The Glaciers of Iceland

Pre-congress tour to Iceland
Period: June 16 – June 22

*Dates and schedules are subject to change.
**Trip confirmation requires a minimum of 20 participants.

The tour will begin in Reykjavík, with a visit to the Forest Research Centre at Mógilsá which is located on the south slope of Mt Esja and from there we’ll drive along the south-coast, making several stops at scenic attractions along the way, such as the famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull, the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, the black beach at Vík, the national park Skaftafell, where natural birch woodlands, glaciers and Icelandʼs highest mountain can be viewed on clear days.

This trip will take us along the rugged, mountainous landscape of the Eastern fjords and end for a day stay in Fljótsdalshérað, along the banks of Lögurinn (“the Loch”), a glacial meltwater lake with steep, often forested hillsides. There, the tour will visit the headquarters of the Icelandic Forest Service in Egilsstadir. It will also be presented with the state and private forests, mainly of Siberian larch and various forest operations.


Powered by nature

This tour is about discovering the natural beauty and the scientific knowledge about nature in Iceland. As the leading scientific aspect, you will learn about the region’s vegetation history, land use change, and afforestation. At the same time, the main cultural topics are the Sagas (Sturlunga saga), settlement history, mythology, curiosities and other lies about the topics – a rich tour for curious minds seeking knowledge.

The adventure starts at the hotel location. You will stay at the Park Inn By Radisson Reykjavik Keflavik Airport that is located basically on top of the North Atlantic Ridge, which splits Iceland between the North-American and the Eurasian continental plates. Here, the landscape is created by eruptions that have occurred frequently in the last 2 000 years. The surrounding areas offer many activity alternatives. You can spend a few hours at a cafe or hire a car and visit the youngest lava field in Iceland (2021-2022), which is only 20 min drive from the hotel.


Mógilsá, Icelandic Forest Research

The Icelandic Forest Research centre is the research division of the Icelandic Forest Service, and it has a perfect location for its purpose at Mógilsá in the vicinity of Reykjavík.

Since 1967, the division has a focus on the applied forest research on silviculture, growth and yield, and the choice of forest reproductive material. These areas of research are still important. However, forest ecology and management have become increasingly important fields of study with a wide range of topics, including carbon and nutrient cycles, solving establishment problems in afforestation on derelict land, insect pests and pathogens and the effects of afforestation on plant and animal communities. Forest inventory has also increased in importance, not the least due to the need for knowledge about carbon stocks and sequestration. During the visit, there are planned activities, such as an introduction to forest research in Iceland, followed by a short walk in the forest to see what will be presented in theory.


Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir)

To bring a perspective on settlement history and geology, a visit to Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is a must. This National Park is where Iceland’s first parliament (althing) was founded in 930 AD and continued to convene there until 1798. A simple walk among the archaeological remains of this old historic site brings visitors historical facts that shaped Iceland.
This site also has fascinating geology and ecology, with Iceland’s largest natural lake within a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian continental plates depart. In recent decades, research has shown that Thingvellir National Park is a natural wonder of the world, where the geology and ecosystem of Thingvallavatn form a unique whole. Thingvellir National Park area is part of the Atlantic Ocean ridge that runs through Iceland. There you can see the consequences of the erosion of the earth’s crust in the gorges and cracks in the area.

Haukadalur National Forest Photo: Hreinn Óskarsson

Haukadalur National Forest

Haukadalsskógur is one of the most extensive national forests in Southern Iceland and the most planted of Iceland’s national forests. Haukadalsskógur is the most highly cultivated of the national forests in Iceland. Species such as sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, poplar, and larch were introduced to this forest and helped to create a great outdoor area with walking trails for wheelchairs as well.

The Icelandic Forest Service came into possession of Haukadalur in 1940. Haukadalur is a historic place, and Haukdælir, people from Haukadalur, played an important part in the civil war during the age of Sturlunga. One of the oldest wooden churches in Iceland is located in Haukadalur.

In Haukadalur you will enjoy the Icelandic forest, have lunch in this beautiful place, and hear stories about forestry and the civil war in Iceland, among other things.



“Geyser” is one of the few Icelandic words incorporated into the English dictionary, and the word is the Icelandic name of a specific erupting hot spring that is possible to find here, and you will have the chance to visit.

The name Geysir comes from the Icelandic verb geysa (“to gush”). Geysir lies in the Haukadalur valley on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill, which is also the home to Strokkur geyser about 50 metres (160 ft) south. The Geyir eruptions can hurl boiling water up to 70 metres (230 ft) in the air. However, eruptions may be infrequent and have, in the past, stopped altogether for many years at a time. So, the opportunity to see it is a unique lifetime event in many cases.



The glacial rivers of Iceland are majestic. For example, the Hvítá (the White River) has become Iceland’s largest river and has an impressive landscape. The waterfall of Gullfoss was an object of dispute and discussions regarding the value of hydropower versus its natural beauty preservation. From the first half of the 20th century until almost the beginning of the 21st century, much speculation existed about using Gullfoss to generate electricity. During this period, the waterfall was rented indirectly by its owners, Tómas Tómasson and Halldór Halldórsson, to foreign investors. However, the investors’ attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to a lack of money. The waterfall was later sold to the state of Iceland, becoming a protected natural environment.


Reykholt – Friðheimar

The Friðheimar farm uses geothermal energy and lighting from fossil-free electricity to produce vegetables the year around. With short and informative talks on the subject, visitors gain an insight into the processes of greenhouse horticulture. It is remarkable how they grow vegetables in this cold climate by creating warm Mediterranean conditions – all year round through the long dark winter.

This part of the tour will drive through Kjölur, a plateau in the highlands of Iceland, between the glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull. It lies at an elevation of about 600–700 metres. Two scheduled stops are planned, Hveravellir and Blöndulón, but as extra, we will also make one stop in the middle of nowhere.



Seljalandsfoss is a famous waterfall in Iceland, located in the south of the country, and it drops about 60 meters from a rocky cliff. Visitors can walk behind the waterfall, which is illuminated at night, and the winter months create a partially frozen waterfall. The area around Seljalandsfoss has smaller waterfalls and hiking trails that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The waterfall is located along Iceland’s famous Ring Road and is a must-visit destination for those exploring the country by car.


Sólheimajökull – visit a melting glacier

Sólheimajökull is a glacier in southern Iceland that is constantly changing due to the forces of nature, making it a popular destination for visitors. The glacier is 8 kilometers long and up to 1 kilometer wide, with crevasses, ridges, and ice formations that visitors can explore on guided tours. The glacier is also an important scientific site, monitored by researchers studying the effects of climate change.

Visitors should dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes, and guided tours are recommended for safety. Sólheimajökull is a stunning destination that offers the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Iceland’s glaciers and learn about their science.



Vík í Mýrdal, a secluded coastal village located in southern Iceland, is situated near the imposing Mýrdalsjökull glacier that conceals the Katla volcano. The village boasts several notable attractions, including the 1929 wooden church of Reyniskirkja, the striking black pebbled Reynisfjara beach, and the Reynisdrangar rock formations just offshore. Additionally, the cliffs of Reynisfjall mountain serve as a nesting site for a variety of seabirds, including the beloved puffin.
Visitors can explore the nearby Dyrhólaey peninsula, known for its impressive rock arch, and marvel at the stark contrasts in the surrounding natural environment, which include lush green pastures, diverse birdlife, and glacier-fed rivers.


Kötlusteinn við Hjörleifshöfða

Kötlusteinn vid Hjörleifshöfða is a historic monument located in Iceland believed to have been a pagan sacrificial altar during the Viking Age. The catastrophic flood at Hjörleifshöfða occurred in 894 AD and was caused by the eruption of Katla, a volcano located under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in south Iceland.


Hjörleifshöfði, where the monument stands, was inhabited until 1936 and is a tuya cliff, a unique type of steep-sided volcano formed when lava erupts through thick glaciers or ice sheets. The area is named after Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, Ingólfur Arnarson’s stepbrother, who was killed along with his men by Irish slaves, and includes a mound where Hjörleifur is believed to be buried.

The southernmost point of mainland Iceland, Kötlutangi, was formed from a large eruption in 1918 and is located south of Hjörleifshöfði. Today, the area is part of the Katla UNESCO Global Geopark and a popular tourist destination.

Lundur Dalbæjarbóndans

The vast Eldhraun lava field in the south of the Icelandic highlands, was created in one of the greatest eruptions in recorded history and is of the largest of its kind in the world.

This eruption lasted from 1783 to 1784 and is known as the Skaftáreldar (The Skaftá River Fires). This was a cataclysmic event for Iceland and beyond. In Iceland, it lead to disease, crop failure and disasters.

The eruption affected Europe as well. In Great Britain, that summer is known as the Sand-Summer in Great Britain due to the fallout of ash and it is believed that the airborne haze and blocking of sunlight may have contributed to the French Revolution.

In the middle of Eldhraun is a small forest grove that was planted around 1975 by Guðmund Sveinssson. At that time, few believed that trees could grow in Iceland, let alone in the middle of lava. Guðmundur was an enthusiast, and he planted pine, larch, spruce and birch, which have grown well and are beginning to self-regenerate.


Kirkjubæjarklaustur and the tallest tree in Iceland

Kirkjubæjarklaustur is a small village in southern Iceland that has a fascinating history predating the Norse settlement. The area was allegedly settled by Irish monks and was strictly Christian. The village’s name means “church-farm-convent,” and it was named after the Benedictine nuns who settled there in the 12th century.


Landmarks such as Sister’s Rock, Systrafoss waterfall, and Systravatn lake are named after the nuns, and the convent’s history is filled with tales of heresy, superstition, and death, including the execution of two nuns accused of sinful behavior. One of the nuns was later vindicated, and her grave is said to bloom with flowers while the other’s remains barren. Today, Klaustur is the only center of population in the district with approximately 150 inhabitants.

In Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a Sitka spruce tree was planted in 1949 and has now grown to be the tallest tree in Iceland at a height of 27 meters (88.5 ft). This particular type of evergreen tree, the Sitka spruce, is known for its impressive growth potential, with the ability to reach nearly 100 meters (330 ft) in height.


Jökulsárlón – visit the crystal beach and glacial lagoon

Jokulsarlon, which means “Glacier’s River Lagoon,” is a natural wonder located south of Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe. The lagoon formed from melted glacial water, and the retreating glacier demonstrates the effects of global warming, as it visibly shrinks each year. Icebergs that break off from the glacier float in the lagoon and slowly melt, creating unique ice sculptures that wash ashore on the nearby black beach called Breidamerkursandur, also known as the Diamond Beach.

Jokulsarlon is part of Iceland’s largest national park and attracts visitors year-round to witness the free-flowing icebergs, explore the lagoon on boat tours, and observe the local wildlife, including seals and various bird species.



Djúpivogur is a charming coastal village located on the Búlandsnes peninsula in eastern Iceland, with a population of about 400 people. The town’s economy has relied on fishing for centuries, but in recent times, the tourism industry has flourished, offering visitors a hotel, restaurants, cafés, a campground and shops. Djúpivogur has a rich history of trading, dating back to 1589, and its oldest warehouse, Langabúð, now serves as the town’s cultural center, featuring the Heritage Museum and the impressive sculptures of Ríkarður Jónsson.


The town also boasts excellent sports facilities, a swimming pool, museums, and a garden of outdoor sculptures named Eggin in Gleðivík. The area is dominated by Búlandstindur, a pyramid-shaped basalt mountain, known for its stunning beauty and local folklore that it can grant wishes during the summer solstice.

Djúpivogur is home to the public artwork called ‘The Eggs of Merry Bay’ where replicas of the eggs of the 32 birds that nest in the area line the shore. Finally, Djúpivogur is also the only ‘Cittaslow’ town in the country, promoting a relaxed, slow-paced lifestyle for personal and environmental health.



Hallormsstaður is one of Iceland’s biggest forests, originally one of the last big birchwoods in Iceland saved from eradication at the turn of the 20th century. The forest covers 740 hectares, most of which is native birch. The forest is a popular recreational area featuring camping sites, marked hiking trails and an arboretum.
We will visit Mörkin, where forestry in Hallormsstaður began in 1903, and meet the forest ranger who will tell us about the work done by Icelandic Forest Service. We will walk through the arboretum, which is unique in Iceland, comprising a collection of around 80 tree species. The trees originate from various places in the world – and besides trees, there are also various species of shrubs.

Through the years single trees and groups of various species of trees have been planted in the Mörk. This Arboretum is already the most impressive in the country and people get a good opportunity to see both common and rare species. Here it is also great for hiking or strolling. There are well-marked trails (in different colours) throughout much of the surrounding woodland.



Skriðuklaustur is a historical site with the ruins of a 16th-century monastery revealed by an archaeological excavation between 2002 and 2012. Here, you also find the mansion of the famous Icelandic writer Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889–1975), built-in 1939 when he returned home after living in Denmark for more than 30 years. The mansion is now a centre of culture & history with exhibitions, guided tours and the renowned restaurant Klausturkaffi.


Vök Baths

Vök Baths have floating geothermal pools with an infinity view, two on-shore hot pools, a sauna, a cold water spray tunnel, a tea bar, an in-water pool bar, and a restaurant.

It opened in July 2019 and boasted a serene geothermal floating pool collection on the gorgeous Lake Urriðavatn in East Iceland. Geothermal heat was discovered in the area a while back when people living around the lake noticed a particular spot that curiously did not freeze in the wintertime. Now this is one of most popular sites in Iceland.

Droplaugarstaðir – visit to a forest farm

Lárus Heiðarsson, the owner of Droplaugarstaðir farm graduated from the Forest Engineering (BSc) program from Tammisaari Metsäoppilaitos in 1998. Subsequently, the family moves to Fljótsdalshérað in east Iceland and acquires the farm Droplaugarstaðir in 2004. The owner then graduated with a master’s degree in forestry (MSc) in 2014. Along with being a forest farmer, the owner works for the Forest Service in Iceland.


Forestry at Droplaugarstaðir begins in 1989 when former owners participate in the Fljótsdalur forestry program and a contract was made to plant in 98 hectares. In 2006, the forestry area was expanded to 199 hectares, of which about 20 hectares are wetland that cannot be planted and grass fields of about 5 hectares. About 111 hectares have now been planted, of which about 90 hectares are larch. The work of recent years has mainly been pre-commercial thinning’s of the forest.