In two weeks a friend and I will be heading out to Iceland to hike along the 75 kilometer Laugavegur trail. While the trail is not known for being overly difficult I will be planning to take the full amount of food with me as there are no places to eat along the way. On top of that as we will be there in June there could be some risk for colder nights and still some snow left on the trail. (Though I think the risk is minimal here I will still pack accordingly)
Update: trail now complete and I will update this post with more up to date info for anyone wanting to make the trip themselves.
We plan on stretching the trip out over 5-6 days and spend two nights, if possible, in some of the huts along the way. Sometimes it’s pretty nice to have a hut and warm shower if the possibility presents itself.
Once at the airport:
Once you get to the airport simply take the transfer bus to the bsi coach terminal in Reykjavik. From here you can buy the “hikers pass” that will get you to the start of the trail in either Landmannalauger, porsmork or skogar and back again. This pass will cost around 100usd.
Where to buy supplies
At the coach terminal you can take a 100 meter walk to the Nesli gas station and buy minor supplies, alcohol, butane, maps and more. If you need hiking equipment you can take a ten minute walk to central Reykjavik and stock up at any of the gear shops along Main Street.
The Laugavegur is roughly 45 kilometers stretching from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. Though that is more of the weenie trail for heavy miserable hikers. The real trail continues past Þórsmörk and ends in Skógar which stretches the trail out atleast a little more to a total of 75 kilometers.
While this hike could easily be done in 3 days (distance wise), I really just plan on taking it easy and perhaps even spend an extra day here and there. We have no real hurry to get through the trail, so might as well take it easy.
I did in fact take it really easy… Was able to spend six days out there! It was hard, but I did it.
What will catch your attention upon arriving at Landmannalauger is the Disney land atmosphere and feeling of exploitation. There seems to be an internal discussion here in Iceland with regards to the exploitation of the hikers. What I mean by exploitation is the fact that you are forced to sleep at designated campsites and pay anywhere between 15-20usd just to pitch your tent. A better solution in my mind if they have to charge for the trail is to take an entrance fee like they do in the USA and let people pitch their tents without the rediculous tent fees.
In my opinion this nation is very dependent on tourist and hikers and trying to squeeze every last penny from them will leave a bad taste in most people’s mouths. – this was a constant complaint that I heard when talking with many of the hikers along the way.
Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker
12km, estimated walking time 4-5 hours, 470m net climb
Landmannalaugar is the first stop along the way and here you will even find the hot springs. Don’t be afraid to spend an extra day here as there are plenty of day hikes with this area as the starting point. The trail to Hrafntinnusker is a good warm up trail that will quickly break your bones of any sofa softness. This area is filled with hot springs and volcanic activity. If there is any hut along the trail I would recommend to try and book it would be at Hrafntinnusker – the reason being that until mid July the area is still thick with snow and the campsite is terribly placed. No shield from the wind-and shit weather and about 100 meters from the nearest toilets.
Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn
12 km, estimated walking time 4 – 5 hours, 490m net descent
Alftavatn is by far the most picturesque of all the stops. The deep green valley will seem to almost spring out of nowhere. I did this hike in late June soak most all of the second day was spent hiking in deep snow and rain – when I approached the valley here, it was almost like I came along a completely new trail as the snow resolved into grass, the hot springs into rivers and all of a sudden the sun started to shine. There are numorous award winning pictures taken from this valley. The pictures below are my non-award winning shots…
Álftavatn – Emstrur (Botnar)
15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, 40 m net descent
Emstrur (Botnar) to Þórsmörk
15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, 300m net descent
Porsmork to Skogar
25 km, estimated walking time 7-9 hrs, 100m net descent (but a 900m climb to start)
This part of the trail is not for the faint of heart. To be honest the ascent to the top scared the shit out of me and I don’t get scared to easily. I will save the details for you imagination but let’s just say that one wrong step and you will be splattered 1000 meters at the bottom of a canyon. I am glad however I took the Porsmork to Skogar path and not the other way around. Going up on a steep incline is fine.. But going down.. No way in hell.
This portion of the trail, the very steep incline will test any backpacker. I have a very light pack at 6 kilos and this trail kicked my ass. Be prepared and take a lot of rests along the way and you should be fine. While Porsmork to Skogar is by far the most difficult path along the laugavegur , it is also the most rewarding.
From shit to paradise.. Rainy and cold then sunny and brilliant. Could get below zero some days and could get up to 15 degrees celcius other days. The trail could be soaked with cold half frozen water, or it could be relatively dry. In other words the trail this time of year could throw all kinds of surprises our way. So, plan accordingly. I will bring my usual hiking in the swedish mountains gear with me which consists of warm clothing, extra socks, rain gear throughout and so on. I will even bring my down jacket and long johns. I will include my packing list on part 2.
Getting to the trail:
I will be flying in to Reykavik on the 28th and arrive at 9.00 am. From there I will take a stroll along main street and purchase my alcohol for my stove, perhaps some other gear if I realize I need something extra. Then we will be taking the bus from reykavik at around 12.00. Reykjavik Excursions bus (Route 11) from the BSI terminal in Reykjavik. This bus leaves pretty regularly towards Landmannalaugar which is where our trail starts. The first day should be pretty cool on our part, none of the days except for the last are much more than 10-15 kilomers per day. Which is more like a sunday stroll. So if anything we will have to have a plan for inactivity as we both get restless when where not moving.