Beautiful assisted 8-day walking adventure hut to hut along the west and north flank of Mount Hekla, one of Iceland's best known volcano and through the Fjallabak Natural Reserve to Landmannalaugar, then crossing the vast and strange Hrafntinnusker Caldeira to the majestic mountain ridge of Tindfjöll
This concentrated itinerary is part of our collection of trips that speak to purist hikers with a spirit of adventure. This year, we are offering several departures for a maximum number of 12 participants. The volcano Mount Hekla and the magic that revolves around its reputation, which goes well beyond Icelands' shores, has always fascinated man. Considered during the Middle Ages as an access to hell, Ancient Rome in it's day advised fishermen to see for themselves what lay beyond if they ventured as far. The volcano's eruptions often ruined the countryside and were the source of worry for the Icelandic people, who feared and revered the volcano at the same time. But what was feared the most was that an eruption from one of the faces of the volcano would ruin its perfect shape.
This beautiful strato-volcano (a volcanic edifice built over centuries through a series of volcanic eruptions) is still active and closely monitored by the volcanologists' seismographs. We hike along the volcano from a reasonably safe distance in order to maintain safety and we stay informed about the relative volcanic activity.
The metaphor “Black raven reefs” is a perfect example of the natural poetry of the old Icelandic language. (Hrafntinnusker: Hrafn for raven, Tinna for black and Sker for reefs)
This describes a chaos of obsidian, an intense black razor sharp vitrified lava, which spreads among soft colored hills in the center of a vast caldera of the same name: Hrafntinnusker. large loops to explore the incredible caldera. More obvious are the amazing rhyolite mountains, formed in incredible bands of pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white, orange and red and glittering with innumerable black, glass-like obsidian lava… Walking among countless bubbling, steaming hot springs, we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty.
We will see preliminarily the innumerable solfatares with pools of mud, bubbles of powerful and noisy steam. On the edge of the caldera we advance on a platitude of black slag that leads to Mount Hekla which dominates the horizon close to its imposing and legendary mass.
With the exception of a lightweight day pack, all equipment and luggage is transported by a 4x4 support vehicle.
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Day 1 - Jul 29: Reykjavik - Mt Hekla farmland
4-5 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, duffel 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 - Jul 30: 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 - Jul 31: 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 - Aug 01: Walk to Landmannalaugar
Hiking from 6-7 h - approx.15 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, In the evening we regain the tranquility of Landmannahellir.
Day 5 - Aug 02: Caldera of Hrafntinnusker
6-8 hours – ca.20km (12 miles) – Alt. 590 > 1000 m > 800 (1940 > 3300 > 2575 feet)
We begin the easy climb of the rim of the caldera, then move south through the vast circus towards Mont Laufafell. The metaphor for Hrafntinnusker “Black Raven Reefs" is a fine example of the ancient and natural metaphorical poetry of Iceland. It means reefs or obsidian (Hrafntinna), Hrafn for raven and Tinna for intense black. A black vitrified lava with sometimes blue or green reflections, sharp like a razor blade that spreads here on the gentle pastoral hills of acidic rocks of the caldera. We are going to see carefully the innumerable solfatares with pools of bubbling mud, jets of powerful and noisy vapors. On the edge of the caldera we reach a flatness of black slag that leads to the Mount Hekla which dominates the horizon.
Day 6 - Aug 03: Fjallabak South to Tindfjöll
6-8 hours – ca. 21 km (13 miles) – Alt. 800 to 550 m (2575 to 1800 feet)
One can admire here the alignment of mountain ranges, all perfectly parallel and aligned in the same direction: the direction of the mid-Atlantic ridge that crosses Iceland from North to South enjoying a spectacular view of Fjallabak South with three major icecaps : Mýrdalsjökull,Eyjafjallajökull and Tíndafjallajökull.
Day 7 - Aug 04: Tindfjöll -Krokur
5-7 hours – ca. 12 km (8 miles) Alt. 500-600 m ( (1600 to 1900 feet)
Our trail cross small green valleys where wander chrystaline water streams, swamps dotted with cottony linolette, deep canyons, volcanic cones covered with moss. This area could well be an advanced post of observation of the Elven Kingdom at Mordor's Gate.
Day 8 - Aug 05: Tindfjöll - Meadows of the Rangá river. To Road Nr 1 (Reykjavik by bus or individual Westmann Islands extension)
5-6 hours hike – ca. 10 km (6 miles) – Alt. 500 to 150 m (1600 to 450 feet)
The Tindfjöll called "The Peaks" is a small chain of majestic mountains with many summits, including the largest Ýmir (1462m) and Ýma (1448m). Of course this is not the Himalayas, nor the Patagonian Andes, but a mixture of the two miniutarized that gives this illusion of virgin immensity which Iceland has the secret. While Tindfjallajökull is the smallest glacier in the country, it is located on a giant crater about 7 to 10 miles in diameter, formed by an explosion of ancient fissures. Following the Mountains we cross desolate lava fields of Mount Hekla volcanic system which dominates the northern horizon of its visible or invisible presence, then a rapid descent to the valley, where the expanses of lava are now covered with grassy meadows, sheep and cries of birds.We walk to the first farm. Transfer by jeep to the village of Hella on the circular road No. 1 where our base is situated. From there:
- Return to Reykjavik where you arrive in the afternoon either by regular bus to Mjódd Central Bus Station), or down town with one of our vehicles.
- Individual two-day / two-night extension to the Vestmann Islands (see online program)
- Difficulty level: 2-3 Moderate
- Average walking per day: ca. 15-16 km (9-10 miles)
- Total walking distance: ca.48 km (30 miles) / 24 hours walk (4-day version)
- Total walking distance:
- Altitude between: 700 m and 1200 m
- Positive gradients: ca.1200 m (ca.3900 feet)
- Downhill gradients: ca.1000 m (ca.3280 feet)
Itinerary and security: the day by day program can be modified or even reversed. However, these changes are rather rare for reasons of safety due to natural phenomena: volcanism, early or late snowfall, bad weather, flooding rivers, exceptionally unfavorable weather ... The guide knows the terrain well and is sole master in interpreting the whims of all-powerful nature on this volcanic earth under these high latitudes, and to make the necessary decisions.
Composition of the group: In general, the participants of our trips come from several countries: French speaking from France, Switzerland, Belgium and Quebec but also English speaking people from Great Britain, Ireland, United States (Democratic trending), Australians, New Zealanders or other nations who know how to express themselves in English like Scandinavians, Germans, sometimes Japanese or Russians, and even sometimes Icelanders.
Your Icelandic or French guide is fluent in French and English and masters very well at least one other European language. Traveling with Fjallabak can represent a unique opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and socialize with companions from other countries than yours that you might otherwise never have approached. A unique opportunity to make friends from all around the world and twist the neck to certain prejudices and misconceptions inked
Languages spoken: the departure dates are all marked as:
¬ International, (multinational is more accurate) this means that the guide can express himself both in English and in French (possibly in other languages). Participants can be from all around the world if they speak at least one of these two languages: French and / or English
¬ French, it means that the guide is French-speaking as the group that is composed solely of participants from French-speaking countries (Swiss, French, Belgian, Belgian, etc.) or non-French speakers wanting to improve their French. If you want to test your French, do not hesitate
¬ English means that the guide and the group speaks only English. That said, this guide probably speaks also other languages, which may be French (please consult). The group is made up of participants from English-speaking countries or participants from non-English speaking countries with good English skills.
Group size: Group of 4 to 12 (+/- 1) participants (Note: for groups of 4-5 people, a small group supplement applies) Fjallabak staff or representatives of Fjallabak accompanying professionals (photographers , Journalists, etc.) and other discounted travelers such as children are excluded from the number of participants (minimum and maximum).
Extra charge per person for small groups:
• ISK 21.000/pp (ca. + € 150) for 7 participants
• ISK 35.000/pp (ca.+ € 250) for 6 participants
Accommodation: sleeping bag (your own) in mountain refuges and huts: Bunks with comfortable mattresses. Running water and kitchen in the shelter, but the toilets and sinks are usually outside, a few yards in a small building apart. Warm hot showers with charge are available in some huts. If you want more privacy during the night while we sleep, we offer you the possibility of sleeping in tents that we provide, please notify us in advance. On the treks where camping nights are planned, the camps are made up of double tents (or single on request) with a comfortable and insulated mattress and a large equipped mess tent.Electricity: take enough batteries for your camera because you will not often be able to recharge batteries in the huts. Also take a normal charger (220v for European standard outlets) as there are some shelter that have electricity. Food: 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.
Food, special diets: 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 these two addresses <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com> 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.
Each day a 4x4 vehicle carries the luggage and the food from hut to hut. We do not see this vehicle during the day, because it takes tracks that we rarely encounter. Someone feeling tired one day can make the trip with the driver (often a friendly guide of our team) which will make him discover another aspect of the highlands. A 4x4 assistance vehicle carries the luggage, food supplies and equipment between shelters and camps. We do not see this vehicle during the day, because it takes tracks that we rarely encounter. Someone feeling tired one day can make the trip with the driver (often a friendly guide of our team) which will make him discover another aspect of the highlands. Our carbon impact is lower because the kilometric average of the vehicle does not exceed 30km / day.
Preparation of the trip and notes: This is an assisted hut to hut trekking. At the peak of the season, we might camp for a night or two. The level of walking is moderate to sustained. You only carry a light bag containing what you need for the day. This trek does not present any serious difficulty for people in good physical shape having at least some experience of long walks in the mountains. An experienced guide leads the trek. This trek passes through totally desert areas. Most of the walking is off-trail, with ever-changing terrain conditions. Therefore, sturdy hiking shoes that fit well your feet are a must. Most days involve river crossing, so it is essential not to forget your sandals. See our kits list for more information. You hike 6-7 hours per day, on average, but it can be longer, depending on the weather, the average level of the group. The maximum altitude does not rise more than 1000m. The change of altitude for most days does not exceed 300 m.
Participation: An experienced Icelandic guide leads the trek. As we are not in Nepal but in Iceland, it is expected that the members of the group lend a helping hand to their guide in the preparation of meals, washing the dishes, cleaning the floors before leaving the huts, setting up and taking down the tents when camping. Once in the mountains, the group becomes an independent entity. Fellowship, teamwork and forged friendships add much to the richness of each person's experience.
Price difference between two treks !? Some may notice and then be surprised at the significant price difference between, for example, an 8-day trek and another 10-day trek. In fact there is a difference which is not proportional but which is due to the organization itself.
> When it comes to a trek that goes hut to hut there is a guide, a driver and a 4wd assistance vehicle for for the whole trip.
> When on a hike exists a series of loops from a base camp then during these days there is only one guide.
And when we know the price of services in our country … then we have the explanation.
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 andkle and arch support, and a lug sole traction. Your hiking boots should be waterproof, well broken in, and suitable for rocky terrain or possibly snow.
- Comfortable 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
- Cotton sheet for hut’s mattress
- Pillow if you can’t sleep without one (optional)
- Hiking poles
- Swimsuit and towel for hot spring bathing and swimming pool
- 1-to-2 liters capacity unbreakable water bottle or thermos
- Hermetic sandwich box
- Hiking mug
- Small hermetic bag with zipper for your wallet and passport
- Small hermetic bag with zipper for your mobile phone
- Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries (from August only)
- Swiss Army-type pocket knife (Must be kept in duffle bag, not in hand luggage, when flying!)
- Toiletry kit—soap, toothbrush, and so on.
- Moisturizing lotion. (The air in Iceland is very dry)
- Eye shades. Highly recommended!
- Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses (but not only lenses, as wind-blown dust can make them very uncomfortable)
- Sunscreen and lip protection (The sun in Iceland is much more intense than you probably imagine)
- Personal first aid kit
- Netting hood
Optional Travel Accessories
- 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
- 1 or 2 good bottles of wine or a bottle of something stronger