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32 Day Icelandic Coast to Coast Wild Group Hike

Join one of the certified guides in the Icelandic Mountain Guides team on this fantastic backpacking group expedition across the Icelandic wilderness and hike across a whole country in one month.

Duration32 days
Offer periodJun, Jul
Skill LevelAdvanced
Fitness LevelFit
Type of tripNot specified

Description

There are few time in life when you can hike across an entire country… this  32 day Coast to Coast group trekking adventure in the Icelandic wilderness is one of them!

Iceland is not a regular country, it’s an amazing island with some of the most amazing wild landscape in Europe.

So during over a month we’ll take you walking from 6 to 10 hours a day to make this backpacking expedition. We’ll go from Ásbyrgi, in the northern lowlands all the way south to Vik, in the south coast, for a total walking distance of  450 km.

During the trips you’ll be able to appreciate some spectacular nature attraction such as the North-Atlantic volcanic rift and the biggest glacier in Europe. We’ll also cross the entire Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, which is known for its amazing canyon and the wonderful Dettifoss waterfall.

All along the way you’ll experience unique sensations as we go through very different landscapes: from hiking beside the lava fields of the Krafla volcano to swimming at the famous Mývatn lake.

There are just too many attractions for me to tell you in just a few lines, you need to come experience them to understand what we are talking about!

So send us a request and I’ll guide you to conquer this 32-day group hike across Iceland, which is the ultimate challenge for the serious backpacker hiker!

Accommodation

Reykjavík domestic airport

More info

Please note that we recommend that passengers arrive in Iceland two days prior to departure.

Meeting point

Tent and huts

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Itinerary

Day 0: Meeting in Reykjavík

Briefing and preparatory meeting with the guide in Reykjavík at 12:00 p.m. After the meeting, there will be time to purchase necessary gear if needed and prepare luggage for storage in Reykjavík. This meeting is mandatory for all participants. Evening free, accommodation not included but can be added.

Day 1:  Reykjavík - Akureyri - Ásbyrgi - Vesturdalur 

Our trek starts in front of the information center of the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, situated in an old horseshoe-shaped canyon called Ásbyrgi. We scramble up the edge of the canyon and follow it until we reach a point which gives us a full view of all its beauty. Our heathen ancestors, the Vikings, believed that Odin’s (the chief of the old gods) eight-legged horse tripped somewhere above Iceland and had to put one of his eight legs down on earth, leaving the hoofmark for generations to admire. We continue crossing a moor until we reach the namesake of the park, the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, with the Jökulsá river growling at the bottom. As we follow the canyon, we pass Rauðhólar crater row, showing off intensive red and black scoria colors teasing your wildest imaginations of Earth’s natural beauty. We also hike passed the echo cliffs Hljóðaklettar just before reaching our campsite in Vesturdalur valley.

Distance: 12-14km (7.5-9mi)  Walking time: 5-7hrs

Day 2: Jökulsárgljúfur - Dettifoss

We continue following the canyon passing the turned-to-stone Giants Karl and Kerling and the fresh water sources Hólmatungur, before we plunge into the canyon itself and follow the river for a while. This is a rather unknown part of the park but many consider it its highlight because of its singularity. At the end of the day we come to Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall.

Distance: 18km (11-12mi)

Walking time: 7-8hrs

Day 3: Eilífsvötn

The Dettifoss waterfall dictates the end of the canyon and the end to the first portion of our tour. We leave this river to embark on rocky plains, hearty plateaus and the beautiful mountain lake Elífsvötn. At its far end we find one of the cozier places in Icelandic wilderness to camp.

Distance: 14-16km (8.5-10mi) Walking time: 7hrs

Day 4: Lava fields - Mývatn

A long and waterless day awaits us, but we promise, the effort is well worth it. During one the strangest and most moon-like days of the trip, we cross the most recent black lava field of the Krafla volcano. We hike through red craters, melted stone and muddy hot-springs, until we arrive in the little village of Reykjahlíð at the border of the famous lake Mývatn.

Distance: 20-25km (12.5-15.5mi)

Walking time: 8-9hrs

Day 5: Rest day

Rest day, with endless possibilities of sightseeing, thermal bathing and bird-watching around the lake.

Day 6: Mývatn - Kraká

From Reykjahlíð we head to the other side of the lake, passing unique places like the explosive crater Hverfjall and the strange pillars of Dimmuborgir, which might make one wonder why on earth Lord of the rings was shot in New Zealand. We set camp by the river Kráká.

Distance: 18-22km (11-13.5mi) Walking time: 8-10hrs

Day 7: Kraká - Ódáðahraun

Following the river, we slowly enter the highlands; all habitable land lies behind us now. A spring river of this kind is like an oasis that supports various birds and vegetation which will become increasingly scarce only a short distance away from the stream. At the end of the day we camp in the last cozy green spot before we enter the great deserts of Ódáðahraun.

Distance: 16-18km (10-11.5mi) Walking time: 6-8hrs

Day 8: Suðurárbotnar

Leaving the river, we start crossing the plains – mountains rising slowly at the horizon. After traversing some more old lava fields we arrive at Suðurárbotnar water sources situated at the edge of the great lava and sand desert Ódáðahraun, which we enter to find a little hut Dyngjufell where we stay the night.

Distance: 16-18km (10-11.5mi) Walking time: 6-8hrs

Day 9: Dyngjufjalladalur

Rugged, barren, desolate, hostile, moonlike are few of the words that come to one’s mind crossing the black desert of Ódáðahraun. We continue towards an even more Tolkien-like landscape of Dyngjufjalladalur, where we find like the day before, the warmth of a hut.

Distance: 20-22km (12-13.5mi)

Walking time: 8-10hrs

Day 10: Dyngjufjöll - Askja

We start the day by climbing slope after slope of the great Dyngjufjöll Mountains until we reach the magnificent Askja caldera. Passing the crater Víti and some steaming hot springs, we traverse the caldera to reach the famous Öskjuvatn Lake. From there we climb the slopes on the other side where we enjoy an excellent view over the lake and caldera as well as towards some of the most majestic mountains of Iceland, Herðubreið and Snæfell. Descending the other side leads us to a well-known campsite and some huts, where we will stay.

Distance: 19-20km (11.5-12.5mi)

Walking time: 8-10hrs

Day 11: Rest day at Askja

Day 12: Askja - Svartá

Day 12 is considered a “semi” rest day, because we don’t start hiking until the late afternoon. We enter a desert of black sand just north of Askja. This area is known for a peculiar green moss. We also run into the Oasis of Svartá river, in the middle of black sand dunes.

Distance: 10-12km (6-7.5mi)

Walking time: 5-6hrs

Day 13: The black deserts

After drinking our fill and filling up all water bottles, we continue crossing the black desert, now with Vatnajökull glacier on the left and the Askja caldera on the right. From here the view will remind you of Tolkien’s Mordor. Trotting the sand in the vast space north of Vatnajökull brings us, finally, to a hill in the sand with a glacial stream flowing by. This is where we camp, next to the only water available for many miles.

Distance: 16-18km (10-11.5mi)

Walking time: 6-8hrs

Day 14: Urðarháls - Kistufell

After the sand desert, the landscape becomes more hilly and rugged. We traverse a small lava field and mount an old shield Volcano Urðarháls, to discover one of the deeper craters in Iceland. Never far away from the Vatnajökull glacier we reach the rugged emergency hut of Kistufell Mountain where we stay the night.

Distance: 18-20km (11-12.5mi) 

Walking time: 7-9hrs

Day 15: Gæsavötn

Like the days before, this one is as deserted as it gets. Not a single plant, not even a lump of moss peaks out of the black sand or lava. Traversing an occasional glacial stream and passing an old crater row we continue until we come to the oasis Gæsavötn. Here we stay in a mountain hut, appreciating that there are other colors in Iceland than black.

Distance: 14-16km (8.5-10mi)

Walking time: 5-7hrs

Day 16: Gæsavötn - Vonarskarð

After a short hike from Gæsavötn we come to a critical glacial river. At this juncture, we will decide if we cross or, depending on conditions, turn towards its source and cross a small glacier. Further on we enter a vast pass called Vonarskarð (Pass of Hope). This pass was formed by the glacier and subglacial eruptions, these landscapes take on a new dimension, different from what we have seen so far. At the end of this day, we find a convenient campground and perhaps have a chance to enjoy some of the many hot baths this geothermal Vonarskarð area provides.

Distance: 24-28km (15-17.5mi)

Walking time: 8-10hrs

Day 17: Vonarskarð - Nýidalur

The Vonarskarð Pass lies between the glaciers Tungnafellsjökull and Köldukvíslarjökull. The geology is conditioned by the calderas on either side; geothermal activity is considerable since directly underneath the eastern caldera the Icelandic “Hot Spot” is to be found. We traverse the vast pass, over to the valley Snapadalur, where hot springs and solfataras are to be found, offering again a new set of colors. We have reached some rhyolite mountains, which unlike basaltic mountains, offer bright colors of great variety. After climbing a ridge of such mountains, we descend along the valley Jökuldalur, at which end we find the huts of Nýidalur.

Distance: 28-32km (17.5-20mi) Walking time: 9-11hrs

Day 18: Rest day

This is a rest day, used for reorganizing, showering, recuperating and maybe a short walk in the vicinity. We stay another night in the in Nýidalur.

Day 19: Nýidalur - Vonarskarð south

After an easy morning, and maybe a last shower, we leave the huts in Nýidalur in the afternoon. Once our packs are on our backs, we head southeast, towards the Köldukvíslarjökull outlet glacier, following a gentle stream leading into the southern part of the Vonarskarð Pass. Today´s hike is short and we make our first camp at the foot of the hills next to a gentle stream.

Distance: 18-22km (11-13.5mi)  Walking time: 8-10hrs

Day 20: Vonarskarð - Kaldakvísl

The Vonarskarð Pass is a sort of basin between the glaciers Tungnafellsjökull and Köldukvíslarjökull. Its geology is conditioned by the two calderas on both sides; geothermal activity is considerable since directly underneath there is supposedly the very centre of Iceland’s “Hot Spot”. We climb the hills to the Vonarskarð Pass and descend into the beautiful lake of Kvíavatn. Descending further to the source of the Kaldakvísl River crossing one of her streams before continuing to the outlet glacier of Köldukvíslarjökull. We will camp in the moraines.

Distance: 12-14km (7.5-9mi) Walking time: 5-6hrs

Day 21: Kaldakvísl glacier - Sveðja - Hraungil

Today we make an early start and head onto the Köldukvíslarjökull glacier. On the other side of the glacier awaits the River Sveðja (the hatch), one of the most complicated obstructions of this journey. Wading such a stream can be problematic but an early start might ensure our safe crossing. Once on the other side of the river we enter into the lava field of Hágönguhraun and continue south. Depending on the water situation, we will camp in a small crater, a perfect shelter against sudden gales who could descend from the glacier, or else continue to Hraungil.

Distance: 10-15km (6-9.5mi) Walking time: 5-7hrs

Day 22: Sylgja - Jökulgrindur - Jökulheimar

Before we head into Tröllahraun also known as the “Lava of Trolls “, we need to cross the Sylgja river to witness aftermath of recent lava flow where strange images lurk out. We continue south passing through the sand blown lava to Tungnaárbotnar peaking at us from the left. After, we will change direction and turn west along the Jökulgrindur mountain ridge. We enjoy a night of comfort after a good day’s hike at Jökulheimar glaciological hut, the only “urbanized” place during the tour. As we rest, we also prepare for our crossing of Tungnaá river in the morning.

Distance: 10-15km (6-9.5mi) Walking time: 5-7hrs

Day 23: Tungná - Langisjór

Good thing we rested easy, and prepared for Tungnaá, because crossing the big river demands special techniques and a considerable amount of time. When we have crossed all the different riverbeds and have dried our feet, we head between the glacier and Grænifjallgarður mountain range ascending the windblown hills of tuff and sand. All of a sudden one of the most spectacular places in Iceland lies ahead of us. We enjoy the breathtaking scenery before heading down to the white-blue lake of Langisjór, to the south rises the impressive mountain range Fögrufjöll, creating a perfect backdrop for this magical lake. We round the eastern end of Langisjór heading into the hills of Fögrufjöll. In this tiny oasis, Grasver, we will set up camp.

Distance: 16-18km (10-11.5mi) Walking time: 6-8hrs

Day 24: Fögrufjöll - Skaftá

We hike along the Fögrufjöll ridge in a westerly direction. To our south lie both the black sand plains of Skaftá river, the green Fögrufjöll and to the left, the amazing lake of Langisjór. Multiple craters and small lakes in between these hills create extraordinary forms, reflecting in water and entertaining the eyes with gorgeous colors and contrasts. Passing at the foot of the Sveinstindur peak, we turn to follow the Skaftá River finding a suitable campground in one of the many hidden gullies, offering clear spring water and a shelter from the wind.

Distance: 22-24km (13.5-15mi) Walking time: 7hrs

Day 25: Lakagígar

We head out along the Skaftá River, climbing the Uxatindar peaks towering over the river rapids and a canyon, enjoying the views to the Lakagígar crater rows on the other side of the river. The landscape is quite spectacular, tall palagonite cliffs, series of labyrinth gulleys cut into thick tephra layers. These are the outskirts of the big volcanic fissure Eldgjá canyon, which erupted for the last time in 934. Descent along Eldgjá towards Lambaskarðshólar where we stay in a mountain hut for the night.

Distance: 17-20km (10.5-12.5mi) Walking time: 6-8hrs

Day 26: A morning rest day at Lambaskarðshólar - Álftavötn

We rest in the morning. In the afternoon, we set out for the trek to the lakes of Álftavötn. We follow the river Syðri Ófæra that drains from the glacier Torfajökull through rolling green hills. Torfajökull is not only a glacier but one of the bigger geothermal areas in Iceland. Depending on weather the river can be high or low but we will most certainly be able to cross it over to the lakes Álftavötn on a natural bridge. There is a traditional hut close to the lakes where we spend the night. The tranquility of this magical place is amazing and this is really a great spot to recharge. Rustic hut, outhouse, no showers.

Distance: 7- 10 km (4-6 mi) Ascent/descent: 150 m

Walking time: 3 – 4hrs

Day 27: Álftavötn - Strútur

Today we continue along the river Syðri Ófæra crossing once again the Canyon of Fire, Eldgjá and can wonder at the immensity of the natural forces at play when it was created. The landscape changes from green meadows to black sands with screaming green streaks of moss that almost blow our minds. After rounding the massif of Svartahnjúksfjöll we come to the river Hólmsá and its lagoon. We need to cross the river and even though it may feel cold we can warm ourselves in the natural pool Strútslaug, on the other side. After a relaxing soak in the pool we conclude the day´s march walking to the hut at Strútur where we spend the night. Comfortable hut, WC and showers available.

Distance: 24 km (15 mi) 

Ascent/descent: 300 m

Walking time: 7 – 8hrs

Day 28: Strútur - Hvanngil

Leaving the comfortable hut, we set out for the day´s trek along the Mýrdalssandur, the black volcanic sand plain, hemmed in by the icecap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier to the south and the Torfajökull rhyolite massif to the north. We need to cross some of the rivers and better have our river crossing shoes ready. The mystical palagonite landscape of Hvanngil valley greets us and we are yet amazed at the wonders of the Icelandic landscape. At the mouth of the valley a hut waits for the night. Comfortable hut, WC and showers available.
Distance: 14-18 km (9-11 mi)

Ascent/descent: 150 m

Walking time: 5 – 6hrs

Day 29: Hvanngil - Emstrur

We pass at the foot of the green conic volcano of Stórasúla before entering the black deserts of Mælifellssandur. Heading towards another ancient and verdurous volcano, the Hattfell, we enter the Emstrur region where farmers used to graze their sheep in summer. Before arriving at the Botnar hut where we stay the night, we visit the magnificent Markarfljót canyon cut almost 200 m down into the rocks south of Hattfell.

Distance: 14 km (10 mi) 

Walking time: 5-6hrs 

Descent: 40 m (130 ‘)

Day 30: Emstrur - Þórsmörk

We continue up and down through the small valleys and gullies of Emstrur, where the great Mýrdalsjökull glacier rises only a couple of kilometers away. At the end of the day the vegetation starts to grow thicker and higher as we descend in to Þórsmörk’s (the woods of Thor) green valleys filled with arctic birch forests and colorful flowers. Night in one of the huts in Þórsmörk.

Distance: 17km (10.5 mi)

Walking time: 6-7hrs

Descent: 300 m (985 ‘)

Day 31: Þórsmörk - Fimmvörðuháls - Skógar

Leaving Þórsmörk, we climb the hills leading to the pass of Fimmvörðuháls, walking along the Kattarhryggir ridges with views to the impressive mountain of Útigönguhöfði up to Morinsheiði heath. The end of the Morinsheiði plateu we enjoy the view of the lava stream that flowed down from the Fimmvörðuháls volcano in March and early April 2010. The lava is all set with different outlets of fuming steam and decorated with green and yellow sulphur. As we gain height above Morinsheiði we come again to the lava and then to the two craters Magni and Móði that erupted prior to the main Eyjafjallajökull crater. We cross the brand-new lava just at the foot of the magnificent red craters, through places were the lava is almost glowing warm inside the fissures and cracks on its surface. Then we head down towards Skógar following the river exploring its many hidden gorges, and waterfalls all the way to the famous Skógafoss waterfall. The river and its surroundings offer great scenery. The coast seems to be within arm´s reach and you can almost feel the surf on your cheeks. Arriving at Skógafoss we check in to our accommodation and have our farewell dinner.

Distance: 24 km (14 mi)

Walking time: 9-11hrs Ascent: 900 m (2953’) Descent: 1000 m (3280’

Day 32: Skógar - down to the beach - Reykjavík.

After a good night’s rest and breakfast we hike down to the beach to celebrate the „Coast to Coast“ achievement. Then back to Skógar where we hop on the scheduled bus to Reykjavík. Arrival at Reykjavik BSI bus terminal at 7:20 pm, where the trip ends.

Distance: 14 km (10 mi)

Walking time: 3-4hrs


About the guide

guide profile img

Icelandic Mountain Guides has been setting the standard in terms of safety, expertise and environmental protection in Iceland since its creation in 1994. Our outdoor adventure company is owned and operated by mountain guides and was the first to offer the Glacier Walk in Iceland, which was key to the industry's exponential growth.

You will find our company's headquarters in Reykjavik and our base camp in the stunning Skaftafell National Park. Whether you want to go hiking, skiing or climbing or whether you are looking for a day tour or a multi-day tour, we can help you. Come with us to discover everything Iceland and Greenland have to offer.


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Prices per person

Group of 6

USD 8545 each

Group of 7

USD 8545 each

Group of 8

USD 8545 each

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Price includes

• Guiding fee

• Accommodation

• Flight to the start of the trip

• Transport during the trip

• Permit and entrance fees

• Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Price details

• A minimum of 6 people is required for this program. The price is US$ 8288 per person up to 12 clients.


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