Massive cliff wall with waterfall overlooking bright green fields and waterways at sunset.
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Backpacking Iceland's Volcanic Trails - Alumni


7 days


18+ yrs



See Dates

Join a small group of NOLS grads, friends, and instructors for some challenging and spectacular hiking on Iceland’s Volcanic Trails as we traverse between cozy huts in this remote region of southern Iceland.

Photo Credit: Terri Smith 

Our route traverses a diverse and rarely traveled volcanic landscape giving participants an excellent opportunity to explore geologic wonders while avoiding Iceland's famously congested Laugavegur route. Some highlights include dramatically colored mountains, a backcountry hot soak, waterfalls, volcanic rock fields, and side hiking opportunities.

Photo Credit: Marjorie Crowley 

This trip utilizes a support vehicle to do the heavy lifting for us leaving our packs trim and light. Our daily packs only include trail food for the day, layers, rain gear, and water. The support vehicle will carry all of our expedition food and gear. This system will allow us to hike further and bring a few more luxury items.

Photo Credit: Terri Smith

The route offers a moderate level of hiking, with trails that are tricky to navigate and distances that will challenge most folks. For those looking for additional mileage, there are often side hiking and exploration opportunities!

Connecting a network of rustic huts gives us the chance to explore the spectacular Icelandic country-side while potentially mixing with other travelers in a dorm-style setting.

NOLS Instructors will organize meals but will rely on you to help with preparation and cleanup in the well-appointed hut kitchens. Food will be plentiful on the trip, but if you have special treats you like, bringing those along can be great for motivation!

Photo Credit: Terri Smith

Our trip begins in Reykjavik with evening orientation, and then travels the next morning via private transport to our first hut near Langisójr Lake in south central Iceland. This drive can take a while because of the rough nature of backcountry roads in Iceland, but we will break it up with a picnic and a day hike once we arrive.

Photo Credit: Terri Smith

Over the next few days we will follow the Skaftá river through rolling terrain past large canyons with dramatic waterfalls. Although the elevation change will be gradual, mileage will range from 10-14 miles. We will also tackle a couple cold but shallow river crossings over the Skafta River’s tributaries which drain from the Vatnajökull icecap.

Photo Credit: Majorie Crowley

Next, our route veers west and takes us along the Eldgjá (Canyon of Fire), an inactive volcanic fissure and to a black sand desert where spongy carpets of vibrant green moss create an otherworldly landscape.

Photo Credit: Terri Smith

The last part of our trek follows the Sydri-Ofaera river until we meet with the popular Laugavegur trail. In this final section of our trip, we will explore a volcanic rift valley where we can spot ridges formed by cooled magma pushed to Earth’s surface by shifting tectonic plates. Our trip will conclude back in Reykjavik with a final dinner together before traveling home or onwards to other adventures.

Activity Rating:

Overall Difficulty*:

*Staying in huts means cultural interaction, bunks, team meals and lightened packs but the weather in Iceland can occasionaly add a special challenge.

Additional Details


Course Dates

1 course

Jul 9 - 16, 2024

pre and post trip lodging in Reykjavik included


3 spaces Apply Now

Course Media


"The tremendous variety of the terrain and the unbelievably beautiful scenery rewarded us each day. As with my NOLS course and previous Alumni trip, the group communicated well, coordinated well, and proved, once again, that NOLS students never disappoint!"


If you have questions about enrollment or including families/guests on a particular alumni trip, then contact:

NOLS Alumni Department