Added by Lauren Ellis
This hike/backpacking trip should take about three to four days. You will hike across lava fields, surrounded by active volcanoes and moody glaciers and then cross rivers and conquer snow-lined mountain ridges.
Put your stamina and mountain skills to the test to be rewarded with phenomenal scenery, where fire really does meet the ice.
When you arrive in Landmannalaugar, you wonder whether all that preparation was for nothing. Don't let the masses of 4WDs, huge family tents and those obviously-so-not-outdoorsy types lull you into a false sense of security. As you embark on the 55km (34mi) route, which climbs to 1100m (3,600ft) at it's highest point, you leave the day walkers behind and enter your own fairy tale of vast landscapes of rhyolite hills, snaking glaciers, steaming vents and more volcanoes than you dare count.
Your journey on the Laugavegur trail to Þórsmörk begins by following the signs from the bustling campsite up into the jagged Laugahraun lava field. As you start to break away from the day hikers, you find yourself heading up into the colourful rhyolite hills, passing the impressive Brennisteinsalda mountain. The spectrum of colours along this section is truly breathtaking, particularly in harsh contrast of the black lava fields and ash mountains you leave behind in Landmannalaugar. Some steep sections, possibly snowed in completely, will take you higher up towards the first hut, which is fairly exposed at the top of a mountain ridge. Campers, be sure to secure your tents firmly to anything you can.
The first 12km (7.4mi) section can be combined with the second 12km section (this is what I did, due to the extreme snowy conditions), which takes you high up over the ancient caldera range and back down into the glacial and volcanic valleys, away from most of the snow and extremes of weather. You're greeted as you descend by breathtaking views of where the hike takes you next, and over Lake Álftavatn, which is the camping spot for the evening.
The third section is starkly different to what you encounter first on the trail: vast, flat, ash-filled deserts with debris littered from the bowels of the volcanic beasts that tower above you as you creep onwards towards the glacier-lined horizon. The 15km (9.3mi) section comes complete with glacial river crossings, which is a welcome rush after the snowfields and deserts previously endured.
The fourth and final 16km (10mi) section, leading you into the wooded National Park at Þórsmörk, certainly does not disappoint. The route follows huge canyons which have been carved out by the powerful glacial rivers. Some impressive bridges safely carry you over the harshest river sections, but again there are some invigorating river crossing sections to keep you feeling alive.
This is a stunning multi-day walk with fascinating geological features, but it is only accessible during the summer months due to the remote location in Iceland's harsh interior.
- Minimum three-season tent, needs to stand up to Iceland's strong winds
- Full rainy weather gear
- Warm clothing
- Sturdy hiking boots
- River crossing shoes
- Stove and sufficient fuel
- Food for the duration (drinking water is easily obtainable along the route)
- Map and compass, GPS for back up in poor weather conditions
- Sunglasses (it can be sunny, but also to be used for crossing snowfields)
- Good sleeping mat, warm sleeping bag
- Cash or card to pay at the campsites
- A decent camera - you'll kick yourself if you don't bring one
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