“Those who wander are not necessarily lost” - JRR Tolkien
One great 8-Day trek crossing the most spectacular landscapes of the southern highlands from volcano Mt Hekla to Vatnajökull icecap
Our guides, all experienced mountaineers, will lead you safely through this incredible region. Starting at the foot of the Hekla volcano over to the Landmannalaugar Valley we will walk through the caldera, along the icecap of Mýrdalsjökull and the fault of Eldgjá, to reach the incredible turquoise blue Lake Langisjór near the mighty Vatnajökull.
This trek will lead you through a world of volcanic features – huge lava fields, mountains of rhyolite, basalt, obsidian and pumice, through hot springs and fumaroles, blast craters and fissures. You will discover dream-like, moss-filled valleys and drink from the freshest, clearest streams. And always watching over you are the majestic, shimmering icecaps, dormant volcanoes surrounded by vast black sand flats, criss-crossed by a myriad melted water streams.
Presenting no difficulty for good walkers, on most days each member carries only a light daypack as a 4x4 truck carries all personal belongings, heavy equipment and supplies. Every day involves an average of 6-8 hours hiking. Accommodation, during the trek will be in well equipped mountain huts, all in beautiful locations. This trek is designed for those who wish to fully experience unspoiled nature at its best, and to see what they may never even have dreamed still existed.
This trek is especially designed for those who desire a full immersion in the pristine nature with the discovery of landscapes that are beyond imagination.
- Difficulty level: 2-3 Demanding
- Average walking distance per day: 14-16 km (9-10 miles)
- Altitude between: 135 m and 785 m (440-2580 feet)
- Positive gradients: ca.5124 m (ca.16800 feet)
- Downhill gradients: ca.4980 m (ca.163400 feet)
8 days Trek Doors of Hell & Trek to lake Langisjor (excluding the accommodation in Reykjavik the first and last night):
- 384.400 ISK per person or ca. 2522 EUR/pp based on 4 participants
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Day 1 - August 1st: Reykjavik - Mt Hekla farmland
3-4 hours – ca.10 km ( 6 miles) Altitude 135 m to 175 m (443 to 574 feet)
Early morning rendezvous at 7:30 AM with your guide at Reykjavik Central Bus station. Hiking clothes, duffle bag and day pack ready for trekking. The trip begins. Approx. 3 hours (160 km) road transfer to the trailhead. The majestic Hekla volcano rises above a grassy plain and marks the entrance to the high volcanic lands. Probably It is Iceland’s most famous (or infamous!) and active volcano. Hike starts by late morning crossing grassland. The few little farms of the area have had to move many times over the centuries as eruptions have engulfed them. However, much of the countryside is now verdant with some former lava flows covered in green moss and arctic birch. Green moss, « bonsai » arctic birch grove along with the pure water springs, creates the feeling, perhaps, of a real Japanese garden. In August on this day, we can take a little longer as the berry and mushroom picking gets in the way of our passage.
Day 2 - August 2nd: West side of Mt. Hekla – The doors of Hell
6-8 hours – ca.22 km (14 miles) Altitude 175 m to 320 m (574 to 1050 feet)
We cross the river Western Rangá, then we hike the last series of hills made from palagonite rock (sub-glacially formed) that protects the last fragments of burned countryside. On the far side, we arrive onto a moon-like surface at the foot of Mount Hekla and cross a stretch of perfectly flat volcanic slag. The black surroundings, so dark they resemble the blue color of a crow’s feathers. Tiny, we are moving in a completely mineral world of infinite slag plain along the eastern flank of the volcano, which has been vomited most of the cast of the latest eruptions.
Day 3 - August 3rd: Valagjá – Mont Loðmundur
6-7 hours – ca.17 km (11 miles) Altitude 320 m to 590 m (1050 to 1940 feet)
We walk away from “the Gateway to Hell” (as Hekla was known in the middle ages) and the landscape begins to soften; the green colors of the mosses slowly covering lava fields and the pumices that rain on the land with each eruption. Crossing the “pass of the lambs” we walk in the direction of the majestic monolithic crown of Mount Loðmundur, surrounded by marshland and rich pasture, reflecting in the beautiful lake Loðmundarvatn reflecting Mount Loðmundur a flat-topped volcanic monolith that erupted through glacial ice during the Ice Age. Landmannahellir has been for ages and it is still used now by the shepherds as a base when catching thousand sheep in fall after having been grassing free the whole summer. We are in a legendary place with thousand stories to tell.
Day 4 - August 4th: Walk to Landmannalaugar – Eldgjá break
Hiking from 6-7 h - approx.17 Km - Altitude 590 m> 700 m
The trail leads us through extraordinary landscapes. First, we go around the beautiful lake that shines at the foot of Mt Loðmundur. Then we climb up the northern flank of the Caldera de Hrafntinnusker and enter the pastel colors of acid volcanism. Extraordinary view of the Landmannalaugar valley. We begin the descent towards the refuge and the campsite of the valley, a little surprised to meet suddenly so many people after 4 days of wonderful loneliness. After a bath in the famous hot water river in the middle of a marsh covered with cotton grass, we take the vehicle to go into the East part of the Fjallabak nature reserve, we will spend the night in Hólaskjól.
Day 5 - August 5th: Eldgjá – Öxnatindar
5-6 hours – ca. 16 km (10 miles) – Alt. 330 to 450 m (1080 to 1480 feet)
We walk throughout the Eldgjá break, “throat of fire”, the biggest eruption break on our planet. Despite all these superlatives, tiny little landscapes are comfortable: springs, streams of clear water, small Zen gardens...We reach the heavy Skaftá and its powerful and worrisome waters. On the other side lies the endless lava of Laki, which is the largest lava emission of historical times (1783-1785).
Day 6 - August 6th: Skaftá – Sveinstindur
5-6 hours – ca. 18 km (11 miles) – Alt. 450 to 600 m (1480 to 1970 feet
We reach Sveinstindur, the first cone of the divided chain of Fögrufjöll, with its conical black and green volcanoes. Easy ascent of Mount Sveinstindur, from where you can admire a fabulous panorama view. To the north and the mighty Vatnajökull the fabulous jade green narrow lake of Langisjór. At the South lie the strange lava fields of Laki, covered with green fluorescent moss, and partly flooded by the overflows of Skaftá.
Day 7 - August 7th: Langisjór and Fagrifjöll
7-8 hours – ca. 20 km (12 miles) – Alt. 600 to 600 m (1970 to 1970 feet)
Along Langisjór and up on easy hills we follow the narrow ridge of the Fagrifjöll. Their name means the beautiful mountains. Knowing the sobriety of the Icelandic language, they must be on to deserve such an appellation. We are moving on the narrow green and black backs of Fagrifjöll, sometimes on the shore of the lake, sometimes the easiest buttes.
Day 8 - August 8th: Grænafjallsgarður - Holaskjol - Landmannalaugar - Reykjavik
2-3 hour hike - approx. 10 km - 120 km track - 120 km road
(Possibility to leave the group at Landmannalaugar if you want to visit this famous region by yourself: ask us for information) We progress due west on a black and green valley bordered by imposing palagonite alignments of Grænnafjallsgarður and Gréttir to reach first by walking, then with the help of our jeep the Fjallabak North track. Either we return by the south coast or via Landmannalaugar where we stop for a short walk of 2 or 3 hours. Late arrival in the capital around 8 p.m.
Currently it is not possible for us to specify in advance which route will be chosen to return to Reykjavik. But we will try to answer you before the trip if you need this information.
Huts: All nights in huts, usually in dormitory style, there are no private rooms in the huts but they are never crowded. For those who prefer camping, we have nice tents and mattresses to bring along.
Food: The guide prepares meals
We pride ourselves for providing the best cuisine in the highlands! Breakfast is Scandinavian style, with muesli, breads, jams, smoked fish, charcuterie and cheese. The picnics can be a bit repetitive after a week (we are in Iceland), with a variety of sandwiches, smoked meats and fish, excellent local cheeses, green salad, tomatoes and cucumbers. Dinners, varied and often excellent, include fish and lamb dishes, served with pasta, rice or potatoes, vegetables and a green salad.
However, vegans will have to supplement their luggage even though we can accommodate their needs.
For conviviality, but without obligation, you can bring with you a specialty of your country as well as a good bottle of alcohol.
Accommodation during the trek: Sleeping bag accommodation in mountain huts and huts (usually a comfortable and mixed lodging) and according to the itinerary and the conditions, at the peak of the season a few nights might be spent in spacious double tents equipped with comfortable mattresses. Showers are available in some huts, not all.
It is essential that vegetarians specify what is banned from their menu, such as those suffering from food allergies (lactose, gluten, etc.). It is important that you advise us of your special food requirements at the time of booking. If the list is long or there is danger with certain allergies, please send us the details by mail to firstname.lastname@example.org so that the team of our warehouse/storage can take this into account in the preparation of food. Your guide will be aware of your plan, but it does not necessarily mean that he is a specialist in that matter, so it's up to you to tell him about it at the beginning of the journey when preparing the first meal! It is also up to you to control at each meal what suits you.
Level: Hiking on trails between mountain huts with only a daypack while larger luggage is transported hut to hut. Hiking involves an average of 14 – 16 km (9-10 miles) per day, most of the time on unmarked trails. On many treks you will need to ford rivers. Don’t forget your sandals!
Difficulty level varies from 2-3 (Moderate to Challenging) to 3-4 (Challenging-Demanding). General level of fitness is required. Participants should be able to hike for up to 6 hours without much difficulty. Some experience of basic traveling in mountainous terrain and/or hiking on rough trails is useful.
Luggage storage: A bag or suitcase you do not need for the trek can usually be kept in your accommodation in Reykjavik. (This luggage can also be stored in our office in Reykjavik or in our warehouse in Hella, a village on the way to the starting point of our trek. Contact us in advance about it to see if it works.
You’ll need to bring comfortable and adequate clothing to protect you from cold and wet weather, such as polypropylene, capilene, or pile. Wool and wool/synthetic blends are also suitable - though wool, if wet, dries slowly compared to synthetic fabrics. We discourage the use of cotton in wet conditions it dries very slowly. When camping, tents are provided. You will be responsible for bringing your mattress and sleeping bag.
When layering, the innermost layer should be long underwear. The middle layer can be a synthetic turtleneck or wool shirt, and pants. The outermost layer must be a breathable waterproof jacket such as a good quality Gore-Tex wind/rain parka and over-pants.
For quantities for each item listed, use your own judgement, based on the expected weather conditions and overall packing/weight restrictions for your luggage.
- Regular underwear. Synthetics are easier to wash and dry
- Synthetic thermal underwear
- Long-sleeved, synthetic or wool shirt
- Short-sleeved synthetic or cotton/synthetic T-shirts
- Medium-weight synthetic fleece sweater or jacket
- Full-length pants, quick-drying synthetic fabric
- Down jacket from mid-August to September (optional)
- Hiking shorts, quick-drying synthetic fabric
- Pile/fleece pants, ideal for around the camp
- Sun & rain hat
- Wool hat
- Gloves (wool or pile)
- Waterproofed shell gloves
- Medium weight synthetic socks
- Gore-Tex rain/wind parka
- Gore-Tex rain/wind pants
- Hiking boots, medium-weight, all leather, with padded ankle, good arch support, and a lug sole traction. Your hiking boots should be waterproof, well broken in, and suitable for rocky terrain or possibly snow.
- Comfortables shoes to wear when not hiking (optional) Teva-type sandals for river crossing. Absolutely recommended! Gaiters. Highly recommended.
- Comfortable sleeping bag +10°C to –10°C which can be opened all the way
- Pillow if you can’t sleep without one (optional)
- Swimsuit and towel for hot spring bathing and swimming pool
- 1-to-2 liters capacity unbreakable water bottle or thermos
- Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries (essential from August onwards)
- Swiss Army-type pocket knife (Must be kept in duffle bag, not in hand luggage, when flying !)
- Eye shades. Highly recommended from April to last July!
- Wax ear plugs
- Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses (but not only lenses, as wind-blown dust can make them very uncomfortable)
- Toiletry kit—soap, toothbrush, and so on.
- Moisturizing lotion. (The air in Iceland is very dry)
- Sunscreen and lip protection (The sun in Iceland is much more intense than you probably imagine)
- Personal first aid kit
Optional Travel Accessories
- Hiking poles. Highly recommended
- Repair kit with needle, thread, and safety pins
- Reading and writing material
- Your favorite snack food such as raisins or chocolate
- Protein supplements for vegetarian
- Your own food reserves if you are vegan
- 1 or 2 good bottles of wine or a bottle of something stronger