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With seasonal, geological and biological extremes, the highlands of Iceland provide opportunities for pupils to discover a world that is vastly different to any other on the planet.

To discover the beating heart of Iceland, the itinerary heads to the centre of the island, where students will find themselves in the world of Norse mythology and some of the most incredible natural forces on the planet. Then, groups will hike their way south to the coastline, passing lava fields, glaciers, and valleys named after Gods to gain a deeper understanding of how geology shapes the landscape - a great educational experience for all. 

Across this itinerary, students will find themselves working their way through flourishing mountain valleys, hiking across volcanic craters, and even descending into the depths of a glacier. Iceland is a location that seems as though it was designed purely to highlight the incredible processes that take place in nature to form, shape, and craft islands.

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly to Reykjavik

    On arrival in Reykjavik, you will be met and transferred from the airport to your overnight accommodation in the city. The rest of the evening is at leisure to explore Reykjavik and enjoy an evening meal.

  2. Day 2: Transfer to the Highlands

    This morning, transfer to the highlands of Iceland, passing Helka volcano - one of the most active in the country – as well as the Rauðaskál crater where you will have a short hike around the area. After the walk, transfer to Ljótipollur for a second short hike to experience the vibrant terrain and geological features of this volcanic island.

    By the end of the day, you will reach Landmannalaugar and set up camp for the night. This is the beginning of the famous Laugavegur Trail and the start of your valley hiking adventure. Before turning in, there might be time for a dip in the naturally heated creeks and a chance to explore the area around the campsite.

  3. Day 3: Hike to Álftavatn

    This morning, after breakfast, clear away the camp and begin your hike towards Álftavatn. This part of the trail will take you past beautiful gorges, steaming hot springs and striking yellow mountain ridges all the way up to Hrafntinnusker.

    Once you reach Hrafntinnusker, you will descend down in the gullies of Jökultungur where you can witness hundreds of steaming hot springs and mud pools, highlighting the geological wonder that is Iceland. From this section of the trail, you will get to enjoy fascinating views to the south to the Álftavatn area (Swan Lake), and the Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers. 

  4. Day 4: Continue Hiking to Emstrur

    Today, the trail will take you around the foot of the green conic volcano of Stórasúla. This is one of the most beautiful and truly conical volcanoes of Iceland and is a sharp contrast as you then enter the black deserts of Mælifellssandur. Here, you will be able to clearly see the different forces of nature at work as they craft the volcanoes, rivers, valleys and hills.

    Afterwards, make your way towards another ancient volcano, the Hattfell. You will proceed to enter the Emstrur region, and area known for being where farmers used to graze their sheep. Before arriving at Botnar where you will set up camp for the night, you will get to visit the magnificent Markarfljót canyon, which cuts almost 200 metres down into the rocks.

  5. Day 5: Hike to Thorsmork

    Once you have packed up camp, you will continue up and down through the small valleys and gullies of Emstrur, offering simply magical views and drastic landscapes. It is here that the great Mýrdalsjökull glacier begins to rise only a couple of kilometres away.

    Later in the day, you will notice that the vegetation starts to grow thicker and higher as you begin to descend in to Þórsmörk's (the woods of Thor). Here, green valleys filled with arctic birch forests and colourful flowers dominate the landscape and it is famed as one of the most photographed and hiked sections of Iceland. Your camp will be in the valley for the night.

  6. Day 6: Rivers & Glaciers

    Leaving Þórsmörk after breakfast, you will need to cross the river Krossá on a footbridge entering the magic landscapes of Goðalönd – 'The Abode of the Gods'. Once you arrive here, you will clearly see why the historic Icelanders named it as such. Nestled at the foot of two glaciers, this is a landscape of ridges and cliffs dominated by a multitude of flowers and grasses. It is here that you can truly appreciate the name ‘Land of Ice and Fire’ as volcanoes and glaciers abound.

    You will continue up the hills to the pass of Fimmvörðuháls, after which you will hike along the Kattarhryggir ridges. From this ridgeline, you will be treated with views of the Útigönguhöfði Mountain to the West as you hike up to Morinsheiði Plateau, a striking flat piece of land, quite unlike the jagged valleys and ridges that you will have been accustomed to over the last few days.

    At the end of the Morinsheiði Plateau you can enjoy the lava stream that flowed down from the Fimmvörðuháls volcano when it erupted in 2010. The lava is set with different outlets of fuming steam and decorated with green and yellow sulphur – a stunning and violent creation. When you gain height above Morinsheiði you will come to another lava field and the two craters Magni and Móði, which erupted prior to the main Eyjafjallajökull crater in 2010.

    You will cross the fresh lava at the foot of the magnificent red craters, and there will be places were the lava is almost glowing warm inside the fissures and cracks on its surface. Once you have crossed safely, you will be treated to a view of the lava and the craters from a hill on the other side.

    Once you are finished at the craters, you will hike the high pass of Fimmvörðuháls, to get to the hut between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, where you will make camp for the night. 

  7. Day 7: Coastal Exploration

    Today is the final day of your highlands hiking trail. After spending the night between the two glaciers, you will make your way to Skógar. Eventually you will come to the Skógaá River and follow 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 and a beautiful finish line for your hike.

    After arriving at, and spending some time at Skógafoss, a private bus will transfer you to the small town of Vík where you set up camp for the night.

  8. Day 8: Transfer back to Reykjavik

    Today, you will be driven back to Reykjavík and enjoy some of the wonders of the south coast on the way. This part of Iceland is frequently featured in films and has some of the most photographed landscapes in Europe. It offers some of the most splendid and popular natural phenomena in Iceland. You will encounter two beautiful waterfalls during the day; the 60 metre high Skógarfoss waterfall in the river Skógá, and the unique waterfall in the river Seljalandsá - the only known waterfall of its kind where it is possible to walk behind it. 

    To the north is the huge glacier Mýrdalsjökull, and to the east, the black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar rise from the sea. 

    During the journey back to Reykjavik, there will be a glacier walk on the outlet glacier Sólheimajökull, which extends from the great Mýrdalsjökull glacier, down to the sandy plains of the Icelandic south coast. Groups will get to explore the wonderland of ice sculptures, water cauldrons, ridges and deep crevasses of the glacier.  An experienced guide will accompany the hike, allowing students to learn more about the behaviour of glaciers and their impact on nature. This is an easy-to-moderate glacier walk; no technical requirements are needed, and groups will be taught how to use basic glacier equipment, such as crampons and an ice axe (which are provided).

    After your adventurous day, you will continue back to Reykjavik for a final night.

  9. Day 9: Fly back to the UK

    This morning, after breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your return flight to the UK.

Key info

This suggested itinerary is based on personal recommendation and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Destination: Iceland
  • When to go: Jun to Aug
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Trip type: Explorer
  • Itinerary highlights:
    • Thórsmörk
    • Hiking the Laugavegur Trail
    • Eyjafjallajökull
    • Glacier hiking
    • Volcano hiking
  • Activities:
    • Glacier hike

    • Nature walk

    • Trekking

  • Accommodation: Camping, hotel and mountain hut
  • Ideal for: Ages 15 to 16
  • Travellers will need:
    • High level of fitness
    • Appreciation for outdoor adventure
    • Interest in encountering new cultures

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Locations

Featured locations:

Thórsmörk

Three hikers sitting overlooking a valley in Thorsmork, Iceland

Named after the Norse god Thor, Thórsmörk is a mountain ridge in the south of Iceland, surrounded by glacial valleys and black sand river beds. It is one of the most popular hiking areas in the region.

Reykjavik

Aerial view of Reykjavik with colourful houses and harbour in the distance

The capital of Iceland and biggest settlement, Reykjavik is a small city with a rich past. The downtown area is perfect for experiencing typical Icelandic life and learning about Viking history.

Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland covered in snow

Topped by a dazzling icecap in the south of Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull is a volcano with frequent eruptions in a region famed for its natural beauty and makes a great addition to a school trip.

Laugavegur Trail

View of starting point of Laugavegur Trail to Thorsmork

Winding through the heartland of Iceland, the Laugavegur Trail offers school groups a beautiful and rewarding adventure with some of the most striking natural features in Europe.