Ţórsmörk, one of Iceland's most renowned beauty spots and our first destination for this Highlands tour, is an enclave surrounded on three sides by spectacular glaciers, and only accessible by (4x4) vehicles which,in order to reach it, have to ford more than 20 brooks and streams!
Once there, we will start by admiring the Gígjökull glacial lagoon, and then proceed to explore the majestic Stakkholtsgjá gorge on foot.
The afternoon will spent on exploring the area north of the river Krossá, ascending perhaps the mount Valahnúkur from whose summit one can enjoy a compelling view of the nearby glaciers. Another possibility is to go and marvel at the bizarre rock formations at Stóriendi.
We will pass by the celebrated Seljalandsfoss waterfall, in the late afternoon.
Overnight at Stóra-Mörk farm accommodation, or similar in the near vicinity.
Crossing over the wash-out of yet another big river, the Markarfljót this time, we will perceive the now world famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier, after it's recent volcanic eruption.The district on the southern side of the Eyjafjalla -and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, being extremely well sheltered from the northern winds,enjoys a micro climate all of it's own, as attested by the numerous wheat and barley fields which have been planted there in recent years.But suddenly, another spectacular waterfall springs into view: the magnificent 180 ft high Skógafoss.
Proceeding eastwards from this southernmost tip of mainland Iceland, we will first drive up to the edge of the glacier tongue Sólheimajökull, which strangely enough was longtime advancing while most other glaciers in Iceland were retreating, but now it's started to retreat as well.
We will arrive at the picturesque village of Vík í Mýrdal around lunchtime and after refreshments,if the tour takes place sometimes from early spring till late summer, have the opportunity (not included) to set off, in an amphibious vehicle owned by a local tour operator, either on a short cruise around the Reynisdrangar rocks or even go all the way to the Dyrhólaey mull itself and to continue our journey from there. In any case, the breathtaking landscape and very active bird life,i.e.fulmars, kittiwakes and seagulls all year round, arctic terns, puffins by the thousands in summer are all there for our enjoyment.
Crossing over another washout, the Mýrdalssandur, a sandy desert and then tremendous Eldhraun lava-field which is the country's biggest in historical times, covering an area of almost 560 sq.km. We will then head inland, over the spectacular 40 km (25 m.) trail leading to the origin of that eruption, the Lakagígar row of craters, which produced this most spectacular eruption in the years 1783-84, devasting not only vast areas of S-E Iceland, but also causing havoc overseas, crop failures and hardship in the northern hemisphere for several years.
Overnight at farm-guesthouse Hunkubakkar, or close similar accommodtion in close vicinity.
Leaving the South East, we will head inland and, having left the last farms behind us after roughly 40 kilometers, we will set out on the Fjallabaksleiđ nyrđri mountain trail, still with a view of the same tremendous Eldhraun on our right for great distances. Soon, however, as we climb up onto the central highlands plateau, we will first encounter our first unbridged river, and shortly thereafter arrive at Eldgjá, which is the longest eruptive volcanic fissure on the earth's surface. Then, after an almost never ending succession of streams and gullies, many of them quite spectacular, we will finally arrive shortly before noontime at the most picturesque and scenic area in Iceland, the Fjallabak Nature reserve, with at it's centre the mountain oasis of Landmannalaugar, which offers some excellent opportunities for taking some good walking trips and hikes,to take photographs, well as a warm bath. After a picnic lunch, the trail continues alongside the Frostastađa-lake, and the Ljótipollur explosive crater, and then westwards, over several lava-fields and expanses of sand, pumice fields and other wasteland, all tributaries of the numerous volcanic craters which can be found in the vicinity of Mount Hekla, the country's most famous volcano (last eruption in the year 2000), we will arrive in the late afternoon, at the Hrauneyjar Highlands Outpost, for dinner and overnight stay.
This whole day will be spent driving over the Sprengisandur mountain trails, arriving around noontime at the start the desolate Nýidalur mountain cabin, situatead not far from the geographical center of Iceland, for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we will set off on another even more desolate mountain trail, the Gćsavatnaleiđ, crossing over sands, deserts, lavafields, crossing rivers, etc, until in the late afternoon, we will arrive at the southern side of the Dyngjufjöll mountain range, and it's most famous landmark, the Askja caldera, for an overnight stay at the Drekagil mountain cabin.
We start this day by taking a hike to the Víti crater, inside the Askja caldera, with a possibility of taking a bath in it's warm waters. After lunch, we will head north in the direction of Herðubreið mountain, where we will go and watch the torrential Jökulsá glacial river where it in in the process of carving out a canyon. In the late afternoon over a long and tormented mountain trail, in direction of the country's most remote farm and guesthouse at Möđrudalur, for dinner and overnight stay.
The next day we will first, we will start by driving northwards across the deserts of Mývatns-and Möđrudalsörćfi ahead of us, with hopefully a glimpse of Iceland's most impressive peak, the Herđubreiđ far away to the south, and onwards to Iceland's most powerful waterfall, the Dettifoss, and admire it's tremendous power and the beautiful canyon surrounding it. Heading back north, we will arrive around noontime at Lake Mývatn.
Among the lake's main attractions is first of all the varied bird life (no less than 14 species of ducks!), followed by the Skútustađagígir pseudo-craters, the Dimmuborgir Rock formations, Grjótagjá and Stóragjá fissures (with the latter being perfect for bathing "au naturel"), the Námaskarđ solfatares and fumaroles , etc.
Perhaps on our second day here, we can make a visit to the Krafla geothermal power project, the Námaskarđ fault, and the nearby explosive crater of Víti .
Weather permitting, we can also envisage to take a hike along the rims of another magnificent explosive crater, the Hverfjall, which is the perhaps the most remarkable landmark of this whole magnificent region.
Two overnights in lake Mývatn area, probably at Skútustađir .
Dinner and overnight stay at Lake Mývatn.
On this seventh day of our trip, we will start by heading northwards from lake Mývatn, and leaving the Kieselguhr Road fairly quickly in order to engulf ourselves on the Ţeystareykir mountain trail, heading towards Iceland's most powerful geothermal area. The huge and numerous fissures in this area are truly impressive, bearing witness to the neverending continenal drifts and tectonic plate movements.
At noontime, we should be arriving in the picturesque village of Húsavík, perhaps going on a whale-watching tour if they are still available in the late summer season.
In the afternoon, we will leave Húsavík over the regular North-east road to Akureyri. After a visit of the capital of North-Iceland, we will head westwards, and in the region on Húnavatnssýsla, head inlands again, over that most travelled of all Iceland Highalnd trails, the Kjalvegur, and arrive in the late afternoon at the renowned mountain oasis of Hveravellir, with it's numerous hot springs, and open air bathing pool.
Dinner and overnight stay at Hveravellir mountain cabin.
On this last day of our trip, we will start heading southwards over the Kjalvegur trail, hopefully with a good view of the rhyolitic mountain range of Kerlingarfjöll, arriving around noontime at the famous waterfall Gullfoss, Not far from there, we will reach the world famous Geysir geothermal area: The "old faithful" himself is now mostly dormant, but nearby Strokkur erupts regularly every 4-5 minutes. A few miles further up the valley, we reach the splendid Gullfoss waterfall, which never fails to profoundly impress the visitor.
After lunch, we head back southwards again and soon, we will discover the holiday resort of Laugavatn, where geothermal activity is also abundant: the Vígđalaug fountain, greenhouses and both a swimming-pool and a natural steam-bath, simply built on top of a hot-spring, where we can have a relaxing sauna.
Proceeding across the Lyngdalsheiđi moor, with it's numerous caves and volcanic craters,we will soon be reaching the Ţingvellir National Park,via the beautiful shoreline of the lakeŢingvallavatn. Criss-crossed by faults and fissures, we will first go to see the best known of these, Nikulásargjá, before crossing the Ţingvellir (Parliament Plains) towards Lögberg (Speaker's Rock), where the country's national assembly took place for centuries. Then we will ascend the Almannagjá fissure, where the effects of the tectonic plate movements on the earth's crust can clearly be seen.
We will then wind up this journey by a rapid return to Reykjavík, via the Mosfellsheiđi moor, in the late afternoon, and after a short sightseeing trip of the city, the tour winds up by your return to your hotel.
Duration of tour: 8 days, 7 nights.Mileage: 1100 miles, 1760 kilometers
Minimum number of passengers: 2 persons Max: 10. (Bigger private groups can be accommodated)
Departures: Mondays by-weekly or by request, in August and September only.
The Iceland Highlands (4x4) Special Season: Validity: Price: Summer August-September
Deposit amount at reservation: 20% ; Single room supplement: +16%
Trade enquiries welcome.
Scheduled departures for 2014: see schedules
Conditions of sale.
Services included: (4x4) transportation* and guidance. Small comfortable hotels, farm accommodation, mountain cabins(sleeping bags provided by Valtours), or similar, in double rooms, or cabin dormitories.
All meals,(big breakfast, quick lunch, three course dinner), starting with lunch on first day and ending with lunch on the last day. Drinks/minibars not included. *(4x4) Vehicles:
1 > 4 Passengers : Toyota Landcruiser ;
Necessary gear: Good outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear. Also bring your swimsuit.
Operated: All year round. Note: During the wintertime (or indeed exceptionally in other seasons as well) , the tour may come momentarily to a halt for reasons of bad weather, snow, flooded roads or other such unforseeable "force majeure" causes. Valferđir ehf will not accept any responsibility for inconvenience or extra-cost incurred because of such events.