Adventures / Aurora Hunting

Winter Hiking and Northern Lights Chasing in Iceland

Wrap up warm for a series of spectacular winter hikes, interspersed with hot spring baths, thunderous waterfalls and northern lights gazing

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Trip Ref #10219

Adventures / Aurora Hunting

Winter Hiking and Northern Lights Chasing in Iceland

Wrap up warm for a series of spectacular winter hikes, interspersed with hot spring baths, thunderous waterfalls and northern lights gazing

DURATION

4 nights

LOCATION

Iceland

ANNUAL LEAVE

3 days off work

SEASON

Sep-Mar

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Keflavik International Airport, Iceland

ACCOMMODATION

Hostel · Guesthouse

DIFFICULTY

Easy

This trip is open to anyone with basic fitness levels, no previous hiking experience necessary

Hike between tectonic plates, across glaciers, along black sand beaches and through valleys scattered with hot springs

Spend evenings gazing at the northern lights and star-filled skies from your base beside a geothermal lake

Bathe in a multitude of natural hot springs, mud pools, thermal spas and even a hot river!

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Becky, March 2022

    Another great trip from MBA! MBA have been fantastic throughout all the covid disruption with me having to delay and reschedule trips. When I had to finally cancel a long awaited trip due to logistics, it was a no- brainer to book with them onto this one. The local hosts were brilliant at answering my pre trip questions and our guide Solvi made the whole experience one to remember for all the right reasons. He adapted the itinerary to work around the adverse weather conditions and did an amazing job keeping us all safe on the hikes. We even got a bonus hike in to some beautiful waterfalls. This was a really packed full trip taking in lots of the famous sight seeing spots as well the main hiking events. Cant recommend this highly enough as a way to see and learn more about Iceland.

    Philipa, March 2022

    This was a full on trip with a jam packed schedule. Solvi was a fantastic trip leader with a phenomenal knowledge of all things Icelandic.

    David, March 2022

    A great trip, hitting the tourist spots but with some good hiking as well. We had pretty bad weather with heavy snow, rain and strong winds. Our guide was brilliant though, making an extra stop on the first day to take in a sight he expected to be closed due to bad weather the following day and taking us on a really great alternative hike when snow closed the roads.

    Patrick, March 2022

    Great trip with lots of fun and experiences ! Weather set some challenges , but our guide Solvi was brilliant in making changes to suit the conditions and we managed to do everything planned . A great 3 days in a special place . Many Thanks !!

    CALLUM, December 2021

    This trip was amazing. Everyday was incredible. Are guide solvi was brilliant the whole trip clearly love's his job. No northern lights but it was such amazing trip it really didn't matter

    Florence, December 2021

    Really fantastic trip, much better than I expected. Lovely group of people, adventure packed days, lulling icelandic stories on the bus & some brilliant hiking. My favourite part if I had to choose was hiking up to the top of the snow covered mountain and swimming in the thermal spring. The brilliant guide, Solvi, made the trip! We didn't see the northern lights but it didn't matter one bit, I'll just have to come back again.

    80845, December 2021

    Absolutely incredible trip! The trip ran smoothly and the accommodation was comfortable. Our guide Solvi was great and had incredible knowledgable of the history, geography and geology of Iceland. The highlight of the trip was the glacier hike and bathing in the warm river in the Reykjadalur valley. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the northern lights however the trip was packed with activity to make up for it. Overall I would highly recommend this trip.

    Ally, December 2021

    An absolutely phenomenal trip. Iceland exceeded all of my expectations and I have come away with some memories I will treasure forever. Our guide Solvi was truly exceptional, he was incredibly knowledgeable in the history, geography and geology of Iceland and went above and beyond with sharing his clear passion for the country and it's landscape. The glacier hike was an absolute highlight, nothing can compare! Accommodation was comfortable and the food was great. The weather didn't allow for any Northern Light sightings, so I just have a great excuse to go back!

    Emma, December 2021

    Exceptional trip, packed with incredible experiences. Our host Solvi was exceptional and we were a well matched group. High lights of black sand beach and glacier hike will remain with me for ever. We didn’t see the Northern Lights, that would have been another amazing bonus but there was so much to see and take in, it did not effect the trip at all. Accommodation and food were of a high standard (for hostel). Highly recommend this adventure! Great way to celebrate special birthdays for my daughter and myself.

    James, November 2021

    An exciting and nicely challenging trip to an other-worldly environment. Wrap up warm!

    Included

    Guides

    Expert, English-speaking guides

    Accommodation

    3 nights in a hostel in Laugarvatn and 1 night in a cosy Reykjavik guesthouse

    Meals

    4 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners

    Transfers

    Airport transfers from Keflavik Airport to Laugarvatn and from Reykjavik to Keflavik Airport

    Permits

    All permits and entry fees

    Not Included

    Flights to and from the meeting point

    Travel insurance

    Personal expenses

    Some meals as described

    Some equipment

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    Keflavik Airport

    16:00 on Day 1

    Ends

    Keflavik Airport

    Flexible - depart any time on Day 5

    Transfers

    Your host will meet you at Keflavik Airport at 16:00 on Day 1 and transfer you over to your base for the trip at Laugarvatn. If you are already going to be in Reykjavik you can meet up with your host at their base downtown. On day 5 your host will pick you up from your Reykjavik accommodation and transfer you back to Keflavik Airport in time for your onward flight

    Travel options

    There are regular flights to Iceland from airports across the UK, Europe, and North America

    Day 1

    Hostel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2 – Day 3

    Hostel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 4

    Guesthouse · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 5

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    All meals are included in the trip price, except dinner in Reykjavik on the last day where you'll have the chance to explore the excellent choice of restaurants in the city. Breakfasts will consist of porridge, muesli, bread, jam, cheese, ham, tea and coffee. There'll be a range of snacks and sandwich items for you to make a packed lunch on days 2 and 4. This will include various breads with a lot of the usual suspects for fillings: ham, salami, cheese, pâté, peanut butter, Nutella, tomatoes, cucumbers, smoked salmon, hummus and more. We recommend you bring along a lunchbox, to avoid your sandwiches getting squashed on the hikes and to cut down on plastic and foil use. Evening meals are prepared by the guide with a little help from the group, chopping vegetables and doing the dishes. The lunch on day 3 will be at a local country restaurant with options including Atlantic Wolfish in a creamy sauce with rice and vegetables, lasagna, or roast lamb.

    Vegans, vegetarians and most food allergies can be catered for. Please let your host know of any dietary requirements in advance.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Laugarvatn Hostel

    Your base for the adventure is Laugarvatn Hostel, nestled in the small lakeside town of Laugarvatn and perfectly located as a launchpad for the Golden Circle big hitters: Thingvellir, Gullfoss, and Geysir. You'll be staying in twin rooms unless you add-on a private room upgrade, or you may also request a double room. There is a living room, bar area and high-speed internet for whenever you need to rest your neck from watching the northern lights outside.

    Reykjavik

    The last night of your trip will be in Reykjavik at Hotel Leifur Eiríksson, an authentic heritage building set right in the center of Reykjavík. The hotel is on Skólavörðustígur; one of the most sought-after streets in the city and dotted with various galleries and shops. Across the street from the hotel is the iconic church and Reykjavík's most famous landmark, Hallgrímskirkja. Breakfast is included here on your final day of the trip.

    Upgrades

    For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge. See Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

    Day 1

    Welcome to Iceland

    Your host will meet you at the airport, pop you in the van and drive for 90 minutes, through volcanic landscapes and snowcapped peaks, to your accommodation at Laugarvatn - your base for the next 3 nights. Meet up with the rest of your group for a welcome dinner, where your guide will run you through the plan for the next few days. Waste no time later this evening, taking a short hike away from the hostel for your first bout of northern lights hunting.

    Day 2

    Hit the Golden Circle

    Hiking

    2-3hrs · 10km · 200 up · 200 down

    After breakfast, take a short drive to the Thingvellir National Park. You're in for a treat: it's home to some of Iceland's best scenery and most famous geological wonders. Your first hike will take you between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates: literally hiking between two continents! Soak up the beautiful views and learn exactly why Thingvellir is a UNESCO world heritage site. After the hike, you'll set off to explore the other two sites which make up Iceland's famous 'Golden Circle'. First up, the spouting springs of Geysir and later the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Experience some of Iceland's premier tourist attractions, in the relative emptiness of winter, ideal for snatching clear glimpses and great photos of these awesome sights. Head back to the hostel for dinner and spend another evening looking out for the northern lights. You can also visit the geothermal baths of Fontana spa a few minute's walk from your base which can be an amazing place to see the northern lights if they turn up while you are relaxing in the thermal pools.

    Day 3

    Chase waterfalls and glaciers in the south of Iceland

    Hiking

    4-5hrs · 10km · 100m up · 100m down

    Today's adventures are packed full of glaciers, waterfalls and volcanic sand beaches on Iceland's beautiful southern coastline. First up is Sólheimajökull Glacier, where your guide will lead you out on to the glacier itself, hiking with crampons through a frozen wonderland of white, blue and crystal clear ice. You'll get up close and personal with deep crevasses and water cauldrons as you make your way across the glacier. Later on you'll drive a little to the east to visit Reynisfjara, a wild stretch of coastline with volcanic sand beaches and spectacular basalt sea stacks. You'll hike along Black Beach (yes, the sand is black!) to see the spooky plane wreck there. On the way back to Laugarvatn, there are yet more feasts for the eyes as you stop to admire the waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, completing your waterfall trilogy for this part of Iceland.

    Day 4

    Hike to a magical hot spring valley

    Hiking

    3-4hrs · 11km · 300m up · 300m down

    Don't forget to pack your swimmers today! Starting at a village called Hveragerði, you'll hike up the Reykjadalur valley, climbing into the hills and arriving at a magical valley of hot springs, mud pools - and even a warm river to bathe in. Spend some time here picking your favourite spot for a dip and maybe brave a plunge in one of the cold natural pools. Later you'll drive back to Reykjavík to shower away the mud, before heading into town to enjoy a few well-earned drinks and meal in one of the numerous restaurants.

    Day 5

    Time to head home

    Check out of the guesthouse and head back to the airport in time for your flight home. Or use your spare time to explore some more of the land of ice and fire.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    What do I need to bring?

    Bags

    • Overnight duffel bag or suitcase
    • Day bag 20-35 litres
    • Waterproof liner for day bag

    Clothes

    • Hiking boots (worn-in)
    • Casual shoes for evenings
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Waterproof trousers
    • Warm down/synthetic filled jacket
    • Breathable wicking layers
    • Thermal base layers, woollen is best
    • Fleece jacket or similar
    • Buff or neckscarf
    • Warm thermal gloves
    • Thick woollen hat
    • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
    • T-shirts, underwear
    • Thick thermal socks
    • Swimwear (for thermal pools)
    • Sunglasses
    • Something to sleep in
    • Sandals/jelly shoes/beach shoes for thermal pools

    Other

    • Headtorch
    • Universal travel adapter
    • Power bank or solar charger
    • Spare camera batteries
    • Passports (and visas)
    • Travel Insurance documents
    • Earplugs
    • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
    • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
    • Quick-dry towel
    • Alcohol hand-gel
    • Reusable water bottle x1 ltr (2 of these if you have room)

    ###Optional

    • Eye-mask
    • Lunchbox
    • Biodegradable wet-wipes
    • Energy bars and snacks

    Double room in Reykjavik

    Payable Before Departure

    Double room in Reykjavik

    Single room in Reykjavik

    Payable Before Departure

    Single room in Reykjavik

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Private Transfer Keflavik Airport - Reykjavik accommodation (up to 4 people)

    Payable Before Departure

    Private Transfer Keflavik Airport - Reykjavik accommodation (up to 4 people)

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 95kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    For up to date advice on the entry requirements related to COVID-19, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

    The northern lights are a natural phenomenon, with fluctuations in the strength and visibility of the displays. As with all things that depend on mother nature, sightings can never be guaranteed. If there is a thick cloud, the lights will be obscured. That said, winter in this part of Iceland is very dark with long nights and barely any light pollution, so your chances here are up there with anywhere in the world.

    This is a light adventure trip and, while the hikes are frequently dotted throughout the itinerary, they are easy-going and easily managed by anyone with basic fitness. There's a mixture of hiking, sightseeing at some of Iceland's most epic sites, relaxing in hot springs and night-time northern lights viewing

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    Winter in Iceland is cold, but not frighteningly so. The average temperature in the non-mountainous areas and along the coasts is around freezing. Temperatures can exceed 0 °C / 32°F quite often, even in winter, so rain can fall at times instead of snow. You'll likely experience both as part of Iceland's infamously fickle weather. The fringe months of winter, September and March are warmer than October-February. Iceland can occasionally experience brief bouts of colder weather being pushed in from Greenland, which can lower the temperatures to up to -15 °C / 5°F, so come prepared with many layers and a good, warm winter jacket with adequate insulation and both waterproof and windproofing. Days are very short between November and February, with barely any sunlight at all, perfect for northern lights viewing and an otherworldly feel while out on the hikes.

    Each day, you can leave your main bag in your room at the accommodation in Laugarvatn; you'll only take a day bag out with you each day. If you are arriving early and wish to store luggage in Reykjavik before the trip starts, there are four centrally located places in Reykjavik where you can store luggage. Speak to your host about the options, or you can pre-book here.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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