Iceland Expedition

With its glacier-draped volcanoes, natural hot springs and countless waterfalls, there is no place like the Land of Fire and Ice. In the west, hike the rugged Snaefellsnes Peninsula, then kayak its northern shore, dipping in and out of bays and around islands. In southern Iceland, backpack for six days along the renowned Laugavegur Route crossing black sand deserts, rich green canyons, and icy streams.

Overview Details Itinerary What to Pack FAQs Before You Go

Overview

Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice.

The minute you land in Reykjavik, you’ll know you’re not in Kansas anymore. The spoken language and the written language (check out the alphabet) are different. And as soon as you leave the airport, you’ll begin to appreciate just how amazing, how spectacular Iceland is.

You and your group will start by heading to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Here you’ll explore Iceland’s coastline, hike alongside a glacier, Snaefellsjokull, and sea kayak with professional guides for two days, on the lookout for seals, whales and puffins.

A backcountry hike along the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals routes is next. For six days, you’ll hike past colorful rolling hills, steaming geothermal vents and snowy peaks. After ascending Fimmvorduhals pass, over the world’s newest mountains, you’ll finish the hike at the awe-inspiring Skogafoss waterfall.

Through all of these adventures, your group will become close. That’s the point, really. See one of the world’s most arresting landscapes with a group of like-minded adventurers, sharing stories, laughter and fun every step of the way.

When you head home—wherever home is (Kansas, perhaps?)—you’ll see everything just a little bit differently. It’s partly the magic of Iceland, it’s partly something else, something hard to define. For most people, life is reassuringly routine, comfortingly predictable. But for you, having seen this land of fire and ice, you’ll know there is a big beautiful world out there that is anything but routine and hardly predictable. Having explored Iceland, having seen its spectacular landscape, you’ll be eager to get back out there to see more, do more, explore more, live more.

Questions? Contact us!

This trip was the coolest thing I have ever done. I will never forget the experience, my group and my leaders. Thank you.


- Wylie Ocken, Bedford, New York

Days 1 & 2: Trip Start & Hike Snaefellsnes National Park

From Reykjavik, we’ll head to our campground near Snaefellsnes National Park. We’ll take an afternoon hike, review our gear and learn some of Iceland’s history that has been passed on from generation to generation. During our first full day together, we’ll hike in the rugged Snaefellsnes National Park, taking in views of the Atlantic Ocean and Snaefellsjokull, Iceland’s impressive glacier-topped volcano

Days 3-5: Sea Kayak the Coast

Working with professional guides, we will learn basic kayak paddling techniques and skills. We’ll kayak past rocky islands, dipping in and out of the bays and fjords surrounding the peninsula and camp on a pristine beach. Keeping our eyes out for marine wildlife like whales and seals, we’ll gain a fresh perspective of Iceland’s maritime culture. Afterward, we’ll return to Reykjavik to resupply and pack for our backcountry hike.

Days 6-11: Backpack Laugavegur & Fimmvorduhals

Leaving western Iceland behind, we will head south for our backcountry trip on the renowned Laugavegur trek. We’ll hike past steaming hot springs, over black sand deserts and along colorful glacial valleys. Averaging seven to nine miles per day, we’ll learn Leave No Trace principles and basic backpacking skills. Hiking north to south, we will learn what makes the Laugavegur route so famous—with each turn revealing another incredible view of Iceland’s interior. Hiking between two massive glaciers and over a recently cooled lava field, we will ascend the Fimmvorduhals Pass. After six days of hiking, we’ll reach our final destination—the majestic Skogafoss waterfall and a view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Days 12 & 13: Golden Circle & Trip End

At trip end, we’ll return to Reykjavik via Iceland’s Golden Circle route, famous for its natural wonders. We’ll see Gullfoss (Iceland’s largest waterfall), Geysir (a geothermal hotspot with spouting geysers) and Thingvellir (part of the Great Atlantic Rift). On our last night, we’ll enjoy Icelandic cuisine and celebrate all we accomplished in the Land of Fire and Ice.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

6 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will have flush toilets and may have showers and laundry.

4 nights of backcountry camping. Except when kayaking, all will have basic bathroom facilities.

2 nights in a backcountry hut. The hut will include toilets, running water, beds and blankets.

Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
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Clothing

  • Navy Overland T-Shirt (1)
    We will send every student an Overland T-shirt prior to the trip. Please wear this T-shirt to trip start.
  • Fleece Pants (1)
    Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
  • Synthetic Hiking Pants (1)
    Lightweight and quick dry material. Non-cotton warmup style pants are acceptable.
  • Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
  • Synthetic or Wool Top (1)
     Medium to heavyweight. For layering with long underwear and jackets.
  • Winter Hat
  • Gloves or Mittens
    Insulated, warm and waterproof. Avoid knit and porous materials.
  • Synthetic Shorts (1)
  • Synthetic T-Shirt (3)
  • Underwear (5)
  • Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (4)
  • Neck Gaiter or Buff (optional)
    To protect the neck and face from the elements
  • Hat with Visor
  • Swimsuit

Outer Layers

  • Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
  • Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket (1)
    Midweight, compressible, synthetic (Primaloft or similar) or down jacket. Full zip or 1/4 zip are acceptable.
  • Insulated Vest (1)
    Insulated fleece, Thinsulate or down vest to wear on cold days and evenings.
  • Waterproof Raincoat (1)
  • Waterproof Rain Pants (1)

General Gear

  • Internal Frame Backpack
     65-85 liters or 4,000-5,100 cubic inches. Before purchasing a backpack, find your backpack size by measuring your torso length and your hips (instructions are available here). We recommend getting fitted at a store and trying on multiple packs.
  • Waterproof Pack Cover
    If your backpack does not come with a cover, we recommend buying a cover one size larger than your pack.
  • Day Pack
    Basic two-shoulder backpack large enough to hold your lunch, two water bottles, snacks, extra layers and rain jacket. Use your day pack as a carry-on for your flight and for daily activities or hikes. A standard school backpack is usually fine (no satchels or shoulder bags).
  • Synthetic Sleeping Bag
    A lightweight, compact synthetic sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees Fahrenheit or less. A synthetic sleeping bag is required for this trip; down is not appropriate as it does not insulate if wet. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack no larger than 20" in length.
  • Sleeping Pad
    ¾-length or full-length closed cell foam (thin and firm) or self-inflating.
  • Bowl, Mug & Utensils
    6" to 8" plastic dish or bowl with top, insulated plastic mug, spoon, fork and knife. These don't need to be special camping utensils (a Tupperware dish and regular utensils are fine).
  • Water Bottle
    One 1-liter bottle. A Camelbak or similar water carrier is acceptable.
  • Headlamp
  • Adjustable Trekking Poles
    To add stability, reduce strain on the knees and improve balance while crossing unstable surfaces.
  • Gaiters (optional)
    Calf-height, waterproof gaiters to protect your legs and feet when hiking through brush, across snow fields or streams.

Footwear

  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
    Choose comfortable boots designed for hiking with a pack (i.e., mid to high cut for ankle support).  Boots should be waterproof. Break them in before the start of your trip.
  • Camp Shoes
    Closed-toe shoes to wear around camp. Crocs or lightweight tennis shoes are ideal.

Miscellaneous

  • Synthetic Camping Towel
    A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
  • Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
    To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
  • Large Trash Bags (4)
    To waterproof your gear.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
  • Travel Size Toiletries
  • Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
    To protect your feet from blisters.
  • Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
    A digital or disposable camera.
  • Personal Journal or Book (optional)
  • Insect Repellent

Important Documents

  • Health Insurance Card
    Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
  • Passport
    Please bring a passport that is valid until at least six months after your trip end date.
  • Passport Photocopies
    Make at least four photocopies of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave one copy with your family and put photocopies in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage for the flight, separate from your original documents.
  • Original Copy of Permission to Travel to and from Iceland
    Please bring the original copy of your Permission to Travel to and from Iceland form.

Spending Money

  • Spending Money & Miscellaneous Expenses
    Each student should bring a debit card, an ATM card or a prepaid Visa card to cover spending money and miscellaneous expenses. Spending Money: While all meals and activities are included in the trip fee, we recommend $25/week for spending money (for example: for souvenirs or an occasional drink or snack beyond what is provided to the group as a whole). Miscellaneous Expenses: Most Overland students will incur some expenses while traveling (for example: an equipment repair or baggage fees at trip end). Please add $100 to the debit/ATM/Visa card (in addition to spending money), to cover these expenses.

Things to know

  • We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on your packing list.
  • Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
  • Please do not bring your smart phone (or any other electronics).
    Please visit the FAQ tab for more information on our cell phone and electronics policy.
  • Do not bring any type of knife or multi-tool (such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool).
  • If you are flying to your trip start, wear your hiking boots and carry your sleeping bag and sleeping pad on the plane in case your checked luggage fails to arrive on time.
  • Pack everything in your backpack or day pack. Do not bring additional luggage.
  • There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
    Please schedule expensive items—phones, cameras, bicycles, etc.—on your homeowners insurance policy.
  • Please wear the navy Overland T-shirt that you receive from Overland to your trip start location.
  • What is the weather like on Iceland Expedition?

    The weather in Iceland during the summer varies widely, though due to its position in the Atlantic Ocean its climate is relatively temperate. Average temperatures in July range from the 40s to 60s during the day and are cooler at night. Rain is common, and it can change quickly from sunny and warm to windy, rainy and cold (we've even had some snow in years past).

  • What are the arrival and departure airports for my child's trip?

    You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Keflavík International Airport (KEF) at trip start and trip end. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a trip.

  • How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?

    Groups typically shower and do laundry once a week.

  • Please tell me about the currency on this trip.

    Iceland uses the Icelandic Króna-- students can withdraw Icelandic Krónas using a debit card at ATMs throughout Iceland.

  • Please tell me about safety at Overland.

    Safety and risk management are at the forefront of our decision-making–from trip planning to leader training to supporting our groups in the field. We cannot guarantee absolute safety–no program can. All recreational activities include inherent risks. Therefore, we strive to manage the risks that we can, knowing we cannot eliminate them. We work hard to recruit, train and support our trip leaders so they can create the kind of trips that have made us successful for over 30 years. Please click here to read more about our approach to risk management and our accreditation by the American Camp Association.

  • Does my child need to have previous experience?

    While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students. We expect your child–with your help–to select a trip that is appropriate for his or her interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific trip and help your child understand what to expect. We also expect our students to prepare ahead of time: to review the packing list, gather clothing and gear and complete whatever training the trip requires (for recommended training please see the Before You Go tab). Once the trip begins, your child should be ready–and excited–to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group where each group member feels welcomed and valued.

  • Please tell me about Overland's admissions process.

    When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will: (1) call you to acknowledge our receipt of your application, (2) send you an email with a link to our Admissions Review Forms, and (3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card to hold your place in the trip pending a favorable admissions review. If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss your second choice, third choice or other options. For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.

  • What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?

    PHONES
    To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers. Your child will call home on arrival and departure with our phones and assistance, and in the case of an emergency. If your child brings a phone for use while en route to Overland, please do not send an expensive smartphone, instead, an inexpensive prepaid cell phone will do. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.

     

    ELECTRONICS
    Cameras are welcome but please do not bring any other electronics (e.g., iPods, iPads, Kindles or other readers, GPS or similar devices). All electronics (except cameras) will be mailed home on arrival (at your risk and expense).

     

    COMMUNICATION
    We are committed to providing extraordinary support to you and your child; to that end, the Overland office is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week during the summer. Outside of office hours our answering service provides emergency coverage. Our leaders in the field are in touch with our office regularly; they carry cell phones (and in some cases satellite phones). Anytime a camper is treated for an injury or illness by a doctor or other medical personnel, parents are notified by our office. A director will call the parents to explain the nature of the injury or illness, the sequence of events leading up to the injury and/or the steps leading to the treatment. Parents are typically able to speak with the medical personnel, with the leaders and with their child.

  • Can I send mail to my child during a trip?

    Getting a letter, card or postcard while on an Overland trip is always exciting. Please keep in mind that sending mail to your child on an Overland trip is different than sending mail to camp because your child will be on the move. Our experience has been that mail often does not arrive on time, and, sometimes, even when it does, post offices, campgrounds and other mail stops do not reliably deliver mail to our groups. For these reasons:

     

    1. Please do not send anything valuable – please send letters, cards or postcards only.  If mail is late, lost or misdirected, Overland’s leaders and staff are not able to return to the post office (or other mail stop) to collect it.

    2. Please use the US Postal Service first-class mail only; do not use UPS, FedEx or DHL (many of our mail stops accept US Postal Service mail only).

    3. Please do not send overnight letters: many overnighted letters arrive before or after we arrive and are then sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.

    4. Please allow one week for postal delivery to U.S. mail stops.

    5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.

Hike, backpack and kayak in the Land of Fire and Ice!

Students going on Iceland Expedition should prepare for:

  • Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
  • Day hikes to viewpoints and mountaintops
  • A multi-day backpacking trip designed for first-time backpackers
  • A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience

We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.

Preparing for the Hiking

On Iceland Expedition, you will hike on well-established trails over a wide range of terrain, from meadows to hills to mountains. You'll start with day hikes where you'll carry just the essentials for the day (snacks and lunch, water, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, bug spray and a raincoat). As the group's skills and fitness increase, you'll set out on a multi-day backpacking trip. While backpacking, you will carry all of your belongings (clothes, sleeping bag and pad), some group gear, food and water. Typically when backpacking, pack weights average about 30% of a hiker's weight. In the month before your trip, you should break-in your hiking boots (wear them a lot!) and complete the pre-trip training (see below). Once on your trip, you'll find that enthusiasm and a positive attitude will help to make the trip a success for you... and for everyone in your group.

Pre-trip Training:

  • 4 weeks before your trip: three 60-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
  • 3 weeks before your trip: three 90-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
  • 2 weeks before your trip: three 2-hour hikes in your boots with a backpack loaded with 20% of your body weight.
  • 1 week before your trip: four 2.5-hour hikes in your boots with a backpack loaded with 30% of your body weight.

Preparing for an Overland Experience

Overland trips are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be enthusiastic, positive, helpful and supportive of your trip mates and your leaders. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. Arriving ready for a challenge—and eager to contribute to an enthusiastic group—will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland trip!