An epic sailing and hiking adventure to the world’s most northerly volcanic island.

Take a step outside your comfort zone join us on an expedition of a lifetime to sail to the remote island of Jan Mayen. We will spend a week ashore camping and exploring the island with the possiblity of climbing the highest peak on the island, mount Beerenberg at 2,277m.

This trip is aimed at people seeking a genuine expedition adventure to land on one of the least visited islands on earth. Good levels of physical fitness are required.

Highlights:

  • A unique and highly adventurous trip to land on one of the least visited islands on earth.
  • Experience an epic ocean sailing crossing from Iceland to Jan Mayen.
  • Set up a camp ashore.
  • Hike and explore the remote, volcanic landscapes.
  • For expereinced mountaineers it may be possible to climb Mount Beerenberg.
  • Warm and comfotable expedition yacht with deckhouse and just 10 other guests.

Key Information

Departure Location Isafjordur, Iceland
Arrival Location Isafjordur, Iceland
Trip StyleSailing, Hiking and Exploration
Physical RatingModerate
Maximum Group Size10
AccommodationBunk Beds in 4 or 2 Person Cabins and Tents
Duration13 Days / 12 Nights
Time of YearSummer
Included
Not Included

The Voyage & What To Expect

An expedition to Jan Mayen is almost guaranteed to be challenging. First of all, even though the dates we choose normally give us the best odds for good weather, the North Atlantic can be stormy any time of the year and we do not know when we can start our trip from Iceland or how long or how difficult the sail will be.

Secondly the landing on the island can be a problem as there are no protected harbours and there is often heavy surf on the beaches.

Thirdly the weather on Jan Mayen is highly unpredictable, often with high winds and rain or fog. But for those looking for an exciting and adventurous expedition to an exclusive destination visited by only a handful of tourists annually, Jan Mayen is certainly it! While the island’s setting can come across as daunting, this is an expedition suitable for anyone in search of a true adventure off the beaten path.

We have been exploring this majestic island for many years. With numerous expeditions under our belt and many successful ascents of Beerenberg, we are the world’s most experienced operator of trips to Jan Mayen.

Each year we undertake exclusive expeditions to this spectacular place and can only accommodate a few seats annually. This is true exploration.

jan mayen hiking

Join a group of like-minded explorers 

We will sail from Ísafjörour on the North West coast of Iceland on our sturdy expedition sailboat, cross the Arctic sea and make landfall in Kvalrossbukta (Walrus bay) on Jan Mayen’s northwest coast. When we arrive in Jan Mayen, the group will move to a base camp on the island and prepare to spend approximately a week exploring the island´s fantastic landscape. The reason for us not to stay onboard Arktika is that the landing conditions can quickly change for the worse and we may not be able to move between the boat and land as we like.

All participants will be expected to join in the base-camp chores – cooking, cleaning etc. For hardy mountaineers, it may be possible to climb Mt Beerenberg (2277m), the world’s most northerly active volcano. This volcano last erupted in 1985. The climb can be a serious arctic mountaineering feat, depending on weather and conditions on the peak. While under good conditions, it is technically easy, it is a long and strenuous glacier climb and it will always be necessary to rope up on the crevassed glacier. Experience of glacier travel and especially long strenuous ascents is necessary as well as good personal clothing and mountaineering gear.

jan mayen exploration

Jan Mayen Expedition Plan

The final itinerary only gets decided upon after setting sail from the Ísafjörour harbour. We take into account weather and other conditions and always look for the best possible option. What is assured is that each trip will be a little bit different. The following description gives an idea of how a day-to-day plan might materialize.

Day 1

Our expedition sailboat departs from Ísafjörour at 7pm, weather permitting. The sailing time to Jan Mayen is normally 2 -3 days – can be a bit longer in strong contrary winds! If the weather is not in our favour, we may delay our departure and shelter in the beautiful fjords of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve where we can do some hiking and/or kayaking.

Day 2-3

At sea, enroute to Jan Mayen. We will keep a sharp lookout for various species of whales such as Humpbacks, Fin Whales and Bottlenose Whale. White Beaked Dolphins are also likely to join us and play around the bow of the boat.

Day 4

Even though Jan Mayen is often covered in clouds, it is possible that we may spot the 2277m tall peak of Beerenberg from a good distance, sticking up above the low clouds. We will arrive along the south island (“Sør-Jan”) and pass the “Seven skerries” rocks, made famous when the legendary British sailor and mountaineer Bill Tillman ran his ex Bristol pilot cutter Mischief on them in 1968.

While we cruise along the coast we will get a good view of the landscape, the volcanic geology and some of our proposed destinations.

Our aim is to anchor in Kvalrossbukta and, depending on sea conditions; we may either spend one more night on the boat or start moving our gear to shore to establish base camp. We will provide a common kitchen/mess-tent and smaller tents to sleep in.

Day 5

Today we explore Kvalrossbukta and its surroundings. The Jan Mayen station uses Kvalrossbukta to land supplies and, thus has a few small buildings along the bay. Less visible, but relatively easy to find, are remains from the whale hunting period of the 1600s. Between large quantities of driftwood we can spot old whale bones, and on the north side of the bay, the rest of the station stands out of the sand. Beneath the mountain and in the south, a single cross marks the burial place from the first over-wintering on the island in the 1600s, when the seven Dutch whalers that were guarding the facilities against the English died before their relief party arrived in the spring.

“Kvalrossen” (the Walrus) is a steep cliff that separates Kvalrossbukta from Haugenstranda (Haugen beach). It only takes about half an hour to climb it, after which you are awarded with a good view to the north and the south. This cliff is home to Northern Fulmar, Guillemots and Auks.

We´ll also walk down to the great Haugenstranda and towards the strange looking pinnacles of “Brielle-Tower” and “Katten” (the Cat).

Day 6

Over the Karl-Stephan peak to the Olonkin station. This is a central mountain on the island which affords great views. We´ll walk up the hill behind the Walrus and onto a gradually ascending plateau on the middle of the island. On the way we will pass the strange crater of “Holtanna” (“Tooth with a hole in it”). While views pervade the entire walk, the scenery really opens up as we climb the last bit to the top (551m).

The summit gives a good overview of the whole island and areas that we may want to visit in the coming days. While the view is at times obstructed by low clouds or fog, often we can climb above the fog and into sun higher up!

Day 7

Hike over “Pukkelryggen” (The humpback) and “Danielsen-crater” to “Gamlemetten” (Old met station) and back.

Jan Mayen is only three kilometre wide in the middle, where it is mostly sand. A small mountain ridge stands between the sandy beaches. We will follow the road to “Blåsåsen” (Blow hill / windy hill) and then follow the mountain ridge. There will be fantastic views along the whole route. The highest point is Danielsens crater (279m).

On the way down we will walk past remains of a German WWII FockeWulff airplane that crashed here during the war. Further along we will visit the idyllic bay of Marie Musch where the Austrians established their research station during the first International Polar Year of 1882-83, some remains including a grave are still there. From here we continue over “Bommen” in front of the Northern Lagoon to “Atlantic City,” where an American radio station was hosted during WWII. We´ll arrive at “Gamlemetten” —the old meteorology station—where a few, well-maintained buildings exist. The location is incredible, on top of a cliff facing the Arctic Ocean. Yet, this is also a tough place for weather, and it is here where the most persistent and strongest winds on the island have been recorded (and that includes all of Norway).

jan mayen hiking expedition

Day 8

Hike out of Kvalrossbukta to where we will use a fixed rope for added safety down a steep section of small rocks and gravel towards another small beach. We continue on the beach south to the small hunter’s cabin of Olsbu. This is one of many huts that were used by hunters in the 1900s. We´ll continue through “Sjuhollenderbukta” or the bay of the seven Dutchmen, where the station has one cabin. Further south, we will walk on solid sand until the terrain gets more challenging towards the symmetrical Richter crater. The crater is only 108 meter high but gives a nice view over the surroundings. “Helheimen” (Hell / Hellhome) is a labyrinth of moss-covered lava formations, so even though it looks flat from the distance, it is slow going. We´ll keep an eye out for exciting lava caves.

Here, we will also reach Norway’s most westerly point, after which we will return to our base camp.

Day 9

Options for hikes of the group’s choosing, including a walk to Sjuhollenderbukta or over to the Olonkin station.

Day 10

Departure day. We will have been monitoring the weather conditions for the crossing back to Iceland and will try to aim for a good weather window for a nice crossing.

If weather, time and other conditions permit we will sail around Jan Mayen before heading to Iceland. This will give us a chance to see the island from the ocean. We will sail under the fantastic Weyprecht glacier and see where it falls almost 2300 meters from the crater of Beerenberg down to where it calves into the sea. We will also have a chance to see the area where the most recent eruptions took place at the northernmost tip in 1972 (smaller eruption higher up on the slope in 1985).

Day 11-12

At sea and again we will keep a sharp lookout for whales and dolphins.

Day 13

Arrival in Ísafjörour.

jan mayen mountaineering

Possible Summit of Beerenberg

We have done one to three trips to Jan Mayen almost every year since 2008, and on almost every trip, we have climbed the beautiful volcano Beerenberg. Since 2010, when the Norwegian authorities declared most of the island a nature reserve, landing on, or camping in the reserve is prohibited, which makes ascents of the mountain very challenging.

A long hike from Kvalross Bay to where the climb can begin, followed by a full day climb of the mountain, is possible. However, as no camping is allowed on the mountain, this has to be done without any intermediate camps. A total round trip of perhaps 50-60 km overlanddistance and 2400 metres in altitude with only short bivouac breaks.

A possible climb of Beerenberg can be an added bonus for experienced mountaineers.

The Vessel

iceland ski and sail adventure

The boat is a Dutch built ketch rigged oceangoing sailing vessel that is fully equipped and certified to sail around the world with up to 12 guests (we normally only take 10 guests). Ideal for a Jan Mayen expedition.

The hull shape is directly derived from the famous Colin Archerwhich is also known for good sailing characteristics. Her comfortable deckhouse makes sailing in northern waters very pleasant. With four cabins (two four-person and two twoperson), a spacious saloon and a galley there is more than enough space on board.

The boat has good central heating, hot and cold water, two heads (toilets) and one shower. There is 220V electricity to charge batteries and other electronic devices

The boat is equipped according to strict Icelandic regulations in regards to emergency equipment.

Are you wondering if this Jan Mayen expedition is a good fit for you?

Please get in touch and we will use our expertise to recommend the right voyage for you dependent on your experience and comfort levels.

Dates & Availability

Select a date to start your journey

1st - 13th June 2020

Payment Options

  • Credit card (a surcharge applies of 1.4% for European cards and 2.9% for non-European cards)
  • Payment by bank transfer
  • Monthly instalments to spread the cost of payments

This trip has been handpicked by us and is operated by a trusted Secret Atlas partner. We guarentee the best price for your journey at the time of booking. A full set of terms and conditions for our supplier will be sent to you at the time of booking.

It is a condition of booking that you have your own travel insurance to cover the activities listed. 

Travel Information

TRAVELLING TO ÍSAFJÖRDUR

There are a few airlines with scheduled flights into Iceland. Check their websites for prices and schedules. From the domestic airport in Reykjavík, there are 2-3 daily 40-minute flights to Ísafjörour. You can take the Fly-Bus between the airports and, depending on flight arrivals and departures; it may be possible to continue onwards to Ísafjörour the same day.

Browse Air Iceland for schedules and special offers.

You can also rent a car and drive to Ísafjörour. The drive is 450 km (on paved roads in its entirety), and normally takes approximately six hours.

Another option is to hire a small bus to pick up your group in Keflavik and drive to Isafjordur. Contact Gulli at info@westfjordian.is

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