Winter Activities, Hot Springs and Northern Lights

Winter Activities, Hot Springs and Northern Lights

Do not (always) trust the myths and legends! This winter discovery of Iceland is accessible to all. With an average temperature of 0 ° C in winter, this North Atlantic island can be easily discovered by foot - hiking or snowshoeing. A wonderful journey into the heart of the most spectacular and fascinating places in southern Iceland, between ocean, glaciers and volcanoes in a world of geysers, ice grottos, black sand beaches and cliffs, we explore both over and underground. This week promises a total change of scenery hopefully under the light of the dancing aurora borealis.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 Arrival in Reykjavik

    Arrival in Reykjavik Welcome to Iceland. You will be greeted by a member of the team at Keflavik Airport and transferred to your accommodation. City tour and dinner at leisure in the capital city.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse

  • Day 2 Reykjavik, Reykjanes Peninsula & the Golden Circle

    Reykjavik, Reykjanes Peninsula & the Golden Circle Early departure to the Reykjanes peninsula: "the smoke peninsula" for a first discovery of the geothermal activity of the island at the site of Krisuvik. We take the road to the north to travel the Golden Circle first stopThingvellir, the valley of the parliament, the Mecca of Icelandic history. This is where the summer sessions of the Alþing (ancient Iceland Parliament) were held, established in 930. Our journey continues with the discovery of the geyser Strokkur which erupts every 5 to 10 minutes. The discovery of Gullfoss, "The Golden Fall" follows, a gigantic two-level waterfall flowing into a ravine adorned with basalt columns. At the end of the day we can enjoy a swim in a pool directly in nature at the "secret lagoon" (entrance fee included).

    Accommodation: Guesthouse
    Walking time: 2h

  • Day 3 Lava Tunnels, Waterfalls and Black Sand Beaches

    Lava Tunnels, Waterfalls and Black Sand Beaches This morning we leave our guesthouse Reykjavik to conquer the south coast of Iceland. First stop: Raufarhólshellir, one of the longest lava tunnels in Iceland (entrance fee included). It will be an opportunity to walk along the marks of lava that flowed over 5,200 years ago. Then we will continue our way towards the waterfalls of Seljalandfoss and Skogafoss to join Vik and its beaches of black sand. Among the waves emerge some lava columns carved by the waves - the Reynisdrangar. If the weather allows, we will have the opportunity to bathe in the oldest natural water pool in Iceland, a lost pool in the heart of nature: Seljavellir.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse
    Walking time: 3h

  • Day 4 Hiking Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon Lagoon

    Hiking Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon Lagoon We continue east to visit the largest glacier in Europe (Vatnajökull). Then we discover Skaftafell and hike to the glacial tongues which descend from Vatnajökull - an amazing alpine landscape only a few dozen meters above sea level! (Snowshoes and walking poles provided if necessary). A few kilometres further east, at the end of the day we reach the glacial lagoon Jokulsarlon, where the glacier Breidarmerkur breaks into icebergs that drift towards the ocean. At certain times of year, in the evenings, seals come to hunt in the lagoon and play amoung the Icebergs.

    Accommodation: Farmhouse

  • Day 5 Glacier hiking and ice caves

    Glacier hiking and ice caves Today we get to go hiking on the Vatnajökull Glacier, the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland. Crampons on (technical equipment provided), we venture our onto the glacier before reaching an ice cave, an ephemeral fairy gallery that will disappear at the end of the winter. We admire bluish reflections, and dancing light displays across the ice (activity lead by a qualified Icelandic guide, easy, accessible to all and included in the price of the stay).

    Accommodation: Farm house

  • Day 6 The Lava centre, Hveragerdi & Reykjavik

    The Lava centre, Hveragerdi & Reykjavik It is a few hours drive to the geothermal area of Hveragerdi. On the way we stop in Hvolsvollur to visit the lava museum (entrance fee included). The Lava centre is a fabulous interactive museum, exhibition and film for understanding Icelandic volcanic phenomena. In Hveragerdi, depending on the weather conditions, we will snowshoe or hike between of fumaroles and bubbling pools of mud. Then, we will relax in a hot water river, fed by the Hengill volcano, before heading back to Reykjavik for an evening at leisure.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse
    Evening meal not included. Perhaps we can sample a local traditional restaurant together.

  • Day 7 The Blue Lagoon

    The Blue Lagoon This morning, you can choose between strolling through the streets of Reykjavík, leaving for a whale-watching excursion (not included) or discovering the world of Icelandic horses with various rides available for all levels (not included).

    The group will meet for lunch and then we will set off together to Reykjanes Peninsula. In the late afternoon, we will relax in the most famous spa in Iceland: the Blue Lagoon. Located in the middle of a lava field a few kilometres from Reykjavík, we will have the opportunity to bathe in a milky water at 39 ° C and experience the revitalizing effect. We will return to Reykjavík for an evening at leisure.

    Accommodation: Guesthouse
    Evening meal not included. Perhaps we can sample a local traditional restaurant together.

  • Day 8 Farewell Iceland

    Farewell Iceland Breakfast and airport transfers included. Free time in function with your flights.

The details in this programme are regularly updated but imponderables and unpredictable circumstances may result in inaccuracies. In order to provide the adventure which is best suited to your demands, the weather and the operational conditions, changes to the itinerary may be made. For safety reasons, we reserve the rights to interrupt your participation at any time if your technical level or fitness is deemed unsuitable or if you are seen as a danger to yourself or to those around you. This will in no case give rise to refunds or compensation.

Dates & prices

Departures for English-speaking groups:

No departure for now

Trip code: EISLHA

Included

  • Airport transfers
  • Guesthouse/hostel accommodation (dormitory sleeping arrangements and shared bathroom faciltiies)
  • Full board, except meals in Reykjavik the first night and the last two nights
  • Supervision by your professional guide
  • The following activities: Lava tunnel visit, glacier hiking and ice caves
  • Entry to the Blue Lagoon, entrance to the "Secret Lagoon" and admission to "the Lava centre"
  • Snowshoes and hiking poles if necessary

Not included

  • Your international flights
  • The registration fee: 18 € per person
  • Travel insurance
  • Additional optional activities
  • Tips and personal expenses

Notes

Difficulty level 2/5

Pace: Easy to moderate
Daily walking time: 3 to 5 hours
Daily elevation: 500 m
Preparation: One month before departure, improve your stamina by training once a week.
Experience: Good physical condition
You are in good physical condition. You like to walk for several days in a row, at an average of 3 to 5 hours per day (6 to 14 km) with vertical differences of up to 500 meters. You prefer simple, even rustic, accommodation.

Terms and conditions

Please see our terms and conditions and information for insurances by clicking the following link: iceland.altaibasecamp.com/en/terms

Practical info

Staff

Upon your arrival at Reykjavik Airport, you will be greeted by your tour guide or a member of the Altai team. Your trip is supervised by an English-speaking guide who is part of the Altai team. The guides are versatile guides that can take care of the supervision of the stay, the driving as well as the kitchen in order to ensure in the best conditions the development and make possible the trips that we propose. Our trips are so-called "participatory" trips, participation in collective tasks: crockery and loading of vehicles is essential to the smooth running of the stay.

Food

After a hearty breakfast, the picnic is always composed of local foods: sandwiches, salads, fruits, cakes and dried fruits ... prepared by yourself in the morning. In the evening, meals are taken and prepared together with your guide / guide. Despite the high latitude, we strive to offer fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
During your stay, you will have the opportunity to taste skyr, smoked salmon, leg of lamb and other tasty Icelandic dishes. Special diets: Our guides already cook for the group, they can not prepare special meals every night for people with specific diets.
For vegetarians: please specify if you eat fish / shellfish.We have meat / fish at all dinners so you will have the same accompaniments as other participants (starchy, fairly traditional vegetables) but you have to provide for supplements on your side to make up for the lack of protein. For picnics lunch, we have either salads or sandwiches (salmon, cold cuts, ...), so you can possibly prepare salads the day before with your guide, according to its menus.
For "gluten-free" diets: please specify if intolerance or allergy and tell us what you eat daily. We have meat / fish at all dinners, which we accompany either vegetables or starchy. So you have to predict what to replace these starchy (eg couscous seed that is cooked quickly) and bring food supplements for 3 to 4 days a week. We can have biscuits, gluten-free crackers for picnics, but plan extra as well. You must therefore provide complete meals or food supplements for 3 to 4 days a week.
The tap water in Iceland has excellent quality and is potable.

Do not forget that alcohol and cigarettes are heavily taxed and expensive in Scandinavia. If you wish to enjoy an aperitif with your group in the evening we recommend purchasing duty-free products at the airport.

Accommodation

The different types of accommodation we use in Iceland:

Guesthouse: Friendly, clean accommodation in large typical Icelandic houses, located in towns or along the road no. 1. Guesthouses are small structures of 5 to 10 rooms. Rooms accommodate 4 to 6 people in single or bunk beds. Single or double rooms can also be booked upon request, subject to availability. Guesthouses generally have shared bathrooms, and often include access to a fully equipped kitchen. Wifi is available and breakfast is served in a communal room along with plenty of hot drinks.

Inn: In the heart of the Icelandic countryside, inns are often located on farms, at home or in a neighboring building. These are usually small structures of 5 to 20 rooms. This simple and warm accommodation is the safest way to meet Icelanders and discover their original culture. The toilets are more generally shared but rooms with private bathrooms are possible for tailor-made trips. The wifi is often accessible, access to running water and electricity is systematic. Some offer a typical Bed & Breakfast catering service with typical meals prepared by the owners of the premises.

Refuge: The Icelandic refuges are isolated facilities in the middle of an exceptional natural setting. Most of them are located in the heart of the highlands. Like our mountain refuges, they have a large dormitory with basic comfort, where it is necessary to bring his sleeping bag. The refuges have running water and mostly electricity. The showers as well as the recharging of batteries are paying (500 Isk), we therefore recommend to have spare batteries for your cameras.

Camping is a very good way to enjoy the wild natural environment. They are always clean and well located. They offer the usual amenities (sanitary and hot shower fee between 3 and 4 € / shower). The equipment (tent, mattress) camping will be provided by us. Campsites do not reserve in advance. For individuals, we provide you in the travel book our selection of campsites. For groups, the first and last night in Reykjavik are in guest houses, rooms for 4 to 6 people and sanitary shared. On the rest of the camping stay, we provide you with the following equipment: a Simond tent type MAKALU T3 for 2 people (possibility to reserve an individual tent on request, 130 euros for the entire stay) & individual inflatable Thermarest mattresses. The camp is mounted around a large mass tent. This mass tent with table and stools is a warm place for the group, where we share the anecdotes of the day around a good meal.

Hotel: Basic standard type three stars or more
Sandhotel Reykjavik: https://www.sandhotel.is/en/Hotel
Leiffur Erricson: https://hotelleifur.is/

Iceland is a country of only 350,000 inhabitants which welcomes nearly two million tourists a year. Therefore guesthouses and shelters suitable for groups are rare and very popular, especially during the summer period. Despite a permanent effort in the choice of accommodation, their level of comfort and equipment remains variable during this tour. A sleeping bag is necessary, it accompanies you on all the stay by way of cover. For more comfort, take one with a comfort temperature of 0-5 ° C. You can also take a bag sheet (useful for sometimes overheated accommodation) and a small inflatable pillow.We sleep in a guesthouse or hostel on the entire stay (rooms with 3 to 10 beds, with sanitary to share). You use your sleeping bag as sheets, we recommend a comfort temperature of 10/15 ° c. The accommodations are not necessarily located on the same places of excursions. They can be removed until about one hour from the sites visited.

Transportation

For this route we use a privatised vehicle for the group, adapted to the routes taken.

Budget & exchange

1 euro = 125 ISK (course at the beginning of the year 2018).
International credit cards are accepted at almost all businesses in Reykjavik and the rest of the country. These payments may be subject to fees, depending on your bank. We can not buy or sell Icelandic crowns out of Iceland or at a very disadvantageous rate and Euros are not accepted in Iceland. We advise you to withdraw money from an ATM machine once in Reykjavik. We recommend a withdrawal of at least ISK 15,000 (about 120 €) for this stay per person. If you still want to buy local currency by changing euros on site, you will find a currency exchange in the city (exchange rates are very disadvantageous) and in the banks (closed on weekends). Keep in mind that the bank card is accepted in almost all businesses and that (depending on your bank fees), it is often the cheapest alternative.

To give you an idea of the cost of living in Iceland, here are some estimates (tariff beginning of 2018): - coffee: ISK 350 to 400 (around € 3) - one pylsur (hot dog): 500 ISK (about 4 €) - Beer: around 900 ISK (around 7 €) - a fish dish in a brewery in Reykjavik: around 4000 ISK (around 32 €) - a bus ticket to Reykjavik: 460 ISK (around 3.70 €) - Movie ticket: around 1600 ISK (around 13 €) - a handmade woolen sweater: around 15.000-22.000 ISK (120 € - 175 €)

Tips

Although the custom is not widespread here, if you are satisfied with the services of your guide, tipping is always appreciated - it is not obligatory and should be left to the discretion of each individual.

Supplied equipment

  • rent of rackets and walking sticks

Vital equipment

Try not to over-pack!
  • Waterproof jacket (with a hood)
  • Waterproof trousers/salopettes
  • A balaclava (fleece)
  • Appropriate warm neck wear
  • A warm hat (wool)
  • A warm jacket (synthetic down)
  • 3 sets of thermal underwear (long johns & long sleeved tops)
  • 1 or 2 pairs of thin socks
  • 3 or 4 pairs of thick socks
  • Two pairs of good gloves
  • Sunglasses (UV 400)A ski mask
  • Sun screen and protective lipsal (not water-based - water freezes)
  • Any personal medication
  • Mini toiletary kit and toilet roll
  • A 1L thermos flask

Material

We prefer that you do not wear cotton clothing, including underwear, when participating in activities. When cotton gets wet from water or sweat it ceases to insulate and it does not dry fast. The best materials for outdoor activities are fast drying materials like polyester or materials which are warm when wet like wool. The most powerful materials against the wind and rain are 'breathable' materials like Gore-Tex or Nikwax.

Our advice for keeping warm
Winter in Iceland can be very cold, please think carefully about what clothes you bring, the layers you wear next to your skin make the biggest difference. We recommend:
  • No cotton
  • Bring dry spares of everything, even underwear and gloves
  • Wear multiple layers including:
    1. A warm breathable base layer
    2. A second thermal layer
    3. Wind and waterproof protective out layer

Helpful equipment

You may also consider packing
  • A pair of warm comfortable boots for the evenings
  • Overgloves
  • An extra jumper/fleece jacket
  • Energy bars
  • Wet wipes
  • Blister plasters
  • A suitable camera
  • Plastic bags for wet/dirty clothing
  • A small inflatable pillow

Luggage

Please bring a small rucksack to use as a day bag. You can bring this as hand luggage on the aeroplane. You will carry your lunch, water, spare layers and any personal medication with you each day in this bag. You will also need a larger bag to store your other clothes and belongings in, please ensure that this is a soft bag like a rucksack or holdall rather than a hard cased suitcase because it is more practical to transport. We recommend packing all of your clothes in plastic bags so that they stay dry in the event of wet weather.

Medicine

Your companion has a first-aid kit during the tour. However, we recommend that you bring your medications:
  • Personal medication
  • Anti pain medication Paracetamol
  • Diarrhoea drugs
  • Intestinal dressing
  • Sun screen with strong protection for the lips and the skin
  • Eye drops for the eyes
  • Moisturizing cream for the treatment of superficial burns (blisters and sunburns)
  • An adhesive elastic band
  • a box of adhesive plasters and disinfectant compresses
  • Double skin for blisters

Passport

Most travellers require a passport that is valid for at least three months after the return date. It is your responsibility to confirm your specific passport requirements and please be aware that proof of onwards travel may be required. You can check your requierements by clicking the following link provided by the Icelandic government: www.utl.is/index.php/en/

Visa

EU citizen do not need a visa as Iceland is part of the Schengen cooperation.
Travellers of other nationalities please check the following link of the Icleandic government: www.utl.is/index.php/en/visas

Mandatory vaccines

There are no specific health risks

Weather

Contrary to the name 'Ice-land' the weather in Iceland is relatively mild considering its location. In summer the average temperature is 10-13°C (50-55 °F) but warm summer days can reach 20-25°CFrom June to September it is nearly always light with the return of night and the first Northern Lights appearances towards the end of August.

Electricity

Iceland uses Northern European electrical standards (50Hz/220 volts)  and the standard Europlug socket with two round prongs.Please be aware that some of our more remote campsites and refuges charge for electricity use.Local timeIceland uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) like the United Kingdom but does not observe daylight-saving time in the summer

Local time

Iceland observes Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) all year. There are no Daylight Saving Time clock changes.

Topography

Area: 39,768.5 m²Population: 334,252 inhabitants (2016)Capital: ReykjavikLanguages: IcelandicRegime: Parliamentary RepublicIceland is 20 million years old and is a volcanic island with around one eruption every 5 years. 11% of the island is covered with ice, 1% of the land is cultivated, 20% is grassland, 2% is lake, 40% is sand and the rest is deser

Sustainable tourism

 As adventure and wilderness travel experts who run trips to some of the most remote parts of the world, we take responsible tourism very seriously. We respect the ‘Leave No Trace’ outdoor ethical code and try to explore this beautiful location whilst causing minimal environmental damage.

The Leave No Trace policy can be summarized in 7 simple steps which we hope you will follow during ourtrip...

1.    Be prepared
2.    Stick to trails and camp overnight right
3.    Stash your trash and pick up waste
4.    Leave it as you find it
5.    Be careful with fire
6.    Respect wildlife
7.    Be considerate of other visitors

Over the years we have built up good relations with our local suppliers and we are keen to support local businesses as much as possible. We are a small company and we pay our local partners and suppliers directly insuring fair rates. 

Our small group sizes not only provide a more intimate adventure but also cause less impact on the environment and local communities.

We expect all who travel with us to support and uphold our Sustainable Tourism philosophies.


If you have any questions regarding how to be a responsable traveller or concerning any other subject, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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Isabelle

My local agent
Isabelle

  • Outdoor activities enthusiast
  • Adventure travel expert
  • Graduated with a UK First Class Honours Degree in Outdoor Leadership
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Region
South Iceland
Activity
Winter
Duration
8 days
Group
5 to 12 people
Code
EISLHA
Price
From €2,135
Level
2/5
Comfort
4/5
Language(s)
English

Strengths

  • The must-see South of Iceland
  • Many baths in natural hot springs
  • Northern Lights hunting

Required level

Difficulty: 2/5
You should be in good physical condition and enjoy walking/being active for several days in a row. Average acivity 3 to 5 hours per day (6 to 14 km) with vertical differences of up to 500 metres.
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