Days on Trails

Langisjór – Eldgjá Icelandic Highland Epic

Superjeep drop-off to edge of Europe’s largest ice cap, breathtaking backpack trekking traverse along a fissure lake and through black sand deserts with bright green moss covered mountains. Truly well off the beaten path!

Quick overview

What?
  • Genuinely unique guided Iceland experience far away from what most people visit.
  • Guided by a UIMLA International Mountain Leader & Wilderness First Responder with Icelandic guiding qualifications. Your guide has lived and guided in Iceland for multiple years and has a wealth of knowledge to share.
  • Off-road vehicle drop-off & pick-up with modified “super jeep” with very experienced local driver.
  • Pure cross country self-supported trekking. We live out of our backpacks/tents for multiple days.
  • Insane landscapes! Fissure lake, grey basalt & volcanic ash deserts, bright green moss topped mountains and views on enormous ice caps.
  • Guided walk through Reykjavik and visit to local geothermal pools.
  • Optional day off with a plethora of excursion options.
  • Midnight sun! This time of year, the sun barely sets!

Iceland is a popular destination for obvious reasons. The volcanic island in the North Atlantic offers some truly stunning and otherworldly scenery and the charms of a sparsely populated island nation. It’s popularity also means that many people visit a few key places to the point where once pristine areas feel like crowded amusement parks. Think about places like Landmannalaugar, the famous “Golden Circle” or the entire ring road for that matter. Join us on a truly unique Iceland experience.

Our guide has lived and worked as a glacier & wilderness guide in Iceland for several years. During his time there, he didn’t only get Icelandic guiding qualifications, he also got to know the most remote and rarely visited parts of the Fjallabak highlands and alien interior deserts such as Kjölur, Kerlingarfjöll, Lonsöraefi and many parts of Vatnajökull National Park. He’ll tell you plenty of stories about life in Iceland and the peculiarities of its unique geography.

Using modified “super jeeps” and very experienced local drivers, we will head deep into the heart of Iceland, all the way to the edge of Europe’s largest ice cap, far away from where most people even consider going. This is about as “off the beaten path” as it gets.

We gradually make our way along the shores of the Langisjór fissure lake. Crawling along hills of dark grey volcanic basalt rock and through black ash covered deserts, we marvel at the contrast with the bright green moss that clings on where nothing else survives. In the distance, we see enormous glaciers. We are truly on a different planet. Until we get closer towards more frequently visited parts towards the end of the hike, we expect to see very few people. If any at all. We are deep in the Icelandic interior where very few people ever venture. As far as guided trekking in Iceland goes, you will not find many offers like this!

When?

2020: Sunday July 5 – Sunday July 12

Date doesn’t work for you? Just contact us! We can offer custom dates and tailored itineraries.

Departure is guaranteed at 6 participants. To keep the group small enough to ensure a quality experience, we have a maximum number of 12 participants. 

Don’t wait too long to sign up! 6 Participants is easily reached and as soon as departure is guaranteed, we’ll let you know so you can still book cheap tickets well before departure! Last minute flights are always more expensive.

Pricing

EUR 1750 / CAD 2600 / USD 1960

Book your trip!

To book, simply email us your interest (info@daysontrails.com) and we will respond with detailed information.

Feel free to mail/call us with any questions you might have!

What’s Included
  • UIMLA International Mountain Leader & Wilderness First Responder with Icelandic mountain guiding qualifications from start to finish.
  • Three nights in Reykjavik (standard room, twin occupancy) on day 1, 6 & 7. Breakfast included.
  • Super jeep transfers and airport transfers to and from Reykjavik.
  • Two visits to Icelandic geothermal pools (Day 1 and 6)
  • Support from the Days on Trails team in the build-up to the adventure.
What’s not Included
  • Flights to and from Keflavik (can be arranged through our partner organization)
  • Lunch & dinner during the days in Reykjavik (shop or restaurant visits)
  • Trekking food (detailed example lists + food advice provided)
  • Personal trekking gear (we can assist with rentals)
  • Anything not listed in “included”

Note: Ground conditions, weather & group factors may lead to changes in the program by the guide(s). The goal is always to offer the best possible experience, but safety & wellbeing are always the priority and basis of all decisions made. Especially in Iceland, weather conditions can be very violent, but luckily the most extreme conditions seldom last very long.

Sunday, Day 1 – arrival + Reykjavik experience

After landing at Keflavik international airport, we take a transfer to Reykjavik. Depending on our time of arrival, we can enjoy exploring the city with its typical architecture and seaside capitol vibe. After a walk and some food, we relax in Reykjavik’s oldest pool the way Icelanders would. A wide range of outdoor hot pools to lounge in make us think we’re in an expensive spa! Night in a hotel downtown.

Monday, day 2 – Super jeep insertion and camp 1

In the morning, a modified “super jeep” and its experienced driver picks us up at the hotel. We are about to be brought to a place where only very few people have ever been and for which we need specially modified monster trucks and experienced drivers.  After a last stop at a supermarket, we’ll spend most of the day driving through otherworldly landscapes to eventually be dropped off at the very far end of Langisjór, a more than 20km long lake at the very edge of Vatnajökull, one of the largest ice caps on the planet. We’ll set up camp and use what is left of the day to explore our local surroundings towards the glaciers. We’ll be spending the next 4 days sleeping in tents and taking care of ourselves with the contents of our backpacks.

Tuesday, day 3 – Thursday, day 5

For the next three days, we gradually make our way along the shores of the Langisjór lake. Crawling along hills of dark grey volcanic basalt rock and through black ash covered deserts, we marvel at the contrast with the bright green moss that clings on where nothing else survives. In the distance, we see enormous glaciers. We are truly on a different planet. Until we get closer towards more frequently visited parts towards the end of the hike, we expect to see very few people. If any at all. We are deep in the Icelandic interior where very few people ever venture.

Friday, day 6 – Half day hike to Eldgjá and superjeep back to Reykjavik

After about half a day’s walk, we meet our superjeep driver and get picked up. We gradually make our way back to Reykjavik with a couple of stops along the way. We spend the evening relaxing in Reykjavik, and what better way to do it than by lounging in one of the geothermal outdoor pools? Night in a hotel.

Saturday, day 7 – Day in Reykjavik, possibility for excursions

After a glimpse on the first day, we get a full day to explore Reykjavik at our heart’s desire. You are free to choose from multiple excursions leaving from the city, visit some of the many museums or simply go for a stroll and enjoy the vibe. In case of severe weather or other Icelandic setbacks, this day can be used as a “spare day” to make sure we make it out of the remote interior in time. The Icelandic weather is notoriously fickle and can be very violent!

Sunday, day 8 – departure

Breakfast in the hotel and transfer back to Keflavik international airport.

The daily distances aren’t very long, but we do have to carry all of our gear and supplies on our backs.  Once we’ve been dropped off, there’s no roads, no houses, and very likely no people. Even though we share gear like burners and tents, your pack will still be somewhere between 15 – 20kg at the start of the trek. You are responsible for carrying your own load.

If we’re lucky with the weather, it can feel quite easy and we can enjoy long evenings in the midnight sun. But if the weather turns foul, wind and rain can make everything difficult. We’ll need to show teamwork and adult self control. Even though your guide is there to help and advise you, your self managment is still key. Not only with handling your gear, but also with handling occasional less comfortable situations.

This is preferrably a trek for people who have previous trekking / bivouac experience and have a good basic physical condition. Even though it can be a challenge, we are not on an “expedition”.  The time we are out there is limited to a handful of days and should be enough to offer a good challenge without being too much.

Once we have been dropped off on Monday, unless there is a serious medical emergency,  there is no way for you to leave the group before we get picked up on Friday. Not because we don’t want to, but because there is literally no human infrastructure and getting vehicles out there is – as you can tell from the trip price – very costly.

For a full kit list please see our example summer bivoauc packing list. Once you book the trip, we will assist you with detailed advice on what & how to pack.

We’ll be staying in hotels with twin beds. Upgrades or other room options might be possible pending on availability at time of booking. During the trek, you will sleep in tents.

Once the group has been formed, we will make detailed arrangements on where to meet. We can meet at the airport, but the transfer to the city is very straightforward, so if anyone arrives earlier or later, we can easily meet in the city as well. These are things that we can easily discuss and arrange once the time draws nearer.

As with any product or service, you will find seemingly similar offers at different price ranges. Offering something “cheap” usually means selling something in high volumes or compromising on quality. As a small dedicated team, we do neither. We are not a large operator that (re)sells bulk trips, to which we assign volunteers as leaders. Instead we do nearly all trip development “in-house” and assign only experienced and qualified leaders. This comes at a cost both for us and our guests. Compromise often comes at the expense of the guest. Remember, this might be your main holiday this year!

Going into remote and mountainous areas – just as any other activity in life – contains an element of risk. The biggest factor we are always dealing with is weather. As guides, the core of our job is risk reduction and risk management. We do this by careful planning and constantly re-evaluating everything while we are out on the trip. On the average day, you’re safer than you are in traffic back home. In order to deal with hazards caused by environmental conditions, we ask you to follow our gear & clothing advice as well as possible, to trust our decisions in the field and to accept there’s always a small amount of risk left. Still not convinced? Look at it like this… We make our living providing experiences. We wouldn’t have been doing it for this long if we were traumatizing and hurting people! In rare cases, extreme weather conditions can be reason for cancellation. Due to the realities of weather prediction, we can only make big decisions like this last minute. 

Icelandic weather changes very rapidly. Usually temperatures during the day are between 8 – 15°C, dropping at night. It might be totally quiet, or we might have gale force winds. Whatever is the case, weather seldom remains the same for very long. We will carry satellite communication devices that will bring us regular weather updates so we can make the best possible decisions based on very recent forecasts.

As much as we intend to avoid setbacks, they can be expensive. It is compulsory to prove that you have travel insurance covering search & rescue and repatriation. We strongly advise you to get cancellation insurance so you don’t lose any non-refundable deposits in case you can’t make it to a trip because of circumstances or due to unsafe weather conditions or natural disasters. For Canadians, travel insurance may be purchased through Georgia Hardy Tours Inc. at the time of registration. GHT and its insurance partner, T.I.P.S, offer a wide range of travel insurance plans, including but not limited to: Ultimate, All-Inclusive, Emergency Medical, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption. People from Europe have multiple options available from insurance providers and can be purchased online. Feel free to contact us for advice.

American, Canadian or EU citizens travelling to Iceland do notrequire a visa, but will need a valid passport.

It is important that you let us know about any pre-existing medical conditions you have so that we can make sure we can support you fully throughout the trip. If you are concerned that a medical condition will prevent you from completing the activity, it is essential that you see your doctor and show them the itinerary. Please remember that failing to declare a medical condition could invalidate your insurance, and if there is an incident, put yourself, our guides and other members of the group at risk.

This is not what we want to happen, but in Iceland it can and has happened! This is nothing we (and the locals) aren’t used to. Since we don’t rely on booked huts during our trekking days, we might have to decide to explore a different area or make significant changes to the program for reasons of safety. This is not what we want to do, but if weather forces our hand, we have a lot of in country knowledge to disucuss new options with you.