Ultimate Iceland Adventure

About the Experience

The black basalt sand feels and looks like Oreo crumbs beneath your feet. Hear the ancient ice splinter and groan as you move across the glacier tongue. Dip your paddle into the crystalline water of the fjords.

Some landscapes beg to be experienced from every angle. Above, beside, within. Ultimate Iceland allows you to experience the fabled island and all its juxtapositions.

In the lively company of like-minded Wild Women, you’ll share the thrill of unexpected whale encounters and the thunder of cascading waterfalls that spill into the volcanic earth at seemingly every turn.

There are hot springs to immerse in, stands of birch forest to distill in—everything about Iceland is as enchanting as the folk tales that circulate like bloodlines.

We will spend our days traversing Iceland by foot, horse and by kayak. Sleep will come easy and will be fully enjoyed in the carefully curated accommodations. Just like the landscape, we’ll experience hospitality and pampering in all forms–from a slick, modern hotel to a cozy mountain hut, tents and a farm!

Ultimate Iceland offers physical challenge, incredible panoramas, an authentic Icelandic menu and plenty of rewards. This island is geothermal-powered so every shower is guaranteed to be a steamy one.

After so much sensory intake, you’ll have one final soak at the famed Blue Lagoon before returning home. The warmth and embrace of the Icelanders will be remembered long after you towel off.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Ultimate Iceland Adventure

About the Experience

The black basalt sand feels and looks like Oreo crumbs beneath your feet. Hear the ancient ice splinter and groan as you move across the glacier tongue. Dip your paddle into the crystalline water of the fjords.

Some landscapes beg to be experienced from every angle. Above, beside, within. Ultimate Iceland allows you to experience the fabled island and all its juxtapositions.

In the lively company of like-minded Wild Women, you’ll share the thrill of unexpected whale encounters and the thunder of cascading waterfalls that spill into the volcanic earth at seemingly every turn.

There are hot springs to immerse in, stands of birch forest to distill in—everything about Iceland is as enchanting as the folk tales that circulate like bloodlines.

We will spend our days traversing Iceland by foot, horse and by kayak. Sleep will come easy and will be fully enjoyed in the carefully curated accommodations. Just like the landscape, we’ll experience hospitality and pampering in all forms–from a slick, modern hotel to a cozy mountain hut, tents and a farm!

Ultimate Iceland offers physical challenge, incredible panoramas, an authentic Icelandic menu and plenty of rewards. This island is geothermal-powered so every shower is guaranteed to be a steamy one.

After so much sensory intake, you’ll have one final soak at the famed Blue Lagoon before returning home. The warmth and embrace of the Icelanders will be remembered long after you towel off.


DAY ONE: LANDMANNALAUGAR

Plan to arrive at KEF airport early this morning and make your way to downtown Reykjavik to meet the Wild Women pack at 10am. Our local guide will deliver the trip orientation over lunch before we make our way to the bus for transfer into the highlands!

The 4-5 hour drive from Reykjavik to Landmannalauger will cut through the ever-changing countryside and lava flows of Hekla volcano into the land of countless hot pools. We’ll settle into our shared mountain hut accommodations, swap travel stories over dinner and spend the evening totally chilled out in the nearby hot springs.


DAY TWO: STARTING THE LAUGAVEGUR TREK

We’ll load up on proteins and carbs at breakfast to fuel us for the trek ahead. Reminder: pack your daypack for the hike with all your essentials including rain gear (your luggage will then be packed into the support vehicle).

Splitting through the dramatic geothermal landscape, your Fitbit will be humming as we make a beeline to the summit and our next mountain hut in Hrafntinnusker (we’ll be sleeping here tonight). 

The first part of the route is the shortest in distance, but the elevation gain is sharp 500m (1,640ft). As this is the first day of the hike (coupled with a nice dose of jetlag), many women find this leg a little strenuous. The weather is unstable in this area and it is often necessary to walk in the snow, which further increases the difficulty. The reality is that hikers may need all the energy they have to get through this first part of the trail. Put whatever song motivates you best at the forefront of your mind. Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is just a suggestion but an appropriate one!

The first section of the path leads up to the lava field of Laugahraun, crosses it, then heads downhill before ascending again to the plateau, just below Brennisteinsalda. It’s wise to stop here and absorb the stunning views, flora, mountains and gorges in all their untamed wildness.

The trail then continues further up onto the plateau, where small ravines carve into the landscape and aggressive rivers shape the malleable mountain. The way ahead is all uphill, but it’s not extremely steep. “At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”

We’ll hike past the Stórihver hot spring and marvel at the rainbow effect of the rare rhyolite mountains. This type of rock is like a mood ring–it can shift from black obsidian to a shifting pink, blue, green and yellow phenomenon.

It is approximately one-hour of walking from this point (depending on the group’s pace and pace bunny) to the Hrafntinnusker Hut. This part of the trail is often covered with snow and a soupy fog is often encountered too. We must be super careful, attentive and follow the stakes in this stretch. No Gloria Gaynor dance moves here!

Once we reach Hrafntinnusker Hut, you can break out into song and dance if you wish. We’ll have time to change our wool socks, stretch, chat or cat nap while our guide preps dinner!

Fun fact: Hrafntinnusker Hut is only accessible by foot and the almost impassable dirt road leading to the hut is only used occasionally to transport provisions to the hut.

The skinny on today’s hike:

  • Distance: 12km (7.5mi)
  • Walking time: 4-5 hrs
  • Ascent: 470m (1,540ft)


DAY THREE: RAVINES OF RED

We’ll leave the hut after a satiating breakfast and continue on the legendary Laugavegur trail. Today, we will walk along Mt. Reykjafjöll and into the stunning Jökultungur area.The geothermal activity in this area has turned the ravines brilliant red and mustard yellow–like a child’s whimsical drawing. This region is a mostly-flat valley bottom but there are a few ravines that we’ll need to cross extra carefully as they are often half full of snow. We’ll then split west of Kaldaklofsfjöll and up to the jagged spine between them and Jökulgil.

The trail will roller coaster up and down through a few ravines until it reaches the edge of Jökultungur where we’ll have incomparable views over the entire trail and the three mighty glaciers: Tindfjallajökull, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. You may recognize Eyjafjallajökull–its eruptions in April 2010 disrupted flights across northern and western Europe for six days!

From the top of Jökultungur, we’ll have a bird’s-eye-view over Lake Álftavatn and Fjallabak. We’ll descend the steep and rocky slope into the valley and navigate our first unbridged stream along the trail. Yep, we’re pulling off our boots and crossing the glacial waterway barefoot! 

On the opposite side, we’ll thoroughly dry our feet, lace up our hikers and properly warm ourselves again. We’ll  continue another 3km towards our next mountain hut stay, Álftavatn. Rest. Dinner. Yawn. Sleep. Repeat.

Curious, not necessarily fun fact: Whooper swans were once hunted on Lake Álftavatn but after the 1883 drowning of the farmer of Fljótsdalur was witnessed by his teenage daughter, the hunt was abandoned.

The skinny on today’s hike:

  • Distance: 12km (7.5mi)
  • Walking time: 4-5 hrs
  • Descent: 490m (1,610ft)–the steepest section of the trail is here!


DAY FOUR: BLACK SAND

Today’s hike starts like yesterday’s ended – with a bracing stream crossing. It’s the best way to kickstart a day! Invigorated, we will then climb the hill above Hvanngil for a killer view.

We’ll walk through another hut area called Hvanngil and stop to use their toilet facilities. From Hvanngil, it’s a short walk to the river Kaldaklofskvísl (which can be crossed on a footbridge–no need to pull off your boots! Yet.). Just south, there’s another bridgeless river called Bláfjallakvísl. In most cases, it’s not difficult to cross but an abundance of caution is needed, especially after periods of heavy rain when the river can swiftly grow fast and angry.

From here the route mostly follows the main road until the river Innri Emstruá is reached. Yes, it has a bridge! The trail that follows will take us through the unreal black sand deserts en route to Emstrur. The volcano Stórasúla and the flat-topped Hattfell mountain offer a fantastic contrast on the horizon as the rise from the desert floor, seemingly draped in green.

Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers expand before us as we approach Emstrur. We will spend the night in a verdant oasis of Emstrur (our next snug-as-a-bug mountain hut). This evening, we’ll have free time that’s best spent walking to Markarfljótsgljúfur (*rest assured, there will be NO spelling bees on this trip) to admire the jaw-dropper 200m-deep canyon.

The skinny on today’s hike:

  • Distance: 16km (9.5mi)
  • Walking time: 6-7 hrs
  • Descent: 40m (130ft)


DAY FIVE: UP CLOSE TO MÝRDALSJÖKULL GLACIER

We will continue on to Þórsmörk today. We will be hiking within a few kilometres of the mighty Mýrdalsjökull glacier today. Our best views will be upon descent as we hike down into the narrow canyon, over the bridge and back up to the sandy flats.

The storied trail eventually runs through two small ravines, Slyppugil and Bjórgil. In each ravine, there is a little burbling creek with drinkable water. We’ll stop at one of them to gargle some pure glacial water, rest and have lunch. After Bjórgil, the trail leads to Fauskatorfur and into an area with more vegetation called Úthólmar. 

Kápa or Coat hill, is our last steep upwards push from the river Ljósá. As we descend into Almenningar, the landscape will morph again and some trees will finally appear! 

We’ll have another river crossing on the Þröngá which is usually not difficult but it can be quite rocky. This river marks the boundary of Þórsmörk and from this point, we’ll have just over a half an hour hike through Hamraskógar before arriving at Skagfjörðsskáli cabin in Langidalur, Þórsmörk. *Again, no spelling bee this evening. But, just for a moment, imagine what an Icelandic Scrabble board would look like!

Once we arrive in Þórsmörk (are you still singing Gloria Gaynor on repeat??), we‘ll grab the highland bus shuttle out of the backcountry to the small, twee town of Hella (population: 942). In Hella, we’ll load ourselves and our luggage into a smaller bus and head to our hotel. Enjoy a reviving geothermal shower, take 5 and we’ll gather later for a generous dinner at the hotel.

The skinny on today’s hike and drive:

  • Distance: 15km (9.5mi)
  • Walking time: 6-7 hrs
  • Descent: 300m (985ft)
  • Driving time: 3–3.5 hrs


DAY SIX: GLACIER HIKE

Today we’ll have a few options to entertain ourselves with!

Depending on our interests and energy levels, our juicy options include:

  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall

We’ll have the opportunity to walk behind the thunderous wall of water and feel its unbridled power as the fall drops 60m (200ft). It’s one of the most photographed features in all of Iceland (don’t tell that to the horses!)

  • Reynisfjara

We can wander along this gorgeous expanse of black sand beach and marvel at the surreal basalt columns and caverns. We’ll see the Reynisdrangar cliffs and basalt rock stacks that rise impossibly from the sea’s depths. Icelandic legends say they are mischievous trolls turned into rock by the rising sun.

  • Skógafoss waterfall

It’s one of Iceland’s biggest! The waterfall’s width is enormous (25m/82ft) with a 60m (197ft) plummet. It can be viewed from the top for those who take on the quad-quivering steep staircase or equally enjoyed from the bottom. 

Depending on the weather, our guide will also plan a hike up Sólheimajökull for the best time of the day (the best time of day is ever-changing!). This journey is a big bucket list CHECK for those that have never set foot on a glacier. 

This glacier walk will allow us to explore the natural wonderland of ice sculptures, water cauldrons, ridges and deep crevasses on the otherworldly Sólheimajökull glacier. We’ll learn more about the behaviour of glaciers and their impact on nature. No technical skills are required for this activity as an experienced glacier guide will teach us how to use basic but essential glacier equipment like crampons and an ice axe.

After the thrill of the glacier walk, we’ll drive through the fertile farming villages of south Iceland, an area that vibrates with Viking history and heritage. If the day is clear and cooperative, we will have an unmatched view of Eyjafjallajökull and Hekla volcanoes along with the Westman Islands, just a few nautical miles off the south coast.

In Hveragerði, we’ll check into our accommodations for the night at Hjarðarból Farm. We’ll gather later for laughs and reflections over dinner at an authentic Icelandic restaurant.

The skinny on today’s hike and drive:

  • Glacier hike: 3 – 3.5 hours in total, about 2 hours on the ice
  • Driving time: 4 hrs


DAY SEVEN: RIDE TO REYKJADALUR

Our beginner cowgirl-friendly ride takes us along the gentle slopes of Reykjafjall mountain and continues along trails surrounding the small village of Hveragerði. The meandering path will lead us through the  forest to a vibrant geothermal valley with hot springs–an area which expanded dramatically after the 2008 earthquake.

On our way towards the pickle-green hills surrounding the volcano Hengill we will have a safe opportunity to try the “tölt” which is the unique and distinct gait of the Icelandic horse. The horses will then take us (at a more leisurely pace) along the narrow trails into the valley Reykjadalur. We’ll pass the tranquil Djúpagilsfoss waterfall and several steamy hot springs before we reach Reykjadalur valley. Here, we will take advantage of a restorative soak in a warm riverbed. Don’t forget your swimsuit and towel!

During the ride down the valley we’ll enjoy pastoral panoramas as we overlook tidy plots of farmland all the way down to the coastline. We’ll continue along the scenic mountain slopes back to the farm where punchy coffee and bites of sweet home-baked cake await us.

Later, we’ll go out for dinner at a popular local Icelandic restaurant.

The skinny on today’s ride:

  • Riding Time: 5-6 hours with selfie-stops and river soak


DAY EIGHT: KAYAK TO FJORDS

From Hveragerði, we’ll drive to the Snæfellnes peninsula to the small town of Stykkishólmur. Here, we’ll gear up for our overnight sea kayaking expedition in the Breiðafjörður fjord (‘the fjord with the thousand islands’). Our skilled guide will teach us the basics, review gear and safety practices and help load the gear into our kayaks. We’ll carry the kayaks down onto the rocky, seaweed-strewn beach and launch.

Today’s paddle will be 5-10km with so many distractions! We’ll be on the lookout for whales, dozens of seabird species and seals playing in the calm shelter of the islands. When we reach our basecamp island, we‘ll set up our tents and cook dinner by a snap crackly bonfire.

The skinny on today’s drive and paddle:

  • Driving time: about 2 hours
  • Paddling Distance: 5-10km (3-6mi)


DAY NINE: SEA KAYAK

After a nourishing breakfast, we’ll pack up camp and put on our kayaking gear. After a little forearm massage, we’ll get ready to paddle another 5-10km (3-6 miles) until we reach the welcoming shores of Stykkishólmur in the afternoon.

We will have a ‘snack break’ at the famed shark museum at Bjarnarhöfn. Get ready to sample an unforgettable bite of fermented shark, an Icelandic delicacy! Fear not, there will be a shot of Brennivín (Icelandic schnapps) to get that shark to swim down your throat!

After surviving Iceland’s version of being ‘screeched in’ (a reference to Newfoundland’s practice of kissing the cod and downing a rum shot), we’ll drive south across the Snæfellnes peninsula to cosmo Reykjavik. We’ll have dinner together at the hotel and revisit all the crazy things we’ve seen and experienced in the last nine days. Where did they go? Take advantage of another celebratory shot of Brennivin–it’s hard to track down south of 66 degrees latitude!

The skinny on today’s paddle and drive:

  • Paddling Distance: 5-10km (3–6mi) 
  • Driving time: about 2 hours


DAY TEN: BLUE LAGOON

For a grand and awesome finale, we’ll visit the famous geothermal Blue Lagoon (one hour drive). We’ll spend two indulgent hours soaking and absorbing it all. Think of all the hot springs our bodies have relaxed into on this adventure! We’ve paddled, saddled, hiked–and ate fermented shark for crying out loud.

From the Blue Lagoon, our guide will accompany us to KEF for airport drop-offs around 2pm and then return to Reykjavik (if you’re continuing to travel in Iceland–and you should!). Our guide can drop you off at one of the main bus stops nearest your accommodations and point you in the right direction.

Now you can safely sing it out loud. You survived, and what a time it was. Where next with the Wild Women crew?

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!