Hiking the Víknaslóðir Trails between the mountains and the sea
|Accommodations||Guesthouse, Hotels, Mountain Hut|
|Group size||5 - 12|
Jul 26, 2023 - Aug 02, 2023 Limited availability, please call
|Single Supp Cost||
The 75-mile-long coastline of Austfirðir, or East Fjords, is a magical microcosm of Iceland. It's a region of isolated inlets, primal mountains, lush green valleys, tumbling waterfalls, and black sand beaches. Remote fishing villages dot its shores. Less traveled than the other parts of Iceland, not only does the area tend to be sunnier, but its distance from the Mid-Atlantic Rift has also contributed to a more stable landscape that has become home to such whimsical wildlife as puffins and reindeer.
Additionally, the area boasts an extensive network of well-marked hiking routes. Known as the Víknaslóðir Trails, or Trails of the Deserted Inlets, these routes have been developed and maintained over the years by local Icelanders. During this 8-day trip, after a domestic flight from Reykjavik to the east coast, we’ll join the Víknaslóðir Trails in the old fishing village of Seyðisfjörður. Walking roughly 45 miles north, from inlet to inlet, we’ll end in the tiny hamlet of Bakkagerdi on the fjord of Borgarfjordur eystri.
Not only is Borgarfjordur eystri one of the best places for viewing puffins, but this isolated region is also considered the central province of the elves. Their queen resides in her rocky fortress of Álfaborg (meaning Fairy City) which rises out of the fields next to the old wooden church in the village of Bakkagerði. On this craggy knoll above the bay, where the smoke from campfires and the haze of the evening mingle, the invisible elves are keeping watch. They already see you coming.
For this trip, we are thrilled to be collaborating with our good friends at Fjallabak Trekking, a leader in Icelandic hiking and discovery tours. Having worked directly with this family-run business for over 15 years, our mutual philosophies of exploring in ways that bring us closer to the heart of a place have led to a great friendship. Together, we look forward to introducing you to some of the more hidden corners of this most amazing country.
Day 1: Arrive Reykjavik
All trip members will be on their own to travel from to get form Keflavik International Airport to our hotel in downtown Reykjavík. The world’s most northerly capital, Reykjavik occupies a small peninsula jutting out into the Greenland Sea. Scandinavian in feel, this picturesque city is enjoyably manageable in size, with an interesting blend of historic and modern architecture. It’s a great city to wander to, full of intriguing, interesting museums and inviting cafes. The trip will officially begin at 6:00 pm at our hotel with an orientation meeting followed by our welcome dinner.
Day 2: Egilstaðir - Seydisfjördur - Loðmundarfjörður
Our day will begin with an early morning transfer to Reykjavik Airport for our flight to Egilsstaðir in northeast Iceland. From Egilsstaðir we will drive to the colorful village of Seyðisfjörður, an important fishing village as well as the only harbor in Iceland connected to Europe by ferry.
Seyðisfjörður was once an important center of trade in the mid-1800s. With its long and protected fjord brimming with herring, the town's thriving fishing industry contributed to it becoming one of the most prosperous towns in East Iceland. Though the herring industry has all but vanished, Seyðisfjörður now has a vibrant arts culture, and its colorful wooden houses remain as testaments of that long-ago period when Norwegian merchants and whalers brought them over as building kits.
From here we cross a dramatic mountain pass arriving at the deserted Loðmundarfjörður fjord, once the home of one of the most isolated and inaccessible communities in Iceland. Wandering this beautiful, uninhabited fjord, we may be able to spot eider ducks, seals, reindeer, and possibly some wild horses roaming the vast moorland and swamps of this large inlet. Elev. gain: 2,018; Elev. loss: 2,352’; Distance: 8 miles; Time: 5 – 6 hrs.; Accommodations: Mountain Hut.
Day 3: Loðmundarfjörður - Húsavík
If the weather permits, today we’ll climb through rhyolite mountains to Kækjuskörð Pass with its breathtaking views. To the west, we can admire countless snowcapped mountains, to the north and south the fjord-lined coast, and to the east the vast curve of the ocean. Descending from the pass, we hike through moorland finally reaching the foot of Mount Hvítserkur one of the most picturesque and bizarre mountains in the country. Hvítserkur consists of bright ignimbrite, fancifully streaked with darker veins. Continuing toward Húsavík, we reach our mountain hut located on the site of a small, old farm, deserted since the 1950s after centuries of occupation. Elev. gain: 1,919’; Elev. loss: 1,595’; Distance: 9 miles; Time: 5 - 6hrs; Accommodations: Mountain Hut.
Day 4: Húsavík - Breiðavík
We walk up and down toward the beautiful wild bay of Breiðavík. A wonderful place with coastal marsh and black sandy beaches covered with incredible amounts of Siberian driftwood and other treasures of the sea. Curious seals will almost certainly come to observe our evening fire and our strange attitude! Elev. gain: 2,185’; Elev. loss: 2,438; Distance: 8 miles; Time: 5 - 6hrs; Accommodations: Mountain Hut.
Day 5: Breiðavík - Brúnavík -Bakkagerði
Today we hike through stunningly massive rhyolite mountains displaying an incredible range of ochre and pastel colors ranging from blue to pink on our way to Borgarfjörður via Brúnavík (“Brown Bay”). Departing the isolated inlet of Brúnavík we hike up and over the pass to the fjord of Borgarfjörður and on the small coastal village of Bakkagerði at the foot of the majestic Dyrfjöll Mountain range. The craggy bluff of Álfaborg (Fairy City), right next to Bakkagerði, is the source of the fjord's name. Fondly acknowledged as the home to the fairies, it is said to be the dwelling place of their queen in Iceland. Our walk continues to the islet and fishing harbor of Fagrihóll. A great variety of birds nest here; some common species being the fulmar, kittiwake, eider duck and puffin. Elev. gain: 1,525’; Elev. loss: 1,275’; Distance: 10 miles; Time: 6 – 7 hrs; Accommodations: Mountain Hut.
Day 6: Dyrfjöll-Storurð:
Our last hike is in the amazing Dyrfjöll Mountains, whose massive presence dominates the bay of Borgarfjörður. We cross the Vatnaskarð pass, between the faces of the Skeggjaklettur cliff (“Bearded Cliff”) to reach Stórurð (“Big Rocky Ground”), an enormous chaos of large rocks intersected by a calm glacial stream. Between the dark rocks rest calm basins of turquoise-colored icy water surrounded by tender green short grass. We’ll return to our guesthouse for our last night on the East Coast. Elev. gain: 1,990’; Elev. loss: 1,990’; Distance: 11 miles; Time: 6 – 7 hours; Accommodations: Guesthouse.
Day 7: Bakkagerdi - Egilsstaðir (Reykjavik):
<We’ll have an early morning departure (8:00 am), driving an hour up the plateau to the little town of Egilstaðir located on the bank of the long turquoise lake of Lagarfljót. The lake is said to be the home of the legendary monster, Lagarfljótsormurinn, a close cousin of Loch Ness monster. We may have an opportunity to spot Lagarfljótsormurinn before our flight back to Reykjavik and our farewell dinner. Accommodations: Hotel.
Day 8: Departure
The trip will end after breakfast with independent travel onward to your next destination.
Solo Travelers: If you wish to have your own room, there is a single supplement charge of $450.
If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room, we will match you with a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom you can share, a reduced supplemental charge of $225 for a forced single will apply.
Airfare, transportation from and to Keflavik International Airport, optional/individual transfers or individual excursions, beverages, entrance fee for museums, swimming pools, insurance, tips to guides, items of personal nature (phone calls, laundry, excess baggage charge, passport fees, etc.).
This trip is vehicle supported, with luggage and supplies being transferred to each overnight location. This means that for our hikes and walks you will only need to carry a daypack with those items you will need during the day’s hike. Having said that, we recommend keeping your luggage to a size that you can easily manage yourself, given you'll be taking it in and out of a support vehicle most days. See our sample packing list. You will receive a more detailed packing list upon registration.
For our Víknaslóðir Trails trip, we'll be staying in a mix of hotels, guesthouses, and backcountry huts.
Hotels and Guesthouses: Our comfortable hotels and guesthouses are in ideal locations, both in Reykjavik and in the countryside. All provide double-occupancy ensuite rooms. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement fee.
Huts: Our backcountry huts offer sleeping bag accommodation (usually one comfortable bunkhouse), a dining area and well-equipped kitchen, running water, outdoor toilets, and hot showers. There is the possibility of recharging electrical devices (220V electrical outlets are European standards) on this trip, however, some of the huts may not have electricity. The huts are rustic and in absolutely incredible locations.
The huts are somewhat similar to European-style mountain huts, the biggest difference being they do not sell or serve food. This means groups need to bring in their own food and prepare their own meals. As well as guiding the hikes, the trip leaders also organize, prepare, and clean up after meals. All participants should be prepared to help the guides with these and other chores. “Many hands make light work!”
Meals: Fjallabak folks pride themselves in providing the best cuisine in the highlands! Breakfast is Scandinavian-style, with muesli, bread, jams, fish, and cheese. Packed lunches may include a variety of sandwiches, 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!
All international flights are served by Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport, which is about 45 minutes outside the capital city of Reykjavik.
The group will meet at our hotel in Reykjavik on the evening of Day 1 at 6:30 pm for an area orientation, followed by our welcome dinner.
The trip will end on Day 8 after breakfast. Trip members will be on their own to extend their stay in Iceland or transfer back to Keflavik Airport for onward flights.
This trip is designed expressly for Distant Journeys and our travelers who have yet to experience the beauty and power of Iceland's hidden landscapes, or would like to explore another corner of the country. During the trip, the group will stay in a combination of huts, hotels, and guesthouses. Staying in the huts gives us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in these rare and isolated spaces. Alternately, the hotels and guesthouse give us a taste of Icelandic hospitality and some welcome comfort.
The remoteness of some of the terrain, coupled with an ever-changing climate can make this a more challenging environment; therefore, safety is of primary concern. Your guides and support vehicle are radio equipped. Fjallabak’s guides are all experienced mountaineers with extensive local knowledge and are fully trained in wilderness first aid and rescue procedures. It's important that each participant have adequate clothing and gear, as outlined in the packing list, to ensure for comfort in all kinds of weather.
Please contact us for a more detailed itinerary, for additional information, or to register. We're also happy to supply a list of past participants willing to share insights into their guided Iceland experiences.
A deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the area provided when completing your registration forms.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as personal checks.
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form, medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment and no later than 30 days prior to your trip start, you will receive trip rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.