Expeditions

Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition

The perfect combination of challenge, adventure and stunning nature. A dream tour for outdoor enthusiasts.

Tour code: EXPI51

Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition
Price from: 550.000  ISK

Cross The Largest Glacier In Europe

Crossing the mighty Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier by volume, is a challenging and rewarding task that no outdoor enthusiast should miss. This icy giant hides a number of active volcanoes that erupt regularly, with the most recent eruption in 2011 in Grímsvötn. Vatnajökull is also home to the highest peak in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m). The glacier and the nature around it make up the famous Vatnajökull National Park.

Your professional and highly experienced expedition guide will lead you on a journey with conditions similar to those in the arctic. The demanding terrain and weather are what make this experience so unique. It is the perfect training ground for those who plan on future expeditions in arctic conditions. During your 9-day traverse of the glacier on cross-country skis, you will reach Grímsvötn volcano, the heart of this massive ice field and cross the glacier plateau toward Hermannaskarð pass. Along the way, the surrounding nature will surprise and delight you. The peaks on the south side of the ice cap will seem to grow in size as you travel farther south. Enjoy spectacular views of the Mávabyggðir and Esjufjöll mountains. As you descend the ice field via Breiðamerkurjökull glacier on the last day, you will witness the stunning beauty of the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Whether you are a seasoned expeditionist or are an outdoor enthusiast looking for a new challenge, this tour is for you.

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Tour Overview

  • Pickup

    Included

  • Group size

    4 - 12 participants (second guide for groups 7 - 12)

  • Language

    English

  • Accommodation

    Camping and mountain huts

  • Walkin per day

    7 - 9 hrs

  • Total Distance

    110 - 130 km (68 - 81 mi)

  • Max Ascent

    750 m (2460 ft)

  • Difficulty

    Strenuous

    Difficulty

    Strenuous

  • Availability

    Apr

  • Duration

    9 days

  • 18

    Minimum age:

    18 yrs

Guides on this Tour

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Customer Reviews

Tour Highlights

Included

  • Experienced and qualified guide
  • Mountain hut sleeping bag accommodation in dormitories (3 nights)
  • Camping accommodation in two persons tent (4 nights)
  • Guesthouse sleeping bag accommodation (1 nights)
  • Super jeep transport at the beginning of the tour
  • Transport from Skaftafell to Reykjavík at the end of the tour
  • Breakfast (8), Lunch (9), Dinner (8)
  • Pulkas/sledges

Not Included

  • Sleeping bag
  • Mattress
  • Skiing equipment
  • Accommodation in Reykjavík

Optional Extras

  • Skiing equipment
  • Accommodation in Reykjavík before and after the tour

Tour Map and Itinerary

Click map for detailed itinerary

Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition

MAP & ITINERARY

Day 0

Preparation meeting with the guide - Day before departure

Morning meeting with the guide where he will inspect the gear each expedition member has brought and introduce the itinerary. If something is missing, ski equipment has to be rented or something else has to be arranged, there is time for that during this day.

Day 1

Reykjavík - Jökulheimar

Pick up from accommodation early morning (time decided the day before) and transfer to Jökulheimar on the west side of the glacier. A super-jeep takes us from Reykjavík and up to snow line on the glacier, where we start the walk in the afternoon. First night in tents.

Distance: 5-10 km

Walking time: 4-6 hrs

Day 2 & 3

Ascent to Grímsvötn

We continue the ascent of the main glacier up to the vast plains of the Vatnajökull icecap. In the afternoon of day 3, our destination is in sight as we arrive to the Grímsvötn caldera near the center of the icecap. Second night in tents but the third in the comfortable Grímsvötn hut.

Distance each day: 15 km

Walking time each day: 6-7 hrs

Day 4

Grímsvötn Caldera

This day is devoted to the exploration of the magnificent volcanic caldera of Grímsvötn. This is a highly active volcanic area with frequent eruptions in the last century, the last one in 2011. The Grímsvötn caldera is actually a complex of calderas and the effects of the geothermal heat continuously melt the glacier ice to create a sub glacial caldera lake. We spend another night in the comfortable Grímsvötn hut.

Day 5 & 6

Traversing to the ice cap towards Öræfajökull glacier

After Grímsvötn we are following the glacier ridge southwards to the direction of Öræfajökull, aiming for Hermannaskarð pass. Iceland’s highest peak Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m/6900 ft) and other peaks will seem to grow in size as we get further south. Nights in tents.

Distance each day: 20-25 km

Walking time each day: 6-7 hrs

Day 7

Hermannaskarð pass to Esjufjöll mountains

The past night has been spent either in Hermannaskarð pass or a bit further east under Mávabyggðir mountain range. We break camp and start our very so pleasant downwards cruise down to Esjufjöll Mountains. The day is not too long and the skiing less intense than the previous days so we might have time and energy to explore Esjufjöll a bit in the afternoon. Night in Esjufjöll hut.

Distance: 20-25 km

Walking time: 6-7 hrs

Day 8

From Esjufjöll down Breiðamerkurjökull glacier

The last leg of our journey is slightly downwards. There is no real rush in the morning and we can really enjoy the magnificent area with all the mountains, crevasse fields (safe distance away) and glacier moraines around. Last night is in a sleeping bag accommodation, in or close to Skaftafell.

Distance: 15 km

Walking time: 5-6 hrs

Day 9

Return to Reykjavík

We will be taken back to Reykjavík (private ride) in the morning of day 9 after a good night’s sleep and a breakfast. If, because of weather or other reasons, we can't descend until day 9, we head back to Reykjavík in the evening.

  • Day 0
  • Day 1
  • Day 2 & 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5 & 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
Click to activate the map

Practical Information

  • Will we be able to shower on the expedition?

You will not be able to shower on the expedition itself.  

 

  • Will the huts have running water?

No you will need to melt snow for water on the expedition.

 

  • Do the mountain huts have dormitory rooms/private rooms?

The huts have no private rooms available, there are only dormitories.

 

  • Do I need to bring my own cooking equipment?

No, we will have all cooking equipment needed as well as gas and gas stove.

 

  • Can I charge my phone/camera in the hotels/huts?

We recommend bringing a power bank to charge your electronic devices. The huts do not have electricity.

  • I am a vegetarian/vegan/gluten intolerant, will there be a food option for me, what is it?

Special dietary supplement, such as vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten free or other supplements, can be ordered at some extra cost. The supplement will include meals that meet the requirements of your diet.

  • The date I want to book is not available, can I still request to book?

It is not possible to book the expeditions online. Please contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in booking or if you have any questions. You are also welcome to contact us for a private tour if you cannot join on an available date.