SPOTLIGHT: ICELAND EXPLORER
In October of 2014, Overland Logistics Coordinator Conor Canaday scouted our Iceland Explorer trip. Recently, Tom Costley sat down to talk with him about his experience and the highlights of Iceland Explorer.
Tom Costley: Who should sign up for Iceland Explorer?
Conor Canaday: Active students who are excited to see one of the most beautiful and diverse places in the world should sign up for Iceland Explorer. Iceland is unlike any other place I’ve visited and offers a unique experience for adventurous students. Iceland Explorer is ideal for students who are interested in exploring the country on day hikes, a sea kayak trip and 6-day backpacking route through the island’s interior. It will give you the chance to experience one of the most up and coming tourist destinations in the world in a way that most visitors never see.
Tom Costley: What are three of the trip’s highlights?
1. Exploring Iceland’s west coast alongside an extinct glacier-topped volcano, Snaefellsjokull
2. Paddling along the coast for an overnight expedition by sea kayak
3. Completing Iceland’s most renowned trekking route, the six-day Laugevegur Route
Tom Costley: What is the hiking like?
Conor Canaday: The hiking is moderately challenging; it is perfect for someone who wants to gain hiking experience in a dramatic and unique landscape, but is also appropriate as an introduction to backpacking. Our itinerary starts with day hikes along one of the rugged western peninsulas, where we’ll stretch out our legs and get used to hiking, but also take breaks to enjoy the views along the trail. Due to its proximity to the ocean, the hiking is low elevation (you will not exceed 4,000 feet) and allows the group to experience both the glaciers and coasts of Iceland.
After gearing up for our backcountry hike, we’ll head out on the truly world-class Laugavegur Route. The Laugavegur gives our groups the chance to see and experience Iceland’s wild interior while still remaining on established trails. This trek offers changing scenery every day—from the vibrantly colored hills of Landmannalaugaur at its start to the steaming volcanic vents of Fimmvorduhals Pass and finally the thundering cascades of Skogafoss at its finish. Although it will be a challenge, it is also a great beginners backpacking trip.
Tom Costley: Why is Iceland called “The Land of Fire and Ice”?
Conor Canaday: Locals and tourists call Iceland the Land of Fire and Ice because it offers both extremes; many parts of the island are covered by extinct volcanos topped with glaciers and ice fields, including Vatnajökull, one of Europe’s largest glaciers. We will spend our time hiking in the dramatic valleys created by these geologic phenomenon over the centuries. Although Iceland has notoriously variable weather, it’s not as cold as the name may suggest. Even though the island is just south of the Arctic Circle the ocean current from the south makes the climate temperate with average summertime temperatures in the 50s (and highs up to the 70s).
Tom Costley: What was the highlight of your scouting trip?
Conor Canaday: Honestly it was the variety that each day brought while visiting Iceland. I was constantly surprised by how extraordinary many of the views were around the island. It is a location unlike any other on earth with such big contrasts between the mountains and ocean, the glaciers and towns and views of volcanoes on the horizon. The beautiful rural areas and friendly locals also made me excited to get out and explore each day.