Come trekking in Iceland
The Hornstrandir nature reserve is a place of magnificent untouched beauty and wildlife. The sheer basalt mountains stretch from the sea to the sky chaotically divided by deep fjords, secluded alcoves and valleys.
At the coastline, the relentless power of the ocean has molded towering sea cliffs, richly populated by birds. Many of the alcoves and scurries of the coast are home to an abundance of seals. Inland the crawling glaciers of the last ice age have hewn ancient mountain passes and lakes into the rugged peninsula and there the Arctic Fox wanders in its natural environment.
The Lost Fjords trip is a full-on backpacking trip where we are self-sufficient, carrying our equipment and sleeping in our own tents along the way.
I went hiking and camping for six days in Hornstrandir. The landscape is stunning but the weather provides plenty of challenges. I went on my own, joining a group of five. This kind of trip throws people together from all over the world, and our group was up for anything, great fun, and fascinating people who I feel grateful to have met.
Max, our guide was superb from beginning to end. Nothing was too much trouble. Very skilled and careful in navigating the environment. Very funny, and lots of excellent stories. He was a true inspiration.
This was my second trip with Borea, after kayaking last year. They are an excellent company. I couldn't recommend them more highly. Their trips are well organised and safety conscious. You definitely need to be properly prepared, and the other reviews have lots of excellent info. I would say, if you have an adventurous spirit, but are looking for the security of the organisation being taken care of, then this is the company for you! Kate
Tripadvisor, August 2016
- Boat ride to and from Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
- All food
- Professional guide
- Travel to and from Ísafjörður prior to and after the trip
- Food on the first day until the trip departs
- Personal medical insurance
- Personal equipment and clothing
Minimum no of guests: 4.
We meet at our office in Aðalstræti 17 (downtown main street) the day before departure at 5pm, where we will answer any questions and make final preparations.
We depart from the harbour in Ísafjörður on our passenger ferry Bjarmi at 9am. We make our way to the abandoned village of Hesteyri. We have now left the modern world behind and are entering a wonderland of sounds, from soothing streams to the whisper of the waves by the beach. We start our hike in Hesteyri and head for Hesteyrarskarð mountain pass. From there we start to make our way down the other side to sea level.
Overnight at Látrar.
From Aðalvík we have the option of a big detour to the top of Straumnesfjall mountain to explore an abandoned radar station built in 1953 by the American army. They quickly figured out this was a pretty harsh place to live, so they abandoned the station in 1960. They might also have gotten tired of not seeing any enemies, ever. We will then head over to Fljótavík. To get to our destination we need to cross Atlastaðaós river, which can get a bit tricky as it is sensitive to sea tides, so we need to aim to be there at low tide.
Overnight at Atlastaðir.
We will start the day hiking along the green banks of Fljótsvatn lake. The lake is beautiful and the mountain range on our left-hand side is impressive. We need to cross a few mountain passes to get across the mountain range separating us from our next destination, Hlöðuvík.
Overnight at Búðir with an optional evening walk to Hælavík.
Today we head up a steep slope to the mountain ridge Skálakambur and follow a route marked with cairns towards the steep Atlaskarð (327 m) mountain pass. We will go around Mt. Kollur and from there start making our way towards Höfn in Hornvík, the heart of Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This is a place of dramatic natural beauty and should not be missed out by anyone traveling in this area. It is necessary to spend more than one day at this awe-inspiring place so we will put up camp there for two nights.
Nothing compares to the beauty of Hornvík, surrounding are two of Iceland's largest bird cliffs. Like the entire Hornstrandir area, Hornvík is very remote and is only accessible by boat or by foot. We hike to Hornbjarg cliff where thousands of birds can be seen and the massive sculptures of mother nature make human beings feel very small and vulnerable. Many visitors state that the hike to Hornbjarg was the highlight of their Hornstrandir trip. At the end of the day we head back to Hornvík where we spend the night.
Today we will pack our tents and gear, hit the trail and cross yet another mountain pass to get to Veiðileysufjörður fjord. After crossing the mountain range, we descend down to the coast again, following the beach for a while until we get to Meleyri. From there we will get picked up by a boat that will take us to Ísafjörður, back to civilization after almost a week in the wild. For those eager to wash off their hiking dust, a visit to Ísafjörður swimming pool is ideal. Others can relax, go out, eat and just enjoy the town.
This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change depending on the weather, conditions and the ability of the group.
Remember that everything you bring you will have to carry on your back for the entire hike. Try to pack as light as possible while still bringing everything you need.
Please note that we provide the tents. We use two person tents and therefore you are expected to share with one other person. If you would like a tent to yourself then you can rent a 1 person tent. Please select this option during the booking process.
- Warm outdoor clothing including hiking pants and warm upper layers. Please avoid cotton as it keeps you cold when wet and takes a very long time to dry.
- 2-3 pairs of hiking socks
- Long johns to have under your hiking pants if it's cold and also nice to sleep in.
- Waterproof jacket and pants.
- Hiking boots. Please use waterproof high-top hiking boots, which provide ankle support.
- Water shoes, as we cross many streams, a lake and walk through some wetlands. Make sure they are sturdy and are well secured.
- It might be good to take short gaiters since we will be crossing a few snowfields and it also keeps sand and soil out of the shoes. Here is a good article about gaiters.
- Hat and gloves.
- Backpack. It needs to be around 50-60L. Big enough to carry all of your belongings, including your sleeping bag and your share of the food.
- Sleeping bag rated to at least 0°C. Down is best since it packs smaller than synthetic.
- Sleeping mattress. A thin inflatable one is best as it easily fits inside the backpack.
- Personal medical kit i.e. band aids, throat lozenges, lip salves, seasickness tablets etc. Don't forget your personal medication, which you may need (e.g. Asthma inhaler, even if you don’t always need it).
- Sun glasses.
- Sunscreen and after sun cream.
- Binoculars are nice to have for watching wildlife. (Optional).
- Water bottle.
- Don't forget your camera!
How hard is the hike?
The distances are between 12-16 km a day. We carry all our stuff on most of the days and have to go through mountain passes up to 600 meters elevation. We keep a slow pace and enjoy the scenery, we're not in a hurry! This hike is a wilderness hike, the terrain where we hike is in some parts wet, mossy, rocky, muddy and everything in between, steep and flat. In some parts, there aren't any trails. Just pure wilderness.
I have specific dietary requirements and/or allergies to certain foods. Can you cater to my needs?
Of course, we realise that we’re not all made the same and have different needs and desires. We try our best to cater to your needs. Please let us know ahead of time if you have any requirements so that we can plan the food accordingly.
Will I see Arctic Foxes on this tour?
We often see Arctic Foxes on this tour. Because hunting is banned in Hornstrandir, there foxes are not timid around humans and therefore we can sometimes get very close. However, the foxes are still very much a wild animal, so we make no guarantees that we will see them.
You mention that good hiking boots that offer ankle support are mandatory. Why is that?
The main problem that we've had to deal with is guests not having appropriate boots. High top ankle boots give much better support and keep you dryer than hiking ‘shoes’. We hike through a mixture of rough terrain including wet grass, loose rock, snow, streams and sand. Therefore, we need supportive boots to help prevent ankle injuries and waterproof boots to keep you warm and dry. We recommend Scarpa leather boots or nylon versions with Gore Tex. There are many other good manufacturers such as La Sportiva, Mammut, Merrell, and Meindl.
Do we need to carry our personal gear?
Yes, you do. This is a self-supported backpacking trip but we try to get as many food drops with the passenger boats as possible. We will spend two of the last nights in Hornvík Bay and do a beautiful day trip on day 5 along the magnificent bird cliffs with only lunch for the day. On the last day, you only need to carry your personal belongings. You can even lighten your load for the last day by sending gear back to town with the scheduled boat.
We recommend the Hornstrandir Traverse if you're looking for an easier hiking trip where we only carry a daypack.
Is it early enough to arrive on the morning plane to Ísafjörður on the day of departure?
It's not recommended. You're cutting it really tight and if there is a delay in the flight, you will miss your trip. We also plan a meeting at 5 pm the day before and we recommend that you try to make that meeting.
Will there be drinking water available on the trek or do we need to bring a water purifier?
The beauty of travelling in the nature of Iceland (among many other things) is that there is fresh drinking water everywhere. You can literally drink from any stream you find in the wild.
How do I get to Ísafjörður?
Here you can see your options on how to travel to our beautiful town: How do I get to Ísafjörður.