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 Iceland

Hornstrandir Traverse

4

A three-day wilderness hiking and luxury camping trip in the astonishing Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, north-west Iceland, where nature has ruled the land for the last 70 years. Experience the sheer cliffs of Hornbjarg, rich birdlife, Arctic Foxes, and wild flora while camping at our comfortable base camp.

Itinerary

Day 1: Hike from Veiðileysufjörður to Hornvík

After travelling from Reykjavik to Ísafjörður, meet your guide at our office in Aðalstræti 17 (downtown main street). We meet one hour before departure at 8:00 AM so we can answer any questions and make final preparations. Then, we depart from Ísafjörður harbor on our ferry to Veiðileysufjörður, enjoying a 1-2 hour ride where we might spot whales!

We hike to Hornvík via Hafnarskarð Pass (520 meters) for stunning views of Hornvik Bay. After enjoying the views from the top, we start to descend to our basecamp for a delicious home-cooked meal.

Distance: 12km | Altitude gain: 550m

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Day 2: Hike to Látravík

After a hearty breakfast, we hike over Kýrskard Pass to Látravík lighthouse for lunch amidst rugged scenery. Continuing along cliffs through Almenningar Pass, we enjoy panoramic views of Hornvík bay and may spot Arctic foxes near their dens!

Our journey takes us to Drífandi waterfall, where tales of polar bear encounters unfold. These bears brave challenging swims from Greenland to these bays, struggling for survival in an unforgiving environment. Returning full circle, we unwind with a delicious dinner and rest at our base camp.

Distance: 15km | Altitude gain: 500m

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Day 3: Hike up to Hornbjarg bird cliffs

Today we take our backpacks with us and start early to hike to the old farm of Horn, then climb Hornbjarg bird cliffs. The view from Horn's tip is stunning, overlooking the entire bay. We continue along the grassy slope beside the cliffs to Mt. Miðfell, where in summer we enjoy watching thousands of nesting birds flying around us.

We then descend to Miðdalur Valley, where locals once climbed down ropes for eggs. Passing by a lake inhabited by swans, we cross Múli's ridge before heading back to the farm.

We say goodbye to Hornvik and its foxes as we board the boat around 2:00 PM for our journey back to Ísafjörður.

Distance: 14km | Altitude gain: 450m

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What's Included

Included
  • Boat ride to and from Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
  • All food during the trip (3 x lunches, 2 x breakfasts, 2 x dinners).
  • Accommodation at our comfortable basecamp.
  • Professional guide.
Not Included
  • Travel to and from Ísafjörður (the meeting point).
  • Breakfast on the first day.
  • Personal & medical insurance (strongly recommended).
  • Personal equipment and clothing.
Have a question?

If you have any questions about this trip or want to speak with an expert, get in touch.

We're ready to help.

Team Images
Team Images
Team Images

Rated 5.0

4 verified reviews

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

(Sep 2024)

Literally my favorite three day hike ever. I've hiked on 5 continents over 40 years and never had an experience this great. The scenery, logistical support and overall vibe of the experience Borea provided was off the charts great. You start with a lovely boat ride up to the Arctic Circle and are dropped off in a bay that feels further away from civilization than you've ever been. Six hours of amazing hiking later you come to a backcountry camp with your tents already pitched, greeted by warm drinks in a communal gathering/cook/dining tent. Your next day starts with a great breakfast, and after getting a pack lunch, you're off again for a loop in the remote Westfjords. After a great dinner at camp and breakfast the next morning, you traverse a serious pass to an entirely different fjord/watershed and hike down to the water where a boat picks you up for the return to civilization. Each night was filled with great chat and tales of other backcountry adventures, thoroughly entertaining. We happened to share the camp (and the boat ride) with a BBC film crew who were filming a documentary on the mating rituals of the Arctic fox, and I came back from my trip learning all sorts of stuff from my fellow campers. I can’t say enough about this experience, highly recommended.

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Katie
Katie

(Sep 2023)

Our family of 5 adults (3 grown kids) did the Hornstrandir Traverse trip with Borea Adventures and it was absolutely spectacular! The weather was great, so that definitely helped, but we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We were in a group of 11 hikers and Luke and Sheriden were our guides and they were wonderful. Great fun, so full of information and knowledge about the area, the wildlife, and instilled much-needed confidence in our entire group.

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Taryl
Taryl

(Jun 2023)

Very professional and experienced operation. The very best way to see Hornstrandir. Friendly, knowledgeable, helpful guides. Highly recommend

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Whitney
Whitney

(Jun 2023)

We did the 3 day Traverse hike and loved it. Our guide (Vala) was awesome, and super knowledgeable about the area. We saw so much beautiful nature and quite a few Arctic Foxes! Also, the food was really good at the base camp.

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FAQs

Before you go

You fly into Reykjavic (the capital city of Iceland) and will arrive in Keflavik International Airport (KEF) about 40 minutes away from the city centre. From there, you will need to head to Reykjavik domestic airport (RKV) for a connecting flight to Ísafjörður. You can take the Fly-Bus between the airports and most of the time you can continue on the same day. From this domestic airport, there are 2-3 daily 40-minute flights to Isafjordur. Check out Air Iceland Connect for schedules and special offers. You can also rent a car and drive to Isafjordur. The drive, over mountain passes and through fjords, is an adventure in itself! It’s about 440-500 km depending on which route you take. A new road via Arnkötludalur opened in 2009, which completes the asphalted pathway the whole way and kills the old myth of bad roads in the Westfjords! The drive will normally take you 5-6 hours. A new tunnel opened in September 2020 under the infamous mountain pass between the fjords of Arnarfjörður and Dýrafjörður. That tunnel makes it much easier to travel through the Westfjords all year round and shortens the route up the west coast. For accommodation in Reykjavik, there are many options of hotels and guesthouses that we can book for groups. Please ask us for individual bookings. We strongly recommend you spend a few extra days visiting the West Iceland Fjords and other parts of Iceland. We’re happy to help you arrange a few days in the area or give you good tips about exciting things to do while in Iceland.

The hike is approximately 35km in total and we hike trails most of the way. However, there are rough sections of the trail, including loose rocks and compact snow. If you are an active and regular hiker, especially if you’re used to some elevation, then you will have no trouble on this hike. It is always best to do some practice hikes in your local area anyway!

Remember that everything you bring, you will have to carry on your back for one day. Try to pack as light as possible while still bringing everything you need. Please note that we provide the tents, sleeping bag, mattress and pillow and you will not need to carry any of this with you. However, you will need to bring your own sleeping bag liner and pillow cover. KIT LIST: - 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 - Waterproof jacket and pants - Hiking boots. Please use waterproof high-top hiking boots, which provide ankle support - Thin neoprene socks are nice to have for crossing rivers. It keeps your toes warm. Light water shoes will also work - Light towel - Hat and gloves - Small backpack. Sufficient size is 35-45 Litres - Hiking poles (come in handy if your balance is not perfect and you’re not used to hiking in rocky terrain) - Personal medical kit i.e. band aids, throat lozenges, lip salves, seasickness tablets, etc - Personal medication (e.g. Asthma inhaler, even if you don’t always need it) - Sunglasses - Sunscreen and after sun cream - Binoculars (optional BUT nice to have for watching wildlife) - Water bottle - Sleeping bag liner and pillow cover - Don’t forget your camera!

While we strive to provide individual tents for single participants, our camping setup typically features double tents. If all tents at the camp are fully booked, we may not be able to offer a single supplement. However, if a guest prefers a single tent, we kindly request that they notify us in advance. We can accommodate this request by providing an extra tent from our storage in Isafjördur.

While our minimum age requirement is 16 years, we do consider exceptions for younger hikers who are highly experienced, enjoy hiking, and demonstrate appropriate fitness levels. Please feel free to submit a special request outlining your child's hiking experience and fitness level for our review.

In our itinerary, we note that we aim to depart Hornvik at 2:00 PM and typically arrive in Ísafjörður around 4:00 PM. However, weather conditions may occasionally necessitate rearranging the tour itinerary, potentially leading to a later arrival in Ísafjörður. For this reason, we highly recommend booking accommodations in Ísafjörður or nearby towns for the night after the trip, ensuring you have flexibility in your travel plans.

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 specific dietary requirements. Please let us know ahead of time if you have any requirements so that we can plan the food accordingly. You can indicate this on your Trip Form under your booking. For vegan and gluten free, we charge an extra fee of approx. 35€ (5000 ISK) which will be paid directly to us in the office on the first day.

On your trip

Our meals offer a taste of Icelandic cuisine and are designed to keep you energized throughout the day. For dinner, we typically alternate between Icelandic lamb and fish, complemented by a choice of two sides. Lunch consists of sandwiches prepared by guests during breakfast, along with trail mix for a quick and satisfying meal on the go. Breakfast is a hearty buffet featuring bread, spreads, meats, cheese, yogurt, and cereal. Some of our guides like to treat guests to delicious pancakes for breakfast as well. Please let us know ahead of time if you have any requirements so that we can plan the food accordingly. For vegan and gluten-free, we charge an extra fee of approximately 35€ (5000 ISK), which will be paid directly to us in the office on the first day.

Guests stay in spacious double tents furnished with sleeping cots, mats, sleeping bags, pillows, and woollen blankets for added warmth. The heart of our camp is a heated communal tent where delicious meals are prepared and served. For convenience, there are two flush toilets with sinks and running water located near the basecamp. There is an additional outdoor toilet, commonly known as a pit toilet, on the campgrounds.

No need to carry any camping gear. Everything will be waiting for you in Hornvík. Please bring your own sleeping bag liner and pillow cover, though. Please note that you will have to carry all your personal items on the last day of hiking. So, try to pack light.

Yes, we do. But it’s only a very slow flowing river with sand floor. The water goes up to your knee and it’s not difficult at all. It’s cold, so we recommend wearing something like thin neoprene socks or water shoes.

The minimum group size is 2 people. The maximum group size is 10 people. We typically have group sizes of 4 to 6.

Other FAQs

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 leather boots or nylon versions with Gore Tex.

Gamla Guesthouse E-Mail: Lobby@gistihus.is Phone: +354 456-4111 Address: Mánagata 5 400 Ísafjörður Hotel Isafjördur E-Mail: Lobby@hotelhorn.is Phone: +354 456-4111 Address: Silfurtorg 2 400 Ísafjörður The Ísafjörður Inn Phone: +354 776-3131 Address: Sundstræti 43 400 Ísafjörður There are several accommodations situated in the charming little towns of Flateyri and Sudureyri, just a 20-minute drive away from Isafjördur.

Although we usually stick with the described itinerary, this is only a guide and is subject to change depending on the weather, sea conditions and the ability of the guests.

We often see Arctic Foxes on this tour. Because hunting is banned in Hornstrandir, 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.

Your head guide is Nicole

All trips on Skyhook are run by small, hand-picked local guiding companies. For this trip your guides run Borea Adventures, based in Safj R Ur.

By booking through Skyhook you'll be joining a small-group trip. This can make it nice and sociable (you'll be added to a group chat after booking), and guarantees great value for money!

Nicole