Trek alongside elves and puffins on an Eastern Iceland hiking tour

January 30, 2021

If there’s truth to the old adage about getting to know someone by walking a mile in their shoes, then you deserve an honorary Icelander badge by the end of our Trekking Eastern Iceland tour. Each day, including first and last, offers an incredible walking journey over the lesser-travelled landscapes in the east.

Even greater than the feel of your feet on the ground, is the chance to connect with your Icelandic hosts as you begin and end each day in the warmth of a family-run guesthouse. Set in the tiny fishing village of Borgarfjörður eystri, you'll enjoy meals made with local ingredients sourced from small-scale farmers and fishermen. Then, all of that good food and cheer fuels the next day’s challenging physical adventures led by your Chief Experience Officer.

Read on as we share a glimpse of each day’s hiking details and highlights after you land in Egilsstaðir.

Day 1 — Fish soup and elves as far as your eye can see

Village Walk: 2h 30m | Borgarfjörður Valley Hike: 4h / 10km

The human population of Borgarfjörður eystri is about 130 people so it’s fair to say they are outnumbered by their sheep, puffin and elfin neighbours. After settling into your seaside lodgings, you’ll head out on a village walk to take in local life from turf houses to a bowl of fresh fish soup.

enjoy farm-to-table meals and friendly hosts in a magical setting

After your feet and belly are reasonably warmed up, the bigger hike begins in the Borgarfjörður Valley. You’ll follow sheep trails up to Dimmidalur (Dark Valley) at the base of the Door Mountains. Here you’ll keep an eye out for the “hidden people” among the rock formations as you make your way through Iceland’s largest elf community. Sightings may vary but the folklore continues to enchant residents and visitors alike.

revel in landscapes full of hidden people in the rocks

Day 2 — Behemoth boulders and icy blue pools

Stórurð (Boulder Hollow) Day Hike: 5h / 14km

Prepare to get rocked by the size of the tuff boulders as you trek over gravel and scree on this full-day hike to Stórurð. You’ll be driven to Vatnskarð pass to hike across Geldingafjall mountain and take in views of Njarðvík, Fljótsdalshérað valley and Héraðsflói bay.

so many kinds of rock formations abound in Stórurð

As you head down into Stórurð, you’ll cross wildflower meadows and a small river to find turquoise basins of icy water.

looks a bit more bracing than the geothermal blue lagoons

Day 3 — Martian landscapes and massive waterfalls

Leirhnjúkur Lava Fields Hike: 1h30m / 4km

Bubbling mud! Smoking hot lava! Geothermal vents! Iceland's natural wonders are at your feet as you meander in the north around Mývatn’s volcanic lake. On the way you’ll stop off at Dettifoss, a 100-metre wide waterfall that is one of the most powerful in Europe.

feel the rush at the mighty Dettifoss waterfall

The hiking part of your excursion takes you over the lava fields of Leirhnjúkur, a landscape so alien that you’ll think you left earth for a bit. After that it’s on to the geothermal mud and steam at Hverir (mmmm sulphur!), and then lunch and a bunch of free time at Mývatn Lake. What you do with your time is up to you but we’d go for a soak in the steamy blue lagoons of Mývatn Nature Baths. Your feet, body and mind will thank you!

Day 4 — Marching the moors and rare golden sands

Moors and Breiðavík Hike: 7h / 16-18km

Another big exploration day kicks off with a drive to Afrétt where you’ll hike across the moors and by pastel rhyolite mountains. In contrast to the black sand beaches throughout Iceland, you’ll wind up at the golden beaches and high cliffs of Breiðavík inlet. It’s a perfect place for a bit of birdwatching and a bite of lunch. With that you’ll have enough energy to clamber up 479 metres to Gagnheiði ridge for mountain panorama goodness.

resting up in between waterfalls and birdwatching

Day 5 — Hillside huffin’ and harbour puffin

Brúnavík Area Hike: 6h / 13km

Imagine what it feels like to wake up, gulp down breakfast and know you’re heading to one of the best places in Iceland to see Atlantic puffins. Is there a cuter bird? The answer is no. These tiny sweethearts swoop down in early April to nest before heading back out to sea in late fall. About 8 to 10 million puffins nest in Iceland each year and a good chunk can be seen close up along the Borgarfjörður harbour viewing platforms.

nothing prettier than an Atlantic puffin

Next you’ll summon all of your strength to pull yourself away from these bright-beaked beauties and continue on to the day’s hike. From the marina you’ll walk up the coast across green mountains and down to the black sands of Brúnavík inlet. After a good rest and lunch, the journey continues to Hofstrandarskarð pass and along the colourful Helgárgil canyon.

not a puffin but these green mountains are also very pretty

Day 6 — One last sojourn before you say ‘bless’

Seyðisfjörður Village Walk: 3 - 4h

Most last days are completely eaten up by homeward travel, but not on this tour. The Icelandic word for goodbye is ‘bless’ but you’ll have one more adventure before you have to go. First, you’ll head to historic Seyðisfjörður fishing village, considered one of the most picturesque towns in Iceland. After a solid stroll around the town nestled under Mt. Strandartindur and Mt. Bjolfur, you’ll marvel at one last waterfall before the tour ends back at Egilsstaðir Airport. Bless!

Getting There

Ready to pull on those hiking boots, get outdoors and take in everything Iceland has to offer? G Adventures gets you there on our Trekking Eastern Iceland tour and other far-from-ordinary active adventures in classic European destinations.

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