The Laugavegur is the longest (55km) and most famous trekking route in the South West of Iceland. We walked it from Landmannalaugar, known for its hot springs, to Thorsmork – the wood of Thor. Afterwards we continued our walk, hiking the Fimmvorduhals trail.
This second part of our journey in Iceland was very pretty but, as we could have expected, more busy. Especially the Laugavegur trail was crowded and we didn’t really like that. We had some good laughs though, cause we saw some very odd things in hikerland: Italian hikers with enough space in their bags for huge amounts of alcohol (lucky bastards); a couple who had a really big air matras…blown by a foot pump. (No kidding) They also had a massive hammer to set up their tent. So we first thought they arrived by car. But…they didn’t! Wauw! We also passed some Polish hikers who were stunned they didn’t have heating in the middle of nowhere, to dry their soaked boots. 🙂 No need for experience here. You wanna hike? You come to Laugavegur!
Luckily we had a wide variety of landscapes, all magnificent and sometimes breathtaking.
We traveled by bus from Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar. First we drove in a very comfy coach, with wifi access, but soon we had to switch on to an older version of it, with cracked windows and dusty seats. After a few minutes, it became clear why we had to change: the road transformed into a very bumpy, sometimes flooded, dirt road, quite exciting, since we were sitting in the front row.
The closer we got, the more clear it became how crowded the trail would be. Used to the complete isolation of Hornstrandir, a feeling of ochlophobia came over us. And we considered, taking the first bus back to Reykjavik. Especially when we saw the campsite, this feeling was hard to resist. It was a night-mare: the crowd, the soil, the weather, the disappointing hot springs…
It turned out the weather conditions were even worse during the previous days. So many hikers decided not to start the trail.
The thought of an other night on nightmare campsite, was worse than the thought of bad weather. So we left in the morning. It seemed we ended up in a scene of Lord of the Rings, when Sam and Frodo were on their way to Mordor or back. The corresponding tune was hummed repeatedly, till the landscape changed.
We closed our noses and stepped into real volcanic territory. The smoke you see is sulphur. Sometimes it just comes out of holes in the ground and other times you see damping, warm streams.
Iceland had had a tough winter so there still was snow on the trail. But that wouldn’t stop us. Even when we landed up in a mini blizzard – odd for the summer time- we persevered! It only meant really cold feet, cause we didn’t bring winter proof boots.
Except for that, the trail was very easy. Since the second campsite was covered in snow, we took a short break at the Hrafntinnusker hut, ate some energy bars and walked on, leaving the crowd behind. Soon we could see the lake near Alftavatn, the third campsite.
Staying on campsites on the trail is obligatory. They cost about 10 euro p.p. In return, you don’t damage nature and get a toilet. If you want to shower, you have to pay extra money if you’re interested in hot water. If you have money to spare, you can buy yourself a bed in the huts with dormitories.
Of course more people arrived during the evening. But we cuddled up in our nice open tarp from where we spotted the well equipped couple, the drunk Italians and the stunned Polish men. So we had a pretty nice evening with a lot of giggling.
The following morning we didn’t try to get up early. The morning hike consisted of a flat path trough a volcanic desert. It seemed like going on forever.
At noon we passed a glacier river. It was pretty massive and we were happy there was a bridge available. We crossed it and cooked our lunch on the river bank.
We hoped for some more variation in landscape, only we weren’t lucky this time. Desert, desert, desert! But at the end of the walk, we spotted the snowy hills of the mighty Eyjafjallajökull!
We arrived at the campsite and found a nice isolated spot. Nobody seemed to take interest in it because it wasn’t close to the toilets. But we loved it! We were all alone, surrounded by a little stream and quietness.
The last day of the Laugavegur trail we had to pass a – as was written on a poster at the campsite – very scary bridge. As we arrived we weren’t sure if it was the dangerous bridge we were warned about. It seemed rather secure and well maintained. We jumped on it several times, with great caution of course, to be certain and luckily made it to the other side, safe and sound.
The last kilometer we walked through the forest of Thor. It were more bushes than trees, but we understood the Icelandic folks were pretty proud of it. In the cabin at the end of the trail we bought beer and crisps and more beer.
We had read that there was a more quiet campsite at the other side of the river, which was also closer to the starting point of the hike to Skogar.
We walked the trail in three days instead of four. Being well in shape, we decided to try to do the Fimmvorduhals trail (about 28 km) in one day. We started early and enjoyed the calm paths and magnificent landscapes towards the Eyjafjallajökull.
On the volcano we witnessed a few curious things. First we heard the glacier rumble. That was pretty intense, because at first we didn’t realize what it was. It was a very deep earthy sound and we felt so tiny and humble.
The second odd thing involved a woman who wandered off the path, climbed through a hole in a rock, threw her back pack down hill, towards the path, where it almost tumbled into an abyss. And then she made it look like it was a calculated throw. A few bystanders were staggered by this event, but the lady took her stuff and walked on as if nothing exciting had just happened.
We continued our climb and also wandered off the path to see two new hills which arose in 2010, when the Eyjafjallajökull erupted. It felt like walking over glass shards. The rocks were pitch black or red and very light.
Near the pass we also saw this beautiful frozen lake.
We reached the hut where most hikers stayed for the night and walked on. Down hill from now on, straight to Skogar. We hiked alongside a beautiful river with numerous waterfalls, which pours into the big and famous Skogar waterfall.
Although not far away from a very touristic spot on the south west coastline, little tourists took interest in climbing up the stairs beside the big waterfall to discover the paradise above it.
Good for us.
The last 100m desceding were by stairs and we were accompanied by many visitors of the mighty Skogar waterfall.
All smelly – after a 4 day trip – we waited for the bus to Reykjavik. We took it at nightfall, ate a delicious sandwich along the road and cuddled up in our tarp after a very long, warm, relaxing, well deserved, hot shower.