The 7 day
This trip is for those that are not afraid of a challenge. With 6 full hiking days, expert local guide and a bounty of secret spot’s, detours or afternoon hikes. This hike does truly explore not just the famous Laugavegur hike, but also the wonders surrounding it. Spending the first night in the Landmannalaugar area we will have ample time to explore it before we head down trail to the amazing oasis that Þórsmörk is, where we will be spending our last two night’s. At the end of our Laugavegur excursion we will match our tired leg’s against the climb to the Fimmvörðuháls pass before heading back down to beautiful Þórsmörk and celebrating our hike with a nice evening around the campfire.
What you need to bring
Day 1: Arrival at Landmannalaugar
The first day starts early with an appointment with a bus at 7:30 in the morning. Starting our not to long ride into the mountain shortly later. As we arrive in Landmannalaugar around lunchtime we start by building our camp and getting settled in before enjoying a nice and light lunch. After rumbling around the campsite and making sure everything is in order we head out for the first time on our 7 day trip. On this day our hike is at the mercy of the weather gods but usually we start heading down the traditional laugavegur hike, over the obsidian lava flow of Laugahraun and towards the mountain of many colours Brennisteinsalda (881m). After a nice and “easy” afternoon hike with about 8 km (5 mi) of trail behind us and 350 m (1100 ft) of elevation gain we arrive back at camp for a warm meal and a visit to the geothermal pool as we enjoy our last night of comparative civilization in the busy mountain center of Landmannalaugar.
Day 2: Hrafntinnusker
The second day is often the hardest day of the entire trip. After breakfast and the introduction of our Superjeep and it’s driver we break camp, pack our belongings and get set to get going. With our daypack at hand we head upwards, but today is gona be about going uphill. When weather allows we hike the Skalli route to Hrafntinnusker. A mildly strenuous hike, yet with plenty of climbing as we hike 16 km (10 mi) and gain 800 m (2600 ft) as we go along. Leaving the crowds behind the scenery get’s even more barren as we follow the colorful ridgeline of Jökulgil and head into the empty black and whiteness that surrounds Hrafntinnusker (1052m). Hrafntinnusker is a Isolated outpost with a single hut and one of the most alien looking campsites on the planet, making you unsure if you are still truly here or if we took you to the moon. But being located just shy of 64° north and standing over 1000 m (3280ft) above sea level the weather here can be unforgiving. A heartwarming (life saving) almost traditional Icelandic stew will be most welcomed.
Day 3: Descending the "Volcano"
After climbing into the emptiness of Hrafntinnusker yesterday, today is going to bring that same void and empty space back to life and if luck is on our side, we might see the snow buntings that inspired the name and spirit of our company as we start trekking across the high plateau that we spent all day yesterday climbing to reach. As we hike along we try to explore some of the geothermal areas that are abundant along the trail today and perhaps we might venture a little off the beaten path on today’s hike. Visiting some of the most hidden gem’s Iceland has to offer. But the terrain can be hard and the weather’s worse so distances today can be a little fluid. Starting at 16 km (10 mi) and stretching towards 23 km (14 mi) with elevation varying as well. But today will always be more down than up. Because at some point of our hike we will loose all the elevation gain we toiled for yesterday as we need to descend down towards our camp of the night at Álftavatn (550m) with often breathtaking view’s of the mountains below as we emerge from the fog of the high plateau.
Day 4: Crossing the Sand
Our first three day’s on the trail have all felt like different planets, unsure were we are each day. Today we finally get our bearings and start being familiar with our surroundings. With black sands stretching towards the horizon dotted with green mountains all framed by large glaciers and snow capped Volcanoes. Today feels like we hit the moon on our way across the galaxy. With small ups and downs on the trail today, it almost feels like a break day after the past two days. Though we have a river or two to cross as we make our way down the trail. After crossing the notoriously cold Bláfjallakvísl river around lunchtime we take aim for our afternoon detour of the day as we soon leave the black sands behind us and drop down to the always spectacular Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon. Formed by the interactions of “super” volcanic eruptions and vast ice age glaciers. With 20 km (12.5 mi) of walking and a accumulated elevation loss of 395 m (1295 ft) and 375m (1230 ft) of elevation gain we only drop a total of 20 m (65 ft) today before we find ourself back in camp.
Day 5: Arriving at Þórsmörk
With day 5 being the last day of the actual Laugavegur trail it’s fitting that glaciers and mountains we’ve been seeing sporadically on the horizion or in the distance finally seem to be reachable. But today we make our way towards the foot of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull (1666m) whose eruption in 2010 halted half of all international air travel. Þórsmörk feels like an oasis in the wilderness after our journey through land more open and vast than the kilometers behind us dare to suggest. Soon after we start seeing trees for the first time in five days we get to cross our last river the trip. As we cross Þröngá a milky glacier river reaching the forest of Þórsmörk the smell and winds feel like they change and the sound of birds pick up as the air feels warmer once we start walking amongst the trees. With our camp here the best and biggest one so far we
Day 6: Fimmvörðuháls pass
Often the most challenging day of the trip, day 6 starts with a leisurely hike across a volatile river bed where we cross the “car killing” Krossá on a moveable footbridge before setting off to start the climb of the day. But today we aim to climb roughly 1000 m (3280 ft) over a span of 19km ( 12 mi) on the way up to Fimmvörðuháls where the eruption of 2010 (Eyjafjallajökull) begun. As we make our way up, climbing above the tree line again the scenes and feel of the hike take a bigger alpine feeling than we have had before on our trip as we draw nearer the snowline of the mountains seen in the distance at the beginning of hike. This being our last full day of hiking we take our time and aim to summit in the afternoon for a nice second lunch with a strong hope for an epic view and perhaps even a celebratory cookie or two before we decide what route we descend back down into Þórsmörk. Staying now our second night at the Basecamp in Þórsmörk we enjoy a “final” meal at camp with a traditional Icelandic BBQ with all the unhealthy sides and trimmings we can muster up from our stores, celebrating the end of our voyage.
Day 7: Heading home
Having a late breakfast and sleeping in even though just a little after a long trip is a welcome respite for weary legs. After a late start to the day we start breaking camp for the last time and pack our bags with eyes on a 2:30 departure back to Reykjavík. But for those longing for a last touch of Icelandic nature we head out for a 2-3 hour stroll trough Þórsmörk. Walking through the pristine protectorate we choose our hike today on the freshness of spirits and blessings of the weather gods. Returning back timely to camp. You can expect to arrive back in Reykjavík between 18 and 19 at the end of the day.
The Devil is in the Details
My wife and I were lucky enough to trek the Laugavegur Trail with Frímann this summer. While I cannot guarantee your weather will be as perfect as it was for us, I can guarantee Frímann will take great care of you and he’ll ensure you have an amazing trip. If you listen closely enough you may hear the faint calls of elusive wildlife or Frímann singing Christmas songs while hiking. Beyond being a fantastic guide and quite a character he will get you safely through the Laugavegur Trail. He’s a walking encyclopedia of information on everything Iceland, especially of the geography and wildlife you will see. He also has unique knowledge of the trails and may take you to some places that are not found on your traditional map. He will go out of his way to ensure you have a great, safe and memorable time.
This photo was one of the last taken with the drone I brought with. I personally owe a huge part of my trip to Frímann as he went above and beyond to help me retrieve my drone after I crashed it near a glacier. Without his help trekking through the wilderness, I would have lost my drone and most of the photos and video I captured of this breathtaking region.
I would highly recommend trekking the trail with Frímann and the next time we are in Iceland I know we’ll be booking a trail with him.
Jim and Holly / US