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June 27 - July 10, 2019
July 13- July 26, 2019
Join us on our 14-day teen adventure travel program in Iceland!
He has been a different person since he returned - absolutely more independent and self confident. I can see it in almost every aspect of his life right now." - Parent of James Q., 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 Þingvellir 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 Laugavegur trek. Don’t forget your camera on this journey: Iceland is a photographer's dream! Keep scrolling to learn more about this amazing teen adventure travel program throughout Iceland!
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 Þórsmörk, a breathtaking green valley nestled at the foot of the famous glacier Eyjafjallajökull. This trek is not to be missed!
Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and the accompanying ice lagoon, Jökulsárlón, 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.
The Golden Circle--a crucial route for any visit to Iceland--contains some of the best waterfalls, geysirs, and sites in the country. Along the Golden Circle, we will explore beautiful Þingvellir 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.
Waterfalls are a central part of experiencing Iceland first-hand. Falling water, surrounded by verdant landscape and rainbows from the mist, is not only iconic in Iceland’s natural history, but important to its culture as well. It’s stated in Icelandic mythology that Skógafoss (shown below) has a treasure chest filled with gold and jewels hidden beneath the waterfall. Though we won’t try to find the hidden gold, we will gain our own treasures exploring the many waterfalls of Iceland!
Nestled between three of Iceland’s most prominent glaciers, Þórsmörk is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in the country. The last stop on our trek, Þórsmörk (named after the Norse God Thor) is the perfect destination to celebrate the conclusion of our hike. Wildflowers, glacially-carved valleys, and volcanic sediments make it a place not to be missed!
A dip in the sublime waters of the Blue Lagoon is a quintessential Icelandic experience and the best way to recover from days of hiking. 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.
#7 Whale Watching
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.
No trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to one of the many black sand beaches, a result of the island nation's volcanic activity. These unique beaches, which look out onto the vast Atlantic, have been the site of several movies and music videos searching for scenic shots of natural beauty and lunar-style landscape. Explore for yourself!
In Iceland, our accommodations are a mix of hostels and tent camping. Bunk beds are available in hostels. We camp during the majority of our time in Iceland. 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 Þingvellir National Park and sightsee at Geysir and Gullfoss (the golden waterfall).
During the second half of the program, we’ll explore the southern coast; making sure to take in the stunning black sand beaches, basalt columns, 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 Skaftafell 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 campsite in Reykjavik, where we will become familiar with our gear and our fellow travelers!
We spend the day exploring the quaint, Scandinavian capital: Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, The Sun Voyager sculpture, City Centre, and Reykjavik harbor. Our group also uses the day to prepare for the upcoming trek by shopping for groceries, reviewing proper backpacking techniques, repacking our bags, and answering any lingering questions before heading into the backcountry!
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 Þingvellir National Park, and sightsee at Geysir and Gullfoss (the golden waterfall) 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 Skaftafell National Park, an area famous for its stunning nature and proximity to Europe’s largest glacier.
Discover Iceland’s unique volcanic history at the Skaftafell Nature Center before exploring the jagged mountains and glacial tongues of the park and Vatnajökull Glacier. Hike to a beautiful basalt waterfall and alongside deeply carved valleys. We transfer further east to embark on a boat tour through the magical Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, cruising past icebergs and seals face-to-face with pristine arctic beauty.
Enjoy warm tomato soup and freshly baked bread at the world-reknowned Friðheimar Farm while discovering how Icelandic farmers use geothermal heat and learning what makes Icelandic horses different than any other horses on the planet. We also visit Selfoss, one of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls!
Celebrate the journey by taking a whale watching tour near Reykjavik and then pamper ourselves with a dip in the therapeutic 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).
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.