(8 days/7 nights)
Tour Code: SH1 NEW PROGRAMME for 2018, includes Landmannalaugar and Thorsmork
June – August 2017: £2113 (double/twin/triple room); £2771 (single room) VIP seating supplement £270
September 2017: £1885 (double/twin/triple room); £2366 (single room) VIP seating supplement £270
Prices are per person, excluding flights
If you would like to combine the convenience of small group touring (maximum 20 people, minimum age 10) with opportunities to get out and walk and experience dramatic Icelandic landscapes, this trip is for you. Although there are many South Iceland tours on offer, the programme here includes both the interior highlands and the Thorsmork Valley – two fabulous areas, both requiring modified vehicles to visit and therefore not easily accessible as part of a guided tour of this kind. With an average of 1-2 hours walking a day, and staying in 3 hotels over 8 days, you will visit the sites, explore the interior highlands and valleys, volcanic landscapes and the glacial wonders of Vatnajökull National Park. Your adventure also includes bathing in the Blue Lagoon, crossing glacial rivers (by bus), walking on a glacier and cruising between floating icebergs. Accommodation is in a simple guesthouses, cottages and hotels, in rooms with private facilities. In May and June, when the central highlands are closed, the programme does not include Landmannalaugar. In September, there is the chance to see the Northern Lights.
DAY 1 (Sun): WELCOME TO ICELAND (50 km) The Flybus shuttle brings you from Keflavík International Airport to the where you spend your first night. Depending on your arrival time, we will provide you with ideas on how to explore Iceland’s capital on your own.
DAY 2 (Mon): REYKJANES PENINSULA and THE BLUE LAGOON (200 km) At 09:30 meet your tour guide and fellow group members and travel to the Reykjanes Peninsula with its hot springs, mountains, bird cliffs, lunar landscapes and fishing villages. Start the day in the geothermal mineral-rich waters of the famous Blue Lagoon and after lunch explore the colourful and bubbling area of Krýsuvík, with its solfataras, fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs. From there to Strandarkirkja, a Lutheran parish church constructed from wood and which, due to its coastal location, has long been a beacon for those travelling at sea. It is often referred to as the “miracle church” because of the locals’ longstanding belief that it has profound, divine powers. The next stop is the charming fishing village of Eyrarbakki with a large number of preserved houses from the period 1890-1920 when this area was a vital point for the export and import of goods. There is time to visit the local Maritime and Folk Museum which is inside one of these old houses. The day ends in Hella, a small village in South Iceland, for a three night stay in simple riverside cottages, a great location for walking and for complete solitude and tranquillity.
DAY 3 (Tue): INTERIOR HIGHLANDS: LANDMANNALAUGAR and PJORSADLAUR (290km)
Landmannalaugar is an oasis in Iceland’s barren interior highlands, surrounded by colourful rhyolite mountains. On arrival, you can choose to explore the area on your own or join your guide for a short hike through a rough lava field and up the slopes with an incredible spectrum of colours. The highlight is a 90-minute round-trip hike up toward Brenninsteinsalda, the rainbow mountain of Iceland, which is one of the most spectacular volcanic mountains in Landmannalaugar. Although when translated, this means “sulphur wave”, there is more to see than the yellow sulphur no the hill sides – there’s green from the copper, black and blue from the lava and ash, red from the iron in the earth and white from silica. It could very well be the most colourful mountain of Iceland, and so its picture is often found in books and calendars. The mountain is still “hot” and here you can see sizzling sulphur springs and steam rising into the air. For this hike, good boots and walking poles are helpful. In Landmannalaugar there is also a natural geothermal stream where you can enjoy a refreshing bath. Have swimwear and a towel ready, and a good bag to store your clothes while you bathe. On the way back to Hella, there’s a stop at the beautiful waterfall Hjálparfoss in the Þjórsárdalur valley surrounded by unusual basalt rock formations. Nearby is he Viking farm ruins at Stöng, which was completely buried in pumice during Mt. Hekla’s big eruption in 1104. A leisurely hike brings us to, a magical green oasis in an otherwise rocky, barren moon-like landscape. Þjórsárdalur is off-the-beaten-path and is dominated by Mt. Hekla and other volcanoes in the vicinity. Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes; over 20 eruptions have occurred since settlement in 874. During the Middle Ages, Europeans called the volcano the “Gateway to Hell”. Please note that in case Landmannalaugar is not accessible during May and June departures, we travel only to Þjórsárdalur valley on that day.
Day 4, WED: (230 km)
Today, you will see three of Iceland’s most famous spots: Thingvellir National Park, Geyser hot springs, and Gullfoss waterfall. We start the day at the ancient Viking Parliament area of National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. The Thingvellir plain is situated on a tectonic-plate boundary where the American and Eurasian plates are slowly moving apart from each other. As a result, the plain is scarred by dramatic fissures, the clearwater lake Thingvellir, and the great rift Almannagjá. Next stop is at the Geysir geothermal fields with a variety of hot springs and bubbling pools where you see the steam pumping from the ground. The original geyser is now dormant and has been replaced by Strokkur, “the Churn”, which erupts at 5-10 minute intervals. Gullfoss, “the golden falls”, is a double waterfall that tumbles 34 meters into the Hvítá river originating from the Langjökull glacier. After the three “must-see” sights on the , there is still more to see. There is a small waterfall called Faxi, which looks like the mane of an Icelandic horse. Nearby, there’s a traditional sheep pen, where Icelandic farmers sort the sheep in September after the sheep have been rounded up in the mountains. From there, to Skálholt, which is one of Iceland’s most historic and holy places. It was the centre of ecclesiastic power in Iceland for more than 700 years. and has become a centre of learning, culture and worldly power in Iceland. The church in Skálholt has the most beautiful altarpiece made with mosaic and colourfully stained windows, both designed by a famous Icelandic female artist. You might like to visit the local geothermal swimming pool with hot tubs to top off your sightseeing day the Icelandic way.
DAY 5 (Thur): THÓRSMÖRK & VATNAJÖKULL NATIONAL PARK (130 km)
First stop today is at the high but narrow Seljalandsfoss waterfall (for which you need a waterproof coat and good boots) and then it’s on to Thórsmörk, a wide valley named after Thor, the Viking God of Thunder. This beautiful valley is surrounded on three sides by steep mountains and glaciers. Fording raging glacial rivers and gentle streams is a big part of the adventure! The landscape is dramatic with Eyjafjallajökull volcano towering on one side and the massive glacial river Markarfljót flowing on the other. During today’s walk you will discover the aftermath of an immense fast-flowing flood, caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which destroyed a glacial lagoon and left a blackened area – and caused huge disruption to international air travel in April 2010. Thórsmörk is one of the most popular hiking areas in Iceland. Depending on the weather, we enjoy a leisurely hike through nature. You see some of the most special areas of the Icelandic Highlands at its best – volcanoes, glaciers, high mountains, and glacier-made valleys and canyons, glacier rivers, lava fields and much more gems that the Icelandic nature holds captured. After our Thórsmörk adventure trip, there is a long drive to our next overnight location at Vatnajökull National Park. We will stay for two nights at the simple but well located Hotel Skaftafell, next to Europe‘s largest glacier and beneath Iceland‘s highest mountain.
DAY 6 (Fri): GLACIER HIKE & GLACIAL LAGOON (140 km)
An action-packed day starts with a moderate 1.5-2 hour hike in the majestic surroundings of the Svínafellsjökull glacier, which is hemmed in by some of Icelands most spectacular peaks. An experienced glacier guide will lead you through a wonderland of strangely shaped ridges, deep crevasses, huge water cauldrons and varied ice formations. In the afternoon, you travel to the famous Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon for a Zodiac adventure cruise, sailing between the icebergs which float in the clear blue water. Afterwards, there will be time to go down to the black sand beach to take a closer look at the icebergs that get stranded there en route to the sea.
Day 7, SAT: THE SOUTH COAST & REYKJAVÍK (350 km)
Turning back towards Reykjavik, today’s journey crosses the sandy desert of the , overlooked by rugged cliffs, glaciers, and waterfalls. Stopping to stroll along the black lava beach and bird cliffs at Reynisfjara, you can see interesting basalt columns, and rock formations believed to be petrified trolls. About 10 km west of Vík is the rocky plateau at Dyrhólaey, which rises dramatically from the surrounding plain and here you can walk to the lighthouse, observe birds on the cliffs, and enjoy the spectacular views of the black beaches, the sea and surrounding mountains and glaciers. Your next stop is the thundering Skógafoss waterfall, which tumbles 62 meters over a rocky scarp, kicking up vast sheets of mist. This Highlights of South Iceland program ends with a short city tour before arriving at the hotel in Iceland’s capital
DAY 8 (Sun): DEPARTURE DAY (50 km)
Please note: This tour is suitable for those who are in good health and are able to walk on uneven terrain. Good hiking boots and warm and waterproof clothing are essential and hiking poles are useful.
- Total mileage in 6 days is about 1,510 km (942 miles), which is an average of 252 km (157 miles) per day. You spend about 3,5 hours per day on the bus, depending on road conditions, traffic, and daily distances. On some days, especially in the interior highlands, the driving might be longer than on some other days.
- The hotels and cabins used on this tour are simple but clean, and all rooms offer private facilities.
- On September departures, there is a chance to see the Northern Lights.
- In case Landmannalaugar is not accessible during May and June departures, we travel only to Þjórsárdalur valley on that day.
- This tour includes some walking on uneven terrain and natural trails.
Nature fees: It is possible that some of the natural sites visited on this tour may charge a small entrance fee. These are not included in the price and must be paid locally on the day.
- Arrival & departure airport transfers by Flybus shuttle (no guide)
- Fully escorted 6 day bus tour with an English speaking guide or driver guide
- 7 nights’ guesthouse, cottage and hotel accommodation in ensuite rooms with shower
- 7 breakfasts
- Entrance to two national parks
- Entrance, with towel, to the Blue Lagoon with silica mud mask and one drink of your choice
- Boat trip on Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
- 1.5-2 hour glacier hike
- Entrance to Eyrarbakki Maritime and Folk Museum
VIP seating – for an additional supplement you can guarantee a window seat and the seat next to it (ie 2 seats to yourself) in the bus. Seats are reserved in the front rows of the bus on a first come first served basis.
Departures: with an English speaking Guide on Sundays
- 13,20,27 May 2018
- 3,10,24 June 2018
- 8,22,29 July 2018
- 5,12,19,26 August 2018
- 2,9,16,23 September 2018
For bookings, or to check availability, please contact us here
Related Holidays from Iceland Traveller