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.