Walking holiday in Iceland

“Circle Iceland on foot and via 4x4 minibus and spend 10 nights in good quality campsites. The hike to Kristinartindar in Skaftafell National Park makes one of many natural highs.”


Keflavik | Thorsmork Valley | Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss and Dettifoss waterfalls | 5-year-old craters and lava fields | Skaftafell National Park | Dyrholaey promontory | summit of Kristinartindar | Bakkagerdi village | Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon | Hofn | Storurd | Dyrfjoll Mountains | Hverfjall Crater | Dimmuborgir lava field | Mount Krafla | Kerlingarfjoll hot springs and mountains | Gullfoss Waterfall | Geysir | Thingvellir | Reykjavik | Optional ice climbs, glacier walks and tractor rides to isolated bird colonies |

Description of Walking holiday in Iceland

Many visitors stick to the Golden Circle in the southwest of Iceland, but this small group trekking holiday takes you on a full circuit of this diverse, spectacular country. A rugged 4x4 minibus fords glaciers and tackles tough terrain to access some of the best hiking here, and every trek is lead by an experienced local guide.

This 14-day adventure begins in the Thorsmork Valley, an area dominated by mountains and glaciers and shaped by the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokul Volcano. Then it’s off to Skaftafell National Park, home of the huge Vatnajokull Ice Cap. We also trek the mountains of the eastern fjords and the lunar-like Lake Myvatn, a landscape of pseudo craters, lava fields and hot springs. Finally, we move to Kerlingarfjoll Volcano in the central highlands and within sight of the massive Hofsjokull Ice Cap. There’s also a chance to explore the capital, Reykjavik, at the end of the trip.

We camp for 10 nights, which is a great way to get a feel for each area and takes advantage of the constant daylight in May, June and July. The hardest day is the walk to Kristinartindar from Skaftafell, which takes up to six hours, but other days involve short walks in two or three different areas, with drives in between. Each walk is fully portered.

Travel Team

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Our top tip:
Good boots, waterproofs, 3-season sleeping bags and plenty of layers are a must for keeping carry weight down and body temperatures up.
Trip type:
Small group. Avg 12. Min age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate. Mountain treks and some steep ascents.
3 nights en-suite city centre hotel, 10 nights in good-quality campsites, in 2-person tents, with showers, shared facilities and dining tent.
Accommodation, transport, full porterage and tour leader.
All brks, 11 lunches, 10 dinners.
Single rooms/tents at a supp.
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Walking holiday in Iceland

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


As a walking holiday, this trip has very limited detrimental impact upon the environment, residents and communities in the regions we visit. Use of the bikes allows us to cover fairly large distances, while offering very little adverse impact, like pollution and threat to wildlife. We are careful to operate with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, which involves being vigilant with proper disposal of litter and being mindful of wildlife. This is particularly pertinent in Skaftafell and Thingvellir National Park, as each area has its own environmental regulations that we much adhere to. Travelling by foot also allows for easy access to the local population, shops and restaurants, which facilitates cultural exploration. Through this activity, we are able to raise local awareness for a kind of tourism which refuses to sacrifice the environment and real connections with people.

Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Tap water from Iceland is very clean and drinkable and clients are made aware that they can fill their bottles up anywhere.


Accommodation and Meals:
We spend three nights in a hotel in Reykjavik and the remaining 10 nights are spent in fixed camping. We use locally staffed hotels wherever possible, meaning that the community benefits from a rise in employment and income generated. Accommodation is normally heated through geothermal energy, and waste is recycled appropriately throughout the trip, which reduces our impact on the environment. By camping for the majority of the trip, we have a far smaller carbon footprint for the trip. Using fixed sites is even better as these are more regulated than wild caming. Where meals are provided, locally sourced ingredients are usually used to make a mixture of continental and authentic style dishes, such as freshly caught fish or smoked lamb with potatoes. Guides purchase snacks and picnic provisions from local shops along the way, which supports small businesses in the area. Clients are reminded to avoid whale meat if they encounter it.

Our Icelandic operators hire local guides for each trip and use a bus company from a small town in South Iceland for the driving in all of their trips. This is mutually beneficial in that the community benefits from employment opportunities, whilst clients gain an insight into the country from staff with valuable local expertise. Our operators are also eager to contribute to local organisations devoted to conservation and community efforts. They run various programs for local children with disabilities or disadvantages in conjunction with the Salvation Army, so that these children can take part in activities like caving, glacier walking and going on a rope course.

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