Iceland Land of Extremes

Classic walking holiday in Iceland across the Fjallabak wilderness




From 0 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Trekking to the Landmannalaugar hot springs
  • Icecap views from the Fimmvorduhals Pass
  • Two nights in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik
  • A trekking holiday and a unique wilderness experience

A wonderful and wild walking holiday trekking amongst the unique landscapes of Iceland. From the modern city of Reykjavik to the volcanoes, glaciers and tortured lava formations of the interior, Iceland is a country of great contrast. Our trekking route takes us across the dramatic volcanic region of the Fjallabak, one of the most spectacular places for a walking holiday in Europe. Driving close to Hekla, Iceland's famously active volcano, we take time out to relax in the blissful hot springs at Landmannalaugar before starting our walking. From here, we walk across the ancient lava flows of the Hrafntinnusker Plateau to Lake Alftavatn after which we trek the extraordinary black sands below the Myrdalsjokull Icecap. The picturesque glaciated valley and pine forests of Porsmork present yet another change of scenery to explore. Challenging walking then lies ahead as we trek over a high pass between the ice caps of Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. Our discreet vehicle support enables us to provide well-equipped camps and also means that we are trekking lightweight and fully enjoy this superb wilderness walking holiday adventure in Iceland to the full.

Is this holiday for you?

This is real wilderness travel, with the Iceland landscape changing dramatically each day. The trails will change from good paths to rocky scree, from sandy deserts to walking across the snow, from green valley pastures to windswept passes. There will be river crossings on most days and the weather can be very unpredictable. We will walk for on average 5 to 8 hours each day, with average climbs and descents of around 400 metres per day. The final day's trekking is the most challenging with 1000 metres of ascent and descent. This trekking holiday is suitable for the average keen hillwalker, but be prepared for a unique experience.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group guesthouse in Reykjavik.
  • Drive via Mount Hekla to Landmannalaugar. Set up camp and take a dip in the fabulous hot springs.
  • Trek through the volcanic Fjallabak landscape of lava flows and steam vents to Hrafntinnusker.
  • Trek via a chaotic canyon system to the beautiful lake of Alftavatn (Swan Lake).
  • Cross rivers and a black sand plain, with views of Myrdalsjokull Icecap. Overnight at Emstrur.
  • Trek through the Markarfljot Canyons to the spectacular Porsmork Valley.
  • Trek across Fimmvorduhals Pass (1116m) to the waterfall of Skogarfoss. Drive back to Reykjavik.
  • Departure day.
We sell this holiday on a Land Only basis and recommend that you book your flights to Reykjavik (Keflavik) Airport Please refer to the 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' section of the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

If flying from the UK, there are a number of low cost airlines offering flights to Reykjavik. These include Easyjet, who have flights from Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Manchester & Edinburgh, WOW Air (and Iceland Express), who have flights from Gatwick and Flybe who have flights from Birmingham

Click on the 'Flight Information' link below for further information on booking low cost airlines. Alternatively, if you would prefer to book a 'Flight Inclusive' package using scheduled airlines from the UK please contact our flights department for a quote. Whilst flight prices are likely to be more expensive you will benefit from full financial protection.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • trip direction
  • peaks
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group guesthouse in Reykjavik.

    Meet at the group’s guesthouse in Reykjavik. Airport transfers are not provided. We recommend that you use the excellent FlyBus service. KE Land Only package services begin with the overnight at the guesthouse. 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. There will be an initial meeting with the local guide at the guesthouse at 7 pm. He or she will give us a briefing on what to expect over the next week, and will recommend several restaurants for our evening meal.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

  • Drive via Mount Hekla to Landmannalaugar. Set up camp and take a dip in the fabulous hot springs.

    We start the morning by going out to the bus terminal to catch the scheduled bus to Landmannalaugar. The drive takes around 5 hours, but is very interesting throughout, as this is one of the most scenic routes in Iceland. We drive eastwards, crossing the high moorland of Hellisheidi and passing south of the steaming volcano, Hengill. We pass also the greenhouses of Hveragerdi Village, where hot water is cheaper than cold water and keeping buildings cool is more of an issue than heating! East of the Thjorsa River, we head inland and cross to the north of Mount Hekla, one of Iceland’s most infamous volcanoes, which last erupted as recently as February 2000. We now enter the black Domadalur (Valley of Doom), which is gateway to the Fjallabak (Backcountry). The Fjallabak Nature Reserve is a huge mountainous wilderness that is constantly built up by ongoing volcanic activity and eroded by glaciers, rivers and wind. Finally reaching Landmannalaugar, we head straight for a refreshing dip in the famous hot springs which are situated right on the edge of our campsite. We set up our camp and enjoy a traditional dinner in the mess tent, a meal that may include fresh arctic char from a nearby mountain lake.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Meals bld

  • Trek through the volcanic Fjallabak landscape of lava flows and steam vents to Hrafntinnusker.

    We pack our daysacks and put our tents and other equipment into the support jeep that will transport all of our equipment to Hrafntinnusker. Our trekking route is far away from the jeep track and we start by crossing the 500-year-old Laugahraun lava flow that is still giving heat to the Landmannalaugar hot springs. Climbing steadily past numerous sulphur vents, we top a succession of rolling rhyolite hills before descending to the steaming hot springs at Storihver. This is a mysterious landscape that would not be out of place in any of the Lord of the Rings films. As we get higher, the better we can understand the forces of nature. Whole mountains have been created and remoulded by thousands of years of boiling sulphuric vents and glacial erosion. Up on the plateau, steam rises in all directions from unseen vents. We put up our tents in a shallow south-facing valley, close to a huge boiling spring at Hrafntinnusker.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 800m

    • Distance 12km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 400m

    • Time 5 hours

  • Trek via a chaotic canyon system to the beautiful lake of Alftavatn (Swan Lake).

    The idea that there is always some logic to landscape is proved to be false today. The canyon complex south of Hrafntinnusker is just as chaotic as it is charming. The route meanders easily southwards, crossing snow bridges and passing yet more steaming hot springs. If weather permits, we might take a side trip, climbing up to the snowfields of the Kaldaklof Mountains and possibly reaching the summit of Mount Haskerdingur (1281m), one of Iceland’s most spectacular viewpoints. On a good day there are views right across the dark volcanic plains to the huge icecap of the Myrdalsjokull Glacier. On the southern edge of the Torfajokull Massif, we descend a long slope towards the black sands and palagonite ridges around Lake Alftavatn. We camp right at the edge of the lake, one of the most beautiful sites on our route.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 500m

    • Distance 13km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1000m

    • Time 5 hours

  • Cross rivers and a black sand plain, with views of Myrdalsjokull Icecap. Overnight at Emstrur.

    There are several rivers to cross today, as we head southwards and towards the white ice cliffs of the Myrdalsjokull Icecap. Some of these glacial streams and rivers are bridged, but others need to be forded – a chilly experience for the feet. After a long, but gentle climb, we descend to the green oasis of Hvanngil, where there is a mountain hut. We continue our walk, crossing another couple of rivers, to reach a surreal 5 kilometre wide plain of black sand and pumice, beneath the conical peak of Storasula. Here, we are also much closer to the impressive Myrdalsjokull Icecap. The scenery changes again on the final stretch of today’s walk, as we cross a desert of low hills to reach our campsite at Emstrur. There are relatively minor ups and downs today.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 550m

    • Distance 19km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 600m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Trek through the Markarfljot Canyons to the spectacular Porsmork Valley.

    The first challenge today is to cross the bridge across the Emstrur River. Having overcome this obstacle, we trek through the magnificent Markarfljot Canyon, which was carved out by thundering floods, caused by volcanic eruptions under the ice cap. The effects of erosional forces are visible at every step on this trip and nowhere more obvious than in the Porsmork Valley. For the first time on our trek, we enter a green and well-vegetated valley, which becomes more luxuriant the closer we get to Porsmork. The last part of the hike is through thick birch forest, where even the lava ridges are covered with scrubby trees and the lovely arctic flowers that bloom for a few weeks each summer. Porsmork means Thor’s forest and it is not hard to see why this lovely area should be considered to belong to a god. It is out of this world! The valley is guarded on all sides by tremendous, fast-flowing rivers and steep glacier-clad mountains. It is one of the most beautiful spots in Iceland and the favourite weekend retreat of many of Reykjavik’s walkers.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 600m

    • Distance 17km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 850m

    • Time 6 hours

  • Trek across Fimmvorduhals Pass (1116m) to the waterfall of Skogarfoss. Drive back to Reykjavik.

    This is the hardest day of our trek, but we should be ready for it after 4 days of walking. Anyone not feeling up to the challenge can stay with the support vehicle today. But, it would be a shame to miss out on what is one of the most spectacular walking days in Iceland. Our route up to Fimmvorduhals Pass takes us past Falcon Cliff into a narrow canyon and then up onto the knife-edge ridge of Kattahryggur. Beyond this ridge, we reach the remarkably flat Morinsheidi Plateau, which is surrounded by vertical cliffs on all sides. Fimmvorduhals Pass (1116m) is directly between the two glacier covered volcanoes of Myrdalsjokull (1460m) to the east and the infamous Eyjafjallajokull (1666m) to the west. It is a dramatic place. To the north, we have a bird’s-eye view over the Porsmork Valley, the volcano, Tindfjoll and parts of our trekking route. To the south, we can see the black southern coast of Iceland and the volcanic Westmann Islands. En route to the lowlands, we explore the Skogar Canyons and then end our trek beneath the thundering, 60 metre (200 feet) high Skogarfoss Waterfall. We then have a 3-hour drive back to Reykjavík, where we check in at our guesthouse accommodation.

    • Accommodation Guesthouse

    • Ascent 1300m

    • Distance 28km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bl

    • Descent 1500m

    • Time 9 hours

  • Departure day.

    KE Land Only package services end with breakfast at the hotel.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A professional English speaking Icelandic guide
  • Overland transport including vehicle support throughout the trek
  • All accommodation as described
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All camp and kitchen equipment

  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers between Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik are not included
  • The cost of showers at the mountain huts
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc

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.

Transfers between Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik are not provided. The Flybus provides the best airport transfer service. The Flybus ticket office is situated just inside the terminal and is clearly signposted. When you buy your ticket let them know which hotel you need to be dropped of at. The Flybus leaves the airport following each incoming flight, 30 - 40 minutes after each arrival. The Flybus will take you to the bus station in Reykjavik and you will need to ask the bus driver which bus takes you on to your hotel (the cost of this 'second' bus is included in the Flybus ticket). For the return journey to the airport, your guesthouse reception will assist with booking your ticket and advising you where you will board the bus. For more information please visit ( the cost is around £15.00 each way.

This holiday does not involve any significant ascent to altitude and we would not expect any altitude issues with this trip.

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 although it may be possible to book a single room at an additional cost. Whilst on trek we will be camping and will use 3-person tunnel tents for 2 persons. It is also possible to book a single tent for an additional cost. Most camping will be beside mountain huts which will have shower facilities available for a small charge. We do not use the mountain huts because they are regularly overbooked and crowded. We can get a better night's sleep in our tents. Additional hotel nights in Reykjavik are also available. For Hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website. Hotels are subject to availability and prices may vary.

An essential part of your holiday is participation in camp chores including erecting tents and packing up. It’s all part of the adventure and if everyone puts in little effort the trip will run smoothly.

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

All food is purchased in Reykjavik, with the emphasis on fresh produce and easily-prepared meals. The trip leader, will prepare the group’s evening meals and will be grateful for any assistance from group members. 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.

All meals while on trek are included in the trip price. Clients will, however, be expected to pay for their own meals (other than breakfasts) whilst in Reykjavik.

Clients will pay for their own meals (other than breakfasts) whilst in Reykjavik. In practice, this will amount to 1 lunch and 2 dinners. You should allow around £80 (or the equivalent in dollars or euros) to comfortably cover the cost of these 3 meals. Approximately £150 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses, including these meals. 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).

An experienced English-speaking Icelandic guide will lead the trip and there will also be a support vehicle driver.

Tipping is not really expected in Iceland, but if your guide has done a good job, it would not be unreasonable for the group to invite him or her to your final meal, pay for their meal and offer a small token of your appreciation.

Your baggage on trek will be carried in the support vehicle. Clients should restrict themselves to a single trek bag. There is no weight limit on this bag 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.

KE Trek Bag / Free Gift

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.

A passport with 3 months remaining validity is required. Passport holders from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any EU countries do not require a visa. Other nationalities should check with the respective consulate in their own country.

Whilst we keep our information up to date, you should be advised that visa requirements can change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant commission in case of recent amendments.

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:

  • Sturdy and waterproof hiking boots
  • Gaiters
  • Sandals or similar (for river crossings)
  • Socks and underwear
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Waterproof overtrousers / rain-pants
  • Baselayer shirts (1 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve)
  • Midlayer fleece
  • Fleece jacket or jumper
  • Casual shirt or T-shirt (for Rekjavik evenings)
  • Warm jacket (down or synthetic)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm hat
  • Light thermal gloves and waterproof overgloves or mittens
  • Eyewear - sunglasses
  • Sleeping bag (comfort rating 0 degrees centigrade)
  • Thermarest or similar camping mattress
  • Drybags to keep items in your KE trek bag dry
  • Daypack of approximately 30 litres capacity
  • Sun protection (including for lips)
  • Water bottles x 2 (1 Litre / Quart))
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Swimwear (for hot springs)
  • Small trek towel
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Basic First Aid Kit. Including: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).

The following items are optional:

  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Trainers / sneakers
  • Trekking poles
  • Shorts
  • Spare laces
  • Headtorch / headlamp
  • Eye cover to assist sleeping in the near 24-hour daylight
  • Travel clothes
  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)
  • Camera and batteries
  • Pen-knife (remember to put all sharp objects in hold baggage)
  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)

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

Know before you go

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.

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on an active holiday getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. Hiking in hilly country is a great way to build stamina and regular jogging or swimming is good for developing cardio-vascular fitness.

You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general, no special immunizations or medications are necessary for travel to Iceland. A very good online resource is the National Health Travellers website at

The weather in Iceland in the period from July to early September is generally fairly good. We can expect daytime temperatures anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees centigrade, dropping to just above freezing in the evenings. At the highest points on our hike, 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 official language of Iceland is Icelandic. This language is similar to the ancient Norse language and to the languages spoken in the Faroe Islands and in parts of western Norway. Fortunately, most Icelandic people speak very good English. Your attempts to speak the local language will be well appreciated.

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

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