Arrival in Iceland early morning. Leave the capital Reykjavík, 3.5 hour drive to Sólheimajökull Outlet Glacier on the south coast of Iceland. There we'll prepare for the upcoming mountain climbs by practicing crampon skills, ascending and descending rope. If conditions are right we can also do some self-arrest training. The glacier tongue of Sólheimajökull is an otherworldly scene, rugged, raw and ever changing hub of ancient frozen water. Night at Hotel.
The Eyjafjallajölkull glacier rises straight up from Iceland's southern coast in an intricate pattern of valleys, canyons and fissures. The ice cap covers around 80 km2, descending the mountainsides in most places at a 25-30° gradient and making for a challenging 9 to 10-hour hike. We set off at sea level, negotiating our beautiful crevassed-riddled surroundings and conquer 1666 vertical metres to emerge on one of the country's highest peaks. A clear day on the summit of Eyjafjallajölkull offers a stunning panorama of nearly half of Iceland, including the Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull glaciers, Mt. Hekla, and the Vestmannaeyjar Islands. Tonight we find ourselves back at our Hotel for some well-earned rest and relaxation. Start at 328ft and get up to 5249 ft, and then back.
After driving to Skaftafell in the morning we will hike over sands and glacier-rivers, past a glacier tongue, into Iceland's tallest birch forest. This walk will take you from one extreme landscape to another while stopping at some of the locals best kept secrets. Hiking through the Morsárdalur valley we will witness first-hand the destructive path left by the quickly receding Morsárjökull glacier and the river it feeds. We will aim for a forest, yes, a forest in Iceland, formerly guarded by trolls and outlaws but opens for those that join us on this journey. We will spend the night in tents surrounded by beautiful mountain tops and impressive landscapes. Night in a camp. Start at 328 ft and end up at 656 ft.
Early morning we will go for a short hike up to Miôfellstindur summit. It's a steep hike up to a beautiful summit at the edge of Vatnajökull glacier. Upon our return to camp, we'll pack our things and make our way back to Skaftafell. Night in Hótel Skaftafell. Start at 656 ft, hike up to 4659 ft, and then back to the lowlands in the afternoon.
Today we'll do some hard ice training, crevasse rescue and ice climbing on Falljökull outlet glacier. This day will also be a fantastic introduction to the unique, enthralling world of ice, traversing the spectacular but easy tracks of the Falljökull glacier, only a short distance from Skaftafell. As we arrive at the edge of the Falljökull glacier we will strap on crampons and make our way up the icy but easily accessible slopes, witnessing on the way the incredible ice formations and crevasses, learning about how they are formed and how the glacier continuously reshapes itself. We will approach the awe-inspiring ice fall, seeing up close how the ancient ice stoically falls hundreds of meters off the mountain top below as it flows in slow motion towards the ocean, a journey it will never complete as global warming continues to fuel its melting and slow retreat. Night at Hotel.
Early morning we'll start our hike up Iceland's tallest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur, on the Öræfajökull Glacier. This 2111-meter volcano stands proudly over the surrounding peaks on Vatnajökull glacier and is considered the pinnacle of glacier hiking in Iceland. We scale its flanks up to the snow line where we will be traveling over technical and crevassed terrain, and here an expert mountain guide and specialized equipment including ropes and crampons becomes essential. Standing proudly on Iceland's highest peak with breath-taking glacier and coastal views sweeping away beneath your feet is a climactic experience that no adventurer should allow themselves to miss. The sheer size of the Vatnajokull glacier, at 8100 km2, is almost beyond comprehension and this frozen expanse is sure to leave a lasting impression! Upon our descent, we celebrate our successes together in the comforts of the Frost and Funi guesthouse over a hearty dinner and a well-deserved cocktail. Night at Hotel. Start at 291 ft and end up at 6562 ft. And back.
In the morning we will visit the world famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where you will sail among enormous icebergs with Europe's largest glacier in the background. The trip takes you on an amazing 30-40 minute boat ride on the strange looking amphibious "wheeled boats" and sail among numerous large icebergs. The guide explains the history and formation of the lagoon as you enjoy being so close to these cool giants.
Next we head to Ingólfshöfôi cape, an isolated island caught between the black sands of the south coast and the North-Atlantic Ocean. This is where, in the year 874, Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler of Iceland, jumped ashore and spent his first winter in Iceland. The adorable Puffins, Razorbills, Fulmars, Guilleamots, and Skuas amongst other species now inhabit the cape numbering in the thousands. To get there we will cross six km of waters, marshes and sands in a tractor pulled hay trolley. After arriving at the cape we will go for a short hike (2-3 km) so we can take a closer look at the sea cliffs where the majestic seabirds, so characteristic for Iceland, nest during the very short arctic summer. The guides are a very fine local couple and their family who know this area like the back of their hand. They are the perfect leaders on this nature adventure.
In the afternoon we'll test our climbing abilities on some Icelandic rock? The cliffs at Hnappavellir is the perfect place, they once rose from the sea but now tower over grassy meadows with Vatnajókull in background. Hnappavellir is without a shadow of a doubt Iceland's premier rock climbing area. Hnappavellir is located a short drive from Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park and there are countless routes to choose from. No matter what your level of climbing, you are sure to find something to get your blood pumping. Night at Hotel.
Our last target in Skaftafell is Þverártindsegg (1554 m.a.s.l.), a peak that many admire from a good distance, but very few have actually climbed. We hike up steep scree slopes, so typical for Iceland. We reach the ice line of the glacier at about 800 m.a.s.l. The glacier hike itself is not so steep, until we get to the actual peak. The peak is not covered with ice and is in fact more of a ridge than a peak, about 3-4 km long. But of course we aim for the highest point. Route selection depends on conditions but no matter what route we pick, it will always be a great adventure in landscape that does not have many similarities to it. 12-15 hours hiking. A drive to Reykjavík in the afternoon. Night in Reykjavík. Start at 984 ft and end up at 4987 ft. And then return.
Morning in Reykjavík followed by a visit to the Blue Lagoon on the way to Keflavík Airport.
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