Adventures / Sub Zero

Winter Adventure in the Icelandic Highlands

Discover the basics of Nordic skiing before setting off to explore the remote volcanic landscapes and geothermal wonders of Landmannalaugar

This trip is no longer on sale

Trip Ref #10221

Adventures / Sub Zero

Winter Adventure in the Icelandic Highlands

Discover the basics of Nordic skiing before setting off to explore the remote volcanic landscapes and geothermal wonders of Landmannalaugar

DURATION

6 nights

LOCATION

Iceland

ANNUAL LEAVE

1 week off work

SEASON

Feb-Apr

GROUP SIZE

Up to 12 people

MEETING POINT

Keflavik International Airport, Iceland

ACCOMMODATION

Guesthouse · Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You should be reasonably fit and happy being on the move for 5-6 hours each day. No previous skiing experience is needed.

Learn how to explore and navigate snow-covered landscapes using Nordic skis, before embarking on a unique adventure deep into the Icelandic highlands

Glide through otherwordly volcanic scenes from your mountain hut base, seeing the terrain shift from snow-filled gorges and canyons to craters and lava fields

Soak in geo-thermal hot springs, a stone's throw from your mountain hut and keep a lookout for the spectacular northern lights

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

3 nights in a Reykjavik guesthouse and 3 nights in a cosy mountain refuge

Meals

6 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers to and from Keflavik Airport and everything in between

Permits

All permits and entry fees

Equipment

All your skiing equipment

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

Flexible - arrive any time on Day 1

Ends

Keflavik Airport

Flexible - depart any time on Day 7

Transfers

Your host will pick you up on arrival on Day 1 and transfer you to your accommodation in Reykjavik. On the last day of the trip, your host will 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

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 5

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

All meals are included during your time in Landmannalaugar, while in Reykjavik your breakfasts are included, leaving you to explore the cafes and restaurants for lunch and dinner.

Breakfasts will be porridge, muesli, bread, jam, cheese, ham, plus tea and coffee. For packed lunches, you'll make sandwiches from various ingredients, including Icelandic flatbread, pâté, salami, cheese, peanut butter, and smoked salmon. Snack items include biscuits, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and energy bars. We recommend you pack a lunch box to avoid having squashed sandwiches each day in your backpack! Evening meals at the mountain hut are prepared by the guide with some help from the group. You can expect dishes such as vegetable soups, Atlantic wolffish in a creamy sauce with rice and vegetables, pasta carbonara with bread and salad, grilled lamb, potatoes, vegetables and corn. Desserts can be things like chocolate cake or fresh fruit with Icelandic yoghurt.

Vegans and vegetarians can be accommodated on this trip. Please let your host know in advance.

What is the accommodation like?

Landmanallaugur

In Landmanallaugur you’ll stay in a classic Icelandic mountain hut in mixed, dormitory-style accommodation. The hut has basic amenities, such as furnaces for heating and gas stoves for cooking, and the surrounding scenery is nothing short of epic. There is a thermal pool a few moment's walk from the hut and you'll often be able to view the northern lights from the hut at this time of year.

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 designer 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 in Reykjavik, 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). Private rooms are not available at the mountain hut.

Day 1

Reykjavik

Head to Iceland’s capital Reykjavik. After checking into your guesthouse, set off and explore the city. There is a huge array of quaint bars, cafes, art museums and churches.

Day 2

Introduction to Nordic skiing and soak up Reykjavik

Skiing

3hrs

Today is your adventure ski school! You'll head to a ski area, a short drive outside Reykjavik, for a training session on Nordic skiing. Your trainer will teach you how to steer, brake and keep your balance while moving across the snow. Expect plenty of fun and laughter as you get used to your new mode of transport, while learning everything you'll need to take with you into the highlands tomorrow. Later on, you'll have some free time to explore Reykjavik and soak up the last bits of civilisation that you'll see for a few days.

Day 3

Head for the highlands

Driving

3hrs

Skiing

6hrs · 23km · 100m up · 100m down

An early start today as you jump into a 4x4 for the spectacular journey deep into Iceland's interior. After 3 hours of winding roads through remote lava fields and snowcapped hills, the dirt road comes to an end. With your mountain hut base still 23 km away, you'll continue the journey on skis. Ski through lava fields and up over the Hnausar pass, rewarding you with a long, gradual and easy descent to the lake Frostastaðavatn and on to your mountain hut base in the heart of Landmannalaugar. After your epic journey to the base, you can celebrate with a dip in the thermal pools and spend the evening looking out for the northern lights.

Day 4

Explore Ljótipollur crater

Skiing

5hrs · 18km · 200m up · 200m down

Wake up in the otherworldly, snow-covered volcanic landscape and spend the day exploring Ljótipollur: an enormous crater, made by a series of enormous eruptions more than 600 years ago. Home to an impressive lake and steep, rocky walls of black and red - you'll get a glimpse of these deep colours through the blanket of snow. Your loop continues on to the mountain Kirkjufell, before heading back to the hut for a well-earned drink and another evening of thermal bathing and night sky displays.

Day 5

Stórihver hot springs and the ice caves of Hrafntinnusker

Skiing

6hrs · 24km · 550m up · 550m down

After a big mountain hut breakfast, you'll get your ski gear on ready for a light ascent through the hills of Brennisteinsalda, passing a series of steam vents on the brow of the hill to reach the hot springs of Stórihver. Here, the serene and silent landscape is split by a bewildering roar. The noise comes from a vast opening that sends out huge plumes of vapour. Sadly there is no bathing at the Stórihver hot springs, as the water is boiling hot. If the weather allows, you'll continue further on skis to the ice caves of Hrafntinnusker, arcing around the mountain to reach a small hut at an altitude of almost 1100m. From there, enjoy another easy descent back to your base for - you guessed it - hot spring baths and the celestial disco overhead.

Day 6

Ski and 4x4 back to Reykjavik

Skiing

6hrs · 23km · 100m up · 100m down

Driving

3hrs

Say goodbye to the Landmannalaugar hut as you strap on your skis for the final time, heading north through the lava fields of Dómadalur towards lake Eskihlíðarvatn. From there you'll make it back to the road at Sigalda, where a 4x4 is waiting to take you back to Reykjavík. You'll arrive back at the capital in the late afternoon, ready for a celebratory beer or two.

Day 7

Goodbye Iceland

Time to bid Iceland farewell as you are picked up at your accommodation for the short trip to Keflavik Airport, in time for your onward flight.

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.

Which pieces of kit are included in the trip cost?

  • Nordic skis
  • Skins
  • Ski poles
  • Ski boots

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Main overnight bag
  • Smaller daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liners

Clothes

  • Hooded mountain jacket - windproof, ideally waterproof and breathable
  • Mountain trousers - windproof, ideally waterproof and breathable
  • Good-quality down jacket
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Good quality thermal baselayers for extreme cold. Wool is best, especially merino
  • Balaclava, face mask or buff for protection against cold & wind
  • Thick & warm hat x 2
  • Pair of windproof mittens
  • Pair of warm woollen mittens (to be used underneath the wind mittens)
  • Pair of warm, thick gloves (with fingers)
  • Snow/ski goggles
  • Underwear
  • Thermal mountain socks with heavy insulation
  • Swimwear (for thermal pools)
  • Something to sleep in while in Reykjavik
  • Sturdy footwear for when moving around close to the hut
  • Sandals/jelly shoes for the thermal pools

Sleeping

  • Sleeping bag, season 3-4

Other

  • Sunglasses
  • Eyemask
  • Thermos flask/bottle
  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Energy bars and snacks
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (including blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre (two if you have room)
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks

Sleeping bag hire

Payable Before Departure

Sleeping bag hire

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 126kg 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 skis you will use are Nordic backcountry skis, the original skis used for winter travel in Scandinavia. They are comfortable for long days of walking: stable and wide; with comfy, warm and sturdy boots. Using Nordic skis is a wonderful way to get out into the wild in winter and experience vast empty landscapes - and of course a huge amount of snow!

Nordic skis and boots are much lighter and less bulky than their normal, downhill equivalents and the heel is 'free'. The light equipment and free-heel allow skiers to stretch forwards and forward glide on skis, even when going uphill or traversing flat land (when you are essentially hiking with skis on). You can choose your effort level just like walking versus jogging or running. You will learn the ropes before the expedition - balance can take a bit of mastering, as well as getting down any small descents you'll encounter. Your guide will ensure you are comfortable on your skis before heading out on the expedition. Previous skiing experience won't make a huge amount of difference as this is an entirely different way to move across snow in the winter.

Landmannalaugar, roughly translated as 'The People's Pools', is a huge area of natural beauty in the heart of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in Iceland's southern highlands. During summertime, Landmannalaugur is one of Iceland's most popular places for hiking - our Trek the Laugavegur Trail trip runs right through this region. Visiting here in winter is an incomparable experience; the landscape looks totally different and the visitor numbers are minuscule compared to the summer months, making for a surreal and magical time to visit this part of Iceland. The region's famous thermal pools are even more of a treat in winter time, sit in blissfully warm water with heavy snow a stone's throw away.

This trip is designed for those with no previous skiing experience - you should, however, have a good level of fitness and enjoy being in vast winter landscapes and conditions. You will be provided with full tuition on how to ski and should approach this adventure in the same way as you would a long hike. The skis are essentially just your mode of transport to cross the highlands. The downhill sections are gradual and easily manageable and bear in mind if you feel uncomfortable on these small sections, you can always remove your skis and walk down.

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

Landmannalaugar is a remote inland area at an average of 600 m above sea level, so it is colder here than in other parts of Iceland during winter. Average temperatures in this region between February and April are lows of -10°C / 14°F and highs of -3°C / 27°F. You'll need to prepare for a cold expedition, however the mountain hut and adjacent thermal pools will give you plenty of warm and comfortable moments of relaxation before and after each time you venture out to explore the region.

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. Your main luggage will be taken to the mountain hut in Landmanallaugur which is your base for 3 nights, so you'll only need to carry a day pack on each day of skiing.

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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