The Cave Explorer on Steroids - Icelandic Lava Tubes - EI70
Speleology in Iceland at its best - 15 days / 14 nights
This is a unique opportunity to discover the hidden world underneath us by visiting amazing caves in Iceland, as well as many other gems of nature all around the island. On our menu: lava fields, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers, deserts, volcanoes, icebergs, rivers, and of course, lava tube caves.
Duration: 15 days
Group size: 20 - 30 people
Pick up: Airport
Available: Jun 15 - Sep 15
Included: Airport transfers, 15 days guided travel by tour bus, hard hats, torches, gloves, hostels / mountain huts / guesthouses (14 nights), entrance to The Saga Center in Hvolsvollur.
Optional extras: - Boat tour on the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, entrance fee to the Blue Lagoon (not included), relaxation in Fontana Spa in Laugarvatn.
Bring with you: Waterproof warm clothes, swimming suit and towel, good hiking boots.
For further information:
Day 1: Arrival - Blue Lagoon
Today you have time to go to the geothermal spa of the Blue Lagoon. Then we head down for your hotel, ready for an exciting journey starting tomorrow morning.
Complete Program for Day 1 ...
Your first stop will be a relaxing visit to the Blue Lagoon (entrance fee not included). It's situated in a lava field near the village of Grindavik, which is a unique geothermal spa with many recreational options and a fantastic restaurant.
When you have experienced bathing and swimming in the mineral rich water we will drive you to your guesthouse where you will spend the night.
Day 2: Cave Raufarholshellir - Fontana Spa
Today we explore a massive lava cave. In the evening we'll have time for relaxation at a geothermal spa with stunning views to a lake.
Complete Program for Day 2 ...
We start the day with breakfast and then drive to one of the most beautiful and massive of all of the Icelandic lava tube caves – cave Raufarholshellir, situated in the lava field of Leitahraun on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This cave provides a one kilometre long adventure.
From Raufarholshellir we drive through the hot spring area around the village of Hveragerdi with its large geothermally heated green houses.
We continue our journey to Laugarvatn where we will have overnight accommodation situated near Laugarvatn Fontana Spa. This spa has been built over a natural hot spring and it is the perfect place to relax after a day of caving.
Day 3: Waterfalls & Beaches - Lava Fields
We'll see two of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls. We will enjoy a cultural stop and learn about the Vikings. Then we visit the famous black sand beach of the south coast. We might see puffins today.
After driving through the outwash plain of Myrdalssandur we set on our first exposure to the highlands: the lava field of Eldhraun. We will start using our sleeping bags tonight in the mountain hut.
Complete Program for Day 3 ...
We will drive from Laugarvatn to Hvolsvollur, a small town in the south of Iceland. Here we will stop for coffee or lunch before visiting some stunning waterfalls.
We will stop at the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss which cascades down from ancient sea cliffs dropping over 60 metres into a shallow pool. Because it is possible to take a walk behind the waterfalI you can enjoy the unique experience of enjoying the beautiful view from behind the cascade.
Next we will continue to Skogar to visit the magnificent waterfall of Skogafoss, with its flow cascading a mighty 65 metres down from the old sea cliffs. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church.
In Hvolsvollur we will have a cultural stop at the Saga Center where we'll be able to get acquainted with the dramatic and fascinating stories of the Viking age with all its romance, conflict, and death.
On our way to Vik we will see outstanding landscapes including the glacier of Solheimajokull and Reynisfjara, a beach of black volcanic sands.
We will stop for a lunch break at Vik, an interesting village which is located near the black sand beach. It will also be possible to hike around a little and to enjoy the beautiful view at the cliffs and the black beach, where thousands of puffins nest every summer.
We will continue our journey over the outwash plain of Myrdalssandur, a very dynamic area formed of glacial sediments and floods from volcano Katla and the ever changing glacial rivers. It gives you the feeling you are in the middle of nowhere.
Then we travel north close to the eastern part of the lava field of Eldhraun through impressive lava fields and enjoying the views in this volcano rich area.
Overnight at the Miklafell Mountain Hut.
Day 4: Caving in Eldhraun - Mountain Hut
Today will be an adventure day of caving and hiking in the remarkable lava field of Eldhraun, possibly discovering caves that no human has ever seen. In the evening we'll have some time to relax at the mountain hut.
Complete Program for Day 4 ...
Today we explore the underground world in the area of Eldraun, the lava field formed from the largest lava flow witnessed in historic times anywhere in the world. It came from the Lakagigar 25 km catastrophic fissure eruption.
The system erupted over an eight-month period between 1783 and 1784 from the Laki fissure and the adjoining Grimsvotn volcano, pouring out an estimated 14 km3 (3.4 cu mi) of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous hydrofluoric acid and sulfur dioxide compounds that killed over 50% of Iceland's livestock and affected crops, leading to a famine that killed more than 9,000 people, approximately 25% of the island's human population back then.
The eruption and its aftermath caused a drop in global temperatures, as sulfur dioxide was spewed into the Northern Hemisphere. This caused crop failures in Europe and may have caused droughts in India. The eruption has been estimated to have killed over six million people globally, making the eruption the deadliest in historical times.
We will also enjoy a beautiful hike through the lava fields leading to magnificent lava tube systems where the caving adventure will begin. Furthermore, we will go on an exciting cave hunt when we search for undiscovered lava tubes!
After a wonderful day spent caving there will be the opportunity to spend the evening just relaxing in the Miklafell Mountain Hut or you could hike to explore the nearby area.
Day 5: National Park Vatnajokull - Icebergs Jokulsarlon
Both highlights of this day are connected to the huge National Park of Vatnajokull. Skaftafell offers a paradise for all kinds of visitors, and the surreal iceberg lagoon of Jokulsarlon will leave an indelible impression on you. An amphibian boat tour in the lagoon is an extra option.
Complete Program for Day 5 ...
We will travel south to the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur and continue east to Foss a Sidu (a waterfall) and to the peculiar basalt formations of Dverghamrar.
We pass the sandy plains of Skeidararsandur to Skaftafell Preservation Area, an oasis of vegetation surrounded by glaciers and black sands in the huge National Park of Vatnajokull. Skaftafell has indeed a great variety of natural beauty and recreational options, being very popular with visitors.
Then we'll resume our journey towards Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon where you could enjoy an amphibian boat tour sailing between the icebergs. We'll take a walk along the lagoon or down to the nearby seashore.
This place is an almost surreal wonder of nature. Here you can also see a thriving bird life (particularly the Arctic Tern) and seals on the icebergs at the lagoon.
Overnight in the area surrounding Jokulsarlon.
Day 6: Hike to waterfall - Sightseeing East Iceland
We'll be seeing some fishing villages today. Reaching the East Fjords, we'll hike to a waterfall framed in red layers of clay. We keep on toward the highlands but will spend the night in a guesthouse.
Complete Program for Day 6 ...
The day begins with a drive to Hofn in Hornafjordur, which is a fishing town situated on the south east corner of Iceland. Hofn actually means harbour and fishing has always been an important industry for the town. On our journey we are able to view many outlet glaciers from Vatnajokull.
We continue to the village Djupivogur, which also has a long history of fishing and is located in a region of incomparable natural beauty. Langabud, the oldest house in Djupivogur, is made of logs and was originally built in 1790. This house has been renovated and is now the cultural centre of Djupivogur. The location of this charming little village provides a view to mysterious and geologically fascinating mountains such as Bulandstindur.
Our drive from Djupivogur takes us along the mountain road of Oxi toward Lake Lagarfljot.
There you can enjoy a walk to Hengifoss, a nice waterfall with the height of 118 m, one of the highest in the country. Hengifoss surrounded by basaltic strata with thin, red layers of clay between the basaltic layers. It is possible to walk or rather climb behind it to inspect a small cave. The walk up to the waterfalls is relatively easy and well worth the effort. Below Hengifoss there is another waterfall called Litlanesfoss, framed with beautiful, long and regular basaltic pillars.
Lake Lagarfljot is situated near the town of Egilsstadir. A worm-monster called is believed to be living in the depths of this lake, similar to the monster living in the depths of the Scottish Lake of Loch Ness.
From Egilsstadir we go to Jokuldalur where we'will have overnight accommodations in a guesthouse.
Day 7: Hike to Volcano Askja - Highlands
We'll be traveling deep in the highlands today and hiking to the famous volcanic craters of Askja, a 50 km2 caldera, and Viti (meaning "hell"). We might be able to take a bath in the warm waters of the crater. Overnight in a mountain hut.
Complete Program for Day 7 ...
Your day will begin with a drive to see the volcano, Askja. Here we will enjoy a hike to crater lakes Oskjuvatn and Viti. Askja is one of the most mysterious places in Iceland with its lunar-looking landscape. The Apollo astronauts actually used this place for their training.
We will hike to Lake Askja and Viti, a warm geothermal lake which formed naturally in the bottom of one of Askja‘s craters in 1875. This visit will give you a unique opportunity to take a bath in the milky blue coloured water inside a crater.
Our journey continues to the mountain of Herdubreid which is situated further north in the Highlands of Iceland. Herdubreid was formed beneath the ice cap which covered Iceland during the last glacial period.
After visiting Herdubreid we will drive through the lava fields of Flatadyngja and Kollottadyngja and then on to the Thorsteinsskali Mountain Hut at Herdubreidarlindir where we will have our overnight accommodation.
Day 8: Lake Myvatn - Spring Caves
We start exploring the north of Iceland, placing our emphasis on Lake Myvatn, a shallow eutrophic lake situated in an area of active volcanism. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds, especially ducks. We'll see interesting lava formations, and the spring cave of Grjotagja.
Complete Program for Day 8 ...
We will spend today exploring the wonderful area around Lake Myvatn – the sixth largest lake in Iceland. Around ten thousand years ago the area of Myvatn was covered with glaciers, but shortly after eruptions began the glaciers mostly disappeared and vegetation established itself.
The area of Myvatn was formed as a result of many eruptions. 2500 years ago eruptions started again and the mountain of Hverfell and the lava fields around this area were formed at this time. Some 500 hundred years later a massive eruption started once again, and the magnificent formation of Dimmuborgir "castle" was formed.
To begin with we will drive around Lake Myvatn to enjoy the amazing views of the lake and interesting lava formations. We will visit Dimmuborgir – one of the most admired spots near Lake Myvatn. In this area it is possible to see unusual and peculiar lava formations and even a unique natural lava church.
We will continue our journey to the rifts of Grjotagja and Leynigja, where you can enjoy a relaxing bath in the natural geothermal water.
Overnight in a guesthouse in the area.
Day 9: Hot springs - Waterfalls - Mountain Hut
We will explore the magnificent hot springs of Namaskard or Hverarond, with large fumaroles and mud-springs (solfataras). We'll visit the majestic Dettifoss Falls and a rocky area with strange echoes created by the numerous caves and uncommon rock formations. The canyon of Asbyrgi, a U–shaped depression with lush vegetation is also on our list of attractions.
We will also see the Arctic Ocean, which might be a first time for many. Our hut awaits us in a geothermal field up north.
Complete Program for Day 9 ...
This is a day where we will really experience the power of nature. We will travel to Hverarond – a large geothermal area with boiling pools and mud. This is an opportunity to experience a small part of Iceland‘s "fire" with steam pouring out of the ground and mud boiling at around 100° C. We will continue to the volcano of Krafla, where one of the two best known Viti craters of Iceland is located, however, this crater is not filled with warm geothermal water like the one in Askja.
We will continue to the waterfall of Dettifoss which is located in Vatnajokull National Park in Northeast Iceland. Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The falls are 100 metres wide and drop 45 metres down into the spectacular canyon of Jokulsargljufur. This is the largest waterfall in Europe in terms of discharge volume with an average water flow of 193 m3/s. Dettifoss really is a waterfall where the great power of water and nature can be experienced. It is also possible to take a walk around the area to enjoy the marvellous view to the waterfalls of Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss which are located close to Dettifoss.
We explore the natural wonders of Hljodaklettar – known as the "Whispering Cliffs" which is also in the National Park. This is one of the most beautiful and interesting hiking areas in the country and you will enjoy the scenery of the cliffs with their different shapes, forms and patterns.
We continue our journey through the river canyon Jokulsargljufur to the canyon of Asbyrgi, one of the most beautiful natural pearls in Iceland. Asbyrgi is divided through the middle by an interesting 25 metres high rock formation and the view is staggering.
Asbyrgi is like a hidden paradise, because it is surrounded by steep walls with many bushes and trees and birds. At the end of the canyon there is a small pond where there is a particularly rich concentration of birdlife. Two wooden platforms have been created to give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and breathtaking views of the pond and cliffs.
After a wonderful day we will drive over the geothermal field of Theistareykir where you will have overnight accommodation in a mountain hut.
Day 10: Geothermal Area - Caving - Hiking
The colorful geothermal field of Theistareykir is a natural playground for hikers, cavers, photographers... and sheep! This geothermal area is North of Krafla and plans are being made to harness geothermal power here. Several tests for boreholes have allready been made. We might never see this area again like this!
Complete Program for Day 10 ...
Caving in Theistareykir - Stora-Viti / Litla-Viti. - Theistareykir (Þeistareykir) is a geothermal area with colourful mountains, hills, lava fields and craters and is covered with moss. At present, there are plans to construct a Geothermal Power Plant here in Þeistareykir. We will visit some of the caves nearest the mountain hut, where we will see interesting stalactites and stalagmites.
After our caving expedition we will explore the local surroundings by hiking to the crater of Stora-Viti and to the pit-crater of Litla-Viti.
Our overnight accommodation will be in the same mountain hut at Theistareykir as the previous night.
Day 11: Godafoss Falls - Akureyri - Highlands
We continue to explore the pearls of Iceland's north. We'll enjoy the very photogenic Godafoss Falls with their interesting history. We'll see the "capital" of the north, Akureyri. We'll then enter the Kjolur highlands, between a massive glacier and a remarkable geothermal field. The mountain hut has a wonderful thermal pool outside with outstanding views.
Complete Program for Day 11 ...
We start our day with a visit to Godafoss Falls, which is quite an impressive waterfall. According to the Sagas, chieftain Thorgeir of Ljosavatn threw his pagan idols into the falls when Iceland converted to Christianity in the year 1000, hence the name Godafoss, meaning "waterfall of the idols".
We will have a walk around and enjoy the beautiful views before continuing on our way to Akureyri – a centre of education, culture and leisure activities in North Iceland. Akureyri is the "capital" of north Iceland, and counts over 18,000 inhabitants.
We will take a short tour around the city and then travel onward to the district of Skagafjordur. We will take the road up to the Highlands to Hveravellir – a unique nature reserve located on the Kjolur route in the middle of the West Highlands between the glaciers of Langjokull and Hofsjokull. Hveravellir is one of the most stunning geothermal areas in Iceland.
Walking the many hiking paths around this area will give you the chance to observe hot springs of many kinds quite closely.
We will stay overnight in the hut at Hveravellir where it is also possible to take a bath in a natural swimming pool just outside the corner of the cabin. Both hot and cold very fast flowing water pours into the pool which means that the water here is always clean.
The views from the pool are very beautiful and filled with colours, revealing the glacier of Langjokull, a geothermal area and lava fields.
Day 12: Hero Day
Today will be full of adventures with a caving trip to the lava field of Kjalhraun. We will explore the surroundings, search for new caves and visit some known ones.
We'll hear the complete story of Iceland's outlaw and hero Fjalla-Eyvindur. Tonight we stay in the same mountain hut as yesterday, with the thermal pool outside.
Complete Program for Day 12 ...
We'll take a close look at the Kjalhraun Lava Field, which was formed from the shield volcano Strytur about 8,000 years ago. The crater has a diameter of 1 km2.
At Hveravellir we can see the ruins of the shelter of the 18th century famous outlaw Fjalla–Eyvindur, who fled into this area after 1760. Initially he was suspected of larceny, but the reason he was on the run may also have been his sneaking away from the mother of his child. The shelter is to be found near a hot spring named Eyvindarhver, where he boiled his meat.
One of the main reasons why Fjalla-Eyvindur and his wife managed to survive there is because he started using geothermal energy to heat up his cave. It is thought that he was the first Icelander to do that. A memorial to the outlaw and his wife Halla was raised there in 1998.
Overnight in the same mountain hut in Hveravellir, with the thermal pool outside.
Day 13: Gullfoss Falls - Geysers
You haven't been to Iceland if you haven't been to the famous attractions of the Golden Circle. We'll devote today to two of those sites: the breathtaking Gullfoss Falls, and the geysers of the valley of Haukadalur.
Complete Program for Day 13 ...
We will continue our journey to Gullfoss – the "Golden Waterfall". Every year Gullfoss is one of the most visited places in Iceland. The waterfall is in the River Hvita and most of the water flows from the glacier of Langjokull. Here you will have the opportunity to stand next to this amazing waterfall, watching enormous quantities of water tumble violently into a deep, meandering canyon.
During the early 20th Century, a plan to use the falls to generate electricity would have destroyed Gullfoss forever. Sigridur Tomasdottir, the daughter of Tomas Tomasson (the then owner of the falls) threatened to throw herself into the canyon in an effort to overturn these plans, and a memorial to her conservation efforts can be found at the fall's summit.
We will also drive to the geothermal field around Geysir which has hundreds of hot springs with boiling water and a few of these are geysers. We will stop here for a while enjoy walking around the area. At Geysir Geothermal Area there are spouting springs, including Strokkur, the most active geyser in Iceland where it erupts approximately every 4-8 minutes 25 – 40 metres high.
These formidable feats of nature, make up two of the most famous and awe inspiring elements of the Golden Circle. Tomorrow we will visit the third: the National Park of Thingvellir.
Overnight at a hostel in the area.
Day 14: National Park of Thingvellir - Reykjavik
On our last day we'll explore the National Park of Thingvellir (Þingvellir) with its geological and historical importance. There are some lava tubes in the area that we will also check out. Then we'll get to see the highlights of our capital Reykjavik and have some free time.
Complete Program for Day 14 ...
We drive towards Thingvellir National Park where we will explore some of the caves located in the park.
Thingvellir is an important place in human history because in AD 930 a group of Icelandic chieftains gathered here to solve disputes. This was the world’s first Parliament which then sat here for the next eight centuries. But there’s another reason why this is an important place.
Although they didn’t know it, those early pioneers of democracy set up the parliament in the shadow of a most extraordinary rock face. It’s a crack in the earth’s surface that runs for hundreds of kilometers, but a tiny part of something much bigger, the division between two tectonic plates. It is possible to hike around the area and to enjoy the fantastic views.
We then continue our journey back to Reykjavik where we will give you a short tour of the city.
You will have a little free time to explore the beautiful capital and to shop for some souvenirs.
Your overnight accommodation will be in Reykjavik.
Day 15: Departure
We will drive you to Keflavik International Airport in good time for your flight (the shuttle transfer to Keflavik Airport is included in the tour price).
We wish you have enjoyed this trip and bring fantastic memories back home!
Map - click to enlarge