The Complete Volcanic Trails | Guided 9-Day Hiking Excursion in the Highlands

The Complete Volcanic Trails | Guided 9-Day Hiking Excursion in the Highlands
The summer sun casting its rays on the diverse landscapes of the remote and unspoilt Highlands of Iceland.
When hiking through the Highlands of Iceland, trekkers must often cross rivers to make their way across the unpaved landscape.
Delicate pink mountain flowers in front of a roaring waterfall in the Highlands of Iceland.
Trekking by foot through the Icelandic Highlands means coming across majestic lone mountains amidst lush fields of lava and moss.
The geothermal activity of Landmannalaugar is what gives the region its name, translating to Pools of the Country Men.
Even in summer, patches of snow still blanket the colourful hills of the central Icelandic Highlands.

Come along on an extraordinary trekking tour of one of Iceland’s most amazing areas on this nine-day hiking adventure in the central Highlands. If you want to experience first hand the likes of fissure zones, hot springs and unspoilt volcanic terrain, this is the excursion for you. 

Your adventure begins in Reykjavík City, where a bus will pick you up and whisk you away from civilisation, through rugged mountain roads to your first destination of Mt. Sveinstindur. After a day hiking to renowned attractions such as Vatnajökull Glacier and Langisjór Lake, you’ll spend the night at a traditional mountain hut. 

The next eight days will see you traversing the incredible landscapes of the Highlands, where you will witness vast lava fields coated with blankets of soft moss, powerful of glacial rivers, stunning mountainscapes and tranquil lakes of magical allure. 

Your heavy luggage will be transported from hut to hut, as your itinerary will take you to Eldgjá Canyon, the black sand plain of Mýrdalssandur, the mystical landscape of Hvanngil Valley, the ethereal Álftavatn Lake and natural hot pool Strútslaug, just to name a few. 

All your hiking will be done in the company of a certified local guide, who will reveal to you the stunning backroad landscapes of the Highlands. Food and board are included, making this journey the ideal choice for any travelling hikers who wish to have a bona fide trekking experience in the land of ice and fire. 

Book this excursion now and secure your spot on one of the most comprehensive hiking tours available for exploring the world-renowned Highlands of Iceland. You don’t want to miss out on this incredible opportunity. Check availability by choosing a date. 


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Activities: Hiking, Sightseeing, Hot Spring Bathing
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Minimum age: 16 years.
  • Languages: English
  • Highlights: Highlands, Langisjór, Vatnajökull, Eldgjá, Landmannalaugar, Katla, Mýrdalsjökull, Strútslaug, Álftavatn, Laugavegur Hiking Trail, Fjallabak, Myrdalssandur, Sveinstindur, Torfajökull, Stórasúla
Pickup information:
    BSI Bus terminal

    Meeting time is at 07:30 at BSI Bus terminal

    Included:
    • Experienced and qualified guide

    • Mountain hut sleeping bag accommodation in dormitories

    • Transport at the beginning and end of trek

    • Breakfast (8), Lunch (9), Dinner (8)

    • Transfer of luggage

    • Showers in huts (payable on site)

    • Sleeping bag (available for rent upon request)


    What to bring:
    • Sturdy Hiking Boots - waterproof with good ankle support

    • Thermal underwear, light fleece/wool layers

    • Soft-shell trousers or similar

    • Waterproof jacket and trousers

    • Gloves, hats, warm socks

    • Duffel bag for your overnight gear

    • Backpack for spare clothes and extra food during the days

    • River crossing shoes (sturdy sandals or old trainers)

    • Light sleeping bag

    • Swimsuit and towel

    • Sunglasses and sun protection

    • Water container and/or thermos flask

    • Personal first aid kit

    • Toiletries

    • Walking pole, camera, dry bag (optional)


    Good to know:

    The huts at days 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 have shower facilities available for 500 ISK. You can only pay with cash.



    Daily itinerary

    Day 1 - Sveinstindur Explorer's Peak


    The incredibly diverse landscapes of the central Icelandic Highlands include lakes, mountains, rivers and sand plains.


    You’ll meet up with your guide and the rest of your travelling companions at the BSÍ bus terminal in the morning. Setting out from Reykjavík, you’ll make your way along mountain roads to reach the foot of Mt. Sveinstindur.

    Your first hike will be up to the peak of this beautiful mountain, where a view of the country’s largest ice cap Vatnajökull will reveal itself to you, as well as the vast and scenic Langisjór Lake, a true gem of the Highlands.

    Descending the mountain on the other side, you will arrive at a rustic mountain hut where you will get out your sleeping bag and spend the first night.


    Day 2 - Black Lava Fields of Skaelingar


    The Icelandic Highlands landscapes might seem rough and ragged, but look closer and find delicate mountain flowers.


    On day two of your journey, you will follow the bank of Skaftá River, passing its rapids and waterfalls until arriving at the small but impressive canyon of Hvanngil. The landscapes here are truly volcanic, where black lava meets with green moss and eerie rock formations.

    At the end of the day, you’ll arrive in the terrain known as Skælingar, a mystical and ancient city of lava resting by a beautiful riverbed. After enjoying dinner with your newfound friends, you’ll spend the night at a hut in the Skælingar area.


    Day 3 - Canyon of Fire


    Group arriving at Elgjá Canyon


    On day three after packing up, you’ll begin hiking to what the locals call the canyon of fire, Eldgjá. The descent into the canyon will be a leisurely one, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the extent of the wonders at hand and take amazing photographs.

    Part of the same volcanic system as Katla, Eldgjá is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, boasting a width of 600 metres (2000 feet). After having explored the many marvels of the canyon, including the waterfall Ófærufoss, you will continue to the huts at Hólaskjól where you will spend the night.


    Day 4 - Serene Lakes of Alftavotn


    Renovated mountain huts provide shelter and accommodation for hikers trekking through the Highlands of Iceland.


    Today, you will be heading to the lakes of Álftavötn, hiking through lush green hills following the cascade of Syðri Ófæra River. The sceneries at hand are incredibly serene, making this a great spot to recharge for the second part of your trail.

    Exploring the breadth of this beautiful scenery, expect to see far-reaching lakes of blue mirroring the skies above, contrasted by green fields and majestic mountainscapes. At the end of the day, you’ll spend the night at a hut in the Álftavötn area.


    Day 5 - Hot Spring Bathing


    Strútslaug is a beloved natural hot pool next to a glacial river in the Highlands of Iceland.


    On day five, you will continue further along the Syðri Ófæra River to once more cross the Eldgjá Canyon. Watch the landscape transform from meadows of green to stretches of black sand, as you make your way down the Highland trail of Strútur.

    Along your route, you will be visiting the geothermal hot pool Strútslaug, where you can get out your bathing suit to soak in this natural hot tub, recharging your batteries for the days remaining. After having warmed up in the spring, you’ll conclude the day’s march by making your way to the hut at Strútur, where you will spend the night.


    Day 6 - Myrdalssandur Black Sand Plain


    Wading rivers is an essential experience for hikers trekking through the Highlands of Iceland.


    Today, you’ll find yourself waking up at the comfortable Strútur hut, where you can make use of the modern facilities before packing up and continuing your hiking adventure. Get your river crossing shoes ready, as today will see you wade the rivers of a black volcanic sand plain.

    The outwash plain of Mýrdalssandur connects to the South Coast of Iceland, consisting of a barren landscape shaped by a running glacier due to a colossal historical eruption of Mt. Katla. The post-apocalyptic allure of this land is nothing less than striking.

    Your day will conclude with you arriving at the valley of Hvanngil, where the landscape transforms yet again, perfectly showcasing the diversity of Iceland. You’ll spend the night at another modern hut in the area of Hvanngil.


    Day 7 - From Hvanngil to Swan Lake


    Standing on top of the world, looking over the incredible unspoilt terrain that is the Highlands of Iceland.


    A week into your journey, get ready for one of the highlights of the Highlands, as you’ll explore the side trails of the famous Laugavegur hiking trail. The wide variety of landscapes belonging to this incredible path include hot springs, glacial valleys and rhyolite mountains, so a good idea would be to charge your camera at the hut beforehand, for all the amazing photo opportunities of today’s hike.

    You’ll proceed along the river to Kaldaklofskvísl to arrive at Álftavatn, also known as Swan Lake. You will have ample time to explore the area surrounding this beautiful lake, before locating your hut and turning in for the evening.


    Day 8 - Fjallabak Nature Reserve


    Hiking the rusty backroads of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, part of the central Icelandic Highlands.


    On day eight, you will be hiking west along the backroads of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, to arrive at the vibrant and colourful hills of Ljósártungur. Here, the water trickles down from the Highlands, creating countless streams and rivers for you to cross.

    At the end of this incredible day, you’ll wade across the river of Markarfljót to arrive ad Dalakofinn, your hut for the night.


    Day 9 - Landmannalaugar & Back to Reykjavik


    Mystic steam rising in the geothermal Landmannalaugar region in the Highlands of Iceland.


    On your last day, you will make your way to the Highland oasis that is Landmannalaugar. Passing the obsidian lava field of Hrafntinnuhraun, you’ll hike through the geothermal area of Dalamót before descending into the dramatic canyons of Vondugil.

    Once you arrive at Landmannalaugar, your hiking itinerary is over, leaving you time to explore this fantastical area on your own, or simply soak in the geothermal hot springs that gave this region its name.

    Finally, you’ll catch a late bus back to Reykjavík City, where you will arrive in the evening, no doubt still reeling from your hiking adventure. Join this tour now and see the best of which the Highlands of Iceland have to offer. Check availability by choosing a date.


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