A Trail of one thousand and one color.
Jeep assisted 5-day hike (or 6 days with the pass of Fimmvörðuháls) in breathtaking nature on and beside the Laugavegur hiking trail in the southern interior of Iceland, from Landmannalaugar hot Springs to Þórsmörk glacier valley.
The Laugavegur hiking trail (55 km / 34 mi.) is the most popular hiking route connecting the nature reserves Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. On this trek we hike through the wild Icelandic South Highland, one of the last untouched wilderness areas in Europe. The route is typically completed over 2–4 days with potential stops at the mountain huts Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn and Emstrur. There also is an ultra marathon, which is held on the route each July.
We will reach the classic and famous Laugavegur hiking trail only on the morning of the third day as we don’t start our Laugavegur from Landmannalaugar but from Domadalur. We add an extra day to take more time to discover the incredible Hrafntinnusker caldera and its southern bordure. Our itinerary is a little bit longer (88 km / 55 miles) and wilder than the too famous Laugavegur.
There are very few places in the world that offer such diverse landscapes and scenic views. On the trek there are colorful rhyolite mountains, huge and rugged glaciers, screaming hot springs, rivers of every shape and size, peaceful lakes, narrow ridges, immense waterfalls, deep canyons and panoramic views of the North Atlantic Ocean. This trek truly has it all!.
Choice between 3 options:
- The 5-day hike ends in the late afternoon in the Thorsmörk Valley with a late return to Reykjavik.
- A 6th day Wandering option in Thorsmörk If you don't want to return late on the evening of the 5th day, it is possible to spend an overnight stay in the beautiful Thorsmörk Valley and return the next day to Reykjavik by regular 4x4 bus in the morning or in the afternoon. Supplement: 20.000 kr (about 125€) See bus schedule details in the info section)
- The 6-day hike includes the passage of the hight Fimmvörðuháls pass between the ice caps of Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull and ends at the fall of Skógafoss on the shore of the South Coast with a late return to Reykjavik.
The 6-day option must be selected when registering online below.
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Day 1: Reykjavik - Fjallabak North - Landmannalaugar
140 km of road 50 km on tracks - 6-8 hours – ca.20km (12 miles) – Alt. 590 > 1000 m > 800 (1940 > 3300 > 2575 feet)
Departure by bus from the Reykjavik bus station at 8:00 AM. Four hours drive and then trail lead through the southern heaths and volcanic desert of Hekla to the meeting point with your guide who is already on the ground. (Unless he leaves Reykjavik with you). 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 “the Gateway to Hell” (as Hekla was known in the middle ages) 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. further on 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. Hiking clothes, duffle bag and daypack ready for trekking. Rendez vous avec votre guide à Landmannahellir. The trek begins. 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 a bath in the famous hot water river in the middle of a marsh covered with cotton grass, we return by vehicle to the Landmannahellir refuge where you spend a last evening with your travel companions
Day 2: Caldera of Hrafntinnusker - The black raven reefs
Hike 7-8 hours – ca.20km (12 miles) – Alt. 590 > 1000 m > 800 (1940 > 3300 > 2575 feet)
(Option: Possibility to join the trek this morning)
We begin the easy climb of the rim of the caldera, then move south through the vast circus towards Mont Laufafell. 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). We make a big loop 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
Day 3: Hike Ljósártungur - Tindfjöll
5-7 hours – ca.17 km (11 miles) – Alt. 700 to 500 m (2300 to 1640 feet)
Down to Fjallabak South. Instead of going east to Eldgjá as in our Trek Origins (East) we turn southwest in the direction of the Tindfjöll Mountains. Behind the imposing monolith Laufafell hides a series of red and black craters partly covered with bronze colored moss. We walk along a long narrow ridge overlooking a crater lake (maar a) with clear water and directly leading us to a small closed flat valley at the foothills of Tindfjöll. The Tindfjöll ridge was once the highest volcano of Iceland (over 9000 feet / 3000 m). Many thousands years ago it collapsed completely and became a little Alpine chain with peaks welded by a small icecap. Today the hot spot has moved elsewhere to Mt Hekla and to the small neighbour Eyjafjallajökull who did so much talk about him in 2010.
Day 4: Hike through Emstrur desert
7-8 hours – ca.20 km (12 miles) – Alt. 500 to 450 m (1640 to 1480 feet)
Walk in a pleasant small secret “Alpine” valley covered by grass and flowers that leads us along clear streams to Krókur ( "hook") to the edge of the canyon of Markarfljót that, here in the interior is not yet the mighty muddy glacial river that we know in the lowlands. There, Its water has this beautiful turquoise colour, due to acid rock particles from the Hrafntinnusker caldera, making an impressive contrasts with the dense black cliffs of the canyon where it runs. Then across a desert of black sand, devoid of vegetation, we walk along the impressive mass of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, so close that we feel like we can almost touch it.
Day 5: Emstrur to Þórsmörk
6-7 hours – ca.20 km (12 miles) – Alt. 450 to 200 m (1480 to 660 feet)
Today, participants who have choosen the 6-day option take a little more spare in the backpack, sleeping bag, as well as some toiletries as the main baggage will not be collected until day 7 when returning to Reykjavik.
After four days off the beaten track, during this stage we follow certain sections of Laugavegur, one of the first and rare marked trails in Iceland which runs from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk. We progress along narrow canyons where powerful glacier rivers flow.The valley is closed in between glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull being at the rear end of the valley. This leads to an especially warm climate, better than in the rest of south Iceland. In the protected valley,
It is amidst the dense woods of arctic birch, willow and rowan trees and other small shrubs, accompanied by the songs of birds that one arrives in the radiant valley of Thórsmörk, "Wood of Thor" surrounded by majestic falling seracs of three glaciers. End of the trek (unless you are volunteer for crossing the pass of Fimmvorðuháls the next day). Return to Reykjavik by regular 4x4 bus in the evening. Late arrival in Reykjavik.
Day 6: Option Wandering in Thorsmörk > Reykjavik If you don't want to return late on the evening of the 5th day, it is possible to spend an overnight stay in the beautiful Thorsmörk Valley and return the next day to Reykjavik by regular 4x4 bus in the morning or in the afternoon. Supplement: 20.000 kr (about 125€) See bus schedule details in the info section)
Day 6: Option Fimmvörðuháls Pass > Reykjavik
8-9 hours of walking - approx. 22 km - Altitude 200 m> 1000 m> 50 m
If the weather conditions are favorable, and provided that a minimum of 3 participants are registered, your guide will guide you for the ascent of the 1000 m of the "Five Cairns Pass" between the ice caps of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. At the top of the pass, with great respect, we walk through the string of small still smoking craters from the March 2010 eruption which just preceded the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in April of the same year. Arrival at Skogafoss waterfall on the South Coast with late return to Reykjavik. This option is to be selected at registration.
Bus timetables when returning from trek (Indicative for the moment)
Return from Thorsmörk to Reykjavik centre on the evening of day 6
> Departure at 4:00 p.m. - Arrival at 7:20 p.m.
> Departure at 8:00 p.m. - Arrival at 11:45 p.m.
Return from Thorsmörk to Reykjavik center during the day of day 7
> Departure at 07:20 p.m. - Arrival at 11:05
> Departure at 3:00 p.m. - Arrival at 7:20 p.m.
> Departure at 8:00 p.m. - Arrival at 11:45 p.m.
Return from Skogar to Reykjavik central bus station on the evening of day 7
> Departure at 4:25 p.m. - Arrival at 7:20 p.m.
> Departure at 9:00 p.m. - Arrival at 11:45 p.m.
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 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 24,000/pp (ca. + € 200) for 5 participants
• ISK 36,000/pp (ca.+ € 300) for 4 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.
Accommodation at Thorsmörk lodge: For the 5th night in both 6-day versions.
- 1 night in chalets 4-6 berths in made beds
- 1 hot spring bath and sauna
- 1 dinner on day 5 served on site at the lodge restaurant.
- 1 breakfast on day 6 served on site at the lodge restaurant.
- 1 picnic only for those who cross the pass to the coast.
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 <email@example.com> and <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.
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.
- Difficulty level: 2-3 Demanding
- Average walking per day: ca. 14-16 km (9-10 miles)
- Total walking distance: ca.88 km (55 miles))
- Total walking time: ca. 25 hours
- Altitude between: 135 m and 800 m (440-2630 feet)
- Positive gradients: ca.1830 m (ca.6000 feet)
- Downhill gradients: ca.1780 m (ca.5840 feet)
Pass of Fimmvorðuháls (day 6)
- Difficulty level: 2-3 Challenging to demanding
- Total walking distance: ca.25 km (16 miles))
- Total walking time: ca. 9-10 hours
- Altitude between: 200 m and 60 m (660-200 feet)
- Positive gradients: ca.865 m (ca.2840 feet)
- Downhill gradients: ca.940 m (ca.3080 feet)
Recommended Travel Gear
Try to go as light as possible and take only essentials. Excess baggage can be a burden to you and to our support personnel. Keep in mind that there are limits on how much your duffel bag can weigh because the weight restrictions on international and domestic flights is usually 20 kg (70lbs).
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
- Cotton sheet to cover the hut’s mattress
- 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
- Netting hood in June and July *
There are no mosquitoes in Iceland (not yet), but in early summer midges swarms invade the banks of rivers and lakes in the lowlands like Lake Myvatn "Lake of gnats." With global warming now midges start to colonize certain areas of higher land with swamps vegetation. The outbreak period is short, but extremely difficult for the hiker. Gloves a long sleeve shirt and especially a safety netting hood that slips over your hat or cap can save you if you find yourself a day without wind in the midst of clouds of these very annoying critters. You will certainly not use it but in case... and that's not a huge investment.
This is an interactive map. Click on the icons and the trail to get more information and photos.
(If you zoom in very close, the landscape changes to a winter wonderland. That is because the satellite images were taken in winter. There will be no snow on your trek.)