We have partnered with the awesome team at Wandering the World to bring you a walking tour in a absolute bucket list destination – Iceland!
This 13-day tour, which is available in 2018 and 2019, provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore this amazing country.
Think Geysir, lava fields, volcanic canyons, glacial river lagoons and of course an interactions with the incredible local people. So, what are you waiting for?!
- July 14, 2019 – 6 PLACES LEFT
- 13 Days/12nights
- Max group size: 14
- 12 breakfasts and 10 dinners
- Local group leader and all entry fees
- Easy to moderate walking
- From $US7,550* per person twin share
- Single supplement from $US2,135*
- Deposit: $AUD1,500
- From $US7,925* per person twin share
- Single supplement from $US2,285*
- Deposit: $AU1,500
Pricing for this trip is in US dollars. The currency is linked to the local currency Icelandic Krona, a surcharge may apply.
Tour price does not include transfers to and from the airport.
To book this tour, Contact us directly.
Day 1/Night 1 and Day 2/Night 2 ARRIVE REYKJAVIK
Welcome to Reykjavik, the largest city of Iceland with a population of approximately 120,000. Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state.
We meet at our hotel at 6.30pm for a brieﬁng, before venturing to the town centre for dinner. Transfer to hotel – own arrangements (transfers can be arranged upon your request).
Day 3/Night 3 THINGVELLIR, GULLFOSS, GEYSIR
Sightseeing Walking Time: 2 hours
Today we drive inland to the Thingvellir World Heritage area, where the world’s ﬁrst ‘democratic parliament’ meeting took place – the area became Iceland’s ﬁrst National Park in 1928 and a World Heritage area in 2004. Sitting right on top of the continental divide between North American and Eurasian Plates, this is the best place in Iceland to see the continental drift. The ﬂoor of the rift-valley has sunken some 60-70 meters with the ﬁssures and fault lines very clear in the landscape on either side of the valley. The area abounds with immense ﬁssures and the largest lake in the country. We then carry on to see the world famous geysers. The most reliable eruption comes every 5-10 minutes from one called ‘Strokkur’; the 30-metre jet of water and steam is spectacular. Close by is the one and only Geysir, has almost stopped erupting but every now and again Geysir spouts water up in the air. The area became active more than 1,000 years go. We then drive a short distance on to Gullfoss, a huge dramatic waterfall located in a 70m deep canyon of River Hvita (White River). To round off the day we drive to Thjorsardalur valley to our hotel.
Day 4/Night 4 LANDMANNALAUGAR
Walking Time: 2 hours
The Fjallabak Nature Reserve is a huge mountainous wilderness that is constantly built up by ongoing volcanic activity and eroded by glaciers, rivers and wind. Landmannalaugar is a place in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the highland of Iceland. It is at the edge of Laugahraun lava ﬁeld that was formed in an eruption around the year 1477. It is known for its natural geothermal hot springs and surrounding landscape. Landmannalaugar is the northern end of the Laugarvegur hiking trail and a popular destination. We travel along a backcountry dirt road from our hotel to get to the Fjallabak area and Landmannalaugar and explore this colourful area on foot. We climb Blátind (blue peak) for a panoramic view of this highland oasis, explore Grænagil (green gully), have a look at some hot springs before we head for a refreshing dip in the famous natural hot pool in Landmannalaugar. Drive same track back to hotel.
Day 5/Night 5 FJALLABAK, ELDGJA FISSURE, WALK TO WATERFALL IN HOLASKJOL
Walking Time: 2 hours
Situated between Landmannalaugar and Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Eldgjá is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, 270 m deep and 600 m wide at its greatest. It was discovered by Þorvaldur Thoroddsen in 1893. The ﬁrst documented eruption in 934 was the largest ﬂood basalt in historic time. The areal extent of the lava is around 800 kilometres An estimated 18 kilometres of magma poured out of the earth.
Today we drive across the lunar-like landscape of Fjallabak nature reserve; Again we drive a mountain track and now we cross the Fjallabak area to the south coast. stopping at explosive craters and waterfalls. We drive between the giant icecaps of Vatnajokull and Myrdalsjokull, en route to the gorge of Eldgja (Fire Fissure). Another of Iceland’s incredible natural attractions, Eldgja is a 25-mile- long volcanic rift formed during a violent 10th-century eruption, which produced one of the greatest amount of lava ever recorded. We take some time to hike into the rift and visit Ofaerufoss Waterfall. We make a short stop at Holaskjol hut and go for a walk to see a particularly beautiful lava ﬂow and waterfall above the hut. From Holaskjol we transfer to our hotel.
Day 6/Night 6 WALK IN LAKAGIGAR FISSURE
Walking Time: 2 hours
Today we visit the site of Lakagígar, a 25km row of craters and a volcanic ﬁssure, which is also believed to be one of the larger eruptions in recorded history. An eruption between 1783 and 1784 from the Laki ﬁssure and the adjoining Grimsvotn volcano, pouring out an estimated 14km of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous hydroﬂuoric acid and sulphur dioxide compounds that killed over 50% of Iceland’s livestock population, leading to a famine that killed approximately 25% of Iceland’s human population. And the aftermath caused a drop in global temperatures, causing crop failures in Europe and reaching as far as India. The eruption has been estimated to have killed over six million people globally, making the eruption the deadliest in historical times.
Situated deep within Vatnajökull National Park. We trek in the area of Mt. Laki, where we will get a very good view of the crater row. From Laki we head for Tjarnargígur crater, into the crater and trek along the Eldborg lava channel.
The Lakagigar craters are regarded as a globally unique phenomenon and are as such a protected natural monument. In 1783, a huge lava ﬂow streamed from the Lakagígar ﬁssure in what became known as the “Skaftá Fires.” This is believed to have been one of the greatest lava ﬂows in a single eruption in the history of the world: the molten lava ﬁlled the gorges through which the Skaftá and Hverﬁsﬂjót rivers ﬂowed, and swept down in two branches into inhabited areas, to spread over the lowlands where it ruined many farms. For residents of the region and Iceland as a whole, the results of this eruption were catastrophic: this time is known as “Móðuharðindin” (the Haze Famine).
Day 7/Night 7 THE GLACIER LAGOON AND THE SOUTH COAST, HOFN
Walking Time: 2 hours
To Vatnajokull NP visit Skaftafell and walk to Svartifoss waterfall; to the Glacial lagoon with optional 40 min boat ride on the lagoon. Vatnajokull National Park is simply immense, covering over thirteen and a half thousand square kilometres. The Glacier Lagoon is an incredible sight. The glacial river lagoon developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland, at over 248 metres. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s and is considered one of the natural wonders of Iceland.
The lake can be seen from the highway between Hofn andSkaftafell.
We, however, limit our exploration to the Skaftafell area and the Glacier lagoon, known for its more gentle climate and almost alpine contours. We visit Svartifoss Waterfall, an unusual waterfall even by Icelandic standards as it is produced by water cascading over basalt columns. Our focus then switches to the glacial lagoon, where giant chunks of ice ﬂoat silently in the water. The lagoon is on the edge of the Vatnajokull National Park and situated at the head of the massive Breidamerkurjokull glacier, one of the largest outlets from the Vatnajokull Ice Cap.
Jokulsarlon evolved into a lagoon around 1950 as the glacier retreated from the coast. Today, the banks of the lagoon show where the glacier’s edge used to be just 1.5km from the ocean. The river running out of the lagoon is the shortest glacial river in Iceland and the lagoon itself is almost 300m deep, covering an area of over 20 square kilometres. We also go down to the beach where we often ﬁnd large chunks of blue ice washed up on the black volcanic sand. There are some wonderful photographic opportunities here with the waves breaking on the blue ice.
Hofn is an Icelandic ﬁshing town in the south-eastern part of the country. It lies near a fjord, and this harbour town is the second largest in the region and gives scenic views of Vatnajokull, the largest ice cap in Europe by volume.
Day 8/Night 8 VATNAJOKULL NATIONAL PARK – NEARBY SVINAFELLJOKULL GLACIER
Walking Time: 3 – 5 hours
Today we explore one or two of the beautiful walks in a valley known as Mossardalur in Vatnajokull National Park. Vatnajökull National Park is one of three national parks in Iceland, it encompasses all of Vatnajökull glacier and extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the southwest and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north.
In general, national parks are protected areas which are considered unique because of their nature or cultural heritage. The unique qualities of Vatnajökull National Park are primarily its great variety of landscape features, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.
Day 9/Night 9 SKAFTAFELL, MT KRISTINARTINDAR TREK
Walking Time: 3 – 5 hours
Full-day summit hike to the Kristinartindar peaks in the magniﬁcent Skaftafell region of Vatnajokull National Park. The climb up the Kristinartindar valley brings us to the pass between the two Kristinartindar peaks. From the pass, we can take short but quite a steep but non-technical route to the top of the higher peak. Views from the top are well worth the effort: Hvannadalshnukur – the highest mountain in Iceland; the huge ice-cap; tumbling glaciers on both sides and the North Atlantic Ocean in the distance.
Skaftafell is a popular destination for winter visitors in Iceland. Visiting in winter is much different from the summer with lesser crowds and no leaves on the trees. The biggest change though is probably the outlet glaciers. At the beginning of August, ﬁve members of the Iceland Conservation Volunteers team (ICV) helped the rangers in Snæfell Wilderness Area with waymarking hiking trails and tracks, placing information signs at the beginning of hiking trails and ﬁxing some unwelcomed off-road tracks.
Day 10/Night 10 HJORLEIFSHOFDI, VIK, REYNISFJARA, DYRHOLAEY
This morning we drive from Vatnajokull NP across the Skeydarársandur and Myrdalssandur ﬂoodplains, created by numerous glacial rivers running down from the Vatnajokull and the Myrdalsjokull glaciers. After the ﬂood plains, we get to the village of Vik. Vik, which sits right on the 350km long black beach and is the only town on the south coast without a harbour. Only a short distance is the famous Reynisfjara black beach with its beautifully shaped columnar basalt and small caves. We get a really good view of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks from this beach. Then we head for the spectacular Dyrholaey headland. Dyrholaey is a small peninsula, formerly known as Cape Portland by English seaman. Interesting views from the here to the north are, Myrdalsjokull – a grand glacier, to the east – the black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar and to the west – the beautiful coastline stretching as far as Selfoss.
Directly in front is a gigantic black arch of lava standing in the sea. In the summertime, it is home to many pufﬁns nesting on the cliff faces of Dyrhólaeyising 120m above the sea with its beautiful rock arches. This is the southernmost point in Iceland.
Day 11/Night 11 SKOGARFOSS, SKOGAR TREK TO WATERFALLS
Walking Time: 3 – 5 hours
Today we continue on to Skogar to the spectacular Skogarfoss waterfall and then set out for a hike along the Skoa River. We start right by the Skogarfoss waterfall and hike up along the river passing one gorgeous waterfall after another. The Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 25 metres and a drop of 60 metres. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible on sunny days. According to legend, the ﬁrst Viking settler in the area buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door is now in a museum, though whether it gives any credence to the folklore is debatable.
After this beautiful hike, we continue further west and drive the short stretch, which was badly hit by ash fall in the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. We make a short stop at the Eyjafjallajokull visitor centre, set up and owned by one of the local farmers. Here we learn about the life of the locals during the eruption and see a short ﬁlm on the eruption.
Day 12/Night 12 THORSMORK, REYKJAVIK
Walking Time: 3 – 5 hours
Today we head for the spectacular Thorsmork area. Named after Thor, the God of Thunder, this area is dominated by mountains and glaciers, a stunning and rugged part of the country that will take your breath away. With the help of our 4×4 minibus, we ford glaciers and tackle tough terrain to access some of the best hiking here. We drive to the Eyafjallajokull Volcano via the 60-metre high Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. On our journey, we also see the Falljokull outlet glacier that bore the brunt of the ﬂood caused by the eruption. As testament to the changes caused in the area, the lagoon that once sat below the glacier was ﬁlled with ash and gravel carried down by the melting ice and is now a gravel slope. The Thorsmork Valley has been a popular trekking area for decades, however now also offers a fantastic chance to see the effects of a volcanic eruption from 2010 ﬁrst-hand. We head out through the changing landscape, which alters the closer we get to the volcano itself. The dramatic views are topped by the new craters and lava ﬁelds created by the famous eruption of 2010. After our trek, we drive to Reykjavik.
Day 13 REYKJAVIK
Although the trip ﬁnishes after breakfast today, the memories of this unique Iceland Exploration will live on. Wandering the World hope you have had a journey of a lifetime and welcome your choice to wander with us again.
Brief history of Iceland
The island of was settled by the Norse seafarers in the ninth century; they established the world’s ﬁrst known republic and parliament in about AD 930. The original seat of this democratic system may be found at Pingvellir, about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík, where the original Viking settlers used a natural amphitheatre, formed by a cliff wall, as an assembly. In the mid-13th century the islanders submitted to the authority of the King of Norway, and when Norway came under the control of Denmark in 1380, Iceland did too. In 1814, Norway became independent, but Iceland remained a Danish territory. In 1840 it was granted its own constitution – effectively allowing internal self-government.
Full independence was granted in 1918, although it was not until 1944 that Iceland became a fully independent nation with its own head of state. Contemporary Icelandic politics display the customary Western European spectrum of political parties, although a notable feature has been the inﬂuence of women within the main parties (Independents, Progressives and Social Democrats). Iceland’s most famous political ﬁgure of recent times is also a woman, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who served four consecutive terms as President between 1980 and her resignation in 1996. She was replaced by Olafur Grimsson, who began a fourth term as President in 2008. The Parliament (Alþing) has generally been dominated by coalition governments. These were of a broadly centre-right persuasion until the mid-1970s, since when the left has dominated.
The great economic collapse of the country in 2008 caused Icelanders to rise up in arms against what they viewed as a corrupt government. After highly visible protests, the then Prime Minister stepped down and the government collapsed. A new coalition government was created and the country’s economic and political situation has stabilised.
Icelandic foreign policy is dominated by two factors: ﬁshing and relations with Atlantic powers. Iceland is a member of Nato, the Nordic Council and of the Council of Europe. Ties with Nato have been loosening since before the end of the Cold War – in May 1985, the Alþing declared Iceland a ‘nuclear-free zone’ – and this process has accelerated since the reduction of the large Nato base at Reykjavik.
Iceland has historically eschewed membership of the European Union largely due to issues about ﬁshing quotas, but in July 2009, it applied for membership. While many Icelanders have mixed feelings about it, the move has stabilised the country ﬁnancially and strengthened its banking sector.
Today, Iceland is quickly growing in popularity with visitors from all over the globe. Its varied scenery, coastal beauty and remarkable waterfalls and lava spills have appealed to people’s curiosity.
Accommodation is a mix of very comfortable hotels and/or guest house style properties reﬂecting the local character and charm of the country, all with private ensuite facilities.