Trek from Mount Hekla to the Ocean

“How was my trek in Iceland? An amazing diversity of dramatic landscapes…  A trip to the genesis of the planet… Every possible shade of green set against dark volcanic sands, blood-red rock and shimmering glaciers… Hostile Iceland, friendly Iceland, a clear, unspoiled beauty… An incredible trek!”

Specially suited for nature lovers, this 9 day-trek is ideal for walkers who do not have much time for longer holidays, but dream of discovering the unique mountains of Iceland by foot, without carrying a heavy backpack and also want a cosy shelter each night. Presenting no difficulty for good walkers, each member carries only a light daypack. Every day involves an average of 6-8 hours hiking. A 4x4 truck carries all your personal things, heavy equipment and supplies. We appreciate the importance of good food, so we provide what we believe is the finest cuisine to be found in the Icelandic mountains! The isolation for most of the trek is complete. It is just us and the mountains. Most of the hiking is off-track, exploring hidden valleys, hot springs and numerous other features of the area. The remoteness of the terrain, coupled with an ever-changing climate can make this a most challenging environment; therefore, safety is our primary concern. Your guide and our support vehicle are radio equipped. Our guides, all experienced mountaineers with extensive local knowledge, are fully trained in wilderness first aid and rescue procedures. To complement this, our personal clothing and equipment systems must be sufficient to ensure your comfort in all kinds of weather – see our kit list for advice.

That is not to say that these mountains are full of life! Botanists will be captivated by the many species of Icelandic flora, from myriad mosses and grasses, to alpine herb fields, berries, shrubs and trees. Birdwatchers should keep binoculars ready as we surprise many ground nesting species, such as golden plover, ptarmigan and snow bunting. The raven watches us from above and as we get closer to the coast, seabirds look for our attention. This trek will lead us from the foot of Mount Hekla at the edge of the volcanic rift, through the rift, all the way to the ocean. Each day will bring stunning, but totally different new sights that compete to outdo the beauty of those seen the day before.

 

This trek lasts 9 days from/to Reykjavik, from Thursday morning at 07:30 to Friday afternoon or early evening or 8 days from Thursday morning to Thursday late evening.
You can choose the 8-day option when you register.

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This trek lasts 9 days from/to Reykjavik, from Thursday morning at 07:30 to Friday afternoon or early evening. Or 8 days from Thursday morning to Thursday late evening.

D1: Reykjavik - Mt Hekla
150 km – 3 hours driving - 6-8 hours hiking – 400 m elevation gain/loss - hut
Early morning rendezvous at 7:30 AM with your guide at Reykjavik Central Bus station. Hiking clothes and daypack ready for trekking (A bag with clean clothes for the end of your trip can be stored in your Reykjavik accommodation or in our store in the village of Hella). The trip begins. Approx. 2 hours 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: West side of Mt. Hekla
7 hours hiking – 300 m elevation gain/loss – hut
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 colour of a crow’s feathers.

Day 3: Valagjá – Pass of the lambs
6 hours hiking – 300 m elevation gain/loss – hut
We walk away from “the Gateway to Hell” (as Hekla was known in the middle ages) and the landscape begins to soften; the green colours 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: North Fjallabak - Hrafntinnusker caldera
4-6 hours hiking - 500m-elevation gain - hut
Slow climb to the colourful caldera of Hrafntinnusker. Walking among countless bubbling steaming hot springs; we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty.

Day 5: Hrafntinnusker caldera 
4-6 hours hiking - 300m-elevation  - hut
A great loop to explore the caldeira. The area consists of more geological elements than you can count, but most obvious are the famous rhyolite mountains coming in all shades and colours. 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...

Day 6: Hike Ljósártungur to Hvanngíl
6-8 hours hiking - 300m-elevation loss - hut
Following the course of the Markarfljót canyon, we descend south through hills of rolling grassland, crossing clear streams, enjoying a spectacular view of the Mýrdalsjökull icecap.

Day 7: Hike through Emstrur desert
6-8 hours hiking – 100 m elevation loss/gain - hut
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. Hut accommodation.

Day 8: Emstrur to Þórsmörk

6-7 hours – ca.20 km (12 miles) – Alt. 465 to 200 m (1525 to 666 feet)

We progress along narrow canyons where powerful glacier rivers flow.The valley is closed in between glaciers, Mýrdalsjökullbeing 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, there is green vegetation of moss, fern, birch wood and other small shrubs. Overnight in the smiling, forested valley of Þórsmörk (The Woods of Thor, the Nordic god), 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. Trek ends!

Depending of your schedule they are 3 bus to gain Reykjavik (fare included)

  • From Thórsmörk Langidalur  at 16.00 - Arrival at Reykjavik BSI Air terminal à 19.20
  • From Thórsmörk Básar  at 20:00 - Arrival at Reykjavik BSI Air terminal à 23.45

Day 9 – Þórsmörk to Reykjavik

2-3 hours – ca.6 km (4 miles) – Drive 160 km

You wander on your own in the magnificent valley of Þórsmörk dominated by the now world famous volcano Mt Eyjafjallajökull. At 2:30 PM you take the regular 4wd bus to return to Reykjavik bus station in ca. 4 hours (It is possible to leave Thorsmörk back to Reykjavik by regular 4wd bus at 7:00 AM  - Picnic is not included if you return with early morning bus)

Depending of your schedule they are 3 bus to gain Reykjavik (fare included)

  • From Thorsmörk  at 07:20 - Arrival at Reykjavik BSI Air terminal à 11:05
  • From Thorsmörk  at 15:00 - Arrival at Reykjavik BSI Air terminal à 19:20

 

Day 9+ - Optional Pass of Fimmvorðuháls - The New Volcano!

8-9 hours – ca.22 km (15 miles) – Alt. 200 m up to 1000 m down to 60 m (from 666 feet up to 3300 feet and down to 216 feet)

Only if weather conditions are excellent and if the number of participants reaches minimum 3 “volunteers”, your guide will lead you up to the pass of Fimmvörðuháls between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull and down to Skógar on the South Coast. We climb some 900 m (2950 feet) over the pass of Fimmvörðuháls At the pass we cross the volcanic fissure from the April 2010 eruption. Extraordinary view of the ocean and the Westman Islands archipelago With 9 hours this hike is the longest one of the trek. This involves crossing some narrow ridges, so those who suffer from extreme vertigo may choose to stay wandering in beautiful Thorsmörk.

We provide a picnic and will bring your duffle bag to Reykjavik central bus station or to your hotel

A late regular bus from Skógar will bring you to Reykjavik on late evening.

  • From Skogar  at 16:25 - Arrival at Reykjavik BSI Air terminal à 19:20
  • From Skogar  at 21:00 - Arrival at Reykjavik BSI Air terminal à 23:45

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 36,000/pp (ca. + € 300) for 5 participants
• ISK 60,000/pp (ca.+ € 500) 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. 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 <matta@fjallabak.is> and <lager@fjallabak.is> 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.

Clothing
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.


Travel Accessories

  • 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 !)
  • Sunglasses
  • 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
  • Binoculars
  • 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.)