School Trek - Three Peaks Challenge

A challenging trek, taking in three volcanic peaks






From $2,660 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview


  • Learn about the remarkable geography of Iceland
  • Trek to the top of Iceland`s highest peak, Hvannadalshnukur
  • Explore amongst weird and wonderful Fjallabak landscapes
  • See icecaps and waterfalls and take a dip in hot springs

This itinerary provides a mixture of adventure and education and is a logical choice for School Groups. Classic volcano climbing in Iceland, walking in the land of fire and Ice. A simply breathtaking variety of Icelandic mountain scenery makes this one of the most unusual climbing expeditions on offer. From the exuberant city of Reykjavik, our walking and climbing adventure begins with the easy ascent of Botnssulur(1083m) overlooking Lake Thingvellir. On this first day we also get the chance to visit the geothermal area at Geysir and to see the mighty Gullfoss waterfall. The explosive volcano, Hekla, is our next climbing goal and involves a testing 1000 metre climb, across ash and snow, to reach its fissured, steaming summit. After Hekla, we then make the spectacular crossing of the wildly volcanic highland region of Iceland, the Fjallabak, with our rugged 4x4 vehicles at times almost submerged as we ford several rivers en route. A stop-off at the famous Landmannalaugar hot pools is obligatory. Arriving at Skaftafell, we have 2 days during which our principal objective is to make the ascent of Hvannadalshnukur (2119m), the highest mountain in Iceland. With 24 hours of daylight, the long and straightforward climb to Iceland's high point certainly carries no risk of our being benighted! With our climbing objectives achieved, we then have the option to explore Skaftafell National Park and to make an excursion to Jokulsarlon, where the amazing, iceberg-filled glacial lagoon has provided the backdrop for more than one James Bond movie. This brilliant walking and climbing adventure in Iceland draws to a close with a visit to the Skogarfoss waterfall, as we complete our circuit and return to Reykjavik.

Is this holiday for you?

This most unusual climbing adventure in Iceland, provides a mix of sightseeing, exploration and challenging day-hikes and climbs. We tackle our objective peaks in order of their difficulty and the terrain that we encounter will vary from good paths across open moorland, to rocky scree and wide snow slopes. While Mount Botnssulur will involve a straightforward hike of about 5 hours, Hekla will be a 7 to 8 hour day and Mount Hvannadalshnukur will involve an early start and at least a 12 hour day. The ascent of Hekla is across rough terrain, including recent lava flows and the upper slopes are snow-covered. Crampons and an ice-axe will need to be carried and may be used, depending on the prevailing conditions. On Hvannadalshnukur, the upper part of the ascent traverses the Oraefajokull Glacier and the group will climb roped together across easy-angled snow slopes. Experience of winter climbing is not necessary on this itinerary, but participants will need to be strong walkers and to have plenty of stamina. Ice-axe, crampons, helmet and harness are provided locally at no charge and some instruction on the basics of snow and ice walking techniques will be provided on Mount Hvannadalshnukur. We recommend a minimum age of 16 years.


Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group's guesthouse accommodation in Reykjavik. Evening briefing from the guide.
  • Drive to Vorduskeggi Peak (805m) and trek to summit. Drive via Gullfoss to a lodge on Mount Hekla.
  • Short transfer and then climb of Hekla (1491m). Descend to lodge.
  • Drive across the Fjallabak. Visit Landmannalaugar hot springs. Via the Eldgja Canyon to Skaftafell.
  • Trek across the Oraefajokull Glacier and climb Hvannadalshnukur (2119m). Descend to Skaftafell.
  • Trek to Ingolfshofdi seabird colony and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Return to Skaftafell.
  • Drive past Eyjafjallajokull, and visit the impressive Skogarfoss waterfall on the way to Reykjavik.
  • Day 8

Land Only

The price of our trips does not include international air travel to the start location in the destination city and country. The start location for joining the trip is identified for each trip. It's usually a centrally located hotel. KE can easily arrange all airport transfers for you.

International Air Travel

Please contact us at KE for air travel advice. We will be happy to discuss the flight arrangement which best suits your group.

2 teachers FREE

The Guide Price assumes that 2 teachers will accompany the group. Their Land Only costs are covered by the group's payment.

Guide Price $2,660*
Park Fees/permits N/A
Other Charges N/A

* We give a price estimate for all of our school trips. This is based on 12-16 pupils and includes two free teacher places. If you are interested in a specific trip, we will send you a quote letter. You may wish to take extra teachers or add on additional days and this can all be included into your quote, on request.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • peaks
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group's guesthouse accommodation in Reykjavik. Evening briefing from the guide.

    Rendezvous at the group hotel in Reykjavik. KE Land Only package services begin with the overnight at the group’s basic hotel or guesthouse accommodation. Reykjavik is a modern city that is home to 190,000 of Iceland’s tiny total population of 280,000. Its centre is small and easy to walk around from our accommodation and there are several restaurants within walking distance for the evening meal. There will be an initial meeting with the local guide at the guesthouse at 7 pm. He or she will give a briefing about the trip and advise you on your choice of restaurant for your evening meal.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

  • Drive to Vorduskeggi Peak (805m) and trek to summit. Drive via Gullfoss to a lodge on Mount Hekla.

    We meet our guide after breakfast and he or she will give us a briefing on what to expect over the next week. We will then board our private transport for the short drive to our first objective, Vorduskeggi Peak. Heading east out of Reykjavík, we soon reach the north side of the active volcanic massif of Hengill and the start of the track that will take us to the top of Vorduskeggi (805m). From the top, there are views of Lake Thingvellir, Iceland's largest lake, and of the icecaps, Langjokull to the north and Eyjafjallajokull to the east. We can also see the rugged Vestmann Islands, which are situated off Iceland's southern coastline. Hiking back down to our vehicle, we continue our journey with a drive to the world-famous Geysir goethermal area, where we can see the Geysir and its neighbour, Strokkur, which erupts every 5 minutes or so. A short drive away is the renowned waterfall, Gullfoss. After enjoying these gems of Icelandic nature, we head across to our mountain lodge accommodation on the north side of Mount Hekla. Our guide will prepare the evening meal at the lodge and will appreciate help from group members with the food preparation, serving and washing up.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 hours

  • Short transfer and then climb of Hekla (1491m). Descend to lodge.

    Today we head out to climb one of Iceland’s best known and most active volcanoes, Mount Hekla. With its classic (albeit flattened) volcano shape, Hekla was formed by repeated fissure eruptions over the centuries. In the last 50 years it has erupted 6 times, with the last eruption in February 2000. It is currently estimated that the mountain is 1491 metres high, although this height changes from year to year. After a short transfer, we start our hike from the craters of the 1970 eruption, which are at an elevation of approximately 500 metres. The walk takes us across a lunar landscape of black volcanic sand, rugged lava flows and craters - a landscape which was chosen as the training ground for the Apollo astronauts, prior to their lunar hike. The upper slopes of the mountain are snow-covered, but the top is usually ice free due to heat flux through the top crater. The view from the summit is superb, stretching from the Vestmann Islands in the south, to Mount Bardarbunga (Iceland’s second highest peak) with its majestic ice dome, to the north.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 5 hours

  • Drive across the Fjallabak. Visit Landmannalaugar hot springs. Via the Eldgja Canyon to Skaftafell.

    Today, we will make the long drive across the volcanic wilderness of the Fjallabak (Backcountry). Our rugged 4-wheel-drive vehicle will be well tested on the rough road which heads eastwards into the steaming and colourful Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve. Here, we go for a short walk to the summit of Blahnukur (Blue Peak) which rises above the campground and lodge at Landmannalaugar and provides us with stunning views of some of Europe's most outrageous landscapes. This is a walk of around an hour and a half. Returning to our vehicle, we have lunch and also take the opportunity for a dip in the hot springs. Two rivers merge, close to a black lava flow and one of these is boiling hot. The trick is to find a spot where the waters mix to just the right temperature. We then continue our drive, heading eastwards on the Fjallabak Route, one of the most scenic drives in Iceland. The road is a winding track, across canyons, unbridged rivers and mountain passes and takes us through a surreal landscape, coloured red, yellow, black and vibrant green. We stop off at the Eldgja Canyon, a 30 kilometre long fissure, which in 934 AD discharged the biggest volcanic eruption in historical times. This cataclysmic event is known to have caused a long period of 'winter' and famine across the whole of the northern hemisphere. From Eldgja we drive south to the green pastures of Skaftartunga and then cross the moss-covered lava fields which date from the eruptions of Laki in 1783-5. At that time, these eruptions led directly and indirectly to the death of one third of Iceland’s population. Further east, we drive across the black floodplains of Skeidararsandur, the scene of major flooding in 1996, when a subglacial eruption melted 3 cubic kilometres of the Vatnajokull Icecap. It is very apparent how these dramatic events, some of them very recent, have given rise to the weird and wonderful landscape of this part of Iceland. Arriving at Skaftafell National Park, we check in at our mountain lodge accommodation. (Please note that early in the season, the road through the Fjallabak can be blocked by snow. If this is the case, we will take an alternative route west of the Fjallabak and then eastwards on the coast road to Skaftafell, stopping off at Vik en route for a hike up onto the long ridge of Reynisfjall which provides great coastal views if the weather is clear).

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 1 hour

  • Trek across the Oraefajokull Glacier and climb Hvannadalshnukur (2119m). Descend to Skaftafell.

    We have allowed 2 days in the vicinity of Mount Hvannadalshnukur, to give us a good chance of getting to the summit of Iceland’s biggest peak. Our itinerary is flexible and we will keep a close eye on the weather. If it makes sense to go for the ascent of our number one objective today, then we will do just that. Alternatively, if we have to wait until Day 6 for a window in the weather, then we can leave the big climb until then. We have an early start and make a short transfer of approximately 20 minutes to the start of our route on the peak. Starting out just a few metres above sea-level, we are faced with 2100 metres of ascent and likely 12 to 15-hour round trip. Of course, with the benefit of 24-hour daylight, we will not face the risk of being benighted on the peak. But, good weather is needed if we are to be successful on what is a tough undertaking. There are two possible routes on the mountain, known as Sandfell and Virkisjokull, and we will choose between them, depending on the weather and the prevailing conditions. The Sandfell track starts out across steep moorland on the north side of Kviarjokull, a glacier which flows down from the icecap and almost reaches the sea. We hike up for about 1000 metres to reach the permanent snowfields of the Oraefajokull Glacier. Here, we stop to rope up for the remainder of the ascent. Hvannadalshnukur is an eroded volcanic crater on the rim of the huge ice-filled caldera of the Oraefajokull Massif. The caldera itself, which we have to cross, is a relatively smooth snowfield. But, on three sides there are steep ridges and countless outlet glaciers and icefalls which cascade down towards Iceland’s flat south coast. We take our time over the ascent, stopping for a picnic lunch on the glacier. Finding a route through the crevasses of the upper slopes can also take time. The views from the summit are simply fantastic and include the Arctic Ocean to the south and the huge Vatnajokull Icecap to the north. We return via the same route to the base of the mountain and from there make the short drive to our accommodation at Skaftafell. A long day, but incredibly rewarding - the ascent of Hvannadalshnukur is an unforgettable experience.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Meals bld

    • Time 12 hours

  • Trek to Ingolfshofdi seabird colony and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Return to Skaftafell.

    Today, one of the options we have is to visit the bird reserve at Cape Ingolfshofdi. To get there we have to cross a huge wet sandy area on a haycart towed by a tractor. The family operating this excursion charge 5000 kronur (£27) per person – which has to be paid for directly. This is the kingdom of the great skua, a huge and predatory seabird which nests on the top of the cape. Ingolfshofdi is also a busy nesting ground for hundreds of thousands of puffins, fulmars, gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots etc.. The richness of the sea in this area means that this wealth of bird-life can find good feeding close offshore. Seals and minke whales are often seen here, feeding from the same source as the birds. Next on our check-list of sights to see today, is the Glacier Lagoon at Jokulsarlon, where one of Iceland’s biggest glaciers calves huge icebergs into a 5 kilometre-wide lagoon. The lagoon is almost 200 metres deep. The scenery is something you would expect to see in Greenland, the Antarctic, or maybe in a James Bond movie (at least 2 of them have been filmed here). We will also have the chance to visit the national park information centre to learn about the catastrophic eruptions and floods that are frequent in this area. The last one happened in autumn 1996 and is quite well documented. In the afternoon, we return to Skaftafell.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Meals bld

  • Drive past Eyjafjallajokull, and visit the impressive Skogarfoss waterfall on the way to Reykjavik.

    Today, we make the fascinating drive through the scenic coastal strip of southern Iceland. The south coast is mostly a level plain, created by ash fall, lavas and river discharge over the last 10,000 years. We drive over the outwash area of the 1996 flood, which for half a day is estimated to have had a greater flow than the Amazon. North of the ancient sea cliffs (which are now far inland), the glacier-clad volcanoes of Katla and Eyjafjallajokull rise over 1500 metres into the sky. Although most of this long coastline consists of black sand beaches, there are several rocky capes which continue to fight the sea. One of them is Dyrholaey, where there is a natural arch big enough for planes to fly through. Dyrholaey is another place which is swarming with seabirds in the early summer. The views from here, of the coastline and of the Myrdalsjokull Glacier, are truly spectacular. The road passes close beneath the volcano Eyjafjallajokull (1666m), which recently erupted, of course, causing much disruption to air traffic in the northern hemisphere. Continuing our journey westwards, we visit the impressive Skógarfoss waterfall and walk behind the 60 metre high Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where we can watch the thundering stream hit the pool below and admire the fulmars that nest in the misty cliffs on both sides of the flow. There is also the chance to take a dip in a geothermal pool somewhere en route. This will ensure that we are steam cleaned before our arrival in Reykjavik. Returning to our accommodation, we will have plenty of time to get washed and changed and then go out on the town, to celebrate the end of a superb holiday. Reykjavik is quite an experience on a Saturday night. Young Icelanders go out late and stay up until morning.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Meals b

  • Day 8

    A group transfer to Keflavik Airport is provided, coordinated with the departure of the homeward flight.

Holiday Information

  • A qualified UK KE Schools leader
  • Experienced English-speaking local guide
  • Keflavik Airport transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Vehicle transport throughout the trip

  • Travel insurance
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Miscellaneous - drinks and souvenirs etc.

During this trip the group will spend 2 nights in basic hotel or guesthouse accommodation, situated within a short walk of central Reykjavik. The accommodation here will be based on twin room sharing. On our journey across Iceland, we will stay in comfortable mountain lodges or cabins. The accommodation at these establishments can be twin sharing, or 4-person sharing, with shared facilities. Sleeping bags are needed at the accommodation we use outside of Reykjavik.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

Meals are provided, with the exception of lunches and dinners when in Reykjavik.

All food is purchased in Reykjavik, with the emphasis on fresh produce and easily-prepared meals. The trip leader, together with the support vehicle driver, will prepare the group’s evening meals. Local specialities predominate, including excellent sea-fish and Icelandic lamb, as well as the chance of fresh Arctic char. Breakfasts will consist of porridge, muesli, bread, jam, cheese, ham, plus tea and coffee. At breakfast, snack items and sandwich materials will be made available so that group members can make up their own packed lunches.

Keflavik Airport transfers are included on arrival and departure. The KE School Group Leader or KE representative will meet you on arrival and assist with the transfers to the group hotel. Full joining instructions along with hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with the booking confirmation.

This trip will be led by an experienced KE Schools leader. In addition, there will be an experienced, English speaking Icelandic mountain guide, with additional mountain guides joining the group on the ascent of Mount Hvannadalshnukur, depending on group size.

Approximately £120 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses, including the non-included meals. Group members will be expected to pay for their own meals (other than breakfasts) whilst in Reykjavik. Iceland is famously expensive and you should allow £60 to comfortably cover the 2 dinners which you will need to buy whilst in Reykjavik on Day 1 and Day 8. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of currency rather than travellers cheques, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival in Reykjavik. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). The Icelandic unit of currency is the Krona (plural - Kronur).

Your baggage on trek will be carried in the support vehicle. Group members should travel with the KE trek bag (provided) and a 30 to 40 litre rucksack. There is no weight limit on your baggage other than that imposed by your international carrier. It is possible to leave travel clothes or other items not required on trek at the group hotel in Reykjavik.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

The altitudes attained on this itinerary are not extreme and the maximum altitude attained is no more than the equivalent of a pressurised cabin on an international flight. You may ‘feel’ the altitude the first time you trek to 2000 metres but all that is required is a slower pace to compensate. You should pay particular attention to your hydration levels while trekking.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • 2 Season sleeping bag (needed for the accommodation outside of Reykjavik)
  • Daypack 30 to 40 litres / 1800 to 2400 cubic inches
  • Water bottles 1 litre / 1 quart (x2)
  • Hiking boots
  • Mountaineering boots - see Mountaineering Equipment
  • Socks
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Underwear
  • Long johns (thermal underwear)
  • Shorts
  • Thermal baselayer shirts (2 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve)
  • T-shirts and/or casual shirts
  • Fleece jacket
  • Fleece jumper
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat
  • Lightweight balaclava or facemask
  • Eyewear - sunglasses
  • Ski goggles
  • Lightweight thermal gloves
  • Warm and waterproof over gloves or mittens
  • Headtorch / headlamp with spare bulb and batteries
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Small towel
  • Basic First Aid Kit including: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters (band-aids) and blister treatment.

Mountaineering Equipment:

  • Mountaineering boots (B2 Min)
  • Ice-axe *
  • Crampons (with anti-balling plates fitted)*
  • Climbing harness*
  • Karabiner (1 x screwgate)*

The following items are optional:

Travel clothes
Trainers / sneakers or similar for camp use

  • Trekking poles
    Sleeping bag liner
  • Swimwear (for hot springs)
  • Pen-knife (remember to put all sharp objects in hold baggage)
  • Camera, and batteries
  • Spare laces
  • Notes

    Mountaineering Boots: You need to take a pair of warm and reasonably substantial mountain boots that are sufficiently rigid to be securely fitted with crampons. The B2 (semi-rigid) boot rating is appropriate.

    *Crampons, ice axe, helmet and harness with karabiner are all provided locally in Iceland. If you wish to take your own crampons, ice axe and harness you are welcome, but it is not necessary.

    PHD Gear Advisor

    Needle Sports (specialist mountaineering equipment shop)

    • Needle Sports is the English Lake District's foremost specialist climbing shop supplying mountaineering, rock, ice, alpine and expedition equipment worldwide. Internationally recognised as among the very best of the UK's top technical climbing gear retailers. They have a good range of equipment appropriate for this trip and offer knowledgeable advice both on their website and in store.
    • View >>

    For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

    A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

    We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

    As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

    KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

    The weather in Iceland in July and August is generally fairly good. We can expect daytime temperatures anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees centigrade, dropping to just above zero in the evenings. High on our climbs, we can also expect to encounter cold conditions. At any time of year in Iceland, there is a chance of poor weather, with rain and wind. But, equally, we should also encounter good days that are clear and sunny. In short, you need to be prepared for English Lake District walking. Bring your waterproofs!

    The Rough Guide to Iceland. Lonely Planet. Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The Insight Guide to Iceland. Iceland. Photo Book. Colin Baxter.

    Mal og Menning. Fjallabak. Hekla - Laki. 1:100,000 scale.

    The Icelandic maps published by Mal og Menning are good. There are several series and another of the useful sheets is entitled: Island (the whole island) 1:600,000 scale.

    Recent Reviews & Blog Posts