June 24 - July 7, 2018 // 14 days
July 10 - July 23, 2018 // 14 days
Travel with us to Iceland!
I miss Iceland. I truly think nowhere I ever go will feel or look exactly like it.“ - Samatha L. Iceland: Nordic Elements
There’s nothing quite like a good road trip, especially when it takes you past active volcanoes, bright blue icebergs, roaring waterfalls, and towns where elves are respected. Iceland is a country of sharp contrasts, where fire and ice coexist along with the summer’s midnight sun. From Reykjavik to UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park to the idyllic Friðheimar Greenhouse Cultivation Center and everywhere in between, we see all that this magical country has to offer. Our 14-day Nordic Elements program balances backcountry trekking with an adventurous roadtrip down the southern coast. This program is designed for active participants who want to hit Iceland's highlights, camp beneath the midnight sun, and test their backcountry skills on our 4-day Landmannalaugur trek. Participants interested in a longer backpacking program should check out our 21-day Iceland: Secrets of the Huldufólk program. Don’t forget your camera on this journey that is a photographer's dream! Keep scrolling to learn more!
A dip in the sublime waters of the Blue Lagoon is a quintessential Icelandic experience and the best way to recover from jet lag. This popular man-made geothermal spa of crystal clear water is the only site on earth where you can swim in 40-degree centigrade water year round while being surrounded by ice and snow. The lagoon’s rich mineral content is known to be helpful to a variety of ailments. Often referred to as the most photographed spot in Iceland, our students will take in the contrasting aquamarine waters to the stark black background surrounding the lagoon.
The Laugavegur Trek is the most famous hiking trail in Iceland. Known for trails offering astounding and breathtaking sites, it remains one of "25 best Hikes in the World.” Landmannalaugar is a geothermal wonderland offering views of red and yellow mountains, fields of obsidian, black sands, and sparkling white glaciers. The Laugavegur trail will take you to Thorsmork, a breathtaking green valley nestled at the foot of the famous glacier Eyjafjallajökull.
Students will take a 4-day trek through Laugavegur and see everything from glaciers to volcanos and lava fields to hot springs. They have the opportunity to experience some of the best Icelandic beauty that nature has to offer. Even for the “non-hiker”, the striking landscapes will be enjoyed and give them memories of a lifetime. This trek is not to be missed!
Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and the accompanying ice lagoon, Jokulsarlon, are characterized by breathtaking ice sculptures, glacier tongues, rugged highlands, and a lava landscape. The seawater entering the lagoon melts the ice from the glacier tongue and chunks of ice slowly drift out to sea where they meet Atlantic waves and the black volcanic beach. Sprinkling this black beach are the remains of the glacier - crystal-like pieces of ice that are thousands of years old. Seals can be seen swimming in the lagoon or relaxing on top of an iceberg. The drive along the south coast to reach this gem is breathtakingly beautiful and is well worth our time.
Our students will gain insight into the processes of greenhouse horticulture, in fact, they will see it first hand! Thanks to greenhouse innovations which create warm Mediterranean-like conditions for growing, Icelanders are not held back by their chilly climate. Our students will take in the fragrant tomato plants on the farm and sit down to a feast of the famous Friðheimar tomato soup with fresh-baked bread. After this delicious stop, we will visit the infamous Golden Circle, which is home to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland. Along the Golden Circle, we will explore beautiful Thingvellir National Park, which has been nominated as a UNESCO world heritage site. This ancient assembly site of the Vikings is set in a picturesque area of vast lava fields, a tranquil lake, and deep gorges.
An area of unique cultural importance, the Yaeda Valley brims with spectacular scenery and biological diversity. Thousands of waterfowl, terns, and shorebirds are drawn to its flooded valley, bordered by the Kidero hills and baobab tree-studded ridgeline.
We finish our adventure around Iceland by heading back to Reykjavik. This spot in Iceland hosts more than 20 different species of cetacean animals that frequent the local waters. These species include minke, fin, blue, humpback, sperm, and killer whales. Also notable are the permanent residents of the Icelandic waters, the white-beaked dolphins and harbor porpoises.
In Iceland, our accommodations are a mix of hostels, cabins, and tent camping. Bunk beds are available in hostels and cabins. We camp during our time on the 4-day Laugavegur Trek, on Golden Circle Day, and during our 2-day stay at Skaftafell National Park. Showers will be available every three to four days. Bathrooms will be flush toilets at hostels and a mix of latrines and backcountry bathrooms on the trek.
Keflavík International Airport (KEF)
Please Note: Nordic Elements is an adventurous trip designed for those in good physical standing. Summer weather varies in Iceland, and we typically encounter beautiful sunshine, days of rain and wind, and once in a great while, it may snow on us in the mountains. Participants must be comfortable with camping and be physically fit enough for long, active days.
Inspiring a love for natural spaces, sustainability, and artistic tradition, our two-week program provides participants with the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture and try their hand at trekking, boating, and camping in this world-renowned adventure hub.
From gushing geysers to towering glaciers, Iceland boasts an impressive and diverse collection of natural features. Join us as we explore the enchanting Land of Fire and Ice and journey with us as we hike past impossibly blue glaciers, magical lagoons, bubbling lava fields, and verdant pastures.
In addition to the draw of Iceland’s inspiring landscape, the country appeals to visitors who are eager to engage with the island’s unique storytelling and artistic tradition. Shaped by isolation and exposure to magical natural elements like the northern lights, Icelandic culture celebrates a storytelling tradition that is steeped in fable and lore. Take part in the witty Icelandic humor and share heroic tales as we travel through the colorful capital city of Reykjavik, charming fishing villages, and mountains.
Our very first adventure takes us out on a 4 day trek on the Laugavegur Trail, a must-hike for adventure enthusiasts and outdoor photographers. There, we’ll enjoy the pristine, wild landscape as we trek past ancient thermal springs, colorful rhyolite mountains, glacier-fed rivers, and mossy floodplains.
Taking a day to rest our legs, we’ll return to Reykjavik before embarking on our next adventure: Iceland’s iconic Golden Circle, where we will hike in Pingvellir National Park, sightsee at Geysir and Gullfoss (the golden waterfall), and play alongside the exquisite blue crater-lake, Kerid.
During the second half of the program, we’ll explore the southern coast; making sure to take in the stunning black sand beaches, basalt cliffs, and traditional wool sweater shops, and get up close and personal with the impossibly blue glaciers in the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
We’ll spend our nights beneath the midnight sun in Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe’s largest glacier, before traveling back west to Selfoss. While in Selfoss, we will have the opportunity to visit a local horticulture operation, see traditional Icelandic horses, and discuss Iceland’s environmental efforts and commitment to renewable energy.
To celebrate our magical two week journey, we’ll put on some warm Icelandic overalls and top the trip off with a whale watching tour on the West Coast. This is the perfect time of year to see minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises, and humpback whales. On our final afternoon, we’ll relax and pamper ourselves with Silica mudmasks in Blue Lagoon’s natural hotsprings.
Join us for an unforgettable adventure!
After we’ve gathered at the Keflavik airport, we will take a bus to our hostel in Reykjavik, where we will get to know each other, explore the city, and prepare for our Laugavegur trek.
Transfer to Landmannalaugar, where we will embark on our four day trekking adventure along the Laugavegur Trail, one of Iceland’s famous hiking routes. Hike past ancient thermal springs, colorful rhyolite mountains, glacier-fed rivers, and mossy floodplains.
Explore Iceland’s iconic Golden Circle, hike in Pingvellir National Park, sightsee at Geysir and Gullfoss (the golden waterfall), and play alongside the exquisite blue crater-lake, Kerid, as we make our way to Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland.
Wander through the enchanting seaside village of Vik, travel to the geologically unique basalt cliffs, and visit a traditional wool sweater-making shop in Vik before transferring to Hofn, a fishing town famous for its lobster and proximity to Europe’s largest glacier.
Embark on boat tour through the magical Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Glide past ancient glaciers and cruise through the pristine blue water. Top the day off with a hike alongside Skaftafellsjökull glacier in Vatnajökull National Park before taking in the Northern stars at our campsite.
Discover Iceland’s unique volcanic history at the Skaftafell Nature Center before exploring the jagged mountains and glacial tongues in Vatnajökull National Park. Hike to a beautiful basalt waterfall and alongside the mighty Glaciers.
Depart early in the morning for Dverghamrar, to explore Iceland’s fairytale-like Dwarf Cliffs, Fjaðrárgljúfur, and Skogfoss (an impressive 180ft waterfall). Visit a famous plane wreck on the coast and transfer to Selfoss for the night.
Enjoy warm tomato soup and freshly baked bread at the world-reknowned Friedhimar Farm while discovering how Icelandic farmers use geothermal heat and learning what makes Icelandic horses different than any other horses on the planet.
Celebrate the journey by taking a whale watching tour near Reykjavik and then pamper ourselves with a dip in the therapeutic natural hot spring pools at Blue Lagoon.
Take in the beautiful town of Reykjavik one last time before boarding flights home.
Gluten-free foods are few and far between in Iceland. We recommend that participants who have a gluten allergy speak to our admissions department prior to enrolling.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list! It is very important to follow the packing list.
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.
Nordic Elements is an adventurous trip designed for those in good physical standing. Summer weather varies in Iceland, and we typically encounter beautiful sunshine, days of rain and wind, and once in a great while, it may snow on us in the mountains. Participants must be comfortable with camping and be physically fit enough for long, active days.