Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition

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

Departure confirmed on May 3rd 2023!

Tour code: EXPI51

Vatnajökull Glacier Expedition

Cross The Largest Glacier In Europe

A crossing of the mighty Vatnajökull Ice cap is something that should be on the list for every ambitious adventurer. There are not many places in the world where it is possible to do an engaging expedition of this level in as short a time, gaining experience and having experiences that other ways would take weeks to accumulate – and all done under one´s own power.

When we part with the modified vehicle that brings the team on to the Ice Cap we are fully exposed to the elements and totally reliant on our equipment, skills, training and the leadership of the IMG guide.  

On the endless ice we will battle conditions ranging from extreme colds and strong wind to extreme heat when the sun comes out and bounces off the snow. Out the endless ocean of snow and ice rises the Grímsvötn area, a geothermal oasis in the middle of the glacier. There we will find the most amazing hut, naturally heated with a shower and a steam bath.  This takes nothing away from the expedition but adds a layer where we push the reset button, recover and rest before heading out again for the second half of the trip.

This is the type of adventure that changes and defines you. As we reach the edge of the Ice Cap, we will talk of sleeping in a bed, not having to pitch tents and build snow walls, the food we have missed… but deep within we will wish that we could turn around and do it all again. And the next time we read about the great explorers, Amundsen, Captain Scott and Shackleton we know a little what it was like, and we share the fire that fueled those great explorers.
Icelandic Mountain Guides assume no responsibility for the addictive nature of expedition life.

Tour Overview

  • Pickup


  • Group size

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

  • Language


  • 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

  • Availability

    May 3rd, 2023

  • Duration

    9 days

  • 18

    Minimum age:

    18 yrs

Guides on this Tour

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

Primary passenger information

Tour information

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Customer Reviews

Tour Highlights


  • 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


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?
    Yes, the amazing hut in Grímsvötn has both a shower and a steam bath.  

  • 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.

If you have winter experience and good fitness, we can add a day for ski training before the trip or you can do a Nordic / XC skiing course closer to home.