Menu
  • Iceland: Hiking the Land of Fire & Ice
Overview

Discover a Land Where Volcanoes & Glaciers Rule with Boundless Journeys

Iceland is a land of extreme contrasts. Vast, desolate lava fields are interrupted by lush, moss-carpeted valleys, and giant cascading waterfalls give way to vibrantly colored rhyolite mountains. From the otherworldly landscapes of the south coast to the mystical power of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the west, our overland expedition takes in the most beautiful and inspiring areas of Iceland.

On Boundless Journeys’ Hiking the Land of Fire and Ice, we’ll explore fairytale landscapes on the south coast, passing dramatic waterfalls, floating icebergs, and some of Europe’s largest glaciers. A zodiac boat trip, cultural connections, and an optional ride on an Icelandic horse round out our adventure.

Along the way, we’ll spend a day crossing the interior highlands of Landmannalaugar, soaking in hot streams, and hiking along colorful mountains—an experience not to be missed. In the evenings, return to comfortable accommodations and enjoy relaxing in "hot pots" (Icelandic hot tubs) or taking a nighttime stroll under the midnight sun on this epic Boundless Journeys tour in Iceland.

What Our Guests Have To Say About This Tour

Each trip has been unique and wonderful with its own charms. The area I have been repeatedly impressed with is the guides. Every guide has been exceptional! Very different personalities, but all knowledgeable, friendly, adaptive, good leaders, patient, and all amazing representatives of their countries.

Susan K
Maple City, Michigan

Itinerary &
Accommodations

Itinerary & Accommodations

Day 1

Búrfellsgja Canyon; Seljavallalaug Thermal Pool; Seljalandsfoss Falls

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours (approximately 5 miles)

Upon meeting our guide in Reykjavík, we head to Búrfellsgja Canyon, located about 30 minutes southeast of Reykjavík. Búrfellsgjá was formed from an eruption of the small volcano, Búrfell, some eight thousand years ago. Our walk takes us along the old pathway of the lava river up to the immense crater left in the volcanoes wake.

After our hike, we continue toward our hotel. Along the way, we may stop for a 15-minute walk to Seljavallalaug, the oldest remaining swimming pool in Iceland. Built in 1923, and tucked into a beautiful valley, the mountains provide a perfect backdrop for this rustic, geothermal pool.

Our next stop is Seljalandsfoss falls, where we walk the short footpath behind the cascades for a unique look through a veil of thundering water.

At day’s end, we arrive at our country hotel in the Skógar area.

Accommodations
Hotel Skógar

Hotel Skógar
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

Hotel Skógar is a charming boutique hotel, located within walking distance to the base of one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. Features include a gourmet restaurant, 12-warmly decorated rooms, and an outdoor sauna and hot tub.

Day 2

Skógafoss Waterfall and Glacier Exploration

  • Activity Overview: Glacier walk and optional morning hike
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours (approximately 1 mile); optional morning hike, 2 hours (approximately 4 miles)

This morning, you may choose to explore the grounds surrounding our hotel, including the impressive Skógafoss waterfall, a 200-foot-high cascade that often produces rainbows in its mist. For those in the mood for a more substantial hike, we can ascend a short, steep staircase to the top of the falls, and continue along the Skogá River. We pass many beautiful waterfalls and, on a clear day, we can see the coastline and Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull glaciers in the distance. This is true Icelandic wilderness on the heath.

Later on, we drive a short distance to the Eyjafjallajökull massif. From the eastern face, the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue extends down from its parent glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland's fourth largest. Here, we meet our Icelandic mountain guide, who equips us with the proper tools (crampons and ice axes) for an adventure on an active glacier. After instruction on the proper use of our equipment, we traverse the glacier onto an ice field, where a wonderland of ice sculptures, ridges, and deep crevasses await our discovery.

This evening, after dinner, we have the option to ride Icelandic horses (at additional expense). These friendly horses have been selectively bred for centuries to produce an animal that is even-tempered and strong, with great endurance. They also have a very smooth gait 'the tölt' which makes riding them a wonderfully comfortable experience, even for beginners.

Accommodations
Hotel Skógar

Hotel Skógar
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

Hotel Skógar is a charming boutique hotel, located within walking distance to the base of one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. Features include a gourmet restaurant, 12-warmly decorated rooms, and an outdoor sauna and hot tub.

Day 3

Hjörleifshöfði and Fjaðrágljúfur Canyon

  • Activity Overview: Hiking on trails with possible river crossings
  • Activity Level: Morning hike, moderately strenuous with 500 foot climb; afternoon hike, easy.
  • Activity Length: Morning hike 2-3 hours (approximately 4 miles); afternoon hike 1-2 hours (approximately 2 miles)

This morning we visit the Skógar Folk Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of historic farming and fishing tools, as well as folk crafts spanning hundreds of years. This is also one of the few places in the country to explore authentic sod houses, the primary form of shelter for many Icelanders until the 20th century.

We then drive through a desert-like landscape, past icecaps and active volcanoes, to the start of our hike at Hjörleifshöfði. When Iceland's first official settler, Ingólfur Arnarsson, arrived in Iceland in 874, his half-brother Hjörleifur Hrodmarsson wintered on the east side of this headland that bears his name. It was here that Hrodmarsson was slain by his Irish slaves, who then fled to the islands named for them, the 'Westman Islands'. The farmland at Hjörleifshöfði was used only until the 1930s, but the ruins exude an air of timelessness. This former island is now completely surrounded by sands washed from the glaciers, especially during the eruptions of nearby Mt. Katla.

This afternoon, we hike along Fjadrárgljúfur canyon, hollowed out over millions of years by the Fjaðrá River. We follow the eastern edge, which offers stunning views of the plains and glacial brooks below, before descending through moss-covered rock formations to the floor of the canyon.

After our hike, we travel to our hotel - immersed in the spectacular scenery we have been enjoying throughout our journey.

Accommodations
Hotel Laki

Hotel Laki
Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland

Hotel Laki sits in the middle of vast countryside just outside the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The view from the hotel bar and terrace is spectacular, over green pastures, moors, mountains and glaciers. Scandinavian style rooms are spacious and comfortable. Don’t miss the local produce served at the hotel restaurant, with succulent meat from local farmers to freshly caught fish from neighboring rivers.

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
Öræfi, Iceland

This new 4-star luxury hotel is is uniquely designed in complete harmony with its surroundings. The location is perfect for nature enthusiasts, as it is right between Vatnajökull National Park and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, two of Iceland’s most spectacular attractions.

Day 4

Ingólfshöfði and Jökulsárlón Boat Trip

  • Activity Overview: Hiking on trails and up a steep, sandy slope
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: 2 hours (approximately 3 miles)

After breakfast, we drive across Skeiðarársandur, a vast river delta formed by runoff from nearby glaciers. Catastrophic flooding occurs here regularly, as geothermal activity melts the glaciers, causing a tremendous amount of water to flood the plain. Across the delta is Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe's largest glacier, whose presence lords over the surrounding landscape.

Our first stop this morning is Jökulsárlón, where we board a zodiac to venture into the ice-filled lagoon. This is the perfect place to experience unspoiled nature and the unique environment of Iceland, where huge icebergs calve off the largest glacier in Europe, the great Vatnajokull, and float around the lagoon in all shapes and colors. (Please note: heavy clothing is not necessary for this excursion, as you will be provided with a warm coverall by the boat company.)

This afternoon, we visit a former farm turned nature reserve located at Ingólfshöfði. This area is known for its incredible birdlife, especially its puffins. These comical waterbirds are a delight to watch, and the farmer gives us a ride on his tractor to an isolated headland, where we can hike in their midst. This remote cape, surrounded by black sand beaches, is also the place where Iceland's first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson, spent his first winter in Iceland in 874 A.D.

If your tour takes place later in the summer, when the puffins have left Ingólfshöfði, we'll instead visit Vatnajökull National Park for a hike at the base of Europe's largest glacier. Our walk begins from the park's visitor center and steadily climbs up through birch forest to a plateau. Here, the landscape turns into tundra, and the views are magnificent in all directions.

We then return to our hotel with time to freshen up, before enjoying a dinner of Icelandic specialities.

Accommodations
Hotel Laki

Hotel Laki
Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland

Hotel Laki sits in the middle of vast countryside just outside the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The view from the hotel bar and terrace is spectacular, over green pastures, moors, mountains and glaciers. Scandinavian style rooms are spacious and comfortable. Don’t miss the local produce served at the hotel restaurant, with succulent meat from local farmers to freshly caught fish from neighboring rivers.

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
Öræfi, Iceland

This new 4-star luxury hotel is is uniquely designed in complete harmony with its surroundings. The location is perfect for nature enthusiasts, as it is right between Vatnajökull National Park and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, two of Iceland’s most spectacular attractions.

Day 5

Highland Expedition

  • Activity Overview: Hiking and optional horseback riding
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: 3.5 hours (up to 5.5 miles)

Today we venture into the Icelandic highlands for a day of hiking. The highland roads are unpaved, and if conditions permit, we take the fjallabak (literally, "route behind the mountains") to Landmannalaugar, an area of multicolored rhyolite mountains and hot springs. Along the way, there may be time to hike into the volcanic rift of Eldgjá, through a landscape of moss-covered boulders to the Ófærufoss waterfall. At Landmannalaugar, we find one of the largest geothermal fields in Iceland.

From here, we may choose to hike to the crater lakes of Frostastaoavatn and Ljotipollur, or perhaps from the abandoned farmstead, Stöng, to the valley Gjáin, where two river channels cascade over waterfalls and lava formations.

After a full day in the Highlands, we arrive to our hotel where we may opt to soak in a thermally heated hot pot under the evening sun.

Accommodations
Grímsborgir Hotel

Grímsborgir Hotel
Selfoss, Iceland

Surrounded by stunning mountains and located on the banks of Iceland‘s largest freshwater river, Hotel Grimsborgir offers comfortable and stylish 4-star accommodation. Amenities include an elegant restaurant, and a welcoming outdoor hot tub. Beautifully furnished modern rooms have private balconies or patios.

Day 6

Gullfoss and Geysir; transfer to Snaefellsnes Peninsula

  • Activity Overview: Morning exploration over mostly flat trails
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 1 hour (approximately 1 mile)

This morning we explore some of Iceland's most well known sites beginning with Gullfoss, or the 'golden falls.' This impressive cascade drops over a series of tiers into the Hvitá canyon, and its volume of water makes it one of the largest falls in Iceland. From Gulfoss, we continue a short drive to the 'Great Geysir,' believed to have been created around the end of the 13th century when a series of strong earthquakes shook the Haukadalur Valley.

Our next stop is Thingvellir, a national park of great historic significance to the Icelandic people. The park is home to Iceland's first parliament, established in 930 A.D. Each summer, representatives from communities around the country would meet here to establish laws and resolve disputes. The journey could take weeks over the rugged terrain. We traverse the parliament plains, and also explore a natural phenomenon that makes Thingvellir an important geological site ' here we are standing on the rift between the Eurasian and North American plates ' which are constantly, over the millennia, drifting apart.

We then make our way along a mountain road to a farm and cultural center on the banks of the Grimsa River, where we stop for lunch and take some time to learn about the influence of trolls in Icelandic history.

Upon arrival at the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we check into our hotel, located in a traditional fishing village along the coast. This evening, dinner is on your own. Your guide will be happy to make recommendations.

Accommodations
Hotel Egilsen

Hotel Egilsen
Stykkishólmur, Iceland

Standing over the harbor, Hotel Egilsen is set in a newly converted historic house in the heart of Stykkisholmur. This boutique 10-room hotel preserves its classic heritage while enhancing it with the best of modern design. Providing intimate lodging, healthy food, a small library, and creative bar menu, rooms are small but bright and stylish.

Day 7

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

  • Activity Overview: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Level: Hiking
  • Activity Length: 2-3 hours (approximately 4 miles)

Today, we depart our hotel for a visit to the farmstead at Bjarnarhöfn - a must-see for every traveler with a taste for adventure (literally). The farm is the region's leading producer of hákarl (putrid shark meat), a traditional Icelandic dish. We are offered a taste of this so-called delicacy, and visit the on-site museum, before continuing our loop around the Peninsula.

Our next stop is the beach near the abandoned farm of Ytri Tunga, well known for its seal colony, most commonly seen in June and July. We then continue to the small fishing hamlet of Arnarstapi for a scenic hike along the coast to the town of Hellnar. In early summer, abundant bird colonies populate this area. There are numerous kittiwakes and puffins, but this is also one of the few places in Iceland to find the White-tailed eagle, a rare bird (once nearly extinct) with a wingspan of up to eight feet.

We enjoy lunch in the town of Hellnar before heading to Djúpalónsandur, a black cobblestone beach where we may find remnants of a trawler that was shipwrecked there in 1948. A short walk here provides a poignant reminder of the challenge of living so closely tied to the sea.

Tonight, we enjoy a final celebratory dinner and toast our adventure in the Land of Fire and Ice.

Accommodations
Hotel Egilsen

Hotel Egilsen
Stykkishólmur, Iceland

Standing over the harbor, Hotel Egilsen is set in a newly converted historic house in the heart of Stykkisholmur. This boutique 10-room hotel preserves its classic heritage while enhancing it with the best of modern design. Providing intimate lodging, healthy food, a small library, and creative bar menu, rooms are small but bright and stylish.

Day 8

Return to Reykjavík and Departure

Early this morning, we depart the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, arriving to  Keflavík International Airport in time for your flight home.

Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.

Back To Top
Dates &
Prices

Dates And Prices

2017
Trip Length

8 Days

Trip Dates

Jun 18-25, 2017

Jul 2-9, 2017

Jul 23-30, 2017

Aug 6-13, 2017

2017 Land Cost

$5,795 Per Person


Single Supplement

First two reserved:$400

Additional:$900

See single supplement policy below.

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals except dinner on Day 6 and lunch on Day 8
  • Local wine and beer with included dinners
  • All transportation during the tour
  • Park fees
  • Activities as noted in the itinerary (horseback riding noted “at additional expense”)
Single Supplement Policy

Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.

If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!

* This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.

What To
Expect

What To Expect

Physical Activity

Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Iceland: Hiking the Land of Fire and Ice is rated 2, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The hikes on this trip are 2-5 hours long, on occasionally rough hiking trails with minimal vehicle support.

On a couple of days there are elevations gains of about 400-600 feet, and on Day 2 our optional climb to the top of the Skógafoss Waterfall is about a 300 foot ascension on a metal staircase, followed by an easier 400 foot ascent for the remainder of the hike. Because of the nature of the trails, we sometimes hike out and back on the same path.

Meeting Point

Reykjavik, Iceland

Departure Point

Downtown Reykjavik or Keflavik International Airport, Iceland.

Traveling To and From

Most Convenient Airport:
Keflavik International Airport, Keflavik, Iceland (airport code KEF)

Meeting Time and Place:
Your guide(s) will meet you on the first day of your trip at 8 a.m. in the lobby of the Alda Hotel (or Centrum Hotel, depending on your departure date) in downtown Reykjavik.

Departure Time and Place:
Your guide(s) will provide drop-offs at your choice of downtown Reykjavik locations by noon or the Keflavik International Airport by 2:00 p.m. on the last day of the trip.

Preparing for This Trip

It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well-prepared you are for the activities, the more you will enjoy yourself. As a general guideline, we suggest that you engage in easy to moderate aerobic activities (such as walking, hiking, jogging, or cycling) for at least 30-45 minutes several times a week for 4-6 weeks before the trip. If you live in a flat area, try to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability (consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program). Please contact us if you have any doubts regarding your physical match with this tour.

Weather

June, July, and August are among the driest months in Iceland, although weather is still quite variable. September is only slightly rainier. You are unlikely to have sunshine every day, but it is also unlikely for it to be cloudy for long. In June, it is light 24 hours a day, and even July and August bring near round-the-clock daylight.

You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.

Iceland

June

High: 52
Low: 44

July

High: 55
Low: 47

August

High: 54
Low: 46

When to Go

Summer in Iceland is short, and the best weather is generally from June through September. Early summer brings vibrant greens, 24-hour daylight, and the greatest concentrations of migratory birds. Mid-summer brings wildflowers, and late summer the low-growing plants covering the hillsides begin to change colors in a display that rivals New England foliage. While it is often bright and sunny, cool, wet weather is possible any time of year.

The Icelandic Horse

Riding is a favorite pastime of many Icelanders, and the Icelandic horse is an ideal breed for novice and experienced riders alike. The optional horseback ride takes place at small horse farm near Hotel Skógar. The terrain is varied, and there are horses suitable for all levels. Your riding guide will ask you about your previous experience before choosing your horse. Helmets are provided and boots with a low, square heel are required (your hiking boots should suffice). Please discuss this with your guide early in the trip if you'd like to take part in this activity. The cost is approximately $45 per person for a one-hour ride, and $90 per person for a two-hour ride; prices are subject to change.

The Glacier Walk

A half-day glacier walk is included, weather permitting. All necessary equipment is provided, including crampons and ice axes. Boots are available for rental, although your hiking boots should suffice. The Icelandic mountain guides we will hike with are experienced mountaineers with a great deal of knowledge about glaciers and safety procedures.

After being fitted with gear and a safety briefing, we head onto the ice itself for a unique perspective on the importance and beauty of glaciers. If the weather makes this adventure unsafe, a traditional hike will be offered instead.

Driving Distances

Although Iceland is a relatively small country, the distances from one place to another are sometimes long, due to actual miles covered or, in some cases, the conditions of the road. We have tried to strike a balance between the importance of experiencing certain unique places - Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the interior highlands of Landmannalaugar, and the bucolic Snaefellsnes Peninsula - and the importance of taking time out of the vehicle to hike, explore, and immerse ourselves in the country's diverse landscapes.

On a few days, there may be total driving times of up to five hours; but rest assured that they are well broken up with opportunities to explore, and that both the drives and the destinations are well worth the effort.

Guides

Featured Guides

About Our Guides

With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.

$5,495 / person* *airfare not included
8 Days
Reserve This Tour
  • Departure Dates: Jun 18-25, 2017
    Jul 2-9, 2017
    Jul 23-30, 2017
    Aug 6-13, 2017
Activity Level 2 Easy to Moderate

Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 2-5 hours per day; 1/2-day glacier walk; optional horseback riding (riding is at additional cost)

  • Group Size: 4-16 Guests

Make it Your Own!

This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.

Prefer a Custom Tour?

Questions?

Our dedicated team of travel experts are here to help.

1-800-941-8010

Travel + Leisure World's Best Award

Top 5 World's Best Tour Operators
Multi-year Recipient

National Geographic Traveler

50 Tours Of A Lifetime
Multi-year Recipient

National Geographic Adventure Magazine

Best Adventure Travel Company Winner