“High Adventure” is a tag we add to tours to warn travelers of possible additional challenges. These challenges could stem from a variety of sources including:
- A high percentage of 1-night hotels
- More time driving than usual or challenging traffic settings (e.g. India)
- Walks routes that are more challenging on average (e.g. Appalachian Trail, Swiss & French Alps)
- More walking per day than usual (e.g. Hiking the Camino de Santiago)
- Walks and/or travel at high altitude (e.g. Peru; Colorado)
- A greater number of mid-tour flights (e.g. Chile)
- Cultural factors that can be stressors (lack of public toilets; extra caution required regarding food and gastro-intestinal challenges – e.g. India, Hiking the Camino de Santiago)
Why is Iceland considered “high adventure”?
Though 11% of Iceland is covered in ice, its nickname “Island of Fire & Ice” refers to epic volcanic activity. Volcanic eruptions have characterized life in Iceland for all human history, and often devastated hardy Viking settlements. The result is a landscape that is mesmerizing for its blend of moonscape lava flows, often covered by layers of moss that range from green to gray depending on the season. Our trails sometimes pass through lava, creating uneven and unyielding terrain. For this reason, though hills and elevation gain are, on average, not significant, many of our walks could more accurately be described as “hikes”!
This is especially the case during the winter conditions which we experience on our Northern Lights Adventure, where snow and ice may be added to the uneven volcanic footing. For this reason, we recommend warm hiking boots, walking sticks, and the use of portable crampons (traction devices that can be strapped to your hiking boots) to help you safely enjoy the gorgeous Icelandic landscape during our winter escapades. Previous groups have found that portable crampons combined with walking sticks provide a good deal of stability and support in navigating the amazing winter Icelandic landscape. More advice on specific gear to bring and how to prepare for this unique adventure will come later in our Travel Tips memo.
Be aware that participation in the Icelandic Northern Lights Adventure requires a higher level of “adventure readiness” than most of our tours due to sometimes challenging and icy terrain and due to Iceland’s occasionally moody winter weather.
The rewards of experiencing Iceland’s magical winter landscape and of seeing the Northern Lights are worth the preparation and effort, but travelers should read the itinerary and Before You Book sections carefully before committing to a this high adventure tour.