ICELAND

4-11 JULY 2020

Mindful Wilderness Trail Hiking Retreat in The Elves Mountains

Nominated by the National Geographic Magazine as one of the 25 most beautiful treks in the world!

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HOTELS & HUTS | WILDERNESS TRAIL RUNNING | MOUNTAINS & VALLEYS | GLACIER VOLCANOES |  MINDFULNESS |  MINDFULNESS & WELLNESS WORKSHOPS | REIKI

Join us for an amazing week of Adventure, Mindfulness, Purpose Ease & Flow,  as we Hike in The Elves Mountains in the Icelandic highlands.

We’ll explore one of the most beautiful areas of The Icelandic Highlands on foot in a way that leaves you plenty of time to tune in to what drives you—in Adventure, Running and in life. Indulge in a week of things that are sure to feed your soul: travel, adventure, fun, education and great food. 6 nights off grid, soul searching, running & purposeful teamwork in warm cosy huts, cooking together then celebration time back in Reyjavik for one night in our luxury hotel and transfers back to the airport.

Would you like to learn how to set goals that put smile on your face, make you feel energised and inspired to take daily actions? How are you getting on with fulfilling your Goals Dreams & Desires? Have you noticed how often these fade away and we’re left dissatisfied with not accomplishing them?

 

Join us for a full packed Mindful Wilderness Retreat with information that will bring your results in your Running and life-style to another level!

     SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE

It has been nominated by the National Geographic Magazine as one of the 25 most beautiful treks in the world!

We have no reason to contradict this classification, but one thing is certain this trek remains for us among our favorite and keeps our heart beating. Another thing is certain: the huts in this region are among the best managed in the country. Running clear water, warm and ventilated dryer for wet clothes and shoes, 12V charger, comfortable mattresses, well equipped kitchens, beautiful dining room and a wood stove appreciated when the first frosts of autumn arrive.

In Northeastern Iceland, the Víknaslódir trail (“Trail of the Deserted Inlets”) extends over an area where coastal mountains plunge abruptly into the sea. This isolated region is considered to be the central province of the elves. Their queen resides in her fortress at Álfaborg (Behind the small wooden Bakkagerdi church in eastern Borgarfjördur Bay). The imposing mountain massif of the area displays the entire colour spectrum of rhyolite, an acidic form of lava (If you know Landmannalaugar already, just imagine it softer, surrounded by ocean, with the noise from crashing waves and the cries of thousands of nesting seabirds – a truly stunning location!).

From these blue, pink and ochre colours fortresses of dark rock soar hundreds of feet into the sky. In lush, green valleys, limpid torrents run from peat marshes powdered with the white, fluffy seed heads of cotton grass. The ocean’s colour changes with its moods - from the most exotic opal to turquoise to oil-black. Almost systematically when the evening comes a lid of mist descends on the landscape, adding to the mystery of the clear night. Just as methodically, the gleaming morning sun burns through these layers which, after some resistance, escape spectre-like through the mountain pass. Down on the riverside there are beautiful cottages, very comfortable and each equipped with a wood-fuelled stove.

Driftwood in large numbers, whitened by the salt of the sea, arrives regularly from Siberia and runs aground on these remote black sand beaches. You will be sure to bring home with you the memory of one of those magical evenings around a fire on the inlet bank, a most serene feeling in this extreme corner of the world. As nearby fulmars soar over the surf, a curious seal comes for a glance. And on the mountain above the cliffs, where the smoke of our fire and the haze of the evening mix, the invisible elves will be observing you. They already see you coming.

 

 

This concentrated itinerary is a trip that speaks to purist hikers and runners with a spirit of adventure.  for a maximum number of 10 participants.

 

'Learn not only how to trail run & go on an Adventure more consistently, with more ease and flow, but also reconnect with how the Wilderness feeds your SOUL. During the retreat’s Inner Circle workshops, we’ll explore what it exactly you need to breathe new life into running and daily life. Don’t have a running routine? No problem! After our week together in Iceland applying the principles of mindful Hiking & Adventures, you’ll return home with a renewed love of Life, sky-high confidence in your ability to pursue lofty dreams and goals, and brimming with energy and vitality”.

 

This retreat is right for you if:

You’re comfortable slow trail running/hiking 6 days in a row. Our shortest run/hike is 30 minutes, but most are between 3 to 4 hours (including hiking sections, water breaks and photo ops). You have some experience running on trails. You’re OK with running/hiking on trails with loose dirt, rocks, mud, and potentially one knee-deep river crossing. You’re OK with getting your shoes wet in small streams. You’re comfortable on high and exposed, and at times narrow, trails. You’re game for running in the rain! (Don’t worry about what to wear; we provide you with a comprehensive packing list). You don’t mind sharing a room (single travelers are matched with roommates) and sleeping in a mountain hut (equipped with cozy bedding, pillows, towel, full bathroom, showers, electricity, WIFI and running water). You have (or are willing to acquire before the retreat) trail running shoes.

Itinery

Day 1 Egilstaðir - Seydisfjördur - Loðmundarfjörður


6-7 hours (14 km) hiking 300 m elevation gain/loss – Loðmundarfjörður Mountain Hut


Rendezvous with your guide at Egilsstaðir domestic Airport. From Egilsstaðir we will drive to colorful village of Seyðisfjörður, an important fishing village and the arrival harbour of the only ferry connecting Iceland to Europe. 

A dramatic mountain pass to carry on along the side track to the deserted Loðmundarfjörður fjord. Wandering in the beautiful fjord which remains for many years one of the most isolated and inaccessible communities in Iceland (it is now uninhabited).

 

There are thousands of nesting eider ducks, as well as seals and reindeers and some wild horses in the vast moorland and swamps on the bottom of the large fjord

✈ We can take care of your domestic flight from Reykjavik to Egilsstaðir in the early morning (or the day before + 1 night in Egilsstadir). We can also take care of your return flight on day 6.

DAY 2 Loðmundarfjörður - Húsavík 

5-6 hours hiking (12 km) - 300 m elevation gain/loss – Mountain hut
If the weather permits, we climb in the rhyolite mountains in the direction to the pass of Kækjuskörð where the view is breath-taking. To the West we can admire countless snowy mountain peaks, to the South and to the North the alignment of fjords and coves and to the East the curvature of the ocean.

 

Somewhere at less that 280 miles away are the beautiful Faroe Islands. Of course, we can’t see them, but we nearly feel their presence. At the pas to Húsavík a large cairn is the only telephone connection possible to receive or send messages. (Otherwise each shelter is equipped with a radio transmitter that connects us to civilization); Down the pass and through moorland we reach to the foot of Mount Hvítserkur one of the most picturesque and bizarre mountains in the country.

 

Hvítserkur consists of bright ignimbrite, fancifully streaked with darker veins. Descent toward Húsavík. The lodge is located on the site of a small, old farm, deserted in the 1950s after centuries of occupation

DAY 3  Húsavík - Breiðavík

5-7 hours hiking (14 km) - 400 m elevation gain/loss– Mountain hut


We walk up and down toward the beautiful wild bay of Breiðavík. A wonderful place with coastal marsh and black sandy beaches covered with incredible amounts of Siberian driftwood and other treasures of the sea. Curious seals will almost certainly come to observe our evening fire and our strange attitude!

DAY 4 : Breiðavík - Brúnavík -Bakkagerði

5-7 hours hiking (15 km) - 400 m elevation gain/loss – B&B Inn 


We progress across stunningly massive rhyolite mountains displaying an incredible range of all possible ochre and pastel colors from blue to pink. Then we walk, to Borgarfjörður via Brúnavík (“Brown Bay”), At the very foot of the majestic Dyrfjöll Mountain range we arrive at the small coastal village of Bakkagerði.

 

The rocky hill Álfaborg, right next to Bakkagerði, is the source of the fjord's name. Acknowledged home to the fairies, it is said to be the dwelling place of their queen in Iceland. We walk to the islet Fagrihóll, current fishing harbour for the locality. A great variety of birds nest here; among common species are the fulmar, kittiwake, eider duck and puffin.

Day 5 Dyrfjöll-Storurð:

6-8 hours hiking (14 km)- 400-700 m elevation gain/loss BB Inn


Our trek ends by hiking in the grandiose Dyrfjöll Mountains, whose massive presence dominates the bay of Borgarfjörður. We cross the Vatnaskarð pass, between the faces of the Skeggjaklettur cliff (“Bearded Cliff”) to reach Stórurð (“Big Rocky Ground”), an enormous chaos of large rocks intersected by a calm glacial stream. Between the dark rocks rest calm turquoise-collared basins of icy water surrounded by tender green short grass.

DAY 6 Bakkagerdi - Egilsstaðir (Reykjavik):

70 km driving

Early morning departure (8 am) or in the early afternoon. Drive up the plateau to the little town of Egilstaðir where we arrive one hour later. Egilsstadir is located on the bank of the long turquoise lake of Lagarfljót, where the legendary monster Lagarfljótsormurinn, close cousin of the one in Loch Ness in Scotland, lives. Fly back to Reykjavik 

ABOUT ICELAND

THE DESTINATION

Iceland trail Trekkingstands alone. We’ve run in many parts of the world, yet none has delivered as much natural beauty and reward as this wild place. The ever-changing weather is a constant presence and demands our constant respect and preparedness. Our team provides the daily support and coaching you need to run well and be well. Land of the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, of Viking heritage and the most modern design imaginable, of magical folklore and friendly people, Iceland sits at the top of Europe with an abundance of history, metropolitan atmosphere, sublime dining and incredible natural landscapes. Iceland is home to some of the largest glaciers in Europe and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Iceland is also the land of light and darkness. The Icelandic people (who will be our guides) of whom there are only 350,000, are some of the world’s friendliest and most welcoming people, not to mention their extreme pride for their culture beautiful country.

 

THE TRAILS

Difficulty level: 2-3 Moderate

Average running per day: ca. 15-16 km (9-10 miles)

Total Trekkingdistance: ca.48 km (30 miles) / 24 hours walk 

Altitude between: 135 m and 600 m (440-1970 feet)

Positive gradients: ca.1200 m (ca.3900 feet)

Downhill gradients: ca.1000 m (ca.3280 feet)

Itinerary and security: the day by day program can be modified or even reversed. However, these changes are rather rare for reasons of safety due to natural phenomena: volcanism, early or late snowfall, bad weather, flooding rivers, exceptionally unfavorable weather … The guide knows the terrain well and is sole master in interpreting the whims of all-powerful nature on this volcanic earth under these high latitudes, and to make the necessary decisions.

 

ACCOMODATION

sleeping bag (your own) in mountain refuges and huts: Bunks with comfortable mattresses. Running water and kitchen in the shelter, but the toilets and sinks are usually outside, a few yards in a small building apart. Warm hot showers with charge are available in some huts. If you want more privacy during the night while we sleep, we offer you the possibility of sleeping in tents that we provide, please notify us in advance. On the treks where camping nights are planned, the camps are made up of double tents (or single on request) with a comfortable and insulated mattress and a large equipped mess tent.Electricity: take enough batteries for your camera because you will not often be able to recharge batteries in the huts. Also take a normal charger (220v for European standard outlets) as there are some shelter that have electricity. Food: We pride ourselves for providing the best cuisine in the highlands! Breakfast is Scandinavian style, with muesli, breads, jams, smoked fish, charcuterie and cheese. The picnics can be a bit repetitive after a week (we are in Iceland), with a variety of sandwiches, smoked meats and fish, excellent local cheeses, green salad, tomatoes and cucumbers. Dinners, varied and often excellent, include fish and lamb dishes, served with pasta, rice or potatoes, vegetables and a green salad.

However, vegans will have to supplement their luggage even though we can accommodate their needs.

For conviviality, but without obligation, you can bring with you a specialty of your country as well as a good bottle of alcohol.

Accommodation during the trek: Sleeping bag accommodation in mountain huts and huts (usually a comfortable and mixed lodging) and according to the itinerary and the conditions, at the peak of the season a few nights might be spent in spacious double tents equipped with comfortable mattresses. Showers are available in huts.

 

THE FOOD

It is essential that vegetarians specify what is banned from their menu, such as those suffering from food allergies (lactose, gluten, etc.). It is important that you advise us of your special food requirements at the time of booking. If the list is long or there is danger with certain allergies, please send us the details by email to info@hollywheeler.co.uk so that the team of our warehouse/storage can take this into account in the preparation of food. Your guide will be aware of your plan, but it does not necessarily mean that he is a specialist in that matter, so it’s up to you to tell him about it at the beginning of the journey when preparing the first meal! It is also up to you to control at each meal what suits you. Each day a 4x4 vehicle carries the luggage and the food from hut to hut. We do not see this vehicle during the day, because it takes tracks that we rarely encounter. Someone feeling tired one day can make the trip with the driver (often a friendly guide of our team) which will make him discover another aspect of the highlands. A 4x4 assistance vehicle carries the luggage, food supplies and equipment between shelters and camps. We do not see this vehicle during the day, because it takes tracks that we rarely encounter. Someone feeling tired one day can make the trip with the driver (often a friendly guide of our team) which will make him discover another aspect of the highlands. Our carbon impact is lower because the kilometric average of the vehicle does not exceed 30km / day.

 

PREPARATION OF THE TRIP

This is an assisted hut to hut trekking. At the peak of the season, we might camp for a night or two. The level of walking is moderate to sustained. You only carry a light bag containing what you need for the day. This trek does not present any serious difficulty for people in good physical shape having at least some experience of long walks in the mountains. An experienced guide leads the trek. This trek passes through totally desert areas. Most of the walking is off-trail, with ever-changing terrain conditions. Therefore, sturdy hiking shoes that fit well your feet are a must. Most days involve river crossing, so it is essential not to forget your sandals. See our kits list for more information. You hike 6-7 hours per day, on average, but it can be longer, depending on the weather, the average level of the group. The maximum altitude does not rise more than 1000m. The change of altitude for most days does not exceed 300 m.

 

PARTICIPATION

An experienced Icelandic guide leads the trek. As we are not in Nepal but in Iceland, it is expected that the members of the group lend a helping hand to their guide in the preparation of meals, washing the dishes, cleaning the floors before leaving the huts, setting up and taking down the tents when camping. Once in the mountains, the group becomes an independent entity. Fellowship, teamwork and forged friendships add much to the richness of each person’s experience.

 

THE WEATHER

The weather in Iceland can be summarized in one word: wet! Prepare for wet weather so if we’re treated to sunny, dry conditions (which does happen!), then it’s a bonus. Especially when we’re running along the southern coast, it can be cool and windy, and rain is highly likely. The average daytime temperatures are in the low- to mid-fifties, though it can reach the 60s on a sunny day. In the packing list we’ll supply for you, we highly recommend lightweight rain pants and a waterproof-breathable rain jacket. It won’t be raining the whole time, but for those times it is raining, you’ll be glad to have the right gear! .

WHATS INCLUDED

  • English speaking guide

  • Return Transfers from/to Keflavik international airport 

  • 1 Nights Accommodation and meals in Reykjavík

  • Domestic flight to North Iceland

  • Bus transfers to and from the mountains

  • Transport of luggage by 4x4 assistant vehicle

  • 3 nights in mountain huts

  • 2 nights in a double-twin or single room in a nice guesthouse in the village of Bakkagerði (or 1 night in Bakkagerði and 1 night in Egilsstadir)

  • Full board from lunch day 1 to last day breakfast (except 1 possible dinner in Egilsstaðir)

  • Early bird discount

  • Travel agent sales

  • Showers in the huts

  • Flights to/from Iceland

  • Meals in Reykjavík

  • Taxi transfers between your hotel and Reykjavik domestic airport 

  • Extra charge for a Single room for the 2 nights at the guesthouse in Bakkagerði, if still available on the date you book the trip

  • Drinks and other personal expenses

  • Potential fluctuations in exchange rate

WHATS NOT INCLUDED

PRICING

BOOKING
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Frequently asked questions

Equipment & Clothing what to bring


Clothing
You’ll need to bring comfortable and adequate clothing to protect you from cold and wet weather, such as polypropylene, capilene, or pile. Wool and wool/synthetic blends are also suitable - though wool, if wet, dries slowly compared to synthetic fabrics. We discourage the use of cotton in wet conditions it dries very slowly. When camping, tents are provided. You will be responsible for bringing your mattress and sleeping bag.
When layering, the innermost layer should be long underwear. The middle layer can be a synthetic turtleneck or wool shirt, and pants. The outermost layer must be a breathable waterproof jacket such as a good quality Gore-Tex wind/rain parka and over-pants.
For quantities for each item listed, use your own judgement, based on the expected weather conditions and overall packing/weight restrictions for your luggage. Regular underwear. Synthetics are easier to wash and dry Synthetic thermal underwear Long-sleeved, synthetic or wool shirt Short-sleeved synthetic or cotton/synthetic T-shirts Medium-weight synthetic fleece sweater or jacket Full-length pants, quick-drying synthetic fabric Down jacket from mid-August to September (optional) Hiking shorts, quick-drying synthetic fabric Pile/fleece pants, ideal for around the camp Sun & rain hat Wool hat Gloves (wool or pile) Waterproofed shell gloves Medium weight synthetic socks Gore-Tex rain/wind parka Gore-Tex rain/wind pants Hiking boots, medium-weight, all leather, with padded ankle, good arch support, and a lug sole traction. Your hiking boots should be waterproof, well broken in, and suitable for rocky terrain or possibly snow. Comfortable shoes to wear when not hiking (optional) Teva-type sandals for river crossing. Absolutely recommended! Gaiters. Highly recommended.
Travel Accessories Comfortable sleeping bag +10°C to –10°C which can be opened all the way Cotton sheet to cover the hut’s mattress Pillow if you can’t sleep without one (optional) Swimsuit and towel for hot spring bathing and swimming pool 1-to-2 liters capacity unbreakable water bottle or thermos Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries (essential from August onward) Swiss Army-type pocket knife (Must be kept in duffle bag, not in hand luggage, when flying!) Sunglasses Eye shades. Highly recommended from April to last July! Wax ear plugs Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses (but not only lenses, as wind-blown dust can make them very uncomfortable) Toiletry kit—soap, toothbrush, and so on. Moisturizing lotion. (The air in Iceland is very dry) Sunscreen and lip protection (The sun in Iceland is much more intense than you probably imagine) Personal first aid kit Optional Travel Accessories Hiking poles. Highly recommended Binoculars Repair kit with needle, thread, and safety pins Reading and writing material Your favorite snack food such as raisins or chocolate Protein supplements for vegetarian Your own food reserves if you are vegan 1 or 2 good bottles of wine or a bottle of something stronger Netting hood in June and July * There are no mosquitoes in Iceland (not yet), but in early summer midges swarms invade the banks of rivers and lakes in the lowlands like Lake Myvatn "Lake of gnats." With global warming now midges start to colonize certain areas of higher land with swamps vegetation. The outbreak period is short, but extremely difficult for the hiker. Gloves a long sleeve shirt and especially a safety netting hood that slips over your hat or cap can save you if you find yourself a day without wind in the midst of clouds of these very annoying critters. You will certainly not use it but in case... and that's not a huge investment.




Before Booking


You are landing with strangers on a strange island…but soon you will become friendly with the other members of your party, as you all share the same spirit of adventure, curiosity and discovery. Sometimes -rarely- someone makes the wrong choice and picks a trip that is just not what they are looking for. On an adventure trip, you need to be open-minded, leave prejudice behind, bring a good sense of humor and that positive attitude will make all the difference. Grumpy characters, stay at home ! Everybody has their ups and downs, and oftentimes when someone becomes tedious, it might be a sign that they are struggling with some issues. It could be personal, or it could be that the highlands’ harsh nature is getting to them, maybe they’re having doubts about their physical fitness, or their new boots are giving them blisters, or perhaps they find the relative comfort of the mountain huts a tad unsettling. If you feel like you or one of the group is having difficulties, tell your guide ! Of course, adventure is not hard science, our staff makes mistakes, vehicles break down, changes in the weather can be extreme… however, should you feel that there is something we are just not doing right, please do not let it linger, let us know right there and then -we’ll do our best to sort it out. Rest assured that the success of your trips is our main concern as much as yours !




Info


Chartered bus will transfer us from Egilsstaðir to the starting point of the trek and return. A local farmer is carrying all luggage in his jeep, equipment and supplies as well as tired or injured members of the group. Taxi between your hotel and Reykjavik domestic airport. Food: We pride ourselves on providing the best cuisine in the highlands! Breakfast is Scandinavian-style, with muesli, breads, jams, fish and cheese. Packed lunch, with a variety of sandwich fillings, from smoked meats and fish to local cheeses and salads. Dinners involve fresh, local fish and meat dishes, with pasta, rice or potatoes, fresh vegetables and salad. Vegetarians and those with food allergies can be fully catered for with a range of tasty options. It is essential that you inform our office of any special food requirements at the time of booking! For usability, but no obligation, you can bring with you a little speciality of your home country to share with your companions as well as a flask of some thing for a short drink in the middle of nowhere. Accommodation: 3 nights in huts and 2 nights in a nice guesthouse with a spa. Trip preparation and notes: This is an assisted hut-to-hut trekking. The walking level is from moderate to strenuous. You will only carry in a light day-pack what you need for the day. This should present no serious difficulty for persons with at least some mountain walking experience, plus a good level of personal fitness. An experienced Icelandic guide leads the trek. The group is expected to assist with all aspects of making and breaking camp, including meal preparation. Once in the mountains, each group becomes an independent entity. The camaraderie, teamwork and friendships forged, add much to the richness of each person’s experience. This trek passes through some areas of complete wilderness. Some of the walking is partly off-track, with terrain conditions constantly changing, with underfoot conditions constantly changing. Therefore, sturdy, well worn-in hiking boots are a must. Most days involve river crossings, so it is essential that all trekkers carry suitable footwear to change into. See our kit list for more information. We trek for 6-7 hours per day, on average, but this may be longer, depending on weather conditions and group speed. Maximum altitude doesn’t rise more than 1000m. Elevation change for most days should be no more than 300m.





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