Hike, paddle, and explore the towering waterfalls and deep fjords of Iceland on this epic 13-day adventure. As you crisscross Iceland’s dramatic Atlantic coast, you will hike through in ice caves and stand beneath thundering waterfalls – we’ve crafted an action-packed trip to experience a highlight reel of Iceland’s staggering beauty. You’ll sea kayak beneath the iconic Mt. Kirkjufell, experience the awe-inspiring beauty of ice caves naturally carved into a world-class glacier, explore some of the tallest waterfalls in Europe, hike in Vatnajökull National Park, and soak in the otherworldly aquamarine waters of the Blue Lagoon. All of this and you’ll wrap up the adventure with a day of exploring Reykjavik alongside a crew of new friends!
Arrivals and Epic Sea Kayaking
Our group will gather at Iceland’s primary airport, Keflavík, outside the capital of Reykjavik, before transferring to the coastal town of Grindavik. There, we’ll shake off the jetlag, get to know one another, and talk about the adventures that lie ahead. The following day we’ll transfer north and west to the quaint, beautiful fishing village of Grunðafjörður where we will venture out for our first true hike of the trip. While in Grunðafjörður, we will also meet up with our professional kayaking guides to paddle the coast line directly below iconic Mt. Kirkjufell. Kirkjufell is claimed to be one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland (and for good reason – keen observers may recognize it from Game of Thrones!). Once we’re off the water, we’ll spend another day exploring the towering Grunðafoss waterfall near the village before we head for Iceland’s south coast for our next round of adventures.
Waterfalls and Ice Caves
Making our way to the lively town of Vik, we’ll pause to experience one of Europe’s largest waterfalls. We’ll visit, observe, and even hike behind the majestic, 60-meter Seljalandsfoss waterfall, taking in its incredible power and beauty. Another true highlight of our time in the area is sure to be our visit to Sólheimajökull, one of Iceland’s most spectacular glaciers. There we’ll meet up with our with our professional guides, gear up, and hike through the breathtaking ice caves that have naturally formed beneath the glacier – a trek sure to provide both excitement and phenomenal views!
Skaftafell, Blue Lagoon, and Reykjavik
After our adventure on the glacier, we’ll spend several days hiking and exploring the local and diverse volcanic terrain near Vik before we push east to one of Iceland’s most famous landmarks, Vatnajökull National Park. Our days here in the Skaftafell region of the park will be packed with rewarding day hikes. Epic views and awe-inspiring sunsets against the backdrop of dramatic glacial carved mountain ranges await us! We will close out our shared adventure by heading back towards Reykjavik. The excitement of the trip doesn’t end there, though! We’ll submerge in the milky aquamarine, geothermally heated salt water of the Blue Lagoon before celebrating together with a final meal in downtown Reykjavik.
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
How physically challenging is IMC?
Given a rating of Challenge Level 5 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider IMC to be a intermediate hiking trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some prior preparation. Compared to similar hiking trips, we believe that IMC is slightly more challenging than Maine’s Downeast Explorer, but easier than Northwest Explorer. We consider IMC to be comparable in challenge level to our California’s Coastal Mountains and Alaska Mountains & Coast trips. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
Where will my child be sleeping at night?
Our IMC groups will be camping every night in established, front country campsites over the course of our trip. Each of these campgrounds will have access to flushable toilets and showers. Leaders will separate students by gender into tent groups and will rotate those groups several times over the course of our trip. Students will share a tent with one or two other students.
What is the maximum number of students I can expect on my child’s Apogee trip?
There are never more than fifteen students on an individual session of this trip. Additionally, we limit enrollment by gender to two-thirds/one-third. Groups are always led by three qualified leaders.
Is there any “backcountry” hiking on this trip?
In a word, no. All of the hiking on our IMC trip will be day-hikes that are accessible from the each campground where we’ll stay. We will stay at front-country campsites each night and have continuous access to running water every day of the trip. Our time in Skaftafell is the only part of the trip where we will need to pack 3 days worth of food as we will be in the National Park where there is not access to a grocery store.
Is this trip van-based?
No, Iceland Mountains and Coast is not a van-based trip. The group will utilize a private shuttle company and Iceland’s terrific bus system for their short-distance travel. Otherwise, they’ll be walking everywhere they go! This means that every pound matters – sticking to the packing list is essential as they will need to easily pack up their duffle bag and day pack for transit days.
Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?
Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Iceland Mountains & Coast trip will include travel to and from Keflavik, Iceland, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and hiking boots.
This trip starts outside of the United States. What do I need to know before traveling internationally?
In addition to needing a valid passport, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees. To that end, we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. Please note that Apogee staff members do not travel with students; our trip leaders will already be in Keflavik on arrival day and will stay in Reykjavik after the trip ends. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student and will be at the airport to greet them on arrival; our staff will also accompany students to the airport to assist with departures. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from Keflavik, including airport information and arrival and departure time windows. We know that international travel can be daunting – rest assured that regardless of flight cancellations or delays, we will always have someone on hand to assist with our students’ arrivals and departures.
How will I communicate with my child while they are on this trip?
We are a technology-free program, meaning that your child won’t have access to their phone or other electronics over the course of their trip. That said, students on international trips will call home at some point on arrival day, depending on schedules and arrival times. Since physical mail to Iceland is frustratingly slow, we have an email stop as a part of the program instead of a physical mail stop. Parents, relatives, and friends are welcome to use this to send an email to a student that they know (the trip leader will share the emails with the student). If you have an urgent message to get to your child, please call our office and we’ll work to get you connected with your child.
Should I send my child to Iceland with an international phone plan?
We encourage families to send their child with a phone for pre- and post-trip communication. However, because Apogee does not permit the use of cell phones by students while on trip, we do not recommend signing up for a European phone plan. If you’d like your child to be able to use their phone in Iceland on departure day, we recommend you be in touch with your phone provider about any international calling programs they have. We recommend “Travelpass” (Verizon) or “International Day Pass” (AT&T), which charge you a $10 fee per day of use in other countries.
What luggage should my child check on the plane? What should be carried on?
This question is addressed in detail in our Travel Information document for enrolled students. Generally speaking, however, your child will be checking a duffle bag containing the majority of their gear, while carrying-on their sleeping bag, medications, and a few other travel essentials. Hiking boots should be worn on the plane in the event of a delayed or lost bag.