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Iceland is a land sculpted by lava and ice, where geysers burst and glaciers gleam and emerald valleys stretch all the way to the ocean. On an exhilarating journey, encounter this wonderland of geological extremes close up. Experience the mighty forces still shaping the landscape as you explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir National Park. Hike up Reynisfjall mountain, one of the most beautiful coastal walks in southern Iceland. Trek across crackling glacial ice, float among blue icebergs in a spectacular glacial lake, and soak in turquoise thermal pools. Then discover the otherworldly bubbling mudpools and steam vents of Námaskarð, and the legends behind Dimmuborgir’s black volcanic formations.
Learn about Europe’s largest national park, Vatnajökull, in a special meeting with a park ranger; then trek atop the Svínafellsjökull glacier.
Meet the locals at a farm at the base of the notorious volcano Eyjafjallajökull, and get an up close view of the magnificent Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
Approach the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon on foot, and then take in its spectacular sculpted icebergs on a boat cruise.
Hike amid the Dimmuborgir—volcanic formations said to harbor mystical creatures—as you listen to Icelandic folklore.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Reykjavík, Iceland
Arrive in Reykjavík and take a dip in the Blue Lagoon before transferring to our hotel. Later, gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre (B,D)
Day 2 — Thingvellir/Geysir/Gullfoss
Explore the geological wonders of Iceland’s Golden Circle. Traverse the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site located at the point where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and trace the shoreline of Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural
lake. Visit the site of the world’s oldest still extant parliament, the Althing, convened in A.D. 930. Further east is the geothermal area of Geysir, a sulfurous landscape of mud pots, mineral formations, and the spouting Strokkur geyser. Later,
hike to Gullfoss, or “Golden Falls,” a powerful, 100-foot double cascade. (3–4 miles hiking, 2–3 hours) Hotel Rangá or Fosshotel Hekla (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Eyjafjallajökull/Reynisfjall/Vík
Drive towards the mighty Eyjafjallajökull volcano whose 2010 eruption sent clouds of ash into the atmosphere of the North Atlantic. Stop at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the foothills of the volcano, and visit the Þorvaldseyri farm to learn how
the locals have adapted to living next to an active volcano. Encounter the beautiful Skógafoss waterfall en route to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, then hike up the Reynisfjall mountain and cross to the picturesque village of Vík. (3–5 miles hiking, 3–4 hours) Icelandair Hotel Vík (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Laki Volcano
We start the day with a bus ride up into the southern highlands to explore the Laki craters. Walk across the moss-covered Elðraun lava field, created by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Laki in 1783-4. Climb to the top of Laki volcano, taking in the incredible crater landscape surrounding it. Explore the beautiful, lake-filled Tjarnargígur crater, then drive to our hotel nestled at the edge of the great lava fields at Kirkjubæjarklaustur village. (2–4 miles hiking, 2–3 hours; 5–6 hours driving) Hotel Laki (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Vatnajökull National Park
Learn about the creation of Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest national park, in a special meeting with a park ranger, then get outfitted for a walk across the ice. Atop Svínafellsjökull, the tongue of Europe’s largest glacier, explore chasms and
crevasses sculpted by meltwater and see the moraine created by the glacier’s bulldozing power. This afternoon, hike up to Svartifoss waterfall, framed by black basaltic columns. Additional hiking options are also available. (6 miles hiking,
3–4 hours) Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Ingólfshöfði Headland/Jökulsárlón
Embark on a hike on Ingólfshöfdi headland, home to Iceland’s first Nordic settler, Ingólfur Arnarson. Continue to the spectacular Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, approaching its glassy waters on foot,
and take a boat ride between floating icebergs calved from the glacier’s edge. (2–3 miles hiking, 1 hour) Fosshotel Vatnajokull or Hotel Jökull (B,L)
Day 7 — Höfn/Lake Mývatn
Visit the Gamlabúð Folk Museum in Höfn. Then set out for one of Iceland’s most geologically active areas at Lake Mývatn, rich with lava pillars, volcanic cones, and bubbling mud pits. A birder’s paradise, the lake hosts more duck species than anywhere else in Europe. After dinner at our lakeside hotel, set off an optional evening walk—after all, it will still be light out. (6-7 hours driving) Fosshotel Mývatn or Fosshotel Húsavík (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Viti Crater/Námaskarð
Discover the Krafla volcanic area, Námaskarð hot springs and Jokulsargljufur Caynon, the northern most part Vatnajokull National Park. Visit Krafla Geothermal Power Plant and learn about this environmentally friendly way of tapping into earth’s energy. A short distance away is Leirhnjukur crater, a magnificent geothermal zone is located in the middle of an enormous lava field. Explore Víti Crater, an explosive crater formed in 1724, which measures almost 1,000 feet across. Then head further east to the enormous Dettifoss Waterfall, considered Europe's most powerful waterfall and we hike down to the edge of the falls. (2-3 miles hiking) Fosshotel Mývatn or Fosshotel Húsavík (B,L,D)
Days 9 & 10 — Mývatn/Reykjavík
Hike across a lava desert to the Hverfjall crater,
and then visit Dimmuborgir—a volcanic wonderland
harboring elves and trolls, according to
Icelandic folklore. Cap off the day with a visit to
the Sigurgeirs Bird Museum—the largest private
collection of bird specimens in Iceland. The next
day, fly back to Reykjavík and enjoy a guided
walk around the city during our final morning.
(3-4 miles hiking, 3-4 hours) Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre (B,L,D; B)
National Geographic Active Expeditions are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
ALT indicates a departure that has a slightly different itinerary than the one shown on this page. Click the ALT icon to see the day-to-day itinerary.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room add $1,200 in 2017 and $2,000 in 2018. International airfare to/from Reykjavík and airfare within Iceland is not included in the adventure cost. The group flight within Iceland is $400 in 2017 and $500 in 2018 (subject to change).
We will be hiking 2 to 6 hours per day (2 to 8
miles) on moderate to steep grades, in variable weather conditions. Most days will have options for more, or less, hiking. During hikes, vehicle support is provided on most days, except while in the National Parks.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
We will stay 9 nights in ideally
located hotels. While Iceland hotels tend to be on the small
side, all lodgings are comfortable and conveniently located
to each day’s activities.
Some long transfers of up to 7 hours will be required.
Contact Us: 1-888-689-2557
Call to speak with an Adventure specialist about this trip.