Conquer Iceland’s highest peak Hvannadalshnúkur

Tour Time
14 - 18 hours
On The Glacier
6 - 10 hours
Certified mountain guide, all necessary glacier gear
What to bring?
Meeting point


Only for the bravest and fittest of travelers we offer a unique chance to conquer the highest peak of Iceland – Hvannadalshnúkur. Hike for many hours on rock, snow and ice to the edge of the crater of one of Iceland’s largest volcanoes and cross it to finally reach the glaciated summit This is a real mountain expedition which, if successful will make you feel like you’re standing on top of the world.

Please note: This is not a regular tour, but it’s organized seasonally in spring (April – June) on request only for groups starting from 2 people and the price varies depending on the number of participants. Please send us an inquiry through email if you’d like to book it.

At the moment no departures are scheduled for 2024 season.

Highlights of the tour


Iceland’s highest mountain Hvannadalshnúkur rises 2110 meters tall and is one of a few peaks that surround the wide caldera of Öræfajökull volcano, which erupted twice in the known history of Iceland. Its first eruption in the years 1362-1363 was in fact so devastating for the whole region that the current name of the mountain was given then, which derives from Icelandic word Öræfi meaning desolation. The second eruption that followed over three hundred years later in 1727 was only slightly less disastrous. Many geological signs of such tumultuous past can be seen in the region, however the mountain itself hides almost completely under a thick glacier that has formed on top of it since then. There deep crevasses can be observed and often must be traversed. Nothing grows or lives at such elevation in Iceland so the frozen and snowy landscape there is truly polar.

All of it falls within the boundaries of Vatnajökull National Park, the largest one in Iceland, which in the year 2019 became a UNESCO world heritage site. The Water Glacier, because that’s the literal meaning of Vatnajökull is by volume the biggest glacier in Europe and overshadows all the other ones in Iceland combined. Öræfajökull is just a small part of it and not even the only volcano that’s hiding underneath it. On one side of it you will find a lush green and forested area of Skaftafell where the glacier and mountain trips start and which was the earliest protected part of the national park. On the other lies even more famous Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlón and the Diamond Beach. If the weather permits all these places can be spotted from the summit.



This trip is done in one long day and it must start early – usually you should expect to start hiking at around 3 am. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to arrive to the area the day before early enough to her some rest before the departure. Our starting point is in a place called Sandfell, 15 minutes driving from the visitor center and campsite in Skaftafell. Usually we meet in the evening before to introduce ourselves, finalize the plans and hand out the gear.

We begin with steep hiking up the rocky slopes to a flatter section which begins at 700 m and where usually we encounter the first snow. At 1100 m the glacier begins and the way up becomes more gradual. That’s also where we will rope up the team to safely traverse the crevasses hidden under the snow and from this point the rope will accompany us all the way to the top. The edge of the caldera lies at 1800 m and we usually take a break there before crossing it and climbing the summit. The way back is similar.

The whole duration of the trip can vary depending on the conditions and the level of fitness of the group, but typically it falls between 14 and 18 hours. However, longer times are not unusual. The trip is very weather dependent and can only be done in really good conditions – rain and snow and overall lack of visibility are our worst enemy and so is strong wind. Statistically only around 50% of spring days offer weather good enough to attempt this trip. Therefore we will always closely monitor the weather forecast and if we decide it’s not good enough we might offer to change the departure hour or date or cancel the trip entirely up to 3 days prior. Your flexibility can help greatly if that happens.

Important information


No prior glacier experience is required for this trip, however participants must have the fitness and stamina to hike for many hours uphill while carrying a backpack of up to 8 kg. We provide glacier gear such as crampons, ice axe, helmet and a harness as well as ropes and all the emergency and rescue kit, small part of which you might be also expected to carry.  It is absolutely necessary that you bring your own mountaineering boots, well broken in (already worn and tested by you) and different layers of clothes for all kinds of weather conditions – rain, cold or wind. You can see the detailed list of equipment required in the section “What to bring”.

The success of reaching the summit depends on the effort of all participants. We stand by “all for one and one for all” rule and never leave anyone alone to wait on the mountain or hike back. The first priority of your guide will always be your safety, which in such remote conditions could be compromised by many factors you can only recognize from experience. With the best hopes to reach the summit, he will monitor the group and the weather conditions for the whole time and if the situation becomes too risky he will turn around to bring you back safely even if it means abandoning the plan to summit. Such decisions are always difficult and we’re sad when we have to take them, but such is the way of the mountains.

When the trip is cancelled beforehand because of weather we will refund you the whole price of it. However there is no refund issued if we don’t reach the summit due to conditions of weather or participants changing during the trip.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions which might affect the trip you must inform us before the trip. When in doubt we recommend you to consult a doctor. The guide can refuse you to join the trip if it’s obvious that your condition will affect it.

What to bring?

Please contact us if you need advise on purchasing or bringing your gear. Everything that you carry should be reasonably lightweight.
  • Mountaineering boots, well broken in (already worn and tested by you).
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Warm puffy jacket
  • Windproof layer (for example softshell)
  • Thermal underwear
  • Backpack 30-40 liters
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses with UV filter
  • Sunscreen
  • At least 1,5 liter of water
  • Enough snacks and food for the whole day of hiking
  • Recommended – hiking poles

Meeting point:

Sandfell Öræfi


Is there drinking water on the way?

Normally we can refill our water bottles from a stream about an hour after the departure. This is not possible on really cold days. This is pure glacial water and it’s fully drinkable.

How much experience do I need to have to join this tour?

This is a long and strenuous hike which takes you to a remote environment. You have to be fit and experienced enough in hiking to keep walking uphill for many hours. However no technical mountaineering or glacier crossing experience is required – your guide will take care of it.

Is it very steep and exposed?

Most of the hike is very gradual but there are some steeper sections. The exposure is moderate and for most people it is not a problem. There is no rock or ice climbing on this tour.

I have a bad knee (or any other physical condition). Can I still join the tour?

It is generally not recommended to join this trip if you have any condition which can affect it, as it’s a really long hike into a remote area where potential rescue isn’t immediate. We are not doctors to decide for you, therefore we recommend that you consult one if you have any doubts. In the unfortunate case when your condition is clearly affecting your ability to hike we can refuse you to join the trip.

Is there a minimum and maximum age for this trip?

The minimum age is 16 years old however everyone below 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is no maximum age as long as you are fit enough and have no medical conditions that would stop you from joining this trip. If in doubt we recommend you to consult a doctor.