Núpsstaðaskógar Skaftafell

A Journey Along Many of the Most Unique Places in Iceland!

Tour code: IMG41

Núpsstaðaskógar Skaftafell

An Impressive Trek Through Paradise

This impressive backpacking tour is considered to be an Icelandic Mountain Guides’ great classic trek. The tour offers some of Iceland’s most unique landscapes on a trail not frequented by many travelers. The trail takes you on a remarkable journey starting in Núpsstaðaskógur and heading up into the highlands along the stunning canyons of Núpsá river with its majestic waterfalls and vertical cliffs. The trails lead up onto the grassy valley of Sléttur before crossing over to the next valley filled with a huge glacier outlet flowing down from Vatnajökull icecap. Crossing the Skeiðarárjökull glacier is a challenge rewarded by a visit to the Norðurdalur valley which some consider being one of the most unique places in Iceland, if not on Earth! The path then takes us across the beautiful rhyolite mountains of Skaftafellsfjöll and over to the Morsárdalur glacier valley. After crossing this immense flood plain we reach Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park. Book this all-inclusive trip now while spots are still available for this popular classic!

Tour Overview

  • Language


  • Group size

    4 - 12 participants

  • Meeting point

    BSÍ Bus terminal at 7:15

  • Accommodation


  • Total Distance

    65 km (40 mi)

  • Walkin per day

    5 - 9 hours

  • Max Ascent

    450 m (1475 ft.)

  • Transport

    Public bus

  • Difficulty



    Demanding some effort and certain endurance. Good health and some hiking experience is required. 6-8 hours walk per day. Often involves carrying your own gear.

  • Availability

    Jul - Aug

  • Duration

    5 days

  • 16

    Minimum age:

    16 yrs

Contact Us

For availability information on a tour, please contact us using the form below.

Primary passenger information

Tour information

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Tour Highlights


  • Experienced and qualified guide
  • Camping accommodation in two persons tent
  • Transport at the beginning and end of trek
  • Breakfast (4), Lunch (5), Dinner (4)
  • Safety equipment for glacier crossing

Not Included

  • Sleeping bag
  • Mattress
  • Transfer of luggage

Optional Extras

  • Sleeping bag
  • Accommodation in Reykjavík before and after the tour

Tour Map and Itinerary

Click map for detailed itinerary

Núpsstaðaskógar Skaftafell


Day 1

Reykjavík - Núpstaðaskógar valley - Tvílitihylur waterfalls

Meeting point is at BSI central bus station at 7:15. Our transport leaves BSI at 7:45 to Núpsstaðaskógur where we start our hike. We begin our hike at the bottom of the valley. After a short climb we come to the magnificent waterfalls of Tvílitihylur, we head up along the neatly sculpted canyons of the lower part of Núpsá river. A short climb leads us up to the deeper part of the canyons with walls up to 200 m high. We put up camp in the canyon for the night.

Distance: 8 - 12 km (5 - 8 mi)
Elevation: Ascent 150 m
Walking time: 6 - 7 hrs

Day 2

Sléttur plains - Eggjar hills

We make our way up and out of the canyon, the panorama broadens as we reach the plains of Sléttur. After ascending the Eggjar hills the view opens over the icecap of Vatnajökull and its enormous glacier tongue Skeiðarárjökull, streaming down towards the plains and covering almost 1600 km². We put up camp close to the Glacier.
Distance: 8 - 12 km (5 - 8 mi)
Elevation: Ascent 350 m
Walking time: 6 - 7 hrs

Day 3

Skeiðarárjökull glacier

This day is devoted to the crossing of Skeiðarárjökull to Norðurdalur valley, an area surrounded by ice and high mountain ridges. Almost a whole day is required to traverse the 10 km of ice, before standing on solid ground again in the hinterland of the Skaftafell area of Vatnajökull National Park. A magnificent camping area is awaiting us with views over the several glacial lakes with floating icebergs and coloured rhyolite mountains in the background.
Distance: 12 - 15 km (8 - 10 mi)
Elevation: Ascent 150-200 m
Walking time: 7 - 8hrs

Day 4

Norðurdalur valley - Bæjarstaðarskógur

After some climbing to a narrow mountain ridge, one is able to admire the view to the yellowish rhyolite valley of Kjós at the other side as well as to Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur. Descending into the valley of Morsárdalur, the vegetation becomes progressively more abundant. The beautiful Arctic birch forest of Bæjarstaðarskógur welcomes us as we reach the plain where we put up camp.
Distance: 12 - 18 km (12 - 16 mi)
Elevation: Ascent 350 m and descent 1.000 m
Walking time: 7 - 8 hrs

Day 5

Morsárdalur - Skaftafell National Park - Reykjavík

We explore the morsárdalur valley before making our way across to Skaftafell National Park. Here we catch a bus back to Reykjavík where the tour ends in the evening.  
Distance: 12 - 15 km (8 - 10 mi)
Walking time: 4 - 6 hrs

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
Click to activate the map

Practical Information

Special dietary options, such as vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, and gluten-free, are available for an additional cost. These options will provide meals that meet the requirements of your diet.

If a date is not available, it is either fully booked or not offered on that date. Due to hut allocation, we may not be able to add additional spots, but you are welcome to contact us via email: [email protected]

To train for this tour, we highly recommend taking regular hikes in your local area, especially in places where the route includes both uphill and downhill segments, as well as uneven terrain. It's beneficial to carry some weight on your back during these hikes to simulate the conditions you'll experience on the tour. Begin with shorter walks and progressively increase their length to build the endurance needed for the longer hiking days you'll encounter during the tour.

Incorporating both low aerobic and aerobic training will help you build the strength and endurance required for longer hikes.

Lastly, it's crucial to train in the boots you plan to wear on the tour. Ensure they are well broken-in and comfortable to prevent blisters and discomfort during your trip.

For your own well being and safety, we strongly suggest following the advice of our equipment list, this includes having good quality rain gear, tops and bottoms! Please respect that cotton clothing is not appropriate for any strenuous outdoor activity. Modern outdoor clothing is by far more comfortable and will greatly improve your experience.

  • Sturdy Hiking Boots – waterproof with good ankle support.
  • Long sleeve shirt (thermal underwear) – Wool or synthetic.
  • T-shirt (thermal underwear), Wool or synthetic.
  • Light wool or fleece sweater (2nd layer).
  • Trousers – Strong and light material that dries quickly e.g. soft-shell.
  • Jacket with a good hood – windproof, waterproof and breathable, e.g. Gore-Tex or comparable.
  • Rain trousers – windproof, waterproof and breathable. Please note that full rain gear is mandatory in Iceland, poncho is not useful because of wind.
  • Gloves – Wool or synthetic 2 pairs of different thickness.
  • Socks – Wool or synthetic. Two or three pairs.
  • Warm hat – Wool or synthetic.
  • Swimwear if you want to bathe in the hot geothermal pool in Landmannalaugar.
  • A duffel bag for the transport of your overnight gear between huts. Please avoid bringing a suitcase! (Not applicable for tours without luggage transfer).
  • Backpack 60-75L (3.660 – 4600 cu in). Depending on your size and ability to carry weight. Normally people carry approximately 20% of own weight for a 3-4-day trip.
  • River shoes – Walking sandals or old running shoes with a good grip are a good choice, along with a pair of warm socks or neoprene socks. Open sandals or flip-flops will not do the job.
  • Sleeping bag, either down or synthetic. It is necessary the bag is light and warm, so we recommend goose down or Quallofill sleeping bags. Keep in mind that the temperature guidelines on the sleeping bags are often exaggerated and therefore necessary to have a bag with comfort level of at least -8°C/ 17°F.
  • Foam insulation sleeping pad or self-inflating mattress (no foam rubber or airbeds).
  • Towel – light weight and packable.
  • Sunglasses & sun protection.
  • Water container – thermos flask, water bottle 0.5 – 1L.
  • Headlamp for reading and getting around. (no need in June and July)
  • Personal first aid kit – including blister care.
  • Prescription medication and other personal health items.
  • Toiletries; Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Earplugs.
  • Walking pole(s). To preserve the vulnerable nature please keep the rubber tip protectors on.
  • 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 the highlands often is not an option or will cost you extra. Having converters adapters for 220 V and/or USB will help.
  • Gaiters (recommended for departures in June and early July).
  • Pocket knife.
  • Puffy jacket (e.g. Primaloft or down).
  • Dry bags for electronics and extra clothing.
  • Cash– for the showers, a shower normally costs about 500 ISK. Only for Laugavegur Trail.
  • Aperitif or 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. So, having a flask (preferably plastic or metal) to share with your fellow travellers in front of the campfire (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!