Iceland Expedition 2017
Students from the Sixth Form undertook a major expedition to Iceland during July 2017. This was a 12 day trip where students hiked and camped in the Icelandic wilderness while visiting many of the stunning and breathtakingly beautiful locations that this fantastic country of fire and ice had to offer.
You can explore each days activity by clicking on the day number icons.
Each day’s activity is represented by these icons and where the group travels to more than one location on the same day you will see multiple icons for that day representing each location on the itinerary.
Clicking the icon pops up an information window giving the name of the location plus a short description and URL link to a third party web site where more information about the location can be found.
Some activities are very close together and you may need to zoom into the map in order to access the icon.
Explore the rest of the page to discover detailed information about each days activity. 360 degree Google ImageSphere views (where available) are provided to allow you to fully explore the scenery of the stunning locations we will be visiting during the expedition.
Day 1 | Manchester to Keflavik – Iceland
After all your planning and hard work, departure day is here! As your plane comes in to land at Keflavfk Airport you’ll get your first glimpse of Iceland, though the landscape here is very different to where you’re going. From the airport you ‘Il need to take the Flybus Plus into the city centre and spend the rest of the day making final preparations for your adventure.
You will need to think about what you can cook with your Trangia stoves and buy your food for the upcoming phases. Why not try the Outdoor Eating App from The Duke of Edinburgh Award for inspiration!
Tonight you’ll stay at a hostel in Reykjavik, which has been pre-booked for you.
The interactive Google PhotoSphere view above shows the interior of the Keflavik International Airport in Iceland – explore the view!
GPS Coordinates: N63°59.46 W22°37.24 | Altitude: 40 meters
Day 2 | Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar
In the morning you will be collected from your hostel by Snalland Grimisson and travel by minibus to Landmannalaugar, the start of the Laugavegur Trail. If you were unable to do all of your shopping yesterday, ask your driver to stop at one of the big supermarkets for you on the way. This is a journey of approximately 4 hours and it will take you through a variety of landscapes. Tonight you will be camping close to the Landmannataugar Hut and it will be the first time you put your tent up in Iceland, so take your time to ensure you put it up correctly. You may have time this afternoon to go for a short exploratory walk around the hut or to dip your toes in one of the geothermal pools.
This may be the first time you have walked a long way with a full expedition rucksack so take it steady, remember you have lots of daylight in Iceland so there is no need to rush and tire yourself out too quickly! The last day of your trek will bring you to the mountain hut at Þórsmörk where the landscape changes and becomes greener with birch woodland. Located between three glaciers, this is one of the most spectacular places in Iceland, relax and rest your weary feet in the geothermal pools!
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows the Landmannalaugar Hut Camping area where you will setup camp for the first night. Adjust the view to see the campsite and huts!
GPS co-ordinates: N63°59.600 W19°03.660 | Altitude: 661 meters
Day 3 | Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker Trek
Today we start the trek around the famous Laugavegur Trail. Your team is about to embark on a stunning trek through one of Europe’s most awe-Inspiring landscapes. You’ll be walking through a stunning volcanic wilderness studded with fields of obsidian (naturally occurring volcanic glass), lava fields and hot springs. There are black sand and pumice deserts to cross and glacial streams to ford.
Total walking time: Approx. 5-6 hours Approx. distance: 12 km
From Landmannalaugar, head south west crossing the lava field of Laugahraun, Brennisteinsalda and Storihver, this part of the trek involves quite a steep climb of over 500m. The trek continues over a plateau and varied landscape until you reach Hrafntinnusker hut. There is also an optional trek to the ice caves 1.5km west of the hut.
Spend tonight in the campsite at Hrafntinnusker (1050m).
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows typical scenery you will experience at Hrafntinnusker – don’t forget you can explore a 360 degree view in the image above!
GPS coordinates: N63°.93.326 W19°.16.808 | Altitude: 1070 meters
Day 4 | Hrafntinnusker to Alftavatn
Total walking time: Approx. 4-5 hours Approx. distance: 12 km
From Hrafntinnusker trek south over a long plateau of rhyolite ridges and valleys. There is an optional add on to the route east of the main path which ascends Haskerdingur (1278m) across the northern spur of the Kaldaklofsfjoll icecap. The path then follows the peaks before descending to Alftavatn Lake. You will camp at the site next to Alftavatn hut (565m) on the northern shore of the lake.
Days 2&3 Plan B: If the weather is poor or snow is likely day 2 and 3 can be combined in order to camp at a lower and less exposed site. Follow trek form for day 2 to Hrafntinnusker Hut then continue onto day 3 to Alftavatn hut. Combining the days will result in an approximate walking time of 8-10 hours.
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows the stunning lake at Alftavatn – move the view around to see the Alftavatn hut nestled beneath the mountains where you will camp.
GPS coordinates: N63°51.470N W19°13.640 | Altitude: 539 meters
Day 5 | Trek to Torfahlaup Gorge AND OR Bratthals returning to Alftavatn
Trek along the beach on the east side of the lake and then south of Torfavatn and along the track south of Torfatindur. As you trek south of Torfatindur you will encounter a hill (moraine). Torfahlaup is a short distance from here.
– Estimated walking time: 3-4 hours one way
Cross the small river that runs out of Alftavan, then head straight up the ridge and follow it south all the way to the top, return via same method.
– Estimated walking time: 1-2 hours one way.
With a strong group it is possible to combine the two options in one day. On the Bratthals ridge take the group along the grassy southerly fork as the rocky ridge can be hazardous due to steep exposed ground and friable rock. If required, this day can be used as a rest day.
Tonight is your second night at the Alftavatn hut camping area on the northern shore of the lake.
Day 6 | Altfavatn to Emstrur (Botnar)
Total walking time: Approx. 6-7 hours Approx. distance: 16 km
Follow the path east of Alftavatn towards the huts at Hvanngil. Several river crossings.
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows the rugged scenery around Emstur (Botnar)
GPS co-ordinates: N63°45.980 W19°22.450 | Altitude: 499 meters
Day 7 | Emstrur (Botnar) to Husadalur
Total walking time: Approx. 6-7 hours Approx. distance: 15 km
Leave Emstrur and trek east to cross the gorge. There is a steep descent to the bridge which crosses the gorge and there is a fixed rope to aid descent. You will trek through undulating scenery to the Pronga River where a river crossing is necessary. Follow the track through the Þórsmörk woodland, and take the right fork to the Husadalur Huts where you will camp tonight.
The last day of your trek will bring you to the mountain hut at Þórsmörk where the landscape changes and becomes greener with birch woodland. Located between three glaciers, this is one of the most spectacular places in Iceland, relax and rest your weary feet in the geothermal pools! There is also a café!
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows the gorges near to the Husadalur Hut camping area.
GPS Coordinates: N63° 41′ 27.250″ W19° 32′ 29.390″ | Altitude: 210 meters
Day 8 | Hasadalur to Thórsmörk
This is an optional walk rom the base at Hasadalur over to Thórsmörk were the views are breath taking you will walk approximately ……… ?
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows stunning views from the high ground above Thórsmörk.
GPS co-ordinates: N63°40.960 W19°30.890 | Altitude: 232 meters
Day 9 | Conservation and Sustainability
Today you will have the chance to delve deeper into Icelandic culture and the environmental challenges facing this island nation. Iceland has a developed economy as part of the European Economic Area but faces unique environmental challenges with a heavy reliance on its natural resources. Iceland is famed for its unspoiled wilderness and also for having one of the harshest inhabited climates on Earth. However, growing pressure from tourism and energy production (hydroelectric and geothermal) is encroaching on these areas, and environmental conservation is seen as a crucial measure to protect the land for future generations.
There are many important conservation efforts ongoing in Iceland, from tree planting to combat wind erosion to sustainable trail marking to limit the impact of tourism on the landscape. You will have the chance to get involved with an ongoing conservation effort to raise your awareness of these environmental issues, learn about sustainable tourism and make a direct contribution to this worthy cause.
- Protection of large watersheds
- Protection of geothermal areas
- Nature Conservation as the cornerstone of tourism
Unlike most other European countries, Iceland still has large unfragmented waterways, although much political pressure has been put on harnessing them for hydropower generation in recent years. Also, Iceland has an abundance of spring water and spring water fed rivers and lakes and possibly even the most waterfalls in the world, relatively speaking.
The magnificent and distinctive geothermal areas are one of the main characteristics of Icelandic nature and are almost unparalleled in the world. Their diversity is high, both in relation to geology and mineralogy as well as biology, but in many of these areas endemic species of thermophilic (heat-loving) microbes can be found, having adapted to very extreme habitats.
Geothermal areas are under high pressure due to development
The exact number of geothermal areas is unknown in Iceland, but has been estimated to be 27. Of those, one is in the seabed and six are found underneath glaciers. Almost half (nine) of areas visible on the surface have been disturbed by drilling.
A Master Plan for hydro and geothermal energy resources in Iceland, passed as a parliamentary motion in January 2013, groups potential areas for hydro and geothermal energy development into three categories; protection, waiting and utilization categories. More than 70% of all potential geothermal high temperature fields were grouped into the utilization and waiting categories, 43% and 29% respectively. Therefore, geothermal areas are under a lot of pressure due to development.
The number of tourists has increased by an average of about 6% yearly since 2000, and over 15% in 2011 and 2012. The number of foreign visitors to date is about double the population number in Iceland and tourism now counts for about 20% of the export value of the country.
Nature is the main asset for tourism in Iceland as over 80% of foreign visitors mention nature as the reason for visiting the country. At the same time, Icelandic nature is highly vulnerable to an increasing number of tourists, especially areas such as moss rich landscapes, geothermal areas and many areas in the highlands.
Signs of degradation
There are already signs of degradation of some frequently visited areas in Iceland, such as parts of the Golden Circle, Goðafoss waterfall, Dimmuborgir by Lake Mývatn and the geothermal area at Hverarönd, Seljalandsfoss waterfall and others.
Day 10 | The Golden Circle
This is a day that you’ll not forget in a hurry!
Before heading to Þingvellir, your transport will take you to visit Geysir to marvel at the blasting hot water spout, but be careful, not to stand down-wind as the water is around 120 degress.
You will also visit Gulfoss, home to Iceland’s most famous waterfall. The waterfall is hugely powerful and there is usually a breath-taking rainbow over the falls.
From here you’ll travel to Þingvellir where you will camp for the night.
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows one of the blow holes at Geyser – in the distance if you rotate the view you can see a second blow hole has just erupted throwing scalding hot water into the air.
GPS co-ordinates: N64°18.40 W20°18.11W | Altitude: 122 meters
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows a stunning viewpoint that you will be unable to access but the views from the controlled area are breath-taking anyway! – Be prepared for the noise!
GPS co-ordinates: N64°19.35 W20°7.23 | Altitude: 200 meters
Day 11 | Return to Reykjavík with optional Blue Lagoon visit
Your pre-booked transport will pick you up from the park service centre this morning and take you back to Reykjavik. Arriving into Reykjavik around lunchtime, you’ll have time for some well-earned rest and relaxation, which can include a trip to the Blue lagoon (whose silica rich mud is said to be great for your skin), whale watching or sightseeing in the city.
The Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið) geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Bláa lónið is situated approximately 20 km (12 mi) from the Keflavík International Airport and 39 km (24 mi) from the capital city of Reykjavík, roughly a 20-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík.
The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F). The Blue Lagoon also operates a research and development facility to help find cures for other skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The Google PhotoSphere view above shows the natural rugged beauty of the lava field surroundings of this exclusive spa experience.
GPS co-ordinates: N63°52.45 W22°26.43 | Altitude: 40 meters
Day 12 | Keflavik to Manchester
Today you will be driven from the hostel in Reykjavik to the airport and begin the 3 hour flight home, taking with you incredible memories and amazing stories to tell family, friends and school.
The best website to look at the weather forecast for Iceland is http://en.vedur.is/ They have regularly updated information about weather conditions, avalanche warnings, earthquake warnings, even water flow rates and temperatures in the rivers!