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Iceland's Volcanic Trails Guided Trek  The Natural Adventure Company

Iceland’s Volcanic Trails Guided Trek

Overview

On this off the beaten track small group tour, you will have the chance to explore one of Iceland’s fantastic volcanic regions. The journey starts in the spectacular Vatnajökull National Park, where you will hike up to the peak of Sveinstindur mountain with stunning views on lake Langisjór. The trail continues along the Skaftá river through bright green moss-covered lava formations, passing by impressive waterfalls, canyons and amazing craters, to the Eldgjá, a spectacular volcanic fissure. The trail will also take you to the black sands and green moss of the Mælifellsandur desert. We will spend the evenings in the tiny charming mountain huts along the trail.

  • Vatnajökull National Park
  • Contrasts of black sand and green moss
  • Moss covered lava fields
  • Bathing in natural hot pools

Click to view map

*This map is only for general reference; detailed route maps will be provided in your pre-departure package.

Itinerary

Day 1: Reykjavík – Sveinstindur | 6 km

We take the public bus from BSI bus terminal (meeting time is at 07:30 h) that takes us along highland tracks to Mt Sveinstindur, by Langisjór, one of Iceland’s most beautiful lakes. After climbing the peak and enjoying some amazing views over the mountains and up to Vatnajökull glacier, we descend to a traditional lodge on the other side – a rustic hut with outhouse and no showers.

  • Walking for the day: 6 km, ↑480 m ↓480 m
  • Overnight in a mountain hut

Day 2: Sveinstindur – Skaftá – Skælingar | 16-18 km

Following the river Skaftá, with its rapids and waterfalls, the trail leads to the small and impressive canyon of Hvanngil. The landscape is truly volcanic, black lava, green moss, and different rock formations. At the end of the day, you arrive in the magical Skælingar area, an ancient lava forest close to the riverbed of Skaftá. The overnight is in a rustic hut with an outhouse and no showers.

  • Walking for the day: 16-18 km, 6-8 hours, ↑250 m ↓250 m
  • Overnight in a mountain hut

Day 3: Skælingar – Gjátindur – Eldgjá – Hólaskjól | 18 km

After packing up we start the day’s hike heading to the Canyon of Fire – Eldgjá. A slow descent into the canyon and we have time to enjoy this remarkable place and its many wonders before concluding the day with a hike to e thhuts at nearby Hólaskjól where we spend the night in a comfortable hut with WC and showers available.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6-8 hours, ↓350 m ↓350 m
  • Overnight in a mountain hut

Day 4: Hólaskjól – Áftavötn | 7-10 km

We head out to the lakes of Álftavötn. Hiking through green hills we follow the river Syðri Ófæra. At Álftavötn we find a traditional hut where we spend the night. The tranquillity of this magical place is amazing and this is really a great spot to recharge. Rustic hut, outhouse, no showers.

  • Walking for the day: 7-10 km, 5-6 hours, ↑150 m ↓150 m
  • Overnight in a mountain hut

Day 5: Álftavötn – Strútur | 24 km

Today we continue along the river Syðri Ófæra crossing once again the Canyon of Fire, Eldgjá. The landscape changes from green meadows to black sands with bright green streaks of moss. Along the way, we come to the natural pool Strútslaug, right after fording the river Hólmsá.  After warming up and relaxing in the pool, we conclude the day’s march walking to the hut at Strútur where we spend the night. Comfortable hut, WC and showers available.

  • Walking for the day: 24 km, 7-8 hours, ↑300 m ↓300 m
  • Overnight in a mountain hut

Day 6: Strútur – Hvanngil | 14-18 km

Leaving the comfortable hut, we set out for the day’s trek along the Mýrdalssandur, the black volcanic sand plain. We need to cross some of the rivers, and we need our river crossing shoes ready. We enjoy the mystical landscape of Hvanngil valley and the wonders of the Icelandic landscape before we reach the comfortable hut with WC and showers available, where we will overnight.

  • Walking for the day: 14 -18 km, 5-6 hours, ↑150 m ↓150 m
  • Overnight in a mountain hut

Day 7: Hvanngil – Álftavatn/Reykjavík | 5-7 km

After breakfast, we pack our things and get ready for the day´s hike exploring the side trails of the Laugavegur hiking trail. We proceed along the river Kaldaklofskvísl, admiring the eerie green Stórasúla mountain on the other side. The river winds along and after a climb up the small pass of Brattháls we see lake Álftavatn (Swan lake). Here you get picked up by our driver who will take you back to your accommodation in Reykjavík, taking leave of our guide and the hikers continuing on the extended part of this tour. Arrival in Reykjavík around 19:00 h where the tour ends. No overnight is included.

  • Walking for the day: 5-7 km, 3-4 hours, ↑300 m ↓300 m

What to Expect

Accommodation

The accommodation on this trek is in dormitories at mountain huts. All of the mountain huts are heated, some have electricity, and some have hot water. Where showers are available, there is a small fee to use them (~ 500 ISK/3-4 EUR payable on the spot). There will be running cold water in all the huts. Some huts have flushable toilets; others have outhouses. The mountain huts have no private rooms available; all rooms are dormitories. There are bunk rooms with single and twin beds; participants have to be prepared to share a bed with a stranger. You need to bring a sleeping bag, or you can rent one when booking the tour. We recommend bringing a power bank to charge your electronic devices. 

Meals

All meals from the lunch on day 1 to the lunch on day 7 are included in the price. Special dietary meals, such as vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten-free or other, can be pre-ordered at some extra cost. 

Difficulty & terrain

This is a demanding but rewarding trek (read more about difficulty grades). It is appropriate for walkers that are physically active and have some experience in trekking in mountainous terrain with a backpack. Children under 16 years are not allowed on this tour. The walks are 3 – 8 hours per day.

When to go

This small-group tour has one departure date in July and one in August 2022. Please click the See Dates and Prices link above to check availability. There are limited places available and the groups are 6-14 people. The climate of Iceland’s coast is subarctic. The warm North Atlantic Current ensures generally higher annual temperatures than in most places of similar latitude in the world. The south coast is warmer, wetter, and windier than the north. The average daily temperatures in June – August are 11°C – 13°C, and in the night – 6°C – 7°C.

What to bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. For your own well being and safety, we strongly suggest following the advice of our equipment list; this includes having good quality rain-gear, tops and bottoms! Please note that cotton clothing is not appropriate for any strenuous outdoor activity. Modern outdoor clothing is by far more comfortable and will greatly improve your experience.

Inclusions

Included

  • Transport from Reykjavík to Sveinstindur on day 1 by public bus and from Álftavatn to Reykjavík on day 7 by private transport
  • Professional and qualified English-speaking guide
  • 6 nights accommodation in mountain huts dormitory-style
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days
  • 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners

Excluded

  • Airfare and airport transfers
  • Accommodation and meals in Reykjavík
  • Sleeping bag
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Sleeping bag rental
  • Accommodation in Reykjavík before and after the tour
  • Hiking poles rental
  • Special dietary requirements (vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten-free etc.)
  • Shower in the huts, where showers are available – you have to pay about 500 ISK (3-4 EUR) on the spot

Travel

View country info and up-to-date travel advice

By plane

Recommended airport: Reykjavík

By train or bus

Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is located about 50 km southwest of the capital. It is a 45-minute drive to Reykjavík. In order to reach the city, you can take Flybus, operating every day, all year long, in connection with all incoming flights. You can check for more information here or use the Omio travel planner above. Private airport shuttles can be booked here. It is also possible to take a taxi from the airport to the city.

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