Fastpacking & Trail Running Iceland
Iceland is a special place. It’s this small hunk of steaming volcanic rock sitting out in the middle of the North Atlantic just kissing the Arctic Circle… And it’s beautiful! There are volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, canyons, beaches, etc… The list of geological wonders goes on and on, and there’s a grandness to the landscape that is hard to explain. Most visitors will explore Reykjavik and possibly a few of the destinations within easy striking distance of the city. However, we believe the best way to experience Iceland is to get out there and spend time moving through the landscape… feeling the rain… fighting the wind… and listening to the roar of the waterfalls.
So, we invite you to join us on a running and fastpacking trip that will take us up mountains, through old lava fields, past hot springs and fumaroles, around and over glaciers, and under so many waterfalls you won’t want to see another for a very long time!
The general plan is to spend a little over a week exploring. We’ll start off with a day in the city of Reykjavik, spend three days fastpacking and staying in huts on the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals trails, and finally use our remaining days exploring the south coast between Reykjavik and Jokulsarlon including Skaftafell National Park. More specific trip details are included below.
Dates: TBD (8 Days)
Cost: 2020 Dates & Cost TBD
Group Size: (6) + (2) Chaperones, minimum of (4) for trip to run
Distance Covered Running/Hiking: ~120km w/options for more or less
Good For: Athletic hikers and regular runners. This trip is not designed to test your fitness and the entire itinerary can be completed comfortably by a strong hiker.
Included: (2) chaperones, all accommodations – huts/camping (tents provided)/hotels, bus transport to and from trailheads, and rental van/gas.
Not included: airfare, transport to and from the airport in Keflavik to Reykjavik (easy/inexpensive bus trip), and meals.
Cancellations: Full refund if cancelled before July 1, 2019. Refund minus 15% if cancelled between July 1-10, 2019. No Refunds after July 13, 2019
Email Us to learn more or reserve a spot!
Day 1: Saturday, July 27 – Arrive/Explore Reykjavik | Hotel
As everyone arrives we will gather in Reykjavik. The city is very walkable and this day is the perfect time to explore, stretch the legs, and see the sights. We will also spend some time making final preparations for the fastpacking portion of the trip for which we will depart the following day.
Day 2: Sunday, July 28 – Travel To Landmannalaugar, Hike Blahnjukur (6km) | Hut
At 8am we will start the bus ride from Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar. The journey takes us through some beautiful terrain before reaching our final destination around noon. Once we arrive we will check into the hut, claim our bunks, hike Blahnjukur, and soak in the hot springs.
Day 3: Monday, July 29 – Hike Landmannalaugar to Alftavatn (25km) | Hut
Today will be our first day on the trail and our second biggest elevation day. We’ll start by hiking up to the hut at Hrafntinnusker (12km), before descending to Alftavatn (12km). This isn’t that long of a day, but it is easily one of the most beautiful. We’ll start off traveling through an old lava field and geo thermal zone. As we climb we’ll move away from the multicolored rhyolite slopes and into areas of black volcanic sand speckled with obsidian and broken up by patches of persistent snow and neon green ribbons of hot water. As we descend to Alftavatn the terrain will transition to a otherworldly shade of green. You won’t want to rush this section, and be sure to bring your camera.
Day 4: Tuesday, July 30 – Hike Alftavatn to Thorsmork (35-40km) | Hut
This will be our longest day, but the terrain is relatively flat or slightly downhill. As we leave Alftavatn there will be a couple of bone chilling river crossings which will need to be navigated. We’ll cross vast black sand plain that feels at times like you’re walking on the moon. Then as we descend into the Thorsmork valley we’ll start to encounter some of the 1% of Iceland that is forested. Before arriving at our hut for the night we will have the option to stop at the Volcano Huts Lodge where there are a few niceties… hot food, wifi, etc… This side trip adds ~5km. This is also a potential bail out point as we could catch a bus from here back to Reykjavik.
Day 5: Wednesday, July 31 – Hike Thorsmork to Skogar (25km) | Hotel
This is another spectacular day, and our biggest day of climbing. We will be traversing the Fimmvorduhals Trail which will take us up out of the Thorsmork Valley and over the pass next to Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 disrupting air travel in Europe for weeks. We’ll pass right through the old lava flows which are still steaming. Once over the pass we’ll descend to Skogar. Along the descent glacial fed streams converge, grow, and fall, and along the trail we will encounter waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. The final set of falls is the famous Skogafoss which is one of the most iconic and grand waterfalls in all of Iceland. At the end of this day we will catch a bus back to Reykjavik where we will stay the night.
Day 6: Thursday, August 1 – South Coast, Hveragerdi Hot Spring Hike (8km)| Camp
This day will involve a considerable amount of driving as we make our way from Reykjavik along the south coast to the glacial lagoon at iceberg beach at Jokulsarlon. We’ll start the day with a short hike/run into a valley where a hot river and a cold river converge creating the perfect place to soak sore muscles. After the soak we’ll start driving with our ultimate destination being the glacial lagoon and iceberg beach at Jokulsarlon. On this night we’ll camp at Skaftafell National Park so we’re ready to explore the following day.
Day 7: Friday, August 2 – South Coast, Skaftafell National Park (up to 25km) | Camp
Today is all about exploring Skaftafell National Park. There are multiple glacial tongues that reach down from the Vatnajokull Glacier, waterfalls, and other sites. A variety of hiking/running options are available. Once we’re done exploring we’ll continue our journey back towards the capital city and will spend the night at a very well appointed campground in Reykjavik.
Day 8: Saturday, August 3 – Reykjavik Thermal Pools/Depart
In the morning we’ll visit Reykjaviks Public Thermal Pools located next to the campground. Here you will find a naturally heated olympic sized swimming pool, water slides, cold pool, saunas, and hot pools of increasingly hot temps. This is a great opportunity to relax, reflect, and take a shower before getting on a plane back to the U.S. Depending on individual departure times there are buses available from the campground to the airport. Eventually we will drive to the airport to return the rental van and depart.
Things To Keep In Mind
Fastpacking – This trip is intended to be an introduction to fastpacking. Our goal will be to cover more ground and see more sites than is typical by carrying less. During the fastpacking portion of the trip we will be utilizing huts along the trail to keep the amount of carried gear to a minimum. The huts will provide shelter, cooking equipment, potable water, and sleeping pads. Participants will need only to carry clothing, food, water, and a sleeping bag or sack.
Air Travel – IcelandAir and WOWAir are the two major carriers that serve Iceland. There are regular flights out of Boston and Montreal. WOW will often look less expensive initially, but they have high baggage fees. Once you add it all up it’s almost a wash. Boston has a higher frequency of flights and will have more options to fit your schedule. However, we did schedule this trip so that our travel days lined up well with flights out of Montreal, and that is where our chaperones will be flying out of.
Post Hike Camping – Camping in Iceland is a very comfortable experience. There are typically flush toilets, showers, wifi, and a covered community area for cooking/eating/socializing. We will be providing tents for everyone, but you will have to provide your own sleeping pad and bag.
Food – Eating out in Iceland is quite expensive. “Inexpensive” meals will be in the $20-$30 range and can easily be more. Because of this we are planning to purchase most of our food during the second half of the trip at the grocery store. Groceries are still on the expensive side, but overall the cost is much more reasonable. Also, shopping in the local grocery stores is such a great cultural experience, and you will definitely be able to find and try things that you will not find back home.
Cell Phones – Iceland is a very well connected place. Wifi is widely available, but we would still recommend purchasing a sim card at the airport when you arrive. They’re cheap and provide plenty of data to keep you in touch with your loved ones back home, post sick pics to instagram/facebook, and translate words so you know what you’re buying in the grocery store.
Weather – Iceland never gets very cold, but it also never get’s very warm. We’ll be there during the end of their summer. If the sun is out and there’s no wind you’d likely be comfortable in a t-shirt. However, you’re just as likely to need a puffy and a rain jacket. Every day we’ll likely experience every condition and you should be mentally prepared for this roller coaster. More specific clothing recommendations will be provided.