Iceland Day-to-Day Itinerary
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Depart USA in afternoon/evening.
Arrive in Iceland at Keflavik Airport early morning and embark on a relaxing sightseeing tour via the Golden Circle route. We’ll visit Þingvellir National Park, a very important place in Icelandic History and a geological phenomenon where two tectonic plates move apart on dry land, forming a massive rift valley. Then we’ll stop by Geysir hot springs and Gullfoss waterfall. Before heading to the hotel, we will visit a natural geothermal pool (so make sure to keep your swimwear somewhere you can easily reach them). Overnight at hotel. Driving distance: 200 km/124 miles.
The target of today is Hekla Volcano. Mt. Hekla is undeniably Iceland’s most famous mountain. It is the second most active volcano in Iceland and has erupted frequently in historic times. The last eruption occurred in February 2000. The mountain towers over South Iceland at roughly 1,500 meters, though the height changes due to movements of the earth crusts . For hundreds of years the mountain was believed to be the gateway to hell that no one dared to climb until summer of 1750 when Eggert Ölafsson, a famous Icelandic biologist, succeeded in summiting the mountain. Since then, hiking to the top of Mt. Hekla has become popular. The terrain includes rough lava fields, with ice and snow closer to the peak. It usually takes three to four hours to get to the top where the view is wide and beautiful. We will be able to see all of Fjallabak mountains up to Vatnajökull glacier (Europe’s biggest glacier), as well as evidence of recent and longstanding volcanic activity. We will then return to our hotel for some well-earned rest and relaxation. Driving distance: 200 km/124 miles. Hiking distance: 16 km/10 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1,491 m/4,892 ft.
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 square kilometers, descending the mountainsides in most places at a 25–30 degree gradient and making for a challenging 9–10-hour hike. We set off at sea level, negotiating our beautiful crevassed-riddled surroundings, and conquer 1,666 vertical meters to emerge on one of the country’s highest peaks. A clear day on the summit of Eyjafjallajökull offers a stunning panorama of nearly half of Iceland, including the Mýrdalsjökull and Tindfjallajökull glaciers, Mt. Hekla, and the Vestmannaeyjar Islands. Overnight at hotel. Start at 196 ft. and gain up to 5,465 ft., and then return. Driving distance: 136 km/83 miles. Hiking distance: 16 km/10 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1,666 m/5,465 ft.
After driving to Skaftafell in the morning, we’ll do some hard ice training, crevasse rescue, and ice climbing on Svínafellsjökull outlet glacier. This day will also be a fantastic introduction to the unique, enthralling world of ice while we traverse the spectacular but easy tracks of this outlet glacier, only a short distance from Skaftafell. As we arrive at the edge of the Svínafellsjökull glacier, we will strap on crampons and make our way up the icy but easily accessible slopes. On the way we will witness incredible ice formations and crevasses and learn how they are formed and how the glacier continuously reshapes itself. We will explore crevasses and ridges up close and wonder at that part of the glacier literally falling down from the main icecap, hundreds of meters off the mountain top, as it flows in slow motion towards the ocean — a journey it will never complete as climate change continues to fuel its melting and slow retreat. We’ll then find a nice spot to put up ropes for ice climbing. Overnight at Hotel. Driving distance: 140 km/86 miles. Hiking distance: 4 km/2 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 500 m/1,640 ft.
Kristínartindar is one of the most pleasant hikes in Skaftafell National Park — and for good reason. Located between two valleys carved by outlet glaciers, Kristínartindar is the result of a big volcanic eruption, and the main crater is part of an awe-inspiring panorama. The hike itself takes us up pleasant, low-angle alpine tundra where we view the beautiful waterfall of Svartifoss, delicately framed by near-black basalt columns. Once under the summit, the terrain changes drastically and, in places, becomes somewhat of a scramble onto the summit ridge. On a good day, the view is nothing but spectacular with volcanic beaches, glaciers, and surrounding summits so that we are able to see our route of the last and grand final objective: Hrútfellstindar. Overnight in hotel. Driving distance: 10 km/6 miles. Hiking distance: 18 km/11 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1,126 m/3,694 ft.
Today we will make an alpine start in order to climb to the summit of Hrútsfjallstindar Peaks. Hrútfellstindar is one of Iceland’s most demanding summits, both to due to length of the route and the terrain. We will climb the rugged Hafrafell, which at a glance looks almost impassable, but on closer inspection we will see small trails that lead up the hillside. At the top ridge we will stop to enjoy the magnificent views over the Svínafellsjökull glacier far below us. We will continue up to approximately 1,200 m, enter onto the glacier, and rope up with our guide/s for the hike through the crevassed areas to summit the highest of the four peaks. The views down onto the Skaftafellsjökull outlet glacier are unforgettable and we might pass areas of seracs. After reaching the summit and enjoying the view, we start our descent, traversing the southern peak—thereby climbing two summits in one day. The day is long but very enjoyable, especially knowing that at the foot of the mountain lies our hotel with our soft cozy beds and gourmet food. Overnight in hotel. Driving distance: 4 km/2 miles. Hiking distance: 22 km/14.3 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2,000 m.
A spare day in case weather does not allow for ascent of Hrútsfjallstindar Peaks on the previous day. We will spend the day exploring the immediate surroundings of Óræfajökull glacier, the southermost tip of the great Vatnajökull glacier. To the south, the headland Ingólfshöfôi is well known for its rich birdlife; puffins are numerous as are guillemots and skuas. On the eastern side of the Öræfajökull lie the glacier lagoons Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón. A boat ride among the icebergs is most certainly an unforgettable experience. Overnight in hotel. Meals: breakfast. Driving distance: 4 km/2 miles. Hiking distance: 15 km/10 miles.
After breakfast we will pack our van and trailer for the drive back to Reykjavík with a lunch stop at Halldórskaffi in Vík for pizza and burgers. Now we are about 2.5 hours from Reykjavík and should be there in the early afternoon. Overnight in hotel in Reykavik. Driving distance: 325 km/201 miles.
Morning in Reykjavík, followed by a visit to the Blue Lagoon on the way to Keflavík Airport. Late afternoon/evening flights home. Meals: breakfast.
Our guide was superb. He had the personality, patience and calmness required to give clients reassurance that they are in good hands. His focus on safety was superb and his deep knowledge of the history and terrain of Iceland made the experience so much more interesting.