Get off the beaten path in Iceland in an otherworldly hiking and camping area with glacial views that is still accessible without a 4WD vehicle.

Thakgil, or Þakgil, is a one-of-a-kind campground nestled in a small canyon surrounded by steep, mossy walls. To get there, you'll follow a dirt mountain road up into the mountains, passing a glacial river and finally entering into the canyon where the campsite is located. 

The campground features a CAVE for a dining area, and has spaces for tents, camper vans and even a few small cabins. It's near Katla Glacier and the hiking trails offer great overlooks of it.

Arriving at Thakgil felt like an oasis from the crowds of the south coast. People are there, but it certainly doesn't have tour buses and I had to dig deeper to find information about it. Definitely a semi-hidden gem.

Hikes:

There are a handful of great hikes of varying difficulty from the campground offering great views of Katla Glacier. The campground also has some simple hiking maps illustrating the different loops. 

Easy Ravine Walk (15 mins): From the campground, follow the main road until it ends and becomes a walking path into a narrow ravine. You'll pass a small hydro-electric station that powers the campground and cross a footbridge over a small creek. The steep, spiky spires of the canyon walls are particularly eerie during midnight sun... The trail ends at a natural pool filled by a small waterfall.

Remundargil Ravine Loop: 12.5km, 250m gain, 3-5 hours. You walk back out the dirt road from the campground for a short bit, and find the trail going straight up the steep mountain wall on the left (east), beyond a shallow but wide creek that you may need to jump over or walk through. The trail is marked by short purple-coded stakes stuck in the ground.

After a steep climb up with no switchbacks, you are on top of the ravine walls with great views of the glacial river and south towards the sea. You will follow the trail down into the Remundargil Ravine just east of Thakgil. Once you reach the bottom of the ravine, you can choose to go left for the Remundargilsfoss Waterfall (which you can also see from this point at a distance). If you hike to the waterfall, you'll have to backtrack to this point and continue out the ravine in the other direction (hiker's right as you come down the wall). When you reach the mouth of the ravine, follow the trail to the left (east) around the far wall, over a small knoll until you overlook the glacial river. You can see a bit of the Katla Glacier in the distance. For a better view, continue on up into the bowl-like pass for a great overlook. On the way back, you'll follow your footsteps back down along the glacial river, but rather than going back into the Remundargil ravine, you'll continue straight across its mouth and walk along a mostly flat path that meets up with the main road. You'll then walk along the dirt road back to the campground.

There are a few other trails which I didn't hike but will list for your researching:

  • Maelifell: 13.5km
  • Austurafretta Range: 17km, possibly best views of glacier.

Getting there:

From Rt. 1 (Ring Road) about 5km east of Vik, turn north onto Rt. 214. This is a single-lane dirt mountain road, but it is not rated as an "F" road, meaning it isn't restricted to 4WD vehicles. I drove it in a rented Toyota Yaris in late June and was fine, although I took it pretty slow as there are considerable potholes. There are some steep turns and blind hills, but it's nothing a small car can't do. The drive is about 45 minutes, and is extremely scenic in and of itself.

Pack List

  • Good hiking boots
  • Water bottle (can fill at campground)
  • Snacks
  • Warm layers -- weather changes so quickly in Iceland, so alway have multiple layers for warmth and rain protection! 
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Activities Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall

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