In the Shadow of Vatnajökull

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Duration4 days
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DifficultyChallenging

Discover what lays beyond the glacier in this multi-day march through visually overwhelming terrain that is both a challenge and a reward.

What to expect?

Lónsöræfi is one of the most remote hiking areas in Iceland and offers the unique experience of the rugged landscapes to the east of Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. The glacier makes sure you take notice of its power as it leaves its mark on everything, including a moraine, a lagoon, and a riverbed. The abundance of colors which are characteristic of the rhyolitic rocks, contrast to the basaltic formations offering a real feast for the eyes and minds. Reindeer, wary of humans, roam freely in this remote ruggedness. Here we walk through an unbelievable variety of landscapes; deep canyons, green valleys, incredible cliffs and snow speckled peaks gently kissing the sky. Although our hiking can get somewhat challenging, our comfort isn't compromised as well equipped mountain huts guarantee a certain comfortability on this tour. Along with sleeping bags or blankets, Icelandic Mountain Guides provides partially stocked supplies in these huts, limiting the weight each person has to carry to 7 to 10 kg (15 to 20 lbs). Because of this lightweight backpacking, this more related to a trekking trip than a backpacking trip. An extraordinarily beautiful trek in a fantastic area.

Total walking distance: 50 km. (33 miles) Altitude: 100-800 m. (330-2600 feet) Maximum Ascent: 250 m. (820 feet)

Included : Guide for 4 days, transportation to Eyjabakkar area, food during the tour (from lunch day 1 to lunch day 4), mountain huts, sleeping bags (passenger are advised to bring sleeping bag liners), mattresses, cooking gear and transportation from foot bridge to Höfn. Domestic flights between Reykjavík and Egilsstaðir and Hofn and Reykjavík can be added (Note: A night in Höfn is needed for the retun flight on the morning of day 6)

Meeting point: The tour starts in Egilsstaðir and ends at Höfn (for option including domestic flights the tour begins and ends at the domestic airport in Reykjavík). Meeting time at the domestic airport in Reykjavík at 6:45 am. Pick up from hotel or guest house can be added for an extra fee.

Day 1: (Reykjavík) – Egilsstaðir – Geldingafell We meet at the domestic airport in Egilsstaðir. There those who came the land way meet those who came by air from Reykjavík (depart from Reykjavík domestic airport at 7:30). After getting acquainted we transfer into the Eyjabakkar area located east of Mt. Snæfell which is where we start our hike. We begin our first day following Eyjabakkar and the immpressive riverbanks of the glacier river Jökulsá. Mt. Snæfell poses majestically on the other side of the river, occasionally with a bright blanket of snow capping its peaks. We then turn east towards Geldingafell mountain at the edge of the great Vatnajökull glacier and the lush vegetation of the riverbanks gives way to the rough areas shaped by the receding glacier where the reindeer roam freely. Accommodation in a fully equipped hut provided. Distance: 15km (9.5mi) Walking time: 6-8 hrs Ascent : 150 m (490')

Day 2 : Geldingafell – Egilssel Today we hike over the mountain of Geldingafell for excellent views over the Vatnajökull glacier as well as the outlet glaciers of the area and adjacent glacier lagoons. We follow the top of the valley of Vesturdalur before descending down to lake Kollumúlavatn where pintails can often be heard and even seen. Accommodation in a fully equipped hut, Egilssel, on the lake. Distance: 15km (9.5mi) Walking time: 6-8 hrs Ascent/Descent: 300 m (980')/500m (1640’)

Day 3: Egilssel – Múlaskáli

Circling the lake we come to the Tröllakrókahnaus, an interesting outcrop of columnar basalt, located on the impressive Tröllakrókar cliffs. Making our way along the cliffs´ edges we enjoy the stunning views of the rock formations as well as the views to the surrounding mountains. The monotony of the basaltic landscapes soon gives way to the colorful landscapes of the rhyolite where the purple, orange and even pink colors come as a real surprise. We continue down into the valley of the glacial river Jökulsá í Lóni arriving at our hut for the night. Distance : 12km (7.5mi) Walking time: 5-7 hrs Ascent/Descent: 200m (650')/450m (1450’)

Day 4: Múlaskáli – Eskifell – Hornafjörður – (Reykjavík) We start by crossing the glacial river on a footbridge before climbing the hill of Illikambur. We should enjoy the colors of the surrounding slopes on our way up as on top yet another landscape awaits us. Following the glacial river Jökulsá í Lóni we make our way south to the old farmstead of Eskifell. Just after we cross the mighty glacial river on a footbridge, a bus awaits us to bring us to Höfn. Note that accommodation in Höfn is not included but can be added for extra cost (depending on availability).

Distance: 11km (7.0 mi) Walking time: 6-8 hrs Ascent/Descent: 250 m (820')/300m (980’)

What is included?

Guide for 4 daysTransportation to Eyjabakkar areaFood for 5 days (from lunch day 1 to lunch day 4)Mountain hutsSleeping bags (passenger are advised to bring sleeping bag liners)MattressesCooking gear Transportation from foot bridge to Höfn.

What do I need to bring?

For your own well-being and safety we strongly suggest following the advice of our equipment list, this includes having good quality rain-gear, tops and bottoms! Also respect that cotton clothing is not appropriate for any strenuous outdoor activity – this includes jeans and t-shirts. Modern outdoor clothing is by far more comfortable and will greatly improve your experience.

Boots and Clothing:

  • Sturdy Hiking Boots – waterproof with ankle support.
  • Long sleeve shirt (thermal underwear) – Wool or synthetic.
  • T-shirt (thermal underwear) – Wool or synthetic.
  • Light wool or fleece sweater (2nd layer).
  • Trousers – Strong, light and quick drying e.g. soft-shell.
  • Jacket with a good hood – windproof, waterproof and breathable.
  • Rain trousers – windproof, waterproof and breathable. Please note that full raingear is mandatory in Iceland.
  • Light Gloves – Wool or synthetic.
  • Socks – Wool or synthetic. Two or three pairs.
  • Warm hat – Wool or synthetic.
  • Puffy jacket (e.g. Primaloft or down).

Other gear:

  • Backpack – 40-60 liters / 2500 - 3700 cu in – you will need about 5 - 10L free for fresh foods.
  • River shoes – Walking sandals or old running shoes with a good grip are a good choice, along with a pair of warm socks or neoprene socks. Open sandals or flip-flops will not do the job.
  • Towel – light and packable.
  • Camera, spare batteries and a memory card.
  • Sunglasses & sun protection.
  • Water container – thermos flask or water bottle 0,5 – 1L.
  • Headlamp for reading and getting around the hut.
  • Personal first aid kit – including blister care.
  • Prescription medication and other personal health items.
  • Toiletries; Toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs and etc.
  • Change of clothes for wearing in the huts.
  • Dry-bags for electronics and extra clothing.
  • Liner bag – sleeping bags are in the huts (IMG 49 only).

Optional gear:

  • Walking pole(s).
  • Gaiters
  • Neoprene socks – highly recommended for river crossings.
  • Pen knife.
  • Sun/rain Hat or a Cap.
  • Shorts
  • Thermal mat (for lunch breaks).
  • Heart-warming spirits.

Additional Information

  • Voucher: You will receive a secure voucher to either print out or present on your mobile phone.
  • Cancellation Policy: Fee of 15% if cancelled 280 days before event or less.
  • Quality Assurance: Travelade only works with selected local partners we trust to provide high quality service.

Meeting Point

  • The tour starts in Egilsstaðir and ends at Höfn (for option including domestic flights the tour begins and ends at the domestic airport in Reykjavík). Meeting time at the domestic airport in Reykjavík at 6:45 am. Pick up from hotel or guest house can be added for an extra fee.

$1305