Hiking at the End of the World | Five-Day Trek in North East Iceland
Witness the beauty of North East Iceland on this five-day trek. If you love hiking, wish to avoid the crowds, and seek a unique experience that combines both natural and historical sites, then this is the tour for you.
This tour begins at Egilsstaðir airport; you can reach it by car, or else add a flight from Reykjavík during booking for an additional cost. Once the group is gathered, you will head to Borgarfjörður Eystri to start hiking the pass here.
This route leads you to a beautiful enclave below the Dyrfjöll Mountains, called Stórurð, where you will enjoy lunch before heading on north. Once you reach the ancient farm of Njarðvík, regularly referenced in the Icelandic Sagas, you will be transferred to the nearby village of Bakkagerði, for dinner and rest.
The next day will start with a hike to a hidden cove called Brúnavík, where you can admire the lapping waves of the ocean in peaceful solitude. Following this, you will head over the pass of Súluskarð, for spectacular views of the surrounding hills and mountains; the diversity of scenery and vivid colours make this a fantastic spot for photography. You will then descend to two more deserted, beautiful little inlets, firstly Kjólsvík, then Breiðvík.
The third day will take you inland a little, out of the vividly coloured Breiðavík valley, and to the mountain of Hvítserkur. Weather permitting, you will ascend this stunning peak, to attain some magnificent views. Your descent will take you to another inlet, Húsavík, where a mountain hut awaits. In the evening, you can visit a historic, but now abandoned, church, or take a serene walk along the nearby beach.
For day four, you will hike through a valley to the site of an ancient rockslide, in which an enormous mountain almost collapsed in its entirety, inspiring folklore in the area. This area, Loðmundarskriður, is surrounded by beautiful peaks and desolate nature. Close to here is where you will be spending the night, at the stunning fjord Loðmundarfjörður. There is another old, abandoned church worth a visit in this area.
On your fifth and final day, you will traverse the same path of historic Icelanders as they made their way from the farms of Loðmundarfjörður to the trading harbour of Seyðisfjörður. Ascending the mountains here will provide you with unbelievable views of the fjords to your south, and as you come over the crest of the peaks, the fjord of Seyðisfjörður will come into view. The descent is awe-inspiring, as you admire the mountains that tower over the narrow water and little town.
Once you reach the main road, you will find a bus waiting to take you back to Egilsstaðir airport, where those from Reykjavík can jump on their flight back to the capital.
Do not miss this opportunity to see some of the most beautiful and lesser-known natural and historical sites in Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Jun. - Aug.
- Duration: 5 days
- Activities: Hiking, Cultural Activity
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum age: 16 years old
- Languages: English, German, French
Stretching from the wide Eastfjords mountain range, set with many small fjords, through the fertile Fljotsdalsherad district and towards the highlands, East Iceland is a vast area of incredible nature, striking contrasts and fascinating history and culture.
East Iceland is characterised by a large number of fjords, surrounded by high villages. Fishing villages can be found by most of them.
From Seydisfjordur a ferryboat goes to Scandinavia, and the town also hosts the popular annual festival LungA. Neskaupsstadur features two highly popular annual festivals, Neistaflug and Eistnaflug, as well as being the home to a highly interesting museum and close to fascinating nature.
The main airport of East Iceland is in Egilsstadir, the largest town of the East and its main centre for service, transport and administration.
Further inland is the fertile agricultural district Fljotsdalsherad (see the link above). Natural birchwoods are in the area, the most famous being Hallormsstadaskogur, the largest forest in Iceland. Big rivers run through the district and by their estuaries many seals may be found.
Up in the mountains is also the Karahnjukar Hydroelectric Power Station, the construction of which led to hot debates and continues to do so. The station serves the aluminium smelter by Reydarfjordur.
The impressive mountain Snaefell is close by, Iceland's highest freestanding mountain. East of Snaefell is the highland oasis Eyjabakkar, one of the largest nesting place for the pink footed goose in the world.
Of particular cultural note in Fljotsdalsherad is the cultural and history center Skriduklaustur. In the middle ages a monastery stood there, and in the 20th century, Icelandic author Gunnar Gunnarsson lived there. Gunnar wrote such masterworks as Adventa (e. The Good Shepherd), Svartfugl (The Black Cliffs), Saga Borgaraettarinnar (Guest the One-Eyed, made into the Danish film Borgslægtens history in 1919) and the autobiographical novel cycle Fjallkirkjan ('The Church on the Mountain' published in English as Ships in the Sky and The Night and the Dream).
Other notable attractions of the beautiful Fljotadalsherad district, of which there are many, are listed under the Egilsstadir section.
Reindeer roam the mountains of East Iceland and a large number of migratory birds land near Hofn in Hornafjordur, in the Southeast, on their way from Skotland, returning back to Scotland in late summer.
Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier stretches to the boarders of East Iceland.
Borgarfjordur is a fjord and a district in south western Iceland, by Faxafloi bay. It takes its name from the farm of viking and poet Egill Skallagrimsson, of Egil’s Saga fame.
Economy, History & Culture
Several farms and townships are in the fjord, the largest rural area being the town Borgarnes (population around 1763 people), a commerce and service center for a large part of the southwest. Of particular note for travelers are the Settlement Center and the Centre for Puppet Art.
At Hvanneyri there is an Agricultural University and a Technical museum shows the developing of Icelandic farming. The same latter building has an interesting handicraft center.
Reykholt is one of the most historically important places in the country and hosts a center for medeval studies, Snorrastofa. Snorrastofa is named after writer and chieftain Snorri Sturluson, author of Snorra-Edda and Heimskringla. Snorri's Edda is the main source we have about the olden northern gods and the history of Scandinavia. Among the many who have found inspiration in it are author J.R.R. Tolkien (most famous for The Lord of the Rings) and composer Richard Wagner with his four operas collectively named Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Hvita river runs through the fjord, but should not be confused with the popular rarfting river of the same name in Arnessysla. The mountains of the district are highly scenic and varied, lending further beauty to the area. Many rare minreals have been found here. The district also has some of the best salmon rivers in Iceland. The horseriding culture is particularly strong and many riding tours available for travelers.
Natural attractions further include the Hraunfossar waterfalls, streaming out of Hallmundarhraun lava over a distance of about 900 m into Hvita river. In the same lava field is Surtshellir, the most famous and longest lava cave in Iceland. Its innermost part is called ‘The Ice Cave’. There the ceiling is lower and remarkabe ice formations, ice candles and columns may be sighted. In Reykholtsdalur is Europe's highest-flowing hot spring, Deildartunguhver.
Egilsstadir is the largest town in East Iceland, with a population of 2257 people as of 2011. It is located on the banks of the river Lagarfljot in the wide valley of the fertile Fljotsdalsherad district.
Egilsstadir is the main center for service, transportation and administration in East Iceland.
The town provides all basic services and features an airport, a college and a health center. Egilsstadir also has an annual jazz festival that we can recommend. The town is furthermore close to many of East Iceland's and indeed Iceland's main attractions and as a center of the area, many East Iceland tours are directed from there.
The area of Fljotsdalsherad has many notable points of interest, whether natural, historical or cultural. Click here for further information about those.
Borgarfjordur eystri is a fjord of about 130 people, located in East Iceland. It's main settlement is Bakkagerdi. The area is renowned for its natural beauty.
Sheep farming, fishing and fish work is the Bakkagerdi's main economy, as well as tourism, though this is only during the summer months.
Hiking is highly popular in the area and many great routes are available. The mountain ring is particularly attractive. South of the fjord rhyolite mountains dominate, but at the bottom of the fjord and to the north the mountains are of basalt. Birdwatching is also popular, as many puffins nest in the area. Elves are also said to reside there.
Johannes Kjarval, one of Iceland's greatest painters, grew up in the area and the town has a great exhibition of his work. For further artwork by Kjarval, we recommend Kjarvalssafn museum in Reykjavik. The altarpiece of Bakkagerdi church was also made by Kjarval.
Since 2005 the annual Braedslan music festival has been celebrated at Borgarfjordur Eystri in June, in an old herring factory. In 2010 the festival got the Eyrarros award for outstanding cultural achievement in the countryside. Notable musicans who've played there include Of Monsters and Men, Belle & Sebastian, Mugison, Emiliana Torrini and Damien Rice.
Seyðisfjörður is a town and municipality in the eastern region of Iceland, tucked into the most inner corner of the fjord that shares its name. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains and waterfalls, the most prominent natural landmarks are Mt. Bjólfur (1085m) to the west and Strandartindur (1010m) to the east, both of which are a part of Iceland’s seven peak hike.
The settlement of Seyðisfjörður began to develop into a trading centre in 1848 when townspeople found their wealth in “the silver of the sea” - herring. The long protective fjord gave the fisherman in Seyðisfjörður an advantage over their neighbours, leading it to grow into one of the most prosperous towns in East Iceland. The unique, multi-coloured wooden buildings that make Seyðisfjörður so recognisable were built in this period by Norwegian merchants and whalers. The ruins of their whaling operation at Vestdalseyri can still be visited along the Seyðisfjörður coast.
In more recent times, Seyðisfjörður was a base for Allied forces during the Second World War. The one attack recorded off Iceland occurred on the British oil tanker, the El Grillo (“The Cricket”), which was at anchor in the fjord. After being heavily bombarded by German fighters stationed in Norway, the El Grillo’s captain made the decision to scuttle the ship. The El Grillo was sunk without loss of life and now rests at the bottom of the fjord. The wreck is now a popular sight amongst scuba divers.
Seyðisfjörður’s steep-sided valleys make the town prone to avalanches. An avalanche in 1885 killed 24 people, making it the worst avalanche tragedy in the young country’s history. A memorial for the dead now stands in the town, constructed from the beams of a destroyed factory. More recently, in 1996, an avalanche crushed another local factory. Thankfully, no one was injured. Avalanche dams, some as high as 20m, have since been constructed around the town.
17km east of Seyðisfjörður is the Skálanes Nature and Heritage Centre, a hub for scientific and conservationist exploration. The reserve, covering over 1200 hectares, is known for its diverse wildlife, boasting 47 species of birds, 4 species of Icelandic mammal and over 150 species of plant life. The diverse range of habitats covered by the reserve—freshwater wetlands, intertidal, cliffs, meadows—have attracted researchers from overseas, making Skálanes the perfect example of international and academic cooperation. Developments from Skálanes have been made in such far-reaching disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, linguistics and environmental conservation, to name only a handful.
Hvítserkur, sometimes referred to as the “Troll of North-West Iceland”, is a 15m (49ft) basalt stack protruding from Húnaflói bay, along the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula. Hvítserkur gets its name from the birdlife nesting atop it. In Icelandic, the name translates to “white shirt”, a nod to the colour of the bird droppings that cover the rock.
It should come as no surprise that Hvítserkur is often referred to as a troll. Folklore implies that Hvítserkur was originally a troll determined to rip the bells down from Þingeyraklaustur convent, an apparent allusion to the people’s stoic resistance to the Christianisation of Iceland. However, as goes the story, the troll paralysed by walking out under sunlight and quickly turned to stone. The Hvítserkur stack is all that remains.
The scientific community has another explanation. Erosion from the cascading sea water has carved three large holes through the basalt rock, sculpting and shaping it into what appears as some petrified, mythological animal. The base of the stack has been reinforced with concrete to protect its foundations from the sea, but this has not stopped visitors’ interpreting the rock’s peculiar shape. Some say Hvítserkur looks like an elephant, others a rhino. Some onlookers have gone as far as to claim the rock appears as a “dinosaur drinking.” Whatever the case, the rock is a nesting ground for seagulls, shag and fulmar, making it appear constantly in motion, further enforcing the idea that Hvítserkur is, in some way, very much alive.
To the south, visitors to Hvítserkur can detour toward Sigríðarstaðir, a location reputable for viewing seal colonies. Hvítserkur is also only a short drive from the historical and quintessential Súluvellir farm, a location that boasts incredible views of the surrounding landscape.
Starting time : 07:30
Sleeping bag accommodation
Transfer of luggage
Transfer from accommodation to Reykjavík Airport (can be added during booking)
Flights from and to Reykjavík (can be added during booking)
What to bring:
Day 1 - Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir, Egilsstaðir to Borgarfjörður Eystri
Your first day will officially start when you meet your group at Egilsstaðir airport. If you cannot get there yourself, you can add a flight from Reykjavík Domestic Airport in the early morning, and, if you require, pick-up to said airport for an additional charge.
You will be driven to Borgafjörður Eystri to begin your hike. You will head to an oasis in the Dyrfjöll mountain range called Stórurð, where you will lunch amongst some beautiful scenery, before continuing to trek north along said mountains.
Near Njarðvík, you will be picked up and taken to the charming little settlement of Bakkagerði; here, you will have dinner and find your accommodation.
Day 2 - Borgarfjörður Eystri to Breiðavík
The third day will consist of hikes to three remote inlets. The first of these is Brúnavík, a peaceful spot where you can watch the North Atlantic waves come rolling in.
You will then trek up the pass of Súluskarð, the views from which are spectacular and vividly colourful. You then descend to the little cove of Kjólsvík and have a chance to admire its beauty, before continuing along the pass of Kjólsvíkurvarp. This will take you to the largest of these inlets, Breiðvík.
You will spend the night beside this picturesque beach.
Day 3 - Breiðavík to Húsavík
You will start today by hiking up and out of the valley of Breiðavík, towards the mountain Hvítserkur. If the weather allows, you will ascend this peak.
The views from up here are spectacular, granting you a beautiful panoramic of the surrounding area. Once this has been fully appreciated, you will descend a narrow valley to another quiet cove, this one called Húsavík. Your cabin is waiting for you here.
If you have the energy after the hike, you can use your evening to take a stroll along the beach. There is also a historic, quaint church nearby that is worth a visit.
Day 4 - Húsavík to Loðmundarfjörður
On day four, you will leave Húsavík, to the valley of the Loðmundarfjörður fjord.
Throughout this hike, you will be surrounded by dramatic mountain peaks. Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is the site where a mountain collapsed, called Loðmundarskriður. Though it has been this way for thousands of years, the enormity of such an event still clearly marks the landscape.
You will reach the bottom of this fjord by evening, and find the cabin you will be staying at. Like the previous night, you can have a wander through this area to another historic, abandoned church.
Day 5 - Loðmundarfjörður to Seyðisfjörður
For the final day of this excursion, you will follow a path called Hjálmárdalsheiði, which for centuries connected the rural Loðmundarfjörður to the harbour town of Seyðisfjörður.
Each ascent through this mountainous region will reward you with stunning views of the fjords to the south. The final fjord that you come to, however, is very distinctive when compared to the others; it is narrower and surrounded by steeper, more dramatic peaks.
You will descend towards Seyðisfjörður, but will not need to hike all the way there. Once you reach the main road, you will find your bus, which will whisk you back to Egilsstaðir, in time for an evening return flight to Reykjavík.