Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Locally Hosted, Private

Hike the Highlands (7 days)

Iceland Encounter

Reykjavík, Iceland To Reykjavík, Iceland

Valid for Departures: 01 Jul 2019 - 31 Aug 2019

Hike the Highlands (7 days)

Day 2

Hella, Iceland →Landmannalaugar, Iceland

Day 3

Hvolsvöllur, Iceland →Álftavatn, Iceland

Day 4

Hvolsvöllur, Iceland →Emstrur, Iceland

Day 5

Hvolsvöllur, Iceland →Þórsmörk, Iceland

Day 6

Gullfoss, Iceland Geysir Area, Iceland →Þingvellir, Iceland


Day 1
Reykjavík, Iceland
None None

Welcome to Iceland! Your guide will pick you up at the airport. Check into your centrally located Reykjavik hotel and enjoy the day at leisure. We´ll assemble for a preparatory dinner at 7:00 PM to review the upcoming hike.

Day 2
Hella, Iceland
Landmannalaugar, Iceland
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Transfer to Landmannalaugar, hike to Hrafntinnusker: We depart at 8:00 AM and travel via private coach to the Icelandic highlands, arriving at the Landmannalaugar geothermal area by noon. Enjoy a picnic lunch and a short dip in one of the natural geothermal pools before beginning your hike to Hrafntinnusker. From the hut in Landmannalaugar, the trail proceeds through Laugahraun lava field, across the slopes of Mt. Brennisteinsalda (surely Iceland´s most colorful peak!), and onto the highland plateau. The view from here offers an incredible spectrum of colors. After 3-4 hours you arrive at Storihver, a hot spring and possibly the only green spot visible on our first day. Possible side trips at discretion of guide and depending on conditions that day. Overnight in a geothermally heated mountain hut. Distance 12 km, estimated walking time 4-5 hours, elevation gain 470 meters.

Day 3
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland
Álftavatn, Iceland
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Hike to Lake Álftavatn: Start the day by exploring the Hrafntinnusker area. A run up to Mt. Sodull (1132 m) provides awesome views. After lunch, hike to lake Alftavatn with a possible side trip to Mt. Haskerdingur (1281 m), depending on visibility. The first part of the trail takes us through a valley with small ravines, which may be filled with snow. If visibility is good, a walk up to the top of mountain Háskerðingur (1281 m) will reward you with breathtaking views. Soon we leave the colorful rhyolite mountains behind and enter an area with dark palagonite mountains and glaciers. You will also notice a considerable increase in vegetation. The trail down the Jökultungur (Glacier Tongues) is rather steep but leads down to a friendly oasis on the banks of river Grashagakvísl a fine place to rest for a while. From there on the trail to the two huts by Lake Alftavatn (Swan Lake) is on flat land. There are two huts at Lake Alftavant (58 persons). Distance covered today 12 km, estimated walking time 4-5 hours, elevation decrease 490 m.

Day 4
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland
Emstrur, Iceland
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Hike to Emstrur (Botnar): The trail takes us over the ridge Bratthals into Hvanngil ravine, wading across the river Bratthálskvísl. There are two huts in Hvanngil, one built for sheepherders in 1963 and one for travelers, built in 1995. Not far from the huts, we come to the river Kaldaklofskvisl with a bridge for hikers. On the eastern bank of Kaldaklofskvisl, the trail branches, one branch leading eastwards to Mælifellssandur (Road F 210), while the other one heads south to Emstrur—we choose the latter. Less than 1 km from Kaldaklofskvisl another river has to be waded and approximately 4 km further we come to the river Nyrdri Emstrua, but this time there is a bridge to cross. Soon we will be overlooking the huts in Botnar (40 persons). A fine side-trip this evening is to Markarfljotsgljufur canyon. Distance 15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, elevation decrease 40 m.

Day 5
Hvolsvöllur, Iceland
Þórsmörk, Iceland
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Hike to Þórsmörk (Thor´s Forest): We proceed around the canyon of Syðri-Emstrur River, followed by a walk through the area known as Almenningar. After fording Thronga (Narrow River) a 30-minute walk takes us by late afternoon to Langidalur (Long Valley) in Thorsmork. Throughout most of the day, we´ll enjoy views of Katla and Eyjafjallajokull volcanos. Landscape and vegetation change rapidly at this point. Birchwood and other greenery are a welcome change after the highland desert now behind us. One-hour later, we are delivered to our luxury hotel in the countryside, where a celebratory dinner awaits! Distance 15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, elevation decrease 300 m.

Day 6
Gullfoss, Iceland
Geysir Area, Iceland
Þingvellir, Iceland
None Breakfast, Snack

Golden Circle: We depart our hotel at 9:00 AM and proceed along the Golden Circle Route back to Reykjavik. Our first stop is Gullfoss, considered by many to be Iceland´s most scenic waterfall. Then it´s on to Geysir, the erupting hot spring that gave its name to the phenomenon worldwide. At noon, we´ll stop at Iceland´s newest geothermal spa, Fontana at Lake Laugarvatn, where those who wish may spend an hour in the multiple hot pools and steam rooms -- surely a welcome relief after 4 days of hiking! After lunch, we´ll continue on to Thingvellir (Þingvellir), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location of Iceland´s Parliament between the years 903 A.D. and 1798. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can see the effects of tectonic plate separation, clearly visible in the great Almannagja or Everyman´s Gorge. Check into your hotel in Reykjavik by late afternoon. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Day 7
Reykjavík, Iceland
None Breakfast

Day of Departure: We will provide transportation to the airport. Please let us know if you would like to extend your stay in Iceland; we would be happy to help you organize additional days in Reykjavik or the countryside.

Exclusively for Virtuoso Guests

Iceland Encounter has been an exclusive Virtuoso supplier since 2012. All Virtuoso travelers receive a complimentary welcome package; breakfast is always included.

Tour Features


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This 7-day trip includes a 4-day hike along the most popular and possibly most spectacular trail in Iceland, Laugavegur (The Spring Road), which connects the areas of Landmannalaugar in the central highlands to Thorsmork in the south. The route is 54 km long and passes through extremely diverse landscape: multi-colored rhyolite mountains, geothermal fields with erupting geysers, ice caves, sprawling sands, magnificent canyons, and ends in verdant birch forests. At its highest point, the trail is just over 1,000 meters above sea level.

This is truly a world-class hike.

During the trek, gear and food will be transported by 4x4 via an alternate route from hut to hut, so you need only hike with a day-pack. Prepare to be spoiled by our chefs as they prepare one gourmet meal after another!

About Us

Iceland Encounter focuses on bespoke trips of high quality. We are the only Virtuoso On-Site headquartered in Reykjavik and were nominated for Virtuoso’s Best On-Site Award in 2015 and 2016. Iceland Encounter was founded by husband-and-wife team Kristín Björnsdóttir and Erling Aspelund. After working for over 20 years in the US computer software industry – both in New York and Seattle – they returned to their native Iceland in 2007 to start their travel company. We look forward to welcoming you to Iceland!

Insider Tip

In Iceland, the sun doesn’t set from May 21st to July 21st. Ask us about possible activities under the midnight sun: hiking, diving, golfing, fishing, snorkeling, and more

Terms & Conditions

Please contact supplier for detailed terms and conditions.

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Reviews and Recommendations for Iceland Encounter


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Visit Iceland with Iceland Encounter!

By: Lisa

Reviewed on: 29 Jan 2013

Our Iceland Encounter vacation was the experience of a lifetime. Our Rekyjavik hotel choice was perfect - lovely accomodations in City Center within walking distance of great food and shopping. Our guide/driver for three days in the country was knowledgeable and funny. Within the first hour he made us feel comfortable and safe in his care. He knew how to make the most of our limited daylight. Staying in the country for two nights was an outstanding recommendation because it gave us the opportunity to see the Northern Lights (upon request, the hotel wakes guests up if/when they become visible) and be closer to the places we wanted to visit. Our guide had a great relationship with other guides and establishment owners/operators and it made us feel like family. It was a very personal experience. We could not have done this on our own.
Travel Advisor:  Beth Jenkins

Fantastic Trip

By: Lisa & Catherine

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2013

This was a fantastic experience. It is has been one year since our trip and we are still talking about how much fun we had and how much we want to go back. Everything was planned perfectly to maximize our time there. Snowmobiling and hiking on a glacier. Waterfalls. Geysers. Volcanos. Museums. Touring a geothermal plant. Blue Lagoon. Travleing with our guide, Valdimar, was amazing. He took such good care of us. I fell in love with Iceland.
Travel Advisor:  Beth Jenkins

Excellent guide, good hotel

By: Mike H

Reviewed on: 14 Jul 2016

Iceland Encounter made our journey to Icelamd most enjoyable and worthwhile. Our guide Teddy was most wenjoyable, knowledgeable, and provided a great local flavour to the journey. Our hotel was centrally located and comfortable. Our transfers were comfortable, friendly, and reliable. I would recommend them for anyone wanting a customized visit to Iceland.
Travel Advisor:  Roxanne Girard

Great experience!

By: Karen

Reviewed on: 05 Sep 2016

Our family had the most awesome trip to Iceland! We loved everything we did, and our guide, Snorri, was outstanding! He made the trip especially interesting and fun. He is very knowledgeable with diverse interests so it was such a treat to be with him all week. We miss him! We loved Iceland and want to return.
Travel Advisor:  Sam McClure

Fantastic Trip

By: Quesy

Reviewed on: 12 Mar 2017

Iceland Encounter planned an amazing trip for us. Our guide was efficient, had a delightful personality and was very knowledgeable about Iceland. We saw everything that we wanted to see and then some. We wouldn't have changed a thing!
Travel Advisor:  Rochelle Lieberman

3 days of touring in Iceland

By: No nickname

Reviewed on: 12 Jul 2017

Excellent! Did exactly what they said they would do. Totally satisfied.
Travel Advisor:  Birgit Navarre

Iceland 2017

By: Capilouto

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2017

A wonderful experience and service. Excellent guides.
Travel Advisor:  Beth Flowers

Iceland Encounter

By: KJ

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2017

Very good and addressed all needs and concerns. Always willing to help and be there.
Travel Advisor:  Nancy Macleod

Iceland Encounter

By: Carla

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2017

I had the same wonderful guide that I had last year. It was like old home week and we had a great time. I think they do a good job.
Travel Advisor:  Barbi Lazarow


By: J&J

Reviewed on: 15 Jan 2018

The people at Iceland Encounter were very good to us. They guided us through several weather delays and airline changes, rearranging rides, hotels, restaurants, Blue Lagoon reservations and more with good grace. They provided our guide, Kristjan. He was knowledgeable, gracious, caring and proud of his country. We learned more and saw more than we ever would have on our own or in a large group.
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Bush

You HAVE to Visit Iceland

By: Don & Eileen

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2018

They set up a 12 day guided tour that was incredible and beyond gorgeous. Our guide, Kristjan Petur Vilhelmsson, was one of the best we’ve had any where and gave us so many great experiences that few tourists get to have. He was tireless in making sure we got to explore everything we wanted to see - and then some. At the end of the trip, we considered him a friend and remain in frequent contact. We will go back and we want Kristjan to show us the way.
Travel Advisor:  Judy Schwartz

Iceland Encounter

By: Me

Reviewed on: 03 Jun 2018

They set up a really nice trip for me to Iceland. This is my 3rd trip and they didn't disappoint. I asked for a new guide and he was fabulous. Would highly recommend their services.
Travel Advisor:  Michael King

Awesome GUIDES

By: MC

Reviewed on: 23 Aug 2018

WE loved our Iceland Encounter guides- they were unbelievable. Made the trip. WE loved the activities as well, but the guides were awesome.
Travel Advisor:  Sam McClure


By: Diane

Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2018

The experience was great. Our guide "Thor" was by far the best guide our family has experienced. He made our trip!
Travel Advisor:  Sheri Phillips



Reviewed on: 14 Oct 2018

Iceland Encounter was great and I highly recommend them. They were a front runner for us because they continually monitor the skies for Northern Lights visibility and guess what? We hit the jackpot and saw them! Thank you Iceland Encounter and a shout out to our guide, Sori! He was fun, told great stories, sang songs and was a pleasure!
Travel Advisor:  Shelley Rapp