Day 1: Glymur – Hraunfossar and Barnafoss – Deildartunguhver hot spring
Departure northwards with our first stop at the bottom of Hvalfjörður, the "whale fjord", where we hike to the highest waterfall in Iceland Glymur, which is located at the bottom of a canyon and measures 198m high. Once we are back to the bus we take the road to Deildartunguhver, a hot spring with the highest outflow in Iceland and probably the world! Its water is used to heat the villages in the region up to 64 kilometers away. Close by we make a stop at Hraunfossar, a series of waterfalls that emerge between two layers of lava. A stone’s throw away is Barnafoss, a waterfall made famous by a sad story which your guide will tell you about. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 3 - 4 hrs total Walking: 3 – 4 hrs total (accumulated)
Day 2: Snæfellsnes and Eldborg - Arnarstapi - Hellnar - Djúpalónssandur
In the morning we hike to the Eldborg crater, a volcanic crater that rises like a fortress above the surrounding lava field. We continue our tour to the southern part of the volcanic Snæfellsnes peninsula and its national park. This very beautiful and remote area is famous for its glacier-covered volcano, Snæfellsjökull, as well as 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. As a protected area, the southern coast of the peninsula is sparsely populated but offers a variety of volcanic landscapes at the edge of the ocean: craters, lava flows, hot springs, and cliffs. The coastal village of Arnarstapi as we will see has some of these irregular formations of basaltic columns and natural arches. It is home to large colonies of seabirds, such as gulls, arctic terns, fulmars, and kittiwakes. From there we continue our walk over the lava fields to Hellnar, another tiny fishing village. Nearby we will find Djúpalónssandur, a pebble beach surrounded by rock formations where sailors and fishermen used to test their strengths on three different sized rocks still lying on the beach today. We continue to Grundarfjörður where we spend the night. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 3 - 4 hrs total Walking: 3 – 4 hrs total (accumulated)
Day 3: Snæfellsnes peninsula: around Kirkjufell – Stykkishólmur – Drápuhlíðarfjall
After a short transfer, we start the day by hiking around the mountain Kirkjufell. The hike goes around this beautiful little coastal mountain that features steep slopes overlooking the ocean and the nearby village of Grundarfjörður. We continue our discovery of the northern coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula by driving through the fjords. Passing through the Berserker lava field, we come to the small fishing harbor of Stykkishólmur and its old houses. Above the harbor there is a hill, with a small hike to the top, where we uncover a colorful and spectacular view that embraces the whole bay that is dotted with countless islands and the mountains that lie to the south. On the way we will learn about the story of Erik the Red who lived in this fjord. Upon committing a crime he was forced to flee Iceland westwards and went on to discover Greenland. Sleeping bag accommodation in the Breiðafjörður region.
Driving: 3 hrs total Walking: 3 – 5 hrs. total
Day 4: Vatnsnes peninsula - Skagafjörður - Akureyri
Today we head east by vehicle through the Laxárdalsheiði pass and then descend into the fjord of Hrútafjörður. Occasionally, remains of icebergs drifting from Greenland settle onto the beach deep within this fjord. Driving along the coast of the Vatnsnes Peninsula to Illugastaðir, we encounter a colony of seals on the shore. On the opposite side of the peninsula we stop at Hvitserkur, a strange natural double-arched rock off the coast of Iceland. From there the route takes us over to Skagafjörður, a fjord known for its rich breeding of Icelandic horses and numerous local choirs! There, we can visit one of the country’s most interesting museums: Glaumbær (Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions, entrance: 1600 ISK, about 13 €). Towards the end of the day we arrive at the capital of the north, Akureyri. Home to almost 20,000 residents the town sits deep within the largest Icelandic fjord and is surrounded by many mountains over 1000 meters in altitude. A small visit to the city’s rich botanical garden, which contains 400 out of 950 of Iceland’s indigenous plants. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 5 – 6 hrs. total Walking: Occasional small excursions during transfer.
Day 5: Goðafoss - Mývatn
Goðafoss, known as the fall of the gods, is our first stop of the day. After that we head east along the road towards Mývatn and its magnificent lake. 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 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 €). Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 1 hr. total Walking: 5 hrs.
Day 6: Mývatn - Jökulsárgljúfur National Park - Dettifoss - Egilsstaðir waterfall
To the east of Mývatn, we will hike in one of the most active volcanic regions in Iceland. The Krafla volcano (pronounced “Krabbla”) with its series of volcanic fissures erupted nine times between 1975 and 1984. Huge black lava fields with fuming steam dot the area. We continue to the canyon of Jökulsárgljúfur. Here with a hike we’ll find the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss, and watch as the sediment-rich river discolors the cascading water. After that a hike to the site of Hljóðaklettar, a distinctive cluster of basalt columned rocks, and to Ásbyrgi, a steep horseshoe canyon said to have been created by Odin’s eight-legged horse. Finally, we drive through the high desert plateau to Egilsstaðir, the biggest town in the east with about 2,000 inhabitants. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 4 – 5 hrs. Walking: 4 hrs.
Day 7: Stórurð - fjords of the East
A drive east to Borgarfjörður sends us on a hike to Stórurð, an emerald-colored lake hidden in the midst of large boulders that lie under Dyrfjöll. After the hike we return to Egilsstaðir and then continue along the large elongated lake of Lagarfljót. The locals claim that a monster inhabits this lake like the Lochness in Scotland. Then we enjoy the beautiful Eastern Fjords as we descend towards the sea at Berufjörður. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 2 hrs. Walking: 4-5 hrs.
Day 8: Eastern Fjords - Höfn
We follow the coastline with magnificent landscapes. On one side the endless ocean but on the other there are countless multicolored mountains. In the bay of Lónsvík we start the day with our first hike. Surrounded by rhyolite hills, the small valley of Hvannagil is filled with warm tones of ochre, orange and red, and black contrasts of the basalt. During the hike we will pass through the small lakes nestled in between these mountains. We continue towards Höfn but just before reaching the city, we undertake a coastal hike around Vestrahorn. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 3 hrs. Walking: 4-5 hrs.
Day 9: Jökulsárlón - Múlagljúfur gorge
We head west towards Skaftafell. Along the way we stop at the glacial lake of Jökulsárlón, dotted with icebergs that calve from the massive Breiðamerkurjökull and one of the wonders of this region. Optional boat tour among the icebergs (Price: 5000 ISK, ca. 40 €). Since the ocean is very close by, seals often visit the beach and lake. After the lake, a hike along Múlagljúfur brings us to a very impressive canyon with beautiful waterfalls and astonishing rock formations. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 2 hrs. Walking: 4-5 hrs.
Day 10: Skaftafell National Park
With a transfer we come to a beautiful park that 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 as well as 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 plains of Skeiðarársandur. We spend the day on the park’s paths to discover its magnificent and impressive nature, such as the Mórsárdalur valley, the Bæjarstaðarskógur woodlands, the Morsárjökull glacier and the small hot springs of Jökulfell, a blissful combination of ice and lava. Goal of the day is a climb to the peak of Kristínartindar, a breathtaking view of all the park’s glaciers that descend from the highest peaks of the country. Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 1 hr. Walking: 6 hrs.
Day 11: Fjaðrárgljúfur - Peninsula of Dyrhólaey - waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss - Vík - Hella
Heading west past the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, we walk along the canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur. Passing through the village of Vík where we can, in June, discover the largest colony of arctic terns in the country. Walk up to the black sand beach dominated by the coastal cliffs to see the rocky needles protruding from the ocean. Afterwards, a second walk on the peninsula of Dyrhólaey or on the mountain of Reynisfjall, where beautiful cliffs of the south coast cut in the volcanic rock sheltering colonies of seabirds (in particular the nice little puffins). Stop at the impressive Skógafoss waterfall, then at Seljalandsfoss waterfall (behind which it is possible to walk!). Sleeping bag accommodation in a hostel/a mountain hut.
Driving: 1 hr. Walking: 3-4 hrs.
Day 12: Geysir – Gullfoss – Þingvellir – Reykjavík
Our last day starts with a visit to the Geysir, from which the international name geyser derives from, a rare phenomenon of water violently and intermittently discharging from the ground. After a short transfer we arrive at Gullfoss or the “Golden Waterfall,” which cascades into an impressive gorge of the Hvítá or “White River.” After that we head to national park of Þingvellir, the site of Iceland’s original Alþing, annual parliamentary gatherings. These meetings are known as one of the oldest institutions of democracy in the world as Þingvellir offered a superb location with Iceland’s largest natural lake lying adjacent and the continental drift running through the park. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. At the end of the day we drive back to Reykjavík.
Driving: 3 hrs. Walking: 2 hrs.