Iceland, Europe -
Secrets of the Huldufolk
TEEN Adventure Travel program
June 25 - July 15, 2018 // 21 days
Overflowing with sparkling glaciers, verdant farmlands, deep fjords, volcanoes, and stunning waterfalls, Iceland is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Due to the high demand for our Iceland Programs in 2017, we're adding an additional program in Iceland for 2018. Our 21-day Iceland: Secrets of the Huldufólk teen adventure travel program is designed for students who want to challenge themselves to a true adventure experience, spend more time in Iceland, and tackle an additional, more challenging trek in the rugged and scenic West Fjords.
The most important thing I learned was to push myself and step out of my comfort zone.” -Charlie M, Iceland: Nordic Elements
Unlike our 14-day program and almost all other travel programs in Iceland, this trip allows us to explore Iceland’s pristine northern wilderness and experience the isolation and less touristy, serene fishing towns in the North. It is designed for participants who enjoy an active lifestyle and want to see the world Walter Mitty Style. Join us as we roadtrip, kayak, trek, camp, and fully immerse ourselves in Icelandic Culture -- from the sagas to the hidden fairies and elves. Keep scrolling to learn more about this amazing teen adventure travel program in Iceland!
Iceland // You Don't Want to Miss...
1. Embark on a Backcountry Trek in the West Fjords
The Westfjords are Iceland’s best kept secret. Home to a stunning array of bright green plateaus, snow-covered mountains, and rocky beaches, this off-the-beaten path destination offers opportunities to experience untouched landscapes and pristine wilderness. Few tourists make it here, but it is one of the most stunning places in all of Iceland. Embarking on a rugged and challenging backcountry trek to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, we hike alongside playful Arctic Foxes, seaside seals, and arctic terns. Using our trek to reconnect with the natural world, we backpack throughout scenic and ever-changing terrain while taking in one of Iceland’s most isolated, pristine regions.
#2. Sea Kayak Beside Iceland's Epic and Isolated Fjords
Sea-kayaking alongside the unique fjords of Iceland’s western peninsula, we put our adventure skills to the test and take in the dramatic landscapes that inspired some of Iceland’s most treasured sagas and folktales.
#3. Make Friends with the Playful Arctic Foxes
Arctic Foxes are Iceland’s only native land mammal. These playful creatures are ubiquitous within the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the North and add whimsy to a long day’s hike.
#4. Put Your Adventure Skills to the Test at Landmannalaugar
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,” and is a pilgrimage for locals. Join us as we embark on a 4-day trek, weaving through multicolored rhyolite mountains, verdant valleys, and lunar fields of volcanic rock. Completing our journey at Þórsmörk, we grab our cameras and journals to reflect beneath the enchanting gaze of Eyjafjallajokull, one of Iceland’s many glaciers. Many Icelandic individuals consider the Laugavegur trek to be a meaningful pilgrimage where one can observe the ability of the landscape and one’s self to adapt and change.
#5. Stir Your Soul: Experience Iceland's Magnificent Glaciers
Take in the glory and magic of Iceland's powerful glaciers. These massive ice formations are responsible for Iceland’s unique geography and seaside fjords. They also preserve the water supply during the summer months. Not only do the glaciers produce some of the most stunning views and photographs, they also push individuals to consider geologic scales of time and human impact on the environment.
#6. Replenish and Relax in the Luxurious Blue Lagoon
A dip in the sublime waters of the Blue Lagoon is a quintessential Icelandic experience and the best way to recover from days spent in the backcountry. 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.
- Explore: Reykjavík, Lake Myvatn, Grjótagjá Cave, Akureyi, Hverir Geothermal Area
- Backpack: Hornstrandir Nature Reserve - Westfjords, Landmannalaugar - The Laugavegur Trek
- Sea Kayak: Isafjordur and Iceland's Westfjords
- Whale Watching: Husavik
- Wildlife: Whales, Puffins, Dolphins, Arctic Foxes and Terns, Seals, Common Snipe, Ravens, Golden Plovers, and Reindeer, Icelandic Horses, and Sheep
- Culture: Visit a Traditional Icelandic Sweater Factory, Glaumbær Turf Houses
On the Secrets of the Huldufolk trip, our accommodations are a mix of tent camping and hostels. We camp during each of our treks (Laugavegur Trek and the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve) as well as during our sea kayaking and along the Northern Coast. We spend a few nights in hostels while in Reykjavik and during other portions of our adventure.
Tuition (Airfare and baggage not included)
Keflavík International Airport (KEF)
Please Note: Secrets of the Huldufolk is a challenging trip intended for those in good physical standing. Our itinerary includes two backpacking treks that feature snowy passes, uphill climbs, and exposure to sometimes fickle elements. Summer weather varies in Iceland, and we typically encounter beautiful sunshine, days of rain and wind, and once in awhile, snow in the mountains. Participants must feel comfortable camping, be physically fit, and have a resilient mindset for extensive, active days.
The Huldufolk--elves featured throughout Icelandic folklore--could only live in a place as magical as this. What at first appears to be a landscape crafted by myth and imagination turns out to hold some of the most stunning realities: vast fields of green, massive flowing rivers of ice, beaches of black sand, polychromatic mountains. Only a place as enchanting as the land of fire and ice could possibly contain this magnitude of wonder.
So the adventure awaits. Our journey in Iceland begins in the capital of Reykjavik, where we meet our fellow travelers, explore the city, and prepare for the journey ahead. We stay in the cozy, dapper Kex Hostel, located in an old biscuit factory with rooms full of bookshelves and world travelers. Considered one of the most unique hostels in Iceland, Kex becomes a central location that our group no doubt remembers fondly.
We begin with the Laugavegur Trek, a route treasured by the people of Iceland. From Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork, we spend 4-days moving across snowy fields, verdant meadows, and steaming geothermal vents. From uphill climbs to endless laughter to river crossings, the journey will no doubt be filled with memories. Our group weaves between Hrafntinnusker, Alftavatn, and Emstrur to conclude our journey in the magnificent, isolated Thorsmork--where glacially carved valleys hold hidden wonders and spill misty waterfalls from the melting snow above. We awake in the “valley of Thor” where we transfer back to Reykjavik, preparing to for our road trip along Iceland’s northern coast.
Our legs tired and our bodies craving rejuvenation, we stop at Iceland’s quintessential Blue Lagoon. Serene and relaxed, we soak in the turquoise waters, washing away our hard work on the Laugavegur trek. Feeling renewed, we load back into our cars to drive north, stopping at the Glaumbaer Turf Houses, a historic site where grass grows in, around, and on top of quaint farm homes. We begin to make our way along Iceland’s northern coast, absorbing the beautiful sites as they pass. We stop at Godafoss waterfall, which translates into “the waterfall of the gods”. Here, we take in the majesty of the falling water and keep our eyes open for the frequent rainbows that bend over the cerulean water. Moving forward, we stop in Lake Myvatn--an area with pervasive volcanic activity and geothermal springs. From boiling mud to geysers to deep craters, Myvatn is home to some of most unique geology on the island nation. We also visit Grjotagja, an underground hot spring used by ancient Icelandic individuals for bathing and recently featured in Game of Thrones.
For our final portion of the trip, we head to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in Iceland’s Westfjords. Accessible only by boat, we journey to the pristine landscape, where arctic foxes play nearby and challenging trail days reward us with a true sense of wildness. Considered one of Iceland’s “best kept secrets”, we explore astonishing panoramas and dreamlike descents through fjords and down to the ocean. A backpacker’s dream! Long days on the trail give us the chance to process the beauties we’ve seen over the past weeks: sights and experiences likely to be featured in our future tales about the trip. In the following days, we sea kayak the fjords around Isafjordur. Exploring the sea for a few days, we camp and relax by a pool heated with geothermal water.
After an extended journey in Iceland’s iconic Westfjords, we head back to Reykjavik in preparation for the end of our trip. At our hostel, we end the evening with a final banquet and Poet’s Campfire. With stories ready to share and our adventure coming to an end, we say goodbye to our newfound friends and head home.
Arrival (Day 1):
Arrive at Keflavik International Airport. Once we gather with the entire group, we head to Reykjavik to briefly explore the city and prepare for our upcoming trek.
The Laugavegur Trek (Day 2-5):
Backpack from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork on a four-day trek of a lifetime. A striking journey with diverse landscapes, the journey takes us through a multitude of environments while also teaching us about the exploratory nature of Icelanders.
Thorsmork to Reykjavik (Day 6)
Transfer from our sublime campsite at Thorsmork to Reykjavik, where we recharge and prepare for the upcoming journey along the North Coast.
Blue Lagoon & Glaumbaer Turf Houses (Day 7):
Relax in the Blue Lagoon as we give our bodies a rest from days of hiking and camping. As we make our way to the North of Iceland, we stop at the Glaumbaer Turf Houses to peak into Icelandic life hundreds of years ago.
Explore Iceland’s Northern Coast: Godafoss Waterfall, Lake Myvatn, Krafla Crater (Day 8 -10):
Discover the beauties of Iceland’s North Coast as we explore the unique aspects of the North: rampant geothermal activity, massive waterfalls, hidden underground caverns. We drive just south of the coast as we seek to participate in the seemingly endless variety of natural wonders on this Nordic island.
Whale Watching in Husavik (Day 11):
Pursue whales on a whale watching tour into the Greenland Sea. Whether killer whales, gray whales or minke whales, we seek these underwater mammals who no doubt provide perspective to the resilience and majesty of oceanic life.
Journey South, Prepare for Westfjords Trek (Day 12):
Venture back towards Reykjavik in an preparation for our second trek in Iceland’s Westfjords region. We repack our bags, lace up our hiking boots, and head north towards Isafjordur, the central location for our Westfjords journey.
Trek within the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve (Day 13-Day 17):
Backpack across the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, where we challenge ourselves to a true immersion into nature. We move over steep hillsides, across rocky terrain, and along black sand beaches, all while arctic foxes and seals wander nearby.
Sea Kayak in Isafjordur (Day 18-19):
Paddle the fjords around Isafjordur as we examine Iceland from a different viewpoint. Having been on the island for several days, we venture into the seascape to further satisfy our sense of adventure.
Transfer back to Reykjavik, Closing, Poet’s Campfire (Day 20):
Travel back towards Reykjavik, where we settle into our now-favorite hostel. We conclude our final evening with a closing banquet and Poet’s Campfire, an event of reflection and of meaning.
Homeward Bound (Day 21)
Say goodbye to our newfound friends, repeat our favorite jokes and stories, and head towards Keflavik International Airport to make our way back 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!
Iceland: Secrets of the Huldufolk Packing List - 2018 list coming soon!
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!
General Travel Info
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.
Our Iceland Nordic Challenge Program is an adventurous trip that includes back-to-back days of trekking and camping. Summer weather varies in Iceland, and we typically encounter beautiful sunshine, rain and lots of wind, and once in a great while, it may snow on us in the mountains. Due to the remote nature of our adventure activities, we spend little time in towns leaving us with little access to laundry and showers. Participants must be comfortable with camping and be physically fit enough for long, active days.