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Iceland Highlands Trek

5 days
Grade 3

About the challenge

Iceland is a land of incredible contrast and beauty. Its wild volcanic landscapes, mountains, glaciers, hot springs, geysers and waterfalls, combined with its rich history, literature and folklore make it a fascinating country to explore. This fascinating and diverse short trek takes us through Iceland’s classic highland landscapes, with fascinating geothermal areas and wild rugged panoramas, through the magnificent trekking mecca of Landmannalaugar.

This is a tough and challenging trek through a remote and wild environment – and presents a rare opportunity to witness a landscape which is changing before our eyes.

Dates & prices

Departs Days Charity Availability Registration fee   Fundraising target   Payment option  
10 Jul 2017 5 The Brain Tumour Charity Spaces £199 + £2100 Or Book now

The itinerary

Day 1: Fly London to Reykjavik

We fly to Keflavik International Airport and transfer approx 45 mins to our hotel in central Reykjavik. After time to prepare our kit, we meet for dinner and a detailed trip briefing. Night hotel.

Day 2: Reykjavik – Emstrur – Álftavatn

After a hearty breakfast we drive to the dramatic highlands, stopping to look at the magical, breath-taking views of Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon, before hiking north with wonderful views to the lake of Álftavatn. We cross Mælifellssandur, an inland desert of black sand, bright green hills rising above it. It’s dramatic, beautiful and very wild. We cross a few glacial rivers and streams; the biggest have bridges, but we’ll be doing some wading. It’s an inspiring landscape which will whet your appetite for tomorrow! We camp by the lake. Night camp.
Drive approx 3 hours; trek approx 5-7 hours (15km)

Day 3: Álftavatn – Landmannalaugar

A tough day ahead of us, as we set out on the fantastic trek to Landmannalaugar, an oasis in the middle of the highlands. We ascend steeply up ravines and gullies to the plateau of Hrafntinnusker at 800m – this is challenging terrain, but the scenery of multi-coloured hills and rocks is inspiring. From the plateau we can see across the volcanic Torfajökull massif, one of the biggest geothermal areas in Iceland. The smell of sulphur is strong in the air, and the rock is richly coloured with mineral deposits brought up from the depths of the Earth. The trail eventually descends down between the bizarre, seemingly unnatural rock structures of the Brennisteinsalda lava flow; we’ll come across areas of geothermal activity in the form of steaming vents and hot springs. We finally reach the colourful rhyolite hills of Landmannalaugar, a welcome sight after a long, tiring day. Night camp.
Trek approx 7-9 hours (24km)

Day 4: Landmannalaugar – Landmannahellir – Reykjavik

Leaving Landmannalaugar’s colourful landscapes, we continue our trek across the highlands. Our route is dominated by the beautiful lakes and lava-fields of the Dómadalur valley, an area of black rock and vibrant green vegetation shaped by volcanic eruptions. We drop into stunning gorges, trek between rocky peaks and finally come to grassier meadows. As we approach the end of our trek we should get good views of the moberg (table mountain) of Lodmundur, formed in a volcanic eruption beneath an earlier icecap. After the obligatory photos, we jump into our waiting vehicles and return to Reykjavik for an evening of celebrations. Night hotel.
(Dinner not included)
Trek approx 6-7 hours (13.5km)

Day 5: Fly Reykjavik to London

After free time to explore, we head off to the airport for our afternoon flight.
(Lunch not included)

Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.

Detailed information

What's Included?

The tour cost includes flights and transport, accommodation and all meals except two as specified in the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, with a support crew of local guides and drivers. 

What's Excluded?

It does not include personal travel insurance, tip for local crew, or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.

Flight Information

Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Iceland Air, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flight please contact The Brain Tumour Charity and they will provide you with a form to fill in.


We stay at a good, well-located hotel in Reykjavik in twin-share rooms. Please be warned that hotel rooms in Iceland are traditionally small! On trek we stay in camps.


All food is included except two meals as specified. The guides prepare wonderful meals.

Dietary Requirements

Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – Iceland relies on imports for much of its food. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in cities, where you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences. It is usually easy to find something to suit every budget.

Trip Support

Discover Adventure Crew

Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.

All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.

Local Support Crew

Our local support crew is made up of local guides, cooks and drivers; they are always friendly and approachable. Your local guide knows the local area well and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something!


Vehicles support us on our trek. They carry all the luggage, food, water and camping equipment as well as providing emergency support. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.

Trip Safety

Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.

Preparing for the challenge

Trekking Information


Our terrain varies from dirt or shale paths to lava and rock. There may be snow patches. It is rough underfoot though paths are well-maintained. There are steep inclines. We recommend you are a fit, confident walker with a good level of experience on mountainous terrain. Fimmvörđuháls hut has no vehicle access, so we carry our overnight packs for approx 1km at the end of Day 3 (and back to the vehicles the next morning).

Clothing & Equipment

We are trekking through remote terrain and could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions do change quickly in Iceland! Be prepared for strong winds, rain and lovely sunny skies, all in the same day! We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.


Iceland’s weather is notoriously changeable; be prepared for lovely sunny skies, strong winds and rain all in the same day! Average summer temps in Reykjavik range from 7-14°C

Fitness Levels

Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

Passport & Visa

A valid ten-year passport is essential; it must be valid for at least 3 months after arrival into Iceland. There are currently no visa requirements for UK citizens.


We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last 10 years and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

Worldwide Sustainable Tourism

Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.  AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.

Discover Adventure Projects

We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.

Carbon Offsetting

We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Make your volunteer pledge by going to or call 01302 388883.