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Trekking Iceland's Southern Mountains

A 5-Day trek from the Laki to Nupstadarskogar in Vatnajokull National Park, complete with river crossings, glacier walking and hot springs.

The Laki volcanic area and Vatnajokull National Park are among the most beautiful and remote wildernesses in Iceland. Passing through landscapes packed with glaciers, craters, and valleys, this trek provides a challenging and in-depth experience in Iceland’s highlands. You’ll wade rivers, cross glaciers and negotiate lava fields on your way from Laki to Nupstadarskogar. Your hassle-free trip includes:

  • 5 days trekking in Laki and Vatnajokull
  • Round trip transportation from Reykjavik
  • Professional, experienced, English-speaking guide
  • All meals
  • Camping equipment (tents, sleeping pads, cooking equipment)
  • Glacier walking equipment
  • All taxes and fees

Perfect for:
This trip is perfect for nature lovers with a very good level of fitness who want to explore Iceland’s remote wilderness on foot with an experienced guide to lead the way.

  • Camping
  • —Reykjavík > Reykjavík
  • Activity Type
    • Walk/trek from place to place, with a guide
  • Groups up to 12

Service

Day 1: Reykjavik to Eldhraun

Meet your guide in Reykjavik at 7:00 AM to review your equipment before driving 5 hours to the Laki volcanic area.

Laki is infamous as the site of the 1783 volcanic eruption that cooled the global temperature, leading to worldwide famine.

From the Seljaland farm in Laki you’ll trek along the thunderous Hverfisfljot River to the Eldhraun lava field, before camping by the waterfalls.

5 hours driving, 5 -7 hours walking

Day 2: Eldhraun to Sidujokull glacier

After breakfast you’ll continue your walk along the Hverfisfljot River, traveling beside the Sidujokull glacier. You’ll pass through the red craters of Raudholar, and enter the stark Fossahraun glacial desert where you’ll cross several glacial rivers by foot. That night you’ll camp on a moraine by the glacier.

8 - 9 hours walking

Day 3: Sidujokull glacier to Beinadalur

The nearby Djupa River is too large to ford, so you’ll avoid it by crossing the Sidujokull glacier itself. Your guides will choose the safest paths to follow, where you’ll get to see all sorts of beautiful glacial features like cauldrons, crevasses and water-sculpted ice formations.

Continue your trek past the Eldgigur crater, crossing several rivers on the way, and finish the day in Beinadalur, the “Valley of Bones”.

6 - 8 hours walking

Day 4: Beinadalur to Slettur

Your route veers south to leave Beinadalur and visit the natural thermal pools of Mid-Bergvatnsa for a relaxing soak.

From there you’ll follow the Nupsa River into Beinatangi, “Bone Hills”, an eerie place dotted with the skeletons of sheep killed by storms.

The day’s trek will end in the grassy flatlands of Slettur.

8 - 9 hours walking

Day 5: Beinadalur to Nupstadarskogur to Reykjavik

Your trek will finish with a scenic walk into Nupstadarskogur accompanied by views of the Sulutindar Mountains and sharp Sula Peak in the distance. You’ll descend a scree field into river gorges, and follow the river into a birch forest.

A jeep will meet you where Nupsa and Sula Rivers merge. You’ll arrive back in Reykjavik in the early evening.

6 - 7 hours walking, 5 hours driving

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, weather conditions and forecasts, special events, etc.

Accommodation

You will camp in the Icelandic wilderness, remote from any facilities. Tents sleep 2 people.

Location

Iceland is a small but diverse island nation straddling the Arctic Circle. With just over 330,000 inhabitants, Iceland has a smaller population than most European cities. Almost two-thirds of the population live in and around Reykjavik, leaving the rest of the country very sparsely populated.

The Laki volcanic area is a system of fissures in the south of Iceland. For 8 months from 1783 to 1784, the Laki system erupted, producing a 600km2 lava field, and enough emissions to cool the global temperature. The cooling led to worldwide crop failure and the deaths of 6 million people. Today it’s a stark and humbling landscape of lava fields and colorful craters.

On the south coast, Vatnajokull National Park is home to a wide variety of landscapes. From barren lava fields and large expanses of desert-like wasteland to lush valleys filled with wildflowers and flowing with clear streams, every day spent in the park is sure to fascinate. The area’s outstanding feature is the enormous Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest in Europe, covering 8100km2 and rising to over 2000m. It looms above the coast, sending ice and water rushing down to the sea.

Start point?
You will meet your guide at the Grayline office in Reykjavik at 7:00 AM. They will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Finish point?
You will be dropped off at the Grayline office in Reykjavik. Your host will be in touch before the trip to finalise details.

Getting there and away?
Iceland’s international airport is located in Keflavik, about 45 minutes west of Reykjavik. Direct flights between mainland Europe and Iceland are frequent throughout the year. Taxis, shuttlesm and buses are available to take you between the airport and Reykjavik.

F.A.Q.

What extra costs are there?

The following are not included in the tour price:

  • Flights to and from Iceland
  • Accommodation before and after the tour
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for your guides
  • Breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on Day 5

How fit do I need to be?

Due to the long, back-to-back days of trekking with a full pack, a very good level of fitness is required. Participants should have experience hiking with a full pack, and be comfortable walking as much as 20 km in a day over rough terrain.

Can I book on my own?

Sure can! A lot of people do, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

How big will the group be?

This trip is guaranteed to run, max groups size is 12.

Is there a minimum age?

Yes, participants need to be 18+ to take part.

What’s the weather like?

Despite the country’s name, summers in Iceland are surprisingly temperate courtesy of the warm North Atlantic and Gulf Stream currents. Temperatures in Reykjavik and along the coasts and lowlands average 3 to 14 °C through the summer. Weather conditions can be very changeable, though, so prepare to for all conditions every day, including wind and rain. Days are long, and though you can’t see the true “midnight sun” from mainland Iceland, there’s continuous daylight for two weeks in midsummer.

What’s the food like?

Icelandic food is largely based on seafood, lamb and dairy, though locally produced vegetable are becoming more common. Favorite dishes include roasted lamb, salmon fillets, skyr (yogurt), blueberries, bread and pastries, and the very popular hot dog.

Can my dietary restrictions be accommodated?

Absolutely! Just let us know when you book.

What should I pack?

In Iceland, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing! Bring plenty of warm and waterproof layers, sturdy and warm hiking boots, gloves, hat, sunglasses, a sleeping bag, a water bottle, and a 50 - 70L backpack to carry your gear and a portion of the communal gear. Your host will contact you with a complete packing list.