We’re excited to return to this intriguing little island nation, isolated in the North Atlantic just below the Arctic Circle. Due to moderating influences of the Gulf Stream’s warm ocean currents, Iceland, ironically, would be more aptly named Greenland. Greenland, its gigantic neighbor due west, is the one with all the ice.
Nonetheless, it’s also true that 11% of Iceland is covered with glacial ice. Much of this ice sits atop smoking volcanoes lined up over the fractious junction of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
Norwegian Vikings were the first to settle here in the 9th century. Iceland, therefore, offers the rare opportunity to witness the development of a culture in a land devoid of an indigenous race.
Our mission is to use our walking program to connect its fascinating history, present-day Icelandic culture, and some of the most eye-popping natural wonders on the planet! Iceland is one of our favorite places, mostly due to the unique medley of factors just described, but also because its tourism infrastructure remains underdeveloped. Our planning woes (finding hotel rooms) become your travel blessings as we visit sites often devoid of other travelers.
“This organization is well run, trips are well planned, and you feel like WAI really cares about your trip and what you think."
Vatnajökul Glacier Expedition (Day 6)
* Details of transfers provided are listed in Adventure Advice memo sent upon receipt of tour registration.
“I have found that WAI tours are always well-organized, the WAI guides are very competent and friendly, and the national guides are knowledgeable."
Reykjavík Nordic Capital Walk - 8 km, rated 1B
A representative of Walking Adventures will meet you as you exit customs at Keflavík International Airport and transport you to our hotel near the center of Reykjavík where WAI guides will orient you to the hotel and surrounding area. Because flights arrive in Iceland in the early morning, our first group activity is a Welcome Meeting at the hotel at 11 am. Following a break for lunch, we meet our local guide for this Adventure and enjoy a walking tour through old Reykjavík, the planet’s northernmost capital. After a thought-provoking look at a culture that has endured a multitude of challenges in its 1200-year history, we’ll enjoy this evening’s welcome dinner together.
Þingvellir Parliaments and Plates Walk - 6 km, rated 1D
Gullfoss Canyon Walk – 2.5 km, rated 1C
The renowned Golden Circle Tour brings us to our walk of the day at Þingvellir, Iceland’s oldest national park. We start at the Lögberg, medieval meeting point of the AlÞing, the Icelandic Viking parliament established in A.D. 930. We continue from North America to Europe as we cross the easily identifiable rift zone marking the tumultuous meeting of these two tectonic plates. Next on our route are stops at Geysir, the cluster of geysers that gave their name to this geological phenomenon, and Gullfoss, which offers an easy hike up the canyon to what is arguably the most spectacular waterfall in the country!
We depart by plane early this morning for the northern reaches of Iceland and the pleasant little town of Akureyri, on the shores of the Eyja Fjord. En route to the whale watching port of Husavik, we stop to admire the pulsating drama of Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), one of many impressive falls that contribute to the fantasyland feeling of idyllic Iceland. Though whale activity can never be guaranteed, odds are good that we’ll encounter humpbacks, minke whales, and dolphins on our cruise from the port of Husavik. We spend the next two nights enjoying the remote serenity of Lake Mývatn!
Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon Walk, 10 km, rated 2B
This morning we depart for Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon and Dettifoss, considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe. We explore this diverse geological smorgasbord on a series of three walks: Asbyrgi, a horseshoe canyon with a lovely pond at the end; Hljóðaklettar, with its astounding array of honeycomb basalt formations; and Dettifoss, where we get two breathtaking waterfalls for the price of one – Dettifoss and its upstream little sister, Selfoss! After stopping at the hot mud pots of Námafjall, we return to the hotel to enjoy its unique setting on the shores of Lake Mývatn.
Dimmuborgir Black Lava Castles Walk – 10 km, rated 2D
Lake Mývatn is a geological wonderland brimming with geothermal and volcanic surprises. From our hotel amongst an emerald moonscape of “pseudo-craters”, we depart by bus for a walk at nearby Dimmuborgir. Our route traverses a convoluted labyrinth of "black castles" - oddly shaped pillars and crags created 2000 years ago (give or take a day) by trapped lava flows. The afternoon drive takes us across the island’s interior, a mesmerizing volcanic wasteland, and on to our hotel in Egilsstaðir.
Djúpivogur Seascapes and Seabirds Walk - 5 km, rated 1D
We enter the fjord country of Iceland today – sweeping vistas enjoyed from our coach as the road traces a route along fingers of the sea that push deep into the east Iceland coast. An hour south along the coast lies the quiet fishing village of Djúpivogur. The walk of the day is a short but stimulating hike along rocky headlands and coves from the quiet fishing village of Djúpivogur. We finish the day at a delightful guesthouse nestled at the base of a cliff not far from Vatnajökul Glacier.
Optional Vatnajökul Glacier Expedition:
The Vatnajökul icecap is the largest in Europe (and the 3rd largest on the planet), covers 8% of Iceland, and is over 1300 feet thick on average. Our evening excursion onto this massive mountain of ice starts from our hotel in Smyrlabjörg. Experienced guides drive us up a winding mountain road to the glacier in four-wheel-drive jeeps. After a short break, we continue across the glacier for breathtaking views of deep ice-sculpted valleys, barren peaks of east Iceland’s mountains and, of course, the enormous sheet of ice that is Vatnajökul itself.
Estimated price: $200 per person
Skaftafell Svartifoss Walk - 4 km, rated 2B
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon Walk – 3 km, rated 2B
First stop today is at Jökulsárlón Lagoon, a 600-foot-deep river lagoon crowded with icebergs calved from the glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. A short cruise in amphibious vehicles takes us amongst these floating crystal pyramids. In Skaftafell National Park, today’s trail explores a forested hillside resisting the force of two gargantuan glaciers flowing down from the massive Vatnajökul ice field. The route passes lovely Svartifoss (black waterfall) and visits a lonely group of deserted 19th century farm buildings. Following a short coach ride, part two of the walk explores Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a stunningly stark gorge with a remote lagoon fed by a glacial waterfall.
Remundargil Canyon Walk – 6.5 km, rated 2B
Hjörleifshöfði Headlands Walk – 4.5 km, rated 4B
This morning’s walk requires a change in vehicles as we motor inland on a winding gravel road. As much as any, this area demonstrates that “green” is a very Icelandic color. Mosses and grasses assume a wide spectrum of shades of green and gray, and almost glow when the light is right. After lunch in Vík, a challenge hike takes us up steep slopes of a headland offering spectacular 360-degree views of sea, sand, glaciers, and the green hills of south Iceland. At the top, we discover a Viking grave – Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, foster brother of the founder of Iceland, Ingolf Arnarson. This could be the best hike of the Adventure!
Views from our hotel beckon us to explore with a morning stroll out to Dyrhólaey Rock, southernmost point in Iceland which offers one of our best chances to see puffins. We continue to the homey Skógar Folk Museum for a memorable review of a wide collection of rural Icelandic memorabilia. Two more spectacular waterfall visits to Skogarfoss and Seljalandfoss conclude another day exploring the delightful coast of southeast Iceland. Later tonight, we’ll enjoy a special Farewell Dinner as we reminisce about our adventures together.
Our final morning in Iceland takes us across the Reykjanes (smoky) Peninsula. Viking settlers used this name to describe venting geothermal steam they mistook for smoke. Amidst the rugged moonscape, we stop to admire dramatic seaside vistas at Reykjanesviti Lighthouse, Iceland’s oldest. The aptly-named Bridge Between the Continents, a simple footbridge, gives us one more chance to straddle the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America. Following lunch, a short drive brings us to the airport, and flights back to North America. We leave enriched by the history, culture, and scenery of unforgettable Iceland!
Tim and Jeannette have the dubious distinction of sharing the last name Friesen with certain other Team members (Tim is Dan’s “little” brother). Tim spends the school year as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, and is occasionally known to burst into song on tour in places other than the shower! Jeannette works part time in the office helping travelers over the phone and generally keeping us organized! Tim and Jeannette currently lead summertime walking adventures in Ireland and Great Britain, and are looking forward to the time when they can leave their day jobs behind and hit the trail on a year-round basis.
We are now accepting reservations. Send in your registration ($500) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted.
If you are among the travelers who submitted a $50 Early Bird deposit, you have until October 16 to secure your spot with an additional $450 (total of $500) registration.
These forms are available by clicking here or are available on request. To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!
The official start and finish point for this Adventure is Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport (airport code KEF). We recommend that you contact the travel agent we work with to help book your flight arrangements, or consider booking directly with Icelandair. More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!
Walking Adventures has negotiated with an insurance carrier to provide travel insurance in the form of a Preferred Platinum policy. We are pleased to make this package available and believe that it will provide travelers with an important element of security at a reasonable price. (See the back of the General Tour Conditions sheet for more detailed information.)
IMPORTANT: The insurance policy includes time-sensitive coverage provisions for some benefits, including pre-existing conditions and trip cancellation coverage for any reason (with additional fee), provided you purchase the insurance within 18 days of your registration. Should you choose to add the cost of your airline tickets to your insurance policy, contact our office within 18 days after you purchase your airfare. Airfare is NOT automatically covered by the insurance you purchase for the tour!!
If you are part of a Group, remember that your full deposit of $500 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible to submit your name in writing to us before you make your $500 registration payment, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit. A full registration payment is needed to officially reserve your place.
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Several walks on this trip are oriented towards history and culture, and therefore take longer due to stops for guide commentary. Walks with less commentary generally continue at a steadier pace. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with Debbie in our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system, provided by the American Volkssport Association (AVA), which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented by clicking here.
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice flyer with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 2 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.
“Every day another adventure, a surprising experience – typical of a WAI tour. Never a dull moment”.
Margie M. – Gaithersburg, MD.
“Great company, great guides a fun adventure.”