Would you like to see some of the best of Iceland without too much bus travel and with well-chosen short walks included in every day?
Iceland is a healthy country with fresh air and landscapes that will make your heart beat just that little bit faster. This tour is designed for those who are not wanting lengthy hikes and have perhaps been prescribed some walking to improve their health. At the same time participants will experience some of the best that Iceland has to offer. A walk will be included in each day’s itinerary and no walk will exceed 7km (usually be much less) and will be taken at a comfortable pace. On more challenging days an option will be provided. Your health and safety is paramount to us.
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Health Walk in South Iceland – typical itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival Day: Pick up at Keflavík airport or hotels in Reykjavik to transfer to our hotel near Hveragerði visiting the delightful Strandakirkja on the way.
Day 2: Breakfast 0800. Dep 0900 (packed lunch provided): Drive to the site of the world’s first democratic parliament at Þingvellir (3). Walk into the rift and visit sites of interest. Drive to the (Great) Geysir to walk around the site (0.5). Continue to Brattholt to walk (4) along the top of the canyon leading to the Gullfoss waterfall. Ascend to the higher viewpoint. Optional swim at the Secret Lagoon. Supper at the hotel near Vik.
Thingvellir: 3km (Grade 3) initially following a rocky path down through a rift. The path opens out onto the plain where we examine a water-filled cleft before walking back up to the top of the rift valley. Easy path, stiff walk. Minor hazards: stony paths; walk alongside water-filled cleft. Out for about 1.5hrs. Shorter version available.
Gullfoss: 4km (Grade 3) from Brattholt along the edge of the gorge to the immense waterfall. Heather moorland path; some rocky sections. Gently up hill all the way. Option to walk to the edge of the fall subject to path condition. Extreme caution here. Then climb steep steps to upper level and viewing platform. Minor hazards: getting too near to edge. Out for about 1.5hrs (non-walkers can take the bus to the overlook).
Day 3: Breakfast 0730. Dep 0830 (packed lunch provided): Drive to the margin of the Sólheimajökull glacier for a short walk (1.5). Drive east for a walk (3) in the environs of Vík with its fabulous black sand beach where puffins may be in evidence, the early viking site of Hjörleifshöfði (3.5) and the polygonal basalt cliffs and beach of Reynisfjara (0.5). Supper at the hotel Dyrhólaey in Vik.
Sólheimajökull glacier: Easy 1.5km walk (Grade 2) but rocky/stony/sandy underfoot. No steep climbs. Walkers will not go onto the glacier owing to instability of rapidly melting ice. Minor hazards: soft sand; slip on ice. Out for about 1 hour.
Vík: 3km walk (Grade 3) starting at the cemetery above the town and going downhill all the way to the beach along gravel paths or tarmac streets. Minor hazards: loose gravel on slopes; waves on the beach. Out for about 2hrs incl coffee stop!
Hjörleifshöfði: Short walk (1.5km/Grade 3): gentle sandy/gravelly walk to a short, sharp ascent to the site of an old farm. Longer walk (3.5km/Grade 4) starts the same but continues up a long, steep, grassy slope to the summit. Shorties can either wait at the farm (nice spot in good weather) or descend to the bus in a small sheltered valley. Minor hazards: getting too close to cliff edge. Out for about 1.5hrs
Day 4: Breakfast 0800. Dep 0900 (packed lunch provided): Drive to the Landeyarhöfn ferry terminal to sail (10.00am) to the Westman Islands to do a lovely coastal walk (4.5) where the 1973 eruption occurred. On the return visit the Eruption Centre at Thorvaldseyri and Kvernarfoss waterfall, which you can walk behind (3) . Supper at the hotel.
Vestman Islands: Easy 4.5km/Grade 4 walk along cliff margin. Grass and heather surface that ends on the rocks along the beach. Mildly awkward descent (short). Stiff sandy plod at the end. No short cut but non-walkers can take the bus to the end of the walk and go to a puffin observatory. Hazards: straying too close to cliff edge. Two stiles. Out for about 2.5hrs
Kvernarfoss: Very pleasant 3km/Grade 3 walk up a grassy valley to impressive waterfall which you can walk behind. Upper section a bit steep and path more gravelly. Minor hazards: grassy slopes can be slippery when wet. One stile. Out for about 1.5hrs
Day 5: Breakfast 0730. Dep 0830 (packed lunch provided. Drive into the beautiful valley, Þórsmörk, and ascend the mountain Valahnjúkur for 360o views over the mountains and icecaps (5). Subject to timing, visit the Folk Museum at Skógar on the return to the hotel. Supper at the hotel.
Thórsmörk: Actual route (5km/Grade 5) depends on river conditions and whether or the bus can drive through to our start point, Húsadalur. All being well, everyone can start together for the pleasant walk on grass and gravel paths through low willow and birch scrub to a col overlooking the main valley. At this point lunch will probably be taken before the ascent to Valahnjúkur. This is a steep ascent on rock/gravel path with a steep drop on one side towards the summit. Superb views. Minor hazards: slipping on gravel surfaces; getting too near the edge at the top. Descend the same way. Lower alternative walk provided for those not wishing to ascend. Out for about 3 – 4hrs.
Day 6: Breakfast 0730. Dep 0830 (packed lunch provided): Drive east across the open Mýrdalssandur outwash plain to the Fjaðragljúfur canyon (1). Continue east and across the Skeiðarársandur outwash plain (flooded in the eruption of 1996) to the Vatnajökull National Park. Initially we will skirt the icecap to visit the Jökulsárlón iceberg lake (made famous by the James Bond film “A View to a Kill”). Returning to Skaftafell we will walk to the Svartifoss waterfall (3) and then across the heathland to an overlook above the Skaftárfellsjökull glacier (4). Hopefully Iceland’s highest mountain, the volcano Hvannadalshnúkur (2119m), will be clear of cloud. Supper at the hotel.
Fjaðrargljúfur: A very short 1km/Grade 2 walk up a gentle, grassy slope. Steep drops into the canyon. Minor hazard: getting too close to the edge. Out for 45 mins.
Skaftafell – Svartifoss: A 3km/Grade 3 walk up a steep footpath climbing steadily to a viewpoint to the fall. Option to descend to the fall or wait 30 mins at the viewpoint for those that do. Then either return back down the steepish, gravelly footpath or continue …..
Skaftafell – Skaftárfellsjökull overlook: across the moorland on a well-defined path taking you up across the heath on a 4km/Grade 4 walk that, after the glacier overlook, will bring you back down a steepish, gravel/rock path through increasing birch woodland. Minor hazards: exposed site in poor weather; gravelly footpaths slippy when steep. Out for 3 – 4 hours.
Alternative for anyone not wishing to ascend the heathland: 1km lowland walk to the glacier margin along a path suitable for wheelchairs. National Park center has café, exhibition, audio-visuals and bookshop.
Day 7: Breakfast 0700. Dep 0745 (packed lunch provided): Drive to Reykjavík (arrive approx 1015) Visit the city overlook at Perlan (The Pearl). Personal free time in the city. Details and timing will be dependent on weather conditions and the amount of time that the groups opts to spend at any particular place
Health Walk in South Iceland includes: coach transport (fully air-conditioned 4WD or fixed-wheel), full board accommodation, Westman Islands ferry, folk museum www.skogarsafn.is , eruption centre www.icelanderupts.is, guiding. – Optional extra: Secret Lagoon – approx £12 www.secretlagoon.is/ – a unique experience!
Your guide: Tony Escritt, a volunteer with the Central Norfolk Health Walks who has been visiting Iceland regularly for 50 years. Tony is author of “Iceland – The Traveller´s Guide” (O/P).
This year we are including a tour to the peninsulas; Reykjanes & Snæfellsnes.
Iceland Peninsulas Walks itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival (Peninsula 1)
Come prepared for a short coastal walk (1km/Grade 1). We pick you up at Keflavík airport or hotels in Reykjavík. Come prepared for a short coastal walk from the Garðskagi lighthouse at the tip of the Reykjanes peninsula once rounded by the first settlers and where the volcanic Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes ashore. Optional museum visit. Accommodation at Vogar (only 20 mins away).
Day 2: Moonwalking (Peninsula 1)
We drive further into Reykjanes via the so-called ‘Bridge between the Continents’ that is symbolic of Iceland’s location astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Our main walk (7km/Grade 3) will be easy walking though occasionally awkward under foot. Our route will take us into a volcanic moonscape following tracks through geologically young lava fields. From the Stampar craters we will weave our way through lava fields and a bouldery coastline, where the sea seems to boil, until we come to the impressive cliffs at Krísuvíkurbjarg where the now extinct Great Auk made its last home. From there we progress to the Gunnuhver hot springs.
Those wishing to experience the unique Blue Lagoon will be able to do so at this point. For others there will be options in the vicinity of the fishing town of Grindavík. Accommodation at Vogar.
Day 3: Reykjavík Coastal Promenade (Peninsula 2)
This is a day provided at the request of those who on past trips have expressed the wish to have more time in this exciting and vibrant city. As an option we have planned a coastal walk (10km/Grade 1) within the city taking in the Harpa concert hall, the old harbour, the Maritime Museum, Seltjarnarnes peninsula and Grótta lighthouse. From there we drive to Perlan, the city overlook crowned by a viewing platform and rotating restaurant. Depending upon time and inclination, other options will be available. Accommodation in Reykjavík.
Day 4: Dynamic Iceland! (Peninsula 3)
Drive through the tunnel beneath Hvalfjörður to the Snæfellsnes peninsula where our first walk will be through vegetated lava fields to the Eldborg crater (5km/Grade 3) with tremendous views all around. We then drive to the Gerðuberg columnar basalt cliff (5km/Grade 2) and the little church tucked into the foot of the steep lava front from the volcano Ytri-Rauðamelskúla. Driving further west we will make the short cliff walk (3km/Grade 2) along the dramatic rocky coast from Arnarstapi to Hellnar. From there we will drive through the extensive lava fields of the western tip of the peninsula. Accommodation in Ólafsvík.
Day 5: Island Hopping
In the morning we will drive east through magnificent scenery to Grundarfjörður and beyond to the weirdest of lava landscapes, the Berserkjahraun (the name says it all!). In summer this is a paradise for flora, birdlife and photography as we wind our way (6km/Grade 3) through the lava to the tranquillity of a delightful mountain lake, the home of whooper swans. Hopefully we will have time to visit the fascinating Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn. We must be checked in early at our hotel in Stykkishólmur so as to catch the afternoon ferry to the island of Flatey with the possibility of whale spotting on the way. As the name suggests, the island is rather flat but is popular among artists who have renovated houses there. We will have 2½hrs to stroll around, visit the lovely church and take coffee at the small kaffihusið before sailing back for a late supper at our accommodation.
Day 6: Slip Sliding Away
We will allow a leisurely start to enable you to enjoy this delightful outpost before heading back to Reykjavík. We must make a pilgrimage to the holy mountain, Helgafell, and its little church (1km/Grade 2) before having a short walk (4km/Grade 3) below the mountain Drápuhlíðarfjall where once there had been a colossal landslide. Depending upon time and inclination there will be other options for a final walk. We will return through the tunnel to our accommodation in Reykjavík.
Day 7: Farewell
Personal free time in the city and transfer to Keflavík Airport.
Grade 2: Short, gentle walk on easy surfaces
Grade 3: Longer and more challenging to include steeper slopes, rocky and/or uneven surfaces.
Grade 4: Harder than Grade 3 walks with some exposed drops or steep, gravelly paths
Grade 5: Longer and more challenging on account of either length or exposure.
Your guide: Tony Escritt, a volunteer with the Central Norfolk Health Walks who has been visiting Iceland regularly for 50 years. Tony is author of „Iceland – The Traveller´s Guide“ (O/P).
DEPARTURES: (based on there being 20 people in the group)
|Dates:||Days||Area:||Ground Cost GBP||Cost incl Flight GBP*|
|19. – 25. May 2016||7||South Iceland||1220||1425||1520||1725|
|25. – 31. May 2016||7||Peninsulas (West)||1220||1425||1520||1725|
|26. August – 1. September 2016||7||South Iceland||1220||1425||1520||1725|
*Flights: These are ex UK costs. We use Icelandair (Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow) and WOW (Gatwick). You may independently book Easyjet (Luton, Bristol), Ask us for details.
By clicking the Health Walks deposit button tho the left you can make a deposit on your trip. The deposit is 49.500 Icelandic krona’s per person, equivalent to 250 GBP
As a rule we will be flying with the national carrier, Icelandair, which, for UK travellers leaves from Heathrow Terminal 2. The recommended check in time at Heathrow is 3hrs before departure time (BDT). However, 2 – 3hrs BDT is OK. The baggage allowance is 20kg/person.
We can also book with WOWair (Gatwick, Dublin). If you wish you may independently book alternative airlines such as EasyJet (Luton, Gatwick, Bristol, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh) or FlyBe (Birmingham) but you will need to talk to us first to synchronise timings.
Your flights are covered by Icelandair’s ATOL licence. Through the Icelandic agency Trex – Travel Experiences Ltd the ground arrangements are covered by a declaration of guarantee from the through a bank in the event of bankruptcy or the cessation of the agency’s operation, according to Icelandic Tourism Administration Act No. 73/2005 (copy available on request). This is similar to the assurances that you would have through UK agencies that have ATOL and ABTA licences. Those booking through our partner company, Iceland Traveller Ltd (www.icelandtraveller.co.uk), may obtain ATOL cover (ask for details). Participants from other countries can book and pay a deposit online by clicking the booking button to the left.
Please ensure that you have obtained your own personal travel insurance. Iceland is generally regarded as Europe. The BMC has also launched travel insurance (Trek) to cover hillwalking and easy scrambles (www.thebmc.co.uk)
We strongly recommend that UK nationals apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which can be obtained on line (www.europeanhealth.org.uk)
Your passport will need to have at least 3 months validity. Do please check this! No visas are required for Iceland.
Best obtained prior to travel. You can exchange at Keflavík airport but this could delay our departure. Visa is widely accepted. UK nationals may order through the Post Office, which offers an efficient service but if you have any difficulty try ICE (www.iceplc.com). Easy to use, pay by bank transfer, money delivered next day by registered post.
If you have any special requirements please let us know in good time so that we can pass these to the hotel. Iceland is getting better at making special provisions but we would ask you to be broad-minded in their interpretation!
HEALTH and SAFETY
In general Iceland is a very safe country but it does have its own unique elements (eg hot springs). In the interest of safety we would advise participants to follow the route taken by the guide and not to stray from the path. Wherever there are potential hazards these will be pointed out. Walking boots are required for all walks; waterproofs and personal first aid should be carried. We subscribe to the safety principles of Safetravel (www.safetravel.is).
CLOTHING AND PERSONAL BAGGAGE:
In general it is fair to say that for summer travel in Iceland you should be prepared for much the same conditions as in the English Lake District. Come prepared for wet or windy conditions. Headgear is strongly recommended. A small scarf is a useful addition.
Items of special note
Iceland uses the same as UK but you will need a small round 2-pin adaptor.
SWIMMING POOLS (Optional extras)
If planning to swim at the Secret Lagoon (www.secretlagoon.is/) it is possible to rent both costume and towel on site for a small sum. If not swimming there are refreshments and viewing facilities. The same applies for those opting for the Blue Lagoon (www.bluelagoon.com) on the Peninsula tour.
In Iceland’s humid climate great care needs to be taken to keep out condensation and dust, both of which are common problems. Even if you are only taking one small camera without sophisticated extras do take cleaning materials with you such as a lens brush and anti-static cloths. A few Kleenex are useful. Icelandic lava surfaces can be nasty and your lens runs the risk of being scratched unless you use a UV filter as protection. It will also reduce the excessive sky blue (hopefully).
The best single map of the whole of the island is the 1:600,000 Touring Map, which is perfectly adequate for our visit. There are very good maps that cover the western and southern area where we shall be: 1:300,000 General Maps: Suðvesturland (Southwest). There are also hiking maps at 1:100,000 covering Thingvellir and Skaftafell. Also to be recommended are the Botanical Map and Birdwatchers’ Map, which show the principal wildlife that we shall see. All of these maps are available on line from Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk)
The approximate distances of the walks are given on the itinerary sheet. Because participants come from many different walking areas the expectations may be different and sometimes our interpretation of grading will differ from yours on the ground! We emphasise that we are not leading treks but a series of walks designed to give you a modicum of exercise each day while being able to enjoy Iceland’s rather special landscape. In general you will only need a small day sack for personal items because we try to arrange that the bus meets us for lunch. Packed lunches are provided. With Iceland Health Walks in mind it is intended to have at least one Level 2 or 3 walk a day. Others will be much shorter and designed to enable you to see as much as possible while getting exercise at the same time.
The approximate walking distances are given within the itinerary descriptions
Heimaey (South): The ferry journey takes only 30 minutes.
Flatey (West): The ferry journey takes only 90 minutes.
Occasionally the weather conditions make the mainland harbour inaccessible in which case our plans would have to be altered.
The balance of the cost of your visit will be due approx. 8 weeks prior to departure.
We do not anticipate any surcharges but must make you aware that in the current economic climate the stability of exchange rates can make a significant difference to costs. Our flights are quoted and confirmed in sterling. The land-based arrangements are in Icelandic kronur and little change is on the horizon. Early payment of balances can help to secure the lowest available rates.
Should you cancel once the flights have been booked you will lose your initial £250 deposit. Thereafter:
70 – 15 days before departure: 75% of the total cost of the tour
14 – 1 day(s) before departure: 90% of the total cost of the tour
Departure date or after: 100% of the total cost of the tour.
Air tickets are non-refundable but if we are able to get a replacement for you there will be no charge up to 70 days before departure. Thereafter you will be charged £75 for a name change.
Validity of prices: All rates quoted are based on current prices and are subject to change without notice in the event of currency fluctuations, impositions of or increase in taxes due to any cost increase not under the direct influence of TREX.
Payments (only for flight): 75% of the payment has to reach TREX 4 weeks prior to departure. The final payment made within 30 days after receipt of a detailed invoice from TREX.
Cancellations (only for flight): All cancellations on behalf of individuals or groups have to be made in writing (fax or e-mail). There is no cancellation fee if cancellation is received not later than 5 weeks prior to arrival. We apply, according to business practices within the Icelandic Travel Industry, the following cancellation fees if service is cancelled:
2 weeks to 5 weeks before arrival 20% of net price
3 days to 2 weeks before arrival 50% of net price
Less than 3 days before arrival 100% of net price
Please note: TREX does not accept responsibility for any loss, damage, accidents and changes in itineraries due to weather, strikes or other irregularities caused by forces or events outside the direct control of TREX. We also reserve the right to alter routes and departure times due to road or weather conditions without prior notice. We strongly advice travellers to purchase health and accident insurance in time, before going on the tour.
Your safety is our primary concern – please observe SAFETRAVEL.IS: