Iceland Traverse



Explore the land of fire and ice in the most intimate way, traversing Iceland by mountain bike. Form part of an expedition team riding this iconic and pristine landscape.


A guided, expedition style adventure, traversing Iceland from cost to coast. The route is only accessible for approximate 40 days during summer when the winter snow has receded enough to allow riders to cross on normal spec, dual suspension mountain bikes. Hence the August timing.

A highly specialised vehicle, especially adapted for the Icelandic terrain will be our support truck so that riders can focus on their quality of riding and exploring this unique terrain. Carrying equipment, camping gear, food and supplies, our support team meets us at overnight stops every day. Think Icelandic lamb stew, salmon and caviar sandwiches to fuel you each day for the journey ahead.

This is a true expedition in every sense of the word. Living arrangements will be in remote huts or tents pitched in places usually only visible from aircraft windows. To ensure our safety in the testing conditions, fluctuating weather and hard riding, we will need to work as a team. This trip is the real deal and will require your total commitment; body, mind and spirit. Are you in?


Start with your back wheel in the Arctic ocean and ride with your front wheel into the Atlantic. That and a whole lot of unforgettable adventure in between is what this trip is about. It is a ride consisting of steep climbs, downhill, trail and cross country riding. Crossing glacial rivers and managing a fair share of hike-a-bike terrain sections, is often the order of the day.

The solitude, absolute pristine and the privilege to ride in this iconic destination makes every challenge worthwhile. The variety of terrain never stops as your tires roll over hard pack, volcanic rock, pumice, snow fields and sandy grit. A 670km journey through one of the most unique, remote and untouched parts of the world.



15 August 2019 – 26 August 2019
(snow-fall dependent)


12 Days | 11 Nights

Start Location:


End Location:


Approximate Distance:

670 km

Group Size:

8 - 12 Riders

Skill Level:

Level 5 Fitness
Level 3 Technical
Level 5 Adventure


All Terrain | XC

Land Cost:

€ 6100 / per person



Traverse Iceland coast to coast from the Jökulsárgljúfur in the North East to North East to Skógafoss in the South West across the Icelandic Highlands

Experience the land of fire and ice in the most intimate way, from your bike

Cycle across ice fields , over mountain-ranges and lunar landscapes

Soak in natural hot springs and warm rivers

Experience true solitude in breathtaking landscapes from a different world, while taking in spectacular waterfalls, rivers and landscapes

A real expedition, not for the faint at heart, requiring total commitment

Extremes in weather and terrain that will test you physically and mentally and increase capacity

Visit the interesting and culturally rich city of Reykjavik

Become part of an elite few to have accomplished this extraordinary ride

Iceland, suspended between two continents, is an island under construction. A landmass that rises from the sea. Like an ancient alchemists laboratory with fire-spitting volcanoes and flowing rivers, it is torn by glaciers older than time itself.

A place of extremes, sculpted by nature’s powers. It grunts its invitation to the adventurous in a primitive dialect of hissing winds, echoing thunder and cascading waterfalls. Iceland. A geological drama unfolding, the land of fire and ice. Get on your bike and join the play!





Arrival in Reykjavik


We arrive in the northern most capital of the world – Reykjavik, Iceland. After transfer to the hotel, we unpack our bikes and go for a short test ride to explore the city.



Reykjavik > Jökulsárgljúfur National Park


We will be up for an early start, meet the rest of the expedition team and shortly after breakfast we load the gear and start the breath taking 6 hour drive from Reykjavik to Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, the start of our coast to coast adventure.



Jökulsárgljúfur National Park > Dettifoss > Elífsvötn, Mountain lake


Our expedition starts at the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park situated in a horseshoe-shaped canyon. Once we’ve reached the lookout point we continue crossing a moor until we reach the namesake of the park, the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, with the Jökulsá River growling at the bottom. We follow the canyon, passing Rauðhólar crater row, with its intensive red and black scoria colors. Continuing on, we pass the echo cliffs of Hljóðaklettar just before reaching Vesturdalur valley. We continue following the canyon until we reach its conclusion at Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. From there we leave the river behind, crossing a rocky plain, hearty plateau and along the beautiful mountain lake Elífsvötn, where we will camp at its far end for the night.



Elífsvötn > Ódáðahraun


A long day’s cycling lies ahead as we take on some of the strangest and most moon-like days of the trip, crossing the most recent black lava field of the Krafla volcano. Riding through red craters, melted stone and muddy hot-springs, until we arrive in the little village of Reykjahlíð at the border of the famous lake Mývatn. From there we head to the other side of the lake, passing unique places like the explosive crater Hverfjall and the strange pillars of Dimmuborgir. Following the river Kraká we slowly enter the highlands, leaving all habitable land behind us. A marked decrease in bird-life and vegetation noticeable as we leave the river, crossing the plains, with mountains rising slowly at the horizon. After traversing some more old lava fields we arrive at the edge of the great lava and sand desert Ódáðahraun, where we will spend our second night in a small hut.



Ódáðahraun > Askja > Öskjuvatn Lake


Rugged, barren, desolate, hostile, moonlike are few of the words that come to one’s mind crossing the black desert of Ódáðahraun. We continue towards an even more Tolkien-like landscape of Dyngjufjalladalur, where we find like the day before, the warmth of a hut where we will enjoy our lunch. We continue by climbing slope after slope of the great Dyngjufjöll Mountains until we reach the magnificent Askja caldera. Passing the crater Víti and some steaming hot springs, we traverse the caldera to reach the famous Öskjuvatn Lake. From there we climb the slopes on the other side where we enjoy an excellent view over the lake and caldera and some of Iceland’s most majestic mountains Herðubreið and Snæfell, where once we’ve descended, we will overnight at a campsite and some huts.



Askja > Svartá river > Vatnajökull glacier > Kistufell mountain


Day six is a rest day of sorts, because we don’t start riding until mid-day. Entering a desert of black sand just north of Askja, known for a peculiar green moss, we traverse into the Oasis of Svartá river, in the middle of black sand dunes. After drinking our fill and filling up all water bottles, we continue crossing the black desert, now with Vatnajökull glacier on the left and the Askja caldera on the right. After the sand desert, the landscape becomes more hilly and rugged. We navigate a small lava field and mount an old shield Volcano Urðarháls, one of the deeper craters in Iceland. Never far away from the Vatnajökull glacier we reach the rugged emergency hut of Kistufell Mountain where we stay the night.



Gæsavötn > Hágönguhraun > Sylgjufell


Like the days before, this one is as deserted as it gets. Not a single plant, not even a lump of moss peaks out of the black sand. Traversing an occasional glacial stream and passing an old crater row we continue until we come to the oasis Gæsavötn. Further on we enter a vast pass called Vonarskarð (Pass of Hope). This pass was formed by the glacier and subglacial eruptions; these landscapes take on a new dimension, different from what we have seen thus far. The geology is conditioned by the calderas, with considerable geothermal activity, since directly underneath the eastern caldera the Icelandic “Hot Spot” is to be found. We traverse the vast pass, over to the valley Snapadalur, with its hot springs and solfataras, until we reach rhyolite mountains, which unlike basaltic mountains offer bright colours of great variety. Descending further to the source of the Kaldakvísl River and heading onto the glacier. On the other side of the glacier the River Sveðja poses one of the most complicated obstructions of this journey. Once on the other side of the river we enter into the lava field of Hágönguhraun and continue south to our hut at Sylgjufell.



Tröllahraun > Sveinstindur hut


This is a big day. Before we head into Tröllahraun, also known as the “Lava of Trolls“, we cross the Sylgja River to witness the aftermath of recent lava flow with its strange images. We continue south, passing through the sand blown lava to Tungnaárbotnar, changing direction and turning west along the Jökulgrindur mountain ridge. Crossing the big Tungnaá river, demands special techniques and a considerable amount of time. Once we’ve crossed the various riverbeds and have dried our feet, we head out between the glacier and Grænifjallgarður mountain range, ascending the windblown hills of tuff and sand. Opening up before us is one of the most spectacular places in Iceland where, once we’ve enjoyed the scenery we head down to the white-blue lake of Langisjór. We round the eastern end of Langisjór heading into the hills of Fögrufjöll. Multiple craters and small lakes in between these hills create extraordinary forms, reflecting in water and entertaining the eyes with gorgeous colors and contrasts. Passing at the foot of the Sveinstindur peak, we end our day at the Sveinstindur hut.



Skaftá River > Strútur hut


On Day 9 we head out along the Skaftá River. Climbing the Uxatindar peaks towering over the river rapids and a canyon, enjoying the views to the Lakagígar crater rows on the other side of the river. The landscape is spectacular, tall palagonite cliffs and a series of labyrinth gulleys cut into thick tephra layers. These are the outskirts of the big volcanic fissure Eldgjá canyon heading towards Lambaskarðshólar. From there we climb up old lava, passing beautiful waterfalls and then a green valley with occasional openings in the Eldgjá fissure. We follow the river Syðri Ófæra that drains from the glacier Torfajökull through rolling green hills. We continue along the river Syðri Ófæra crossing the Canyon of Fire, Eldgjá. After rounding the massif of Svartahnjúksfjöll we come to the river Hólmsá and its lagoon. After crossing it, we will warm ourselves in the natural pool Strútslaug, on the other side, we overnight at Strútur hut.



Strutur > Mýrdalsjökull glacier > Þórsmörk


Leaving Strutur we set out for the day´s ride along the Mýrdalssandur. The black volcanic sand plain, hemmed in by the icecap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier to the south and the Torfajökull rhyolite massif to the north where the mystical palagonite landscape of Hvanngil valley greets us. Passing at the foot of the green conic volcano of Stórasúla before entering the black deserts of Mælifellssandur, we enter the Emstrur region where farmers used to graze their sheep in summer. En-route to the Botnar hut, we visit the magnificent Markarfljót canyon cut almost 200 m down into the rocks south of Hattfell. Here the great Mýrdalsjökull glacier rises only a couple of kilometers away. At the end of the day the vegetation starts to grow thicker and higher as we descend in to Þórsmörk’s (the woods of Thor) green valleys filled with arctic birch forests and colorful flowers, overnighting in Þórsmörk.



Þórsmörk > Skógafoss > Transfer to Reykjavik


Leaving Þórsmörk we enter the magic landscapes of Goðalönd – abode of the Gods – with its ridges and cliffs covered by flowers and grasses. We continue up the hills leading to the pass of Fimmvörðuháls, ridining along the Kattarhryggir ridges with views to the impressive mountain of Útigönguhöfði up to Morinsheiði heath with its steaming lava fields. We cross the brand new lava just at the foot of the magnificent red craters, through places where the lava is almost glowing, warm inside the cracks on its surface. After crossing safely we head down to Skógar where we will take a break at the hut. Heading out again we reach the Skógaá River and follow it, exploring its many hidden gorges, and waterfalls all the way to the famous Skógafoss waterfall. Now, the coast seems to be within arm´s reach and you can almost feel the surf on your cheeks. Arriving at Skógafoss and riding down to the black beach finishing the coast to coast ride. Transfer back to Reykjavik.



Flights out


Departure from Reykjavik – memories and an epic adventure in the bag, heading home.


  • 12 Day guided mountain bike expedition across Iceland
  • Specialised support vehicle for the full duration of the expedition
  • Airport pick-up and transfers to & from Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Transfer as per itinerary on day 2 (Reykjavik to Öxarfjörður)
  • Transfer as per itinerary on day 11 (Skógafoss to Reykjavik)
  • Qualified & experienced Guides
  • 2 Nights hotel accommodation in Reykjavik
  • Hut accommodation 8 nights
  • All expedition meals (10 Breakfasts, 10 Lunch & 11 Dinners)
  • Pre & post expedition dinner
  • Group camping equipment
  • Mechanical support and bike maintenance on-route
  • Expedition MTB apparel kit to value of R 3000
  • Access fees and riding permits



  • Flights to and from Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Alcoholic / Non Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel, activity and medical insurance
  • Bike hire
  • Personal cycling & camping equipment
  • Spending money & tips
  • Any cost outside the itinerary


  • Onbike offers additional services on equipment, training and expedition consultation