Iceland – The heart of the highlands Barenblatt

Each day offers a total immersion in the wilderness of Iceland. It is not a trekking in the strict sense of the term, but a series of loops from 2 comfortable accommodations isolated in the heart of the highlands, in an exceptional and very varied region witch offering a series of landscapes among the strangest of the planet.
The descriptions of the hikes are given as an indication. These will be our goals but depending on the weather conditions, the motivation of the group, I can adapt the course or offer you relevant variants. Iceland is a land of exploration. Leave us the freedom to decide together the program of the day for our greatest pleasure.
I traveled 28 times in these strange and fascinating areas. I will be happy to share
my garden with you…

Discovering Iceland: At the edge of the Arctic Circle, the lands of Iceland are among the most spectacular in the world. Untamed nature is more reminiscent of its all wonderfulness than elsewhere. Volcanic and tectonic phenomena constantly shape landscapes sometimes unusual, mineral and lunar, sometimes green and peaceful: deserts of black ashes, serene pastures, massive petrified lava, solfatars, fumaroles, geysers with rock ...

Explore the heart of the highlands - 7 days
Special Jane Barenblatt

It is a land of striking contrasts. The great antagonistic elements, the volcanic fire and the ice of its huge ice caps have united to shape a genesis scenery. The Icelandic mountain is a kaleidoscope: go back and the environment has changed. You are elsewhere. Always here and yet incredibly elsewhere.
Iceland is a happiness for photographers. It is said that Jean-Jacques Annaud's movie "The Fire war" could have been shot here because Icelanders had refused the entry of elephants!
A landscape is not a country, but the representation of a country waiting to be inhabited by dreams. Jóhann Hjálmarsson
The Highlands "Fjallabak" : This trek offers you all the strange and fabulous landscapes of the great volcanic rifts associated with those of the Arctic tundras. Over the centuries, the Hekla volcano has spewed impressive lava flows and dumped millions of tons of black slag or white pumice on the surrounding territories. We will pass, tiny, near Hekla which was considered in the Middle Ages as the gates of hell. In reality, we
evolve on the active rift of the Highlands.
The route takes the most secret and spectacular passages of the volcanic rift.
The Highlands offer a range of extraordinary contrasts, black ash and lava flows, the turquoise blue lakes and rivers, green pastures, the pastel colors of the acidic rocks of the Landmannalaugar region, the crossing of the caldera of the Torfajökull, the multicolored hues of the solfatares and acid basins of Hrafntinnusker, one of the largest obsidian mountains on the planet and the largest geothermal area in Europe from which there are many solfataras and bubbling acidic and sulphurous basins .
Our trip : This trek presents little difficulty for good walkers. However, the route is 99% off trail. Relief, fording, sometimes soft or sandy surfaces and sometimes capricious weather can make the progress tiring. We move with a private 4x4 bus.
We walk on average 4 to 5 hours with a light bag. The isolation is total, the conditions and the ground changing, so it is important that the equipment of each is the most complete possible. We propose you charming remote accommodations located near the most beautiful sites of this incredible country.
The gastronomy will not be forgotten: salmon, cod, trout, leg of lamb will be at the
rendezvous.
This trip is specially designed for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the wilderness and discover landscapes never seen, or perhaps imagined.

The price for the moment is based on 8 participants.

3075 € (12 people)
3207 € (11 people)
3360 € (10 people)
3551 € (9 people)
3711 € (8 people)
3975 € (7 people)
3985 € (6 people)

 

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Day 1 August 16th : Arrive to Iceland
Transfer from Keflavik airport to your accommodation in Reykjavik, Guesthouse Sunna, twin/double rooms with private facilities in the center of Reykjavik next to the famous Hallgrimskirkja church, with its strange architecture that dominates the whole city.
You can stroll around and find a nice restaurant in Reykjavik or visit a museum or one of the cozy
coffee shops of the center.

Day 2 August 17th : Reykjavik - Mt Hekla farmland
110 km / 68 miles on road - 40 km / 24 miles on tracks - Hike 3-4 hours.
You will be picked up at 8:00 AM at your Reykjavik accommodation. Hiking clothes, duffel bag and a day pack ready for trekking. The trip begins. Approx. 3 hours transfer on the road to the trail head. The majestic Hekla volcano rises above a grassy plain and marks the entrance to the high volcanic lands. It is probably Iceland’s most famous and active volcano. Hike starts by late morning crossing grassland.
The few little farms of the area have had to move many times over the centuries as eruptions have
engulfed them. However, much of the countryside is now verdant with some former lava flows covered in green moss and arctic birch. Green moss, « bonsai » arctic birch grove along with the pure water springs, creates the feeling, perhaps, of a real Japanese garden. In August on this day, we can take a little longer as the berry and mushroom picking gets in the way of our passage.
Your 4x4 bus will be waiting for you at the end of the hike to bring you to your country hotel, Hotel
Leirubakki.

Day 3 August 18th: Hrafntinnusker caldera
80 km / 46 miles on tracks - hike 4-5 hours
We drive to the colorful caldera of Hrafntinnusker. The metaphor "Raven Black Pitfalls" for
Hrafntinnusker is a fine example of the ancient and natural metaphorical poetry of Icelandic. It means reefs or obsidian (Hrafntinna) rocks (Hrafn for raven and Tinna for intense black): a black vitrified lava with sometimes blue or green reflections, sharp as a razor blade that spreads here on the soft pastel valleys of acidic rocks of the caldera crown of the same name. We will see carefully the innumerable solfatares with pools of bubbling mud, jets of powerful and noisy vapors.
Walking among countless bubbling, steaming hot springs, we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty. More obvious are the amazing rhyolite mountains, formed in incredible bands of pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white, orange and red and glittering with innumerable black, glass-like obsidian lava…
The largest geothermal area in Europe. Yellowstone without any human substructure. Nature in the wild. Absolutely exceptional. No way. I have been there more than 20 times and I have always been alone with my group.
Back to our accommodation, Hotel Leirubakki

Day 4 August 19th: Mount Loðmundur - Landmannalaugar - North Fjallabak
80 km / 46 miles on tracks - hike 4-5 hours
We walk on the majestic monolithic crown of Mount Loðmundur, surrounded by marshland and rich pasture, reflecting in the beautiful lake Loðmundarvatn reflecting Mount Loðmundur a flat-topped volcanic monolith that erupted through glacial ice during the Ice Age. Landmannahellir has been for ages and it is still used now by the shepherds as a base when catching thousand sheep in fall after having been grassing free the whole summer. We are in a legendary place with thousand stories to tell.
From there we drive through the shimmering colors of rhyolite magma that lead to the notorious Landmannalaugar Valley. Incredible range of pastel colors, from blue to pink through all shades of ochre’s.
Tonight, we stay at the very cozy Guesthouse Hrífunes, where Hadda will pamper you with great food.

Day 5 August 20th: Hólmsárlón - Mælifell
90 km on tracks / 55 miles – Hike 3-4 hours
Proceed to the shores of the long and narrow Hólmsárlón Lake. We reach the place nicknamed the red baptismal fountain. The waterfalls at the end of the turquoise colored, the long and narrow Hólmsárlón lake plunging into the red crater, is a sight to behold. We are in the Eldgjá fault, “the gully of fire” the largest eruptive fissure on the planet, 70 km long, born of an extraordinary cathaclism in the year 800.
We cross the sands of Mælifellssandur. In the middle of this strange black flatness stands the solitary cone of Mælifell, covered in fluorescent green-colored moss.
The huge glacier of the Myrdalsjökull Glacier (30 x 40km) is stranded on the desert of black ash.
Perhaps we will offer a smooth walk on the tabular glacier.
I love this area of Iceland, so wild where volcanic phenomena of unheard-of violence flirt with
glaciers: fire and ice!

Day 6 August 21st: Langisjór and the Fagrifjöll
140 km / 86 miles round trip on tracks - hike 3-4 hours
Our track reaches Sveinstindur, the first cone of the divided chain of Fögrufjöll, with its conical black and green volcanoes. Easy ascent of Mount Sveinstindur, from where you can admire a fabulous panorama view. To the north and the mighty Vatnajökull the fabulous jade green narrow lake of Langisjór. At the South lies the strange lava fields of Laki, covered with green fluorescent moss, and partly flooded by the overflows of Skaftá. Hike along Langisjór and up on easy hills we follow the narrow ridge of the Fagrifjöll. Their name means the beautiful mountains. Knowing the sobriety of the Icelandic language, they must be on to deserve such an appellation. We are moving on the narrow green and black backs of Fagrifjöll, sometimes on the shore of the lake, sometimes the easiest buttes.
Last night at Guesthouse Hrifunes.

Day 7 August 22nd: South Coast & Golden Circle
330 km / 188 miles on road. Short hikes
Early departure for a long drive this day, along the South Coast route visiting some of its main
attractions and then we continue to the famous Golden Circle route.
Visit the famous gushing springs of Geysir and the great Gullfoss cataract, "Falling gold." From there we reach Thingvellir National Park Valley of Parliament is one of the most beautiful grabens on the surface of the globe. Major rift faults cross the valley from north to south. We have here an open book about tectonic plates. To the east of the valley we are in Europe, a few kilometers further west we arrive in America! In the fault Almannagjá stood summer sessions of the ancient parliament of the world oldest republics in, established in 930. Our journey ends in the late afternoon in Reykjavik.
We stay at Hotel Leifur Eiriksson tonight, in front of the church of Hallgrimsskirkja.

Itinerary and safety:
The day-to-day program can be changed or even reversed. Rare but unpredictable in advance, these modifications can be imposed for safety reasons due to natural phenomena specific to these territories: volcanic eruption or alert of eruption, early or late snowfall, bad weather, Glacial rivers flooding, exceptionally unfavorable weather ... Your guide knows perfectly the terrain and will ne the only Master on board to take the necessary decisions with our base when it is necessary to interpret the whims of nature almighty on this volcanic earth and under these high latitudes.

Average level: Accessible to all hikers. Travel on board a small comfortable 4x4 bus. The duration of the walks depends on the weather conditions of the day and the level of the group. They can be lengthened or shortened. A person not wishing to do all the hikes can of course take part in this journey.

Vehicle: jeep or small 4wd bus depending on the size of the group. English-speaking driver-guide. On a complete group, the guide can sometimes be assisted by an Icelandic driver.

Accommodation during the trip:  Country hotels.

Food: We pride ourselves on providing the best cuisine in the highlands!

  • Breakfast is Scandinavian-style, with muesli, breads, jams, fish and cheese.
  • Packed lunch, with a variety of sandwich fillings, from smoked meats and fish to local cheeses and salads.
  • Dinners involve fresh, local fish and meat dishes, with pasta, rice or potatoes, fresh vegetables and salad. Vegetarians and those with food allergies can be fully catered for with a range of tasty options. It is essential that you inform our office of any special food requirements at the time of booking!

For usability, but no obligation, you can bring with you a little specialty of your home country to share with your companions as well as a flask of some thing for a short drink in the middle of nowhere.

Special diets, food allergies, vegetarians, vegans ...
We are aware of the dietary changes, due to exaggerated industrialization of our time and we are able to satisfy special requests, as far as possible
If you are vegetarian or if you have a particular diet, if you are allergic to certain foods, please let us know in the comments of the registration form and specify the details by email. We are used to meeting the demand of vegetarians, but vegans will have to bring from home some of their own supplements

Travel Preparation and Notes:
This trip is an active and in-depth exploration of the Highlands in 4wd vehicle and on foot which does not represent any difficulty for a good average walker, but nevertheless requires good physical form, excellent moral form, good team spirit
Every day (except on the South Coast) is planned a beautiful walk of several hours: Either a great walk of 4 to 6 hours, or two shorter treks during the day, sometimes in the evening or even around midnight when the day is permanent . Of course your guide will always adapt each hike to the average level of the group and also according to the weather.
This trip is not a trek. If you are a confirmed trekker and find the rhythm too soft for you, then check out our trekkings

During the days on the South Coast we drive more and walk less than in the Highlands of Fjallabak.

In the shelters of the interior the members of the trip are supposed to give a little help to their guide for the preparation of the meals, to set the table, to do the dishes and sweep the refuge the morning of the departure.
Except of course for the days on the south coast if you have chosen the comfort option in the comfortable, cosy and charming Inn.

The abrupt climatic motions of Iceland, always possible, demand and good equipment.

Please refer to the list of equipment, available in the information section of our site!

Clothing
You’ll need to bring comfortable and adequate clothing to protect you from cold and wet weather, such as polypropylene, capilene, or pile. Wool and wool/synthetic blends are also suitable - though wool, if wet, dries slowly compared to synthetic fabrics. We discourage the use of cotton in wet conditions it dries very slowly. When camping, tents are provided. You will be responsible for bringing your mattress and sleeping bag.

When layering, the innermost layer should be long underwear. The middle layer can be a synthetic turtleneck or wool shirt, and pants. The outermost layer must be a breathable waterproof jacket such as a good quality Gore-Tex wind/rain parka and over-pants.
For quantities for each item listed, use your own judgement, based on the expected weather conditions and overall packing/weight restrictions for your luggage.

  • Regular underwear. Synthetics are easier to wash and dry
  • Synthetic thermal underwear
  • Long-sleeved, synthetic or wool shirt
  • Short-sleeved synthetic or cotton/synthetic T-shirts
  • Medium-weight synthetic fleece sweater or jacket
  • Full-length pants, quick-drying synthetic fabric
  • Down jacket from mid-August to September (optional)
  • Hiking shorts, quick-drying synthetic fabric
  • Pile/fleece pants, ideal for around the camp
  • Sun & rain hat
  • Wool hat
  • Gloves (wool or pile)
  • Waterproofed shell gloves
  • Medium weight synthetic socks
  • Gore-Tex rain/wind parka
  • Gore-Tex rain/wind pants
  • Hiking boots, medium-weight, all leather, with padded ankle, good arch support, and a lug sole traction. Your hiking boots should be waterproof, well broken in, and suitable for rocky terrain or possibly snow.
  • Comfortables shoes to wear when not hiking (optional) Teva-type sandals for river crossing. Absolutely recommended! Gaiters. Highly recommended.


Travel Accessories

  • Comfortable sleeping bag +10°C to –10°C which can be opened all the way
  • Cotton sheet to cover the hut’s mattress
  • Pillow if you can’t sleep without one (optional)
  • Swimsuit and towel for hot spring bathing and swimming pool
  • 1-to-2 liters capacity unbreakable water bottle or thermos
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries (essential from August onwards)
  • Swiss Army-type pocket knife (Must be kept in duffle bag, not in hand luggage, when flying !)
  • Sunglasses
  • Eye shades. Highly recommended from April to last July!
  • Wax ear plugs
  • Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses (but not only lenses, as wind-blown dust can make them very uncomfortable)
  • Toiletry kit—soap, toothbrush, and so on.
  • Moisturizing lotion. (The air in Iceland is very dry)
  • Sunscreen and lip protection (The sun in Iceland is much more intense than you probably imagine)
  • Personal first aid kit

Optional Travel Accessories

  • Hiking poles. Highly recommended
  • Binoculars
  • Repair kit with needle, thread, and safety pins
  • Reading and writing material
  • Your favorite snack food such as raisins or chocolate
  • Protein supplements for vegetarian
  • Your own food reserves if you are vegan
  • 1 or 2 good bottles of wine or a bottle of something stronger
  • Netting hood in June and July *

There are no mosquitoes in Iceland (not yet), but in early summer midges swarms invade the banks of rivers and lakes in the lowlands like Lake Myvatn "Lake of gnats." With global warming now midges start to colonize certain areas of higher land with swamps vegetation. The outbreak period is short, but extremely difficult for the hiker. Gloves a long sleeve shirt and especially a safety netting hood that slips over your hat or cap can save you if you find yourself a day without wind in the midst of clouds of these very annoying critters. You will certainly not use it but in case... and that's not a huge investment.

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