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  • 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. Giant cascading waterfalls give way to vibrantly colored rhyolite mountains. From the otherworldly landscapes of the south coast, to the mystical power of the central highlands, our overland expedition takes in the most beautiful and inspiring areas of Iceland.

Hikes on the south coast lead us through fairytale scenery; past 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 spend a day in the interior highlands of Landmannalaugar hiking along colorful mountains—an experience not to be missed. Testaments to the constantly evolving earth are everywhere—lava fields, hot rivers, craters, and glaciers dominate our views. In the evenings, we return to comfortable accommodations and enjoy relaxing in "hot pots" (Icelandic hot tubs), or taking a nighttime stroll under the midnight sun.

What Our Guests Have To Say About This Tour

I can't imagine how to enjoy Iceland more

★★★★★
5 5 1
I can't imagine how to enjoy Iceland more than doing a small-group Boundless Journeys hiking trip. We spent most of our time in remote rugged beautiful areas, far from the crowds that are now pouring into Iceland. The hikes were challenging even for teenagers but doable even for seniors. Our guide - a true Icelandic Viking - was excellent. We really got to experience the extraordinary island of Iceland through both our wonderful hikes and our knowledgeable professional and engaging guide.

Very well taken care of

★★★★☆
4 5 1
Deborah Tobey was wonderful. Her enthusiasm, attentiveness and advice all made the planning process the smoothest ever. Her enthusiasm for Iceland was contagious and I appreciated very much her call the week of our departure to see if I had any last minute questions. Even before the trip began, I felt very well taken care of!

Like visiting a different planet!

★★★★★
5 5 1
When people ask what it was like hiking in Iceland I tell them "It was like visiting a different planet every day, unique and wonderful."

Awe-inspiring

★★★★★
5 5 1
Iceland is a geological wonder at every turn and I was blessed to share the awe-inspiring splendor with like minded travelers.

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Itinerary &
Accommodations

Itinerary & Accommodations

Day 1

Gjáin Valley, Hjalparfoss & Háifoss

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

Upon meeting our guide in Reykjavík after breakfast, we begin our drive to Gjáin valley, a fairy-tale world where two river channels cascade over waterfalls and lava formations. We will hike, explore craters and lava caves, and see wellsprings.

We will also visit Hjalparfoss, a unique double waterfall, and Háifoss, one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland where the water cascades a mesmerizing 400 ft.

At day's end we transfer to the Highlands, where we will spend the evening at the edge of Iceland's most remote, impressive and active volcanic area. Our overnight at the Highland Center Hrauneyjar is the last stop before entering the vast and untouched interior of Iceland.

Accommodations
Highland Hotel / Superior Rooms

Highland Hotel / Superior Rooms
Road no. 26, Sprengisandur, Iceland

Day 2

Landmannalaugar

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

Today we venture into the Icelandic highlands of Landmannalaugar 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 we stop at the Sigöldufuss waterfall and a crater lake called Ljótipollur. Despite the name, which translates to "Ugly Puddle" in Icelandic, expect vivid colors amidst lava sand. At Landmannalaugar, we find one of the largest geothermal fields in Iceland and an otherworldy landscape of rough lava, obsidian, and moss as we hike.

A transfer south leads to our accommodations for the next two nights, at the cozy and welcoming Hrifunes Guesthouse.

Accommodations
Hrifunes Guesthouse

Hrifunes Guesthouse
Hrifunes, Iceland

Situated on unspoiled farmland of the Skaftartunga region, the Hrifunes Guesthouse is surrounded by glaciers, black sand, and green pastures. Originally built in 1947 as a restaurant and community center, owners Hadda and Haukur restored the building in 2007 to be a cozy, 12-room guesthouse.

Day 3

Ingólfshöfði and Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

  • Activity Overview: Hike on trails and up a sandy slope; zodiac boat ride
  • Activity Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Activity Length: 2 hours, approximately 3 miles; 2 hours glacial lagoon excursion

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 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 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
Hrifunes Guesthouse

Hrifunes Guesthouse
Hrifunes, Iceland

Situated on unspoiled farmland of the Skaftartunga region, the Hrifunes Guesthouse is surrounded by glaciers, black sand, and green pastures. Originally built in 1947 as a restaurant and community center, owners Hadda and Haukur restored the building in 2007 to be a cozy, 12-room guesthouse.

Day 4

Fjaðrágljúfur and Þakgil

  • Activity Overview: Hiking on trails
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: Morning hike, 2-3 hours, approximately 4 miles; Afternoon hike, 1-2 hours, approximately 2 miles

This morning we hike along Fjaðrágljúfur 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.

In the afternoon we travel to Þakgil, an expansive valley surrounded by dramatic mountains. We will explore the trails in this breathtaking area, before traveling to our next hotel.

Accommodations
UMI Hotel

UMI Hotel
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

UMI hotel offers a first class restaurant with a unique view of the Westman Islands and the southern coastline, as well as a lounge bar with a view of the famous subglacial volcano Eyjafjallajökull and the beautiful mountain terrain surrounding it. Next to the hotel the river Svaðbælisá peacefully flows by.

Day 5

Skogafoss and Kvernufoss, Sólheimajökull Glacier Walk

  • Activity Overview: Glacier walk and waterfall hike
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: Morning, 2 hours, approximately 4 miles; Afternoon hike, 3-4 hours, approximately 1 mile

This morning we see 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 370-step 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.

Close to Skogafoss is the waterfall Kvernufoss—a secret, lesser-known jewel nearly 100 feet tall. We hike into the gorge, a short hike with a few scrambling sections, and enjoy this hidden beauty.

After lunch, we continue to Eyjafjallajökull massif. From its eastern face, the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue extends 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 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
UMI Hotel

UMI Hotel
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

UMI hotel offers a first class restaurant with a unique view of the Westman Islands and the southern coastline, as well as a lounge bar with a view of the famous subglacial volcano Eyjafjallajökull and the beautiful mountain terrain surrounding it. Next to the hotel the river Svaðbælisá peacefully flows by.

Day 6

Gullfoss, Geysir, Secret Lagoon and Akur Farm

  • Activity Overview: Hot springs, farm visit, and sightseeing
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 1-3 hours, 1-2 miles

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 Gullfoss, 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.

Later today we head to the Secret Lagoon, a geothermal natural hot spring in the village of Fludir. The lagoon is surrounded by natural beauty, and creates a magical feeling as you soak while steam rises from the year-round water temperatures of 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit.

We next visit Akur organic farm. Here, we have a chance to meet the farmers, learn about their biodynamic practices and growing in Iceland, and see their three greenhouses. Thanks to geothermal heat, they are even able to grow tropical fruits like bananas and mangoes! Of course, we will sample some of what is in season while we are there.

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 7

Thingvellir, Bjarteyjarsandur valley

  • Activity Overview: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Level: Hiking and optional kayaking
  • Activity Length: 2-3 hours, approximately 4 miles; kayak excursion 1-2 hours

Our first stop this morning 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 will enjoy lunch today at Bjarteyjarsandur Farm where we have the opportunity to meet local sheep farmers and learn of their life on the land.

This afternoon we will hike in the Botnsdalur valley. Or, you may opt to take a sea kayaking tour in the Hvalfjordur fjord (at additional expense), a well-known habitat for seals.

We return to the hotel to freshen up before enjoying a final celebratory dinner to toast our accomplishments and our adventure in the Land of Fire & Ice!

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 8

Reykjanes Peninsula and Departure

  • Activity Overview: Hiking
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 1 hour

Our last day in Iceland we'll explore the Reykjanes peninsula on our way to the airport. First we'll do a short hike at Eldborg crater. Eldborg is the highest of five craters lying along a volcanic fissure in the slopes of Geitafell, and is often called Stóra-Eldborg (Big-Eldborg). A prominent lava channel branches off to the east. We'll also see the Krísurvíkurbjarg Cliffs, rising from the sea and playing host to many species of birds.

After lunch in Grindavík Fishing Village, we depart for Keflavík International Airport arriving at 2:00 p.m., and a late-day 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.

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Dates &
Prices

Dates And Prices

2018
Trip Length

8 Days

Trip Dates

Jun 23-30, 2018

Jul 7-14, 2018

Jul 18-25, 2018

Aug 11-18, 2018

2018 Land Cost

From $6,995 Per Person


Single Supplement

First two reserved:$700

Additional:$1,200

See single supplement policy below.

Information on pricing:

In order to keep our trip price as low as possible, we have based it on the current rate of exchange. If there were to be a significant change in the value of the Icelandic Kroner, we may be forced to raise or able to lower our trip cost; if so, your final invoice, sent 90 days prior to your departure, will reflect the difference.

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals
  • Local wine and beer with included dinners
  • All transportation during the tour
  • Park fees
  • Activities as noted in the itinerary (horseback riding and kayaking 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. 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 elevation gains of about 400-600 feet, and on Day 5 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 Skuggi Hotel, 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 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 on Day 1 if you'd like to take part in this activity, as it will be offered once throughout your journey. The cost is approximately $65 per person for a one-hour ride and can be paid directly to the supplier. Please note, prices are subject to change due to currency fluctuation.

Sea-Kayaking

The sea-kayaking experience starts at the Bjarteyjarsandur farm in Hvalfjörður. We will spend 1-hour kayaking amid cliffs, reefs, small islands, and possibly seals. The kayaking on this tour is suitable for beginners as our professional guides ensure a fun and safe environment. All participants are supplied with life jackets and neoprene suits. Bring a wool or fleece pullover, pants, and if desired, a swimsuit. The cost is approximately $150 per person for a one-hour kayak tour. Please note, this tour should be reserved at least 60 days in advance of departure. Prices are subject to change due to currency fluctuation.

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 - such as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the interior highlands of Landmannalaugar - 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.

From $6,995 / person* *airfare not included
8 Days
Reserve This Tour
  • Departure Dates: Jun 23-30, 2018
    Jul 7-14, 2018
    Jul 18-25, 2018
    Aug 11-18, 2018


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 and kayaking (at additional cost)

Read about our Activity Levels
  • 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

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Iceland: Hiking the Land of Fire & Ice Overall rating: ★★★★★ 4.7 based on 4 reviews
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