis of arctic birch decorated with flowers, valleys, waterfalls and rivers surrounded by mountains and glaciers. Overlooking the park is Iceland’s highest peak Hvannadalshnúkur, an enormous glacial mountain that rises 2,110 meters above sea level.  From Skaftafell we can also see all the way to the ocean, across the immense black flood plain of Skeiðarársandur.  We spend the day on the park’s paths to discover its magnificent and impressive nature, such as the Morsárdalur valley, the Bæjarstaðarskógur woodlands, the Morsárjökull glacier and the small hot springs of Jökulfell, a blissful combination of ice and lava.  The goal of the day is a climb to the peaks of Kristínartindar where we’ll find a breathtaking view of all the park’s glaciers that descend from the highest peaks of the country. Night at the same campsite.
    Driving:    none                      Walking:   6 hrs. 

    Day 9: Jökulsárlón glacial lake - Skaftafell

    By bus we head to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lake dotted with icebergs that calve from the massive Breiðamerkurjökull, one of the wonders of this region.  There is hiking along the lagoon and along the beach, both areas are frequented by seals. Optional boat tour amongst the icebergs (Price: 5000 ISK, ca. 40 €).  Return again to Skaftafell in the early afternoon and continue exploring the national park. Night at the same campsite.
    Driving:  2 hrs.                         Walking:   3-4 hrs. 

    Optional (not included in price) on Day 8 or 9:

    - Climbing to the highest point of Iceland Hvannadalshnúkur with a summit guide: 42 900 ISK. 

    - Excursion onto the Svínafellsjökull glacier, led by a glacier guide: 2.5 hours (price: 11 900 ISK) or 4 hours (16 900 ISK).

     

    Day 10: Skaftafell – Vík – Skógafoss – Skógar

    Last morning hike in the national park, by noon we will depart by bus westwards.  First the road crosses the vast lava fields of Eldhraun, which was one of the greatest lava flows of historic times, and then just before Vík we drive through the major flood plains of Mýrdalssandur, a great desert traversed by rivers from the nearby Mýrdalsjökull glacier.  A break in Vík brings us to the southernmost point of the country.  Time to discover the black volcanic sand beach of this village that lies next to steep coastal cliffs and rocky needles that protrude from the ocean.   Finally, arrival in Skógar in the middle of the afternoon.  From the campsite we can discover the famous waterfall of Skógafoss, which stands 60 meters high and is one of the country’s most powerful waterfall.  We are also at the foot of the notorious volcano Eyjafjallajökull.  This volcano became infamous around the world in April 2010 when its eruption released enormous amounts of ash into the atmosphere paralyzing air traffic in much of Europe for several days. Night at Skógar campsite.
    Driving:    4 hrs. (including stops)                      Walking:   2-3 hrs. 

    Day 11: Fimmvörðuháls – Þórsmörk

    Today we will spend the entire day crossing the famous mountain pass between the Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers.  Our hike will pass through the spots where the eruption began in March 2010 and emitted lava flows.  Departing from the campsite, we head up the Skógafoss waterfall and continue along the Skógá River.  All along the ascent there countless cascading waterfalls that come in different shapes and sizes!  In good weather, there are magnificent views of the coast and ocean.  Arriving finally at the Fimmvörðuháls pass, we stand between two immense glaciers. Passing through the lunar crater, we begin to see the lava flows that plunged into the valley during the March 2010 eruption.  A final descent into Þórsmörk and its dominating tuff closes an unforgettable day! Night at the campsite.
    Driving:  none                        Walking:   9-10 hrs.

    -In case of unfavorable weather (in particular bad visibility), transfer into Þórsmörk and hiking in the valley. 

    Day 12: Þórsmörk - Reykjavík

    In the morning we explore Þórsmörk, a charming valley with arctic birch groves.  This fantastic landscape of volcanic tuff was cut by the numerous rivers originating from the surrounding glaciers.   Its valley floor is covered with soft green vegetation, all dominated by the majestic overlooking glaciers.  From here we depart by an elevated 4x4 bus, exiting Þórsmörk is already a small expedition as you need to ford a dozen of glacial rivers!   After arriving at the main road near the coast, we head back to Reykjavík.
    Driving:  4 hrs.                         Walking:  3 hrs.

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  • Equipment List

    For your own wellbeing and safety, we strongly suggest following the advice of our equipment list, which includes having good quality rain-gear tops and bottoms! Also, understand that cotton clothing is not appropriate for any strenuous outdoor activity – this includes jeans and t-shirts. Modern outdoor clothing is by far more comfortable and will greatly improve your experience. 

    Boots and Clothing:

    • Hiking boots – light hiking boots with waterproofing and ankle support are preferred. 
    • Long and short sleeve thermal underwear – Wool or synthetic. 
    • Rain Jacket with a good hood– Preferably waterproof and breathable material. 
    • Hiking pants.
    • Rain trousers – Waterproof and breathable material. 
    • Gloves – Wool or synthetic.
    • Socks – two to three pairs of hiking socks - Wool or synthetic.
    • Warm hat – Wool or synthetic. 

    Other gear:

    • Backpack for clothes and items used during the day. Size: 20-30 litres. 
    • Duffel bag for your overnight gear, preferably not a suitcase.  
    • Towel – A light weight and packable one. 
    • Sunglasses and sun protection. 
    • Water bottle. 
    • Casual clothes / change of clothes.
    • Prescription medication and other personal health items.
    • Toiletries; Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap etc. 
    • Swim suit (depends on tour). 
    • Tours in huts: 
    • Sleeping bag – A basic sleeping bag with no specific temperature rating is sufficient for summer tours. Good summer sleeping bag will do for winter tours in huts (depending on tour). 
    • Earplugs 
    • Headlamp for reading and getting around the hut. 

    Optional gear:

    • Walking pole(s). 
    • Pen knife. 
    • Sun/rain Hat or a Cap. 
    • Thermal mat (for lunch breaks). 
    • Camera, spare batteries and a memory card or films. 
    • Puffy jacket to throw on during stops (e.g. Primaloft or down) 
    • Slippers for indoor use. 
    • Aperitif or other heart-warming spirits.

    Should you have any questions regarding this equipment list or the equipment on our tours feel free to contact incoming@mountainguides.is.

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  • Gear Lexicon

    Discovery Adventure

    What is a Discovery Adventure?

    On our Discovery Adventures you will get a chance to see allot of Iceland – driving between sightseeing spot. You should also be ready for some for a bit of walking – but nothing extreme or hard. Depending on tours you could be staying in Mountain huts, guesthouses or hotels.
    Please note that not all parts of the gear lexicon apply on all tours. 


    Light Hiking Boots

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    Salomon Quest Origins GTX

    A light pair of boots is more than sufficient. Having them waterproof and high enough to support and cover your ankles is a great benefit and will help keep you dry on wet or snowy ground. 


    Rain Jacket and Pants

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    ME Manaslu

    Wind and waterproof tops and bottoms are essential in Iceland. Preferably a jacket with a good hood. Rain pants with zippers along the legs make getting them on much easier. 


    Insulation layer

    A fleece jacket would the classical insulating layer. Wool would also be a good option. Here it is also possible to layer up – two thin jackets or a jacket and a vest rather than one very thick jacket. A thicker base-layer for colder days could also be a part of adjustable layering. 


    Hands, feet and head:

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    ME Knitted beanie

    Gloves: A light pair of fleece or wool gloves or mittens does the job. You can also take a pair of ski-gloves or other wind and waterproof shell gloves. Having an extra pair is recommended, and then of different thickness.
    Socks: Wool is definitely the preferred material for hiking socks. Different blends are available. If you are prone to blisters or have new boots you should consider wearing a thin liner sock underneath your hiking socks. Make sure you have a few pairs of socks to keep your feet dry and in good conditions.
    Warm hat: A normal ski-hat/beanie is perfect. You could also use a thick buff. An extra a buff is also nice to have, you can use it to protect your neck and face when needed or as a thinner option for a hat. 


    Puffy Jacket

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    ME Compressor Hooded Jacket PrimaLoft

    A nice light puffy is great during brakes. The insulation could be down or synthetics (such as Primaloft). It should not be very big or bulky for summer time use. Synthetic insulation is preferred as it keeps most of its insulating properties also when wet but down is also a good option.  A puffy vest would also be a good option. 


    Casual clothes / change of clothes

    Once in the hut it is good to be able to change out of your trekking gear. Even if we do not like you to wear jeans during the hike you are welcome to wear them in the hut/tent in the evening - same with a cotton T-shirt. If it is could a warm jumper or an extra fleece jacket is always nice. Few pairs of comfy socks and some fresh underwear.  Avoid bringing too much extra clothing – life in the mountains is simple and nice, so one pair of extra pants, warm jumper and a few t-shirts and briefs should do the job just fine. Light sneakers and slippers for indoor use will feel great at the end of the day. 


    Backpack / day-pack

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    Love Alpine AirZone Trek 30L

    You will need a nice daypack to carry your extra clothes, river crossing shoes, food and water for the day. Having a compartment for smaller items like sun screen and sunglasses is also good. The pack will never be heavy, but a bit of padding on the shoulder- and hip straps/belt with a buckle is good. Unless you have some bulky personal needs, like photographic equipment, then you should be fine with 20-30L (1200 - 2000 cu in).


    Duffel-bag

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    ME Wet & Dry bag

    On many of our tours your overnight gear is going to be transported from hut-to-hut / camp-to-camp and space is limited. We therefore ask you to pack your gear in a soft bag rather than a regular hard suite case, since this is more space-efficient. A 60 - 80L bag should be more than enough for all your extra kit including a sleeping bag.  If it is reasonably waterproof that is a big plus. 


    Sun

    A baseball cap or a comfortable hat with brim is great to have and is useful both in sunny and rainy weather. You should also have a nice pair of sunglasses and some sun-bloc – SPF 15-25 should be enough protection for most.  If you plan to be playing on snow covers summits you should bring a pair of quality sunglasses for mountaineering SPF 30 – 50 sunblock.  


    Personal items

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    Make sure to have all your prescription medication with you, if you have any medical condition that could in any way affect you during the trip make sure to let your guide know. For those suffering from allergies having antihistamine is advisable – or any other medication that works for your condition. Items for personal hygiene should also be included, having a small bar of soap handy or some liquid hand soap is a good idea. Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental-floss should be packed. Avoid liquid antiperspirant and glass containers due to risks of spilling. Feminine products like pads, tampons etc. should also be packed if needed. If you take vitamins or other supplements you should continue to do so during your holiday.
    In most cases you are sharing sleeping facilities with one or more fellow travellers – so a pair of good ear-plugs can ensure a good night sleep. Those not used to the bright summer might also like to bring an eye mask.  Contact lenses, lens liquid etc. Pack shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in small plastic bottles that close tight.
    A big towel is nice to have – especially if you are taking a bath in one of the natural hot-pools. 


    Swim suit

    Bathing in the natural hot-pools will be one of the highlights of your trip in Iceland (depending on the tour). Make sure you come dressed for the occasion. There are no specific rules, written or unwritten on how to dress or not to dress; board shorts, speedos, bikinis or bathing suits – anything goes. Quick drying is good. 


    Water container / thermos flask

    In Iceland & Greenland you can drink from any stream, no filters, no iodine or chlorine! It is good to have a small water bottle at hand. A 1L bottle should be plenty as water is easily found all over. If you are a warm drinker we will be happy to fill up your thermos in the morning and a selection of teas will be available (very dedicated tea drinkers often bring an emergency stash of their favourite brand). Cold drinkers might like to bring their favoured powdered flavouring/vitamin/energy drink. 


    Sleeping Bag Hut

    The mountain-huts during the summer are usually warm, although most are not heated during the night. Any old sleeping bag will therefore do, unless you get cold easily. For temperature control having a full length zipper is the best. A liner bag is also a very nice addition and will improve your ability to regulate your head during the night.  If you are doing a winter hut trip or summer camping a 3 season sleeping bag would be sufficient. All the huts we use have mattresses on the beds so no need to bring your own for huts.  


    Head-lamp

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    Even though the summer night is bright the inside of the hut/tent might not be. A headlamp is also useful for a bit of reading. There are plenty of options available for LED head lamps that are just perfect for reading and getting around. A small flash-light will also do the job. Most LED headlamps have more than enough light for our purposes and the battery life is so good that one set will do for your trip.  


    Other cool things to have

    Book – to read during the evenings.
    Music - and head phones. Some of our guides also have speakers with them to share Icelandic music.
    Diary or note-book – to write down your good memories from Iceland. Also a pen or pencil.
    Power-bank / extra battery for your electronics – small solar cells usually do not work that well in Iceland so a pre charged power bank is a better option.  Charging your electronics in huts in the highlands often is not an option or will cost you extra. Having converters adapters for 220 V will help.
    Playing cards and travel games – or other toys you might like and can travel.
    Cash – in mountain huts shower normally costs about 500 ISK and work on 100kr coins.
    Travel pillow – as long as it is not very bulky, otherwise you can just use your clothes.
    Powder drink mix – Good water is never a problem – but you might like a bit of variety. Some also contain vitamins and minerals that help your body after a hard day. 
    Shorts - It does get warm enough to wear shorts. They are also nice for sleeping in, in case you need to get out in the night. For hiking it is nice to have some pockets, for the items that other ways would be in the pockets of you pants. But any old pair of shorts will do.


    Aperitif of other heart-warming spirits

    Aperitif of other heart-warming spirits - Liquor laws in Iceland prohibit the sale of alcohol in most places you come by on your trip in the highlands and limited opening hours stop you from buying any most other places unless you are staying in a hotel. So having a flask (preferably plastic or metal) to share with your fellow travels in front of the camp fire (gas heater) can be the crowning of a good day. You can take care of this in the duty-free up on arrival in Iceland if you like. Just follow all the Icelanders on your flight – they will take you straight to duty-free!
    On trips to Greenland you can take care of this in the duty-free up on arrival in Iceland. Duty free in Kulusuk, Greenland does not sell high % spirits – but if you make it to the supermarket they will have beer. 


    Gear shopping in Iceland

    Already in Iceland and need to grab some extra gear? No worries. There are a few shops in Reykjavík to go to (remember to ask for a VAT refund slip when you buy over 5000ISK, saving 14%):

    Íslensku Alparnir: http://alparnir.is/  this is where IMG gets its Mountain Equipment gear, much of with is featured on the pictures above – can’t go wrong there.

    GG-Sjósport: http://www.gummibatar.is/ grate products, but not in the down town.

    Laugavegur: the main shopping street down town has a few stores, including some local brands like 66°North and Cintamany.

    Kringlan & Smáralind are the indoor shopping centers in Iceland – both have outdoor stores – and they are open on Sundays and till 21:00 on Thursdays. 

    For your own wellbeing and safety, we strongly suggest following the advice of our equipment list, this includes having good quality rain-gear, tops and bottoms!  Also respect that cotton clothing is not appropriate for any strenuous outdoor activity – this includes jeans and t-shirts. Modern outdoor clothing is by far more comfortable and will greatly improve your experience. 
    Should you have any questions regarding this equipment list or the equipment on our tours feel free to contact
    incoming@mountainguides.is


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  • Map
  • Departure Dates
    Tour Dates Availability
    29.06.2017 Confirmed Departure Select
    06.07.2017 One needed to confirm departure Select
    20.07.2017 Confirmed Departure Select
    03.08.2017 Available Select

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