Volcano and glacier discovery trekking

Laure Ricca
volcano and glacier iceland
Your Discovery Trekking

From
€/pers
Duration
15 days / 14 nights

Cross the Oraefi desert whose volcanic splendors extend along Iceland’s rift

During this 12 day walk, advancing from volcanoes to glaciers, lava fields, huge verdant valleys and black sand deserts, you’ll discover an astonishing variety of landscapes. This itinerary covers the essentials, while staying off the beaten track. Some days you won’t come across any other people, just another great aspect of this exceptional trek in Iceland!

From the end of June to September

Length of each leg: 4-8 hours 
Distance covered: about 200 km 
Altitude 200 -1100 m. 
Maximum change in altitude: about 1000 m

The route
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Step 1

Reykjavík

Arrival at Keflavik international airport. Stay overnight in a Reykjavik guesthouse

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Step 2

Landmannalaugar

Discover the Domadalur region, rich in volcanoes, hike and swim in the hot water spring

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Step 3

Kirkjufellsvatn Lake

A region of small lakes and bogs where moss and sparse vegetation come in every shade of green.

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Step 4

Tungnaá

The Tungnaá river that is situated in the middle of a vast glacier valley

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Step 5

Langisjor

"The long sea," a huge lake that is fed by the melting ice of the Vatnajökull glacie

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Step 6

Skaftáreldar

6h of walking across the Skaftá valley

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Step 7

Edgjá

The Earth's longest explosive fissure that was formed in the tenth century

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Step 8

Strútslaug

You arrive in the region of the stand-alone peak, Strútur

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Step 9

Mælifellssandur

You'll discover the area south of Torfajökull's multicoloured acidic volcanic system

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Step 10

Mýrdalsjökull

You keep advancing through the dark desert of Maelifellssandur

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Step 11

Thorsmörk

You keep descending following verdant valleys and crossing little mountain passes until the Emstrur ravine

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Step 12

Reykjavik

You board the bus back to Reykjavik and enjoy a day at your leisure in the city

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Your Iceland Volcano and glacier discovery trekking day by day itinerary

Day 1

Keflavik - Reykjavík

50 km. 1h 

Arrival at Keflavik international airport. Greeting and transfer to Reykjavík. Settle into your accommodation, dinning at your leisure. 

Staying overnight in a Reykjavik guesthouse 

Day 2

Reykjavík- Landmannalaugar

190 km about 4h transfer and 3-4h of walking 

Head off by bus to Landmannalaugar. The bus takes you through the Domadalur region, rich in volcanoes, and you’ll go along the foot of the Hekla volcano before arriving in Landmanalaugar for lunchtime. Set up your tent in the camping area surrounding the mountain hut. In the afternoon, take your first hike and swim in the hot water spring.

Camping overnight at Landmannalaugar. 

Day 3

Landmannalaugar

7h of walking 

Your day of hiking begins across Landmannalaugars rhyolite mountain ranges. The path crosses lava fields and climbs up high volcanic plateaus in a setting of technicolor peaks, hot water springs, obsidian fields and solfataras. You are above 1000 metres of altitude, and in another world!

Staying overnight at Landmannalaugar. 

Day 4

Kirkjufellsvatn Lake

6-7h of walking 

A change of scenery! You leave behind the multicoloured mountain ranges and lava fields to arrive in a region of small lakes and bogs where moss and sparse vegetation come in every shade of green.

Staying overnight by the Kirkjufellsvatn lake at the foot of the imposing tabletop mountain Kirkjufell. 

Day 5

Tungnaá

7-8h of walking 

You walk up along the Tungnaá river that is situated in the middle of a vast glacier valley. Numerous river crossings are necessary to get to the other side of this body of water that courses down the nearby hills. Far-off towards the east, you’ll begin to make out the enormous icecap of the Vatnajökull glacier. 

Staying overnight in the Tungaá valley. 

Day 6

Langisjor

6-7h of walking 

From the Tungnaá valley, you now enter the Skaftá valley. You cross a mountainous chain and then a black sand desert before arriving at Langisjor, “the long sea,” a huge lake that is fed by the melting ice of the Vatnajökull glacier and extends over 20 km between two glacially carved mountain ranges.

Staying overnight at Langisjór. 

Day 7

Skaftáreldar

6h of walking 

You walk across the Skaftá valley where, in 1783, the Laki craters produced the lava field of Skaftáreldar, “the fires of Skaftá”. This was the greatest lava eruption since Iceland was first populated. It lasted over a year and devastated almost a third of the Icelandic population with its subsequent famines.

Staying overnight in the Skaftáreldar region. 

Day 8

Edgjá

7-8h of walking 

We now explore Elgjá, the Earth’s longest explosive fissure that was formed in the tenth century. Observe the rift not only at its widest (up to 600m) but also it’s deepest (about 200m). Walk along the Elgjá rift until you reach the Ófaerufoss waterfall.

Staying overnight by Alftavatn Lake, which you will reach after having crossed a natural lava bridge. 

Day 9

Strútslaug

7-8h of walking 

Walking up soft slopes along majestic valleys, you arrive in the region of the stand-alone peak, Strútur. On the way, you’ll discover a less-known part of the Eldgja rift and stop for a pleasant swim in the natural hot spring of Strútslaug at the foot of the Torfajökull mountain. You find yourself in an especially isolated natural setting that, in August, attracts colonies of wild geese.

Staying overnight at Strútur. 

Day 10

Mælifellssandur

5-6h of walking 

A less challenging day of walking during which you’ll discover the area south of Torfajökull’s multicoloured acidic volcanic system. It lies across from the volcanic cone of Maelifell whose moss covered slopes stand isolated in the middle of the black sand desert of Maelifellssandur, with Mýrdalsjökull’s icecaps in the background.

Staying overnight in Maelifellssandur. 

Day 11

Mýrdalsjökull

7-8h of walking 

You keep advancing through the dark desert of Maelifellssandur. To the south, the black and white of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier dominates the view. A few pyramid like volcanoes covered in moss add a rare touch of colour to this volcanic landscape.

Staying overnight in Emstrur, near the Markarfljót canyon and in front of the Mýrdalsjökull glacial lagoon. 

Day 12

Thorsmörk

6-7h of walking 

You keep descending following verdant valleys and crossing little mountain passes until the Emstrur ravine; the glacier tongues of Myrdalsjökull come here to melt several kilometres up. As you descend, the vegetation becomes progressively more abundant and the first dwarf birch trees announce your arrival in the forests of Thor. Thorsmörk. Your arrival in the glacial valley and the white birch forests is enchanting after the desert crossing the day before. And the comfortable mountain hut is definitely a welcome sight!

Staying overnight in Thorsmörk. 

Day 13

Thorsmörk - Reykjavik

3-4h of walking and 4h transfer. 

Spend a relaxing morning around the mountain hut or choose to walk one of the many surrounding hikes. You can visit the Sönghellir cave or scale the little mountain of Valahnukur from where you’ll have a magnificent view of the valley. In early afternoon board the bus back to Reykjavik.

Dine at your leisure and enjoy your last night in a Reykjavik guesthouse. 

Day 14

Reykjavik

Day at your leisure in Reykjavik and overnight in a guesthouse.

Day 15

Reykjavik – Keflavik

50km about 1 h 

Transfer to Keflavik international airport

The itinerary and walking times are meant to give you an idea of the trek. They can be modified by your guide based on the state of the trails, the weather and the group’s pace. The walking times include pauses, stops and lunch breaks.

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Your accomodation during your Volcano and glacier discovery trekking

3 nights in mountain huts – 8 nights in tents – 2 night in a guesthouse
In Reykjavik the nights are spent in guesthouses, in double rooms with shared bathrooms upstairs. On location, the nights are spent in mountain huts or camping. Some of the mountain huts are heated, and some even have electricity and hot water, but they remain nevertheless mountain huts with no luxury and little privacy. You will stay in shared rooms with bunks that you may be forced to share. But in this wild environment, especially if there is difficult weather, these mountain huts will seem like four star hotels!
Your guide will prepare your breakfast and dinners in the mountain huts with your help of course! Lunch will be taken in the form of cold picnics on site.
When camping, you will have a double igloo tent, perfect for the Icelandic climate and a mess tent where meals are taken when the weather is bad.

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Quote on request for private groups only

It is possible to schedule a private departure date. Final price is based on the number of participants and the season.

This activity may be added to your tailor-made travel to Iceland. Ask your travel expert to include it in your quote, he’ll be happy to give you any advice regarding this trek.

Included in this travel

  • The services of a professional guide for 12 days
  • Meals, starting with lunch on the second day and ending with lunch on the 13th day
  • Transfers

Not included in this travel

  • International flights
  • Meals in Reykjavík
  • Drinks
  • Tips and extras
  • Showers in the mountain huts when available (about 500 ISK – for five minutes of hot water)
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Friendly advice for your Iceland South Coast express self-drive:

  • Don’t cut corners when it comes to the quality of your equipment. Bring protection against potential cold and rain, a quality overcoat and shoes…
  • Be sure to follow the recommendations we offer in our trekking handbook.
  • Prepare yourself before your departure and leave with shoes that are already moulded to your feet.
  • This is a challenging trek due to its length and the length of certain stages. You must be mentally prepared to face difficult conditions, especially in bad weather.

Staff information

Experienced English-speaking guide. If the weather is good, this trek will seem more like a less challenging hike, if not, you’ll be glad to have the knowledge and support of your guide!
An Icelandic driver, generally English speaking.

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Your Discovery Trekking

From
€/pers
Duration
15 days / 14 nights
Highlights

  • A real 12 day trek
  • The Eldgja fault, in the Langisjor region
  • The natural reserves of Landmannalaugar and Thorsmörk
  • A huge variety of landscapes and environments
  • Vehicular assistance with baggages
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