Iceland Hiking Adventure

August 5 - 11, 2019

“I still don’t know why, exactly, but I do think people can have a spiritual connection to landscape, and I certainly did in Iceland.”
Hannah Kent

Iceland is currently one of the most popular travel destinations in the world – and for good reason! This beautiful country is home to a variety of stunning landscapes, including icy blue glaciers, craggy mountains, black sand beaches, and lush, green valleys. It also boasts many geothermal baths, volcanoes, and incredible bird and sea life such as puffins and whales.

Most tourists head straight for the “Golden Circle” route in the Southwest of Iceland close to Reykjavik (which we do recommend adding on to before or after our tour as it is worth checking out!). For this trip though, we prefer the route less traveled in the east and north of Iceland, chock full of just as spectacular scenery and hiking trails, but much fewer people.

We’ll spend our days exploring the best hiking trails, hiking up mountainsides, descending to beautiful remote beaches, and discovering cascading waterfalls. We’ll then come back to cozy accommodations equipped with traditional Icelandic hot tubs and saunas to melt away our stress and ease our sore muscles.

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Trip Favorite Moments & Reviews

Every day, I loved having gear that worked for the conditions, the fitness that helped me hike anywhere Zephyr led us, and all of the glorious Icelandic photo opportunities I could possibly hope for!

Liz M.

I loved seeing the rugged scenery up close and being able to experience the hikes with people I like and respect.

Mike B.

Details

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Past Traveler Tour Rating

4.85/5 stars

Trip Highlights

  • Get off the beaten path to a sparsely populated and tranquil region of Iceland
  • Photograph magnificent waterfalls, colorful mountains and the other-worldly Icelandic landscapes
  • Visit a puffin colony for up close views of these clowns of the sea
  • Relax in the outdoor hot tub under the midnight sun after a day of epic hiking
Day 1
 
This morning, we will meet in the hotel lobby for introductions before we head to the airport to take a quick 1-hour flight from Reykjavik to Egilsstaðir, East Iceland's largest town, with a population of 2,400. From the airport, we shuttle to a trailhead and set out on our first hike (a short introductory hike) along the Hengifossá River to reach the majestic Hengifoss waterfall. Hengifoss is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland, measuring 420 feet high, falling from the plateau into a gorge. But that's not the only waterfall for today, we will also have the chance to view the Litlanesfoss waterfall. It is flanked by intriguing basalt columns, making it unique and mesmerizing.  We then then head to our hotel for the night where we'll enjoy dinner at the hotel's restaurant and perhaps a soak in the outdoor hot tub overlooking Lake Lagarfljót.  Distance: 3.5 miles
 
Day 2
After breakfast at the hotel, we set out on about a 30 minute drive to the starting point of today's hike to one of East Iceland's wonders: Stórurð. Situated in the shadow of the Dyrfjöll mountains, Stórurð consists of gigantic tuff boulders, lush meadows and bright blue ponds. From Stórurð choose to enjoy a moderate return hike and shuttle to Borgarfjörður Eystri or continue up and over the mountains on a challenging hike all the way to tonight's lodging: the Blabjorg Guesthouse, which is a charming guesthouse located in the old fish factory. Don't worry it's been remodeled! 
Distance: 8.5 - 10 miles
 
Day 3
 
The Borgarfjörður region is known for its natural beauty and excellent hiking trails leading to deserted fjords and coves, untouched by mass tourism. Today we'll hike one of the  best hikes in the area: to the nearby cove of Brúnavík. We start with a visit to the bird reserve where we can spot and photograph puffins and other seabirds that inhabit the area. After a steady climb up Brunavikurskard we descend down through vegetated mountain screes to the splendid black sand beach and stop for a pleasant picnic lunch. After lunch, we make our way back up the valley and back to the guesthouse for some free time to enjoy the guesthouse spa area or explore the tiny town of Bakkagerði. Borgarfjörður eystri is home to a very large population of elves, according to the regional folklore. Elves are often called the ‘hidden people’ because of how difficult it is to see them. You can take a walk up the hill called Álfaborg, "The Elves´Castle", where the queen of the Icelandic elves allegedly resides.  Distance: 8.5 - 10.5 miles
 
Day 4
 
Today we leave Borgarfjörður and drive to Mývatn.  Mývatn is a shallow lake situated in an area of active volcanism and renowned for its biological activity. Our hike today is up to Leirhnjúkur Mountain through the hot spring area and steaming lava to craters formed in the Krafla fires 1975-1984. This is where the Apollo 11 crew came to train for their moonwalks.  After the hike we stop at Námaskarð Geothermal area to take a close look at the boiling sulfuric mud pools and steam vents before heading to our hotel for the next two nights, the Fosshótel Mývatn.  Distance:  Variable mileage
 
Day 5
 
Today we hike among the geological wonders of Mývatn. The trail takes us to the fissure Grjótagjá lava cave, which used to be a popular bathing place. Then we climb the 1,300 ft high explosion crater Mt. Hverfjall. From there the path goes to Dimmuborgir, an area of unusually shaped lava fields. After our hike we can relax in the Mývatn Nature Baths. The water contains a unique blend of minerals and silicates. We finish our day with a delicious farewell dinner at the hotel. Distances:  5.5 or  miles
 
Day 6
 
On our last day of tour, we drive to Akureyri, the "capital" of North Iceland. The drive is about one hour, but there is plenty to see as we stop at the beautiful and historic waterfall of the Gods, Godafoss. In Akureyri we'll stretch our legs as we explore the town. After lunch we'll catch our return flight to Reykjavík or you can choose to extend your time in Northern Iceland.  Distance:  miles
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Trip Accommodations

Night 1 >> HOTEL 1001 NOTT/ EGILSSTAÐIR
Located on the banks of the Lagarfljót River, this modern country hotel has outdoor hot tubs with a view. 

 

Nights 2 & 3 >>  BLABJORG GUESTHOUSE / BORGARFJORDUR ESYTRI
A charming family run place with beautiful seaside views and comfortable accommodations.
 
Nights 4 & 5 >>  FOSSHOTEL MYVATN / MYVATN
Located just north of Lake Mývatn, the hotel was designed by award-winning architects and features almost exclusively low-environmental impact materials. It's low-rise, clad with larch wood and a grass roof which makes it in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature. 
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Arrival & Departure
We meet in Reykjavik the first day of the trip  arrive at all times of the day. Depending on when you arrive, we will meet you at the airport or at our hotel for the night. Since arrival times will be varied, dinner will be on your own. Our hotel is located on one of the main shopping streets so we have many cafes and restaurants within walking distance to choose from.
 
We meet at our host hotel in Reykjavik late morning and shuttle to the domestic airport to hop on our flight to Egilsstaðir. You'll want to fly into Keflavik airport (KEF) the day before. You can choose to stay at our host hotel, located on one of the main shopping streets with many cafes, restaurants and sites within walking distance. Or choose from a variety of other hotels in Reykjavik. 
 
On the last day of the tour, we will take a flight back to Reykjavik from Akureyri in the afternoon. Since most flights leave Keflavik in the morning, you will likely need to stay in Reykjavik this night. We recommend adding on a visit to the Blue Lagoon. Or if you have the time we recommend extending your stay in Akureuri or Reykjavik as there are many day trips from those cities. 
 
What's included
 
  • A Zephyr guide along with a local guide, with a third guide added as necessary.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All dinners and breakfasts are included. In general, we leave lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route. Gratuity for these meals is also included.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day, including our  internal flights from Reykjavik to Egilsstaðir and Akureyri to Reykjavik. If you will be traveling in Iceland before or after the tour and want to meet in Egilsstadir or extend your stay in Akureyri after the tour, please let us know.
  • All group activities are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED: lunches, beverages, desserts, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses, and travel to and from the destination.
Weather
 
You can expect temperature ranges from 45 degrees F to 58 degrees F in August. Rain is always possible, but the summer months see the fewest days of precipitation, with about 10 days of rain in August. Early August has about 18 hours of daylight.
Hiking Conditions

Our hikes will cover a variety of terrain including rocky ascents and descents, please bring good shoes and, if you'd like, walking sticks. We will let you know ahead of time what to expect on each trail as well as if there are alternate routes.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience.

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