Our plan was to start the hike straight from the bus, however we thought we would enquire if there were indeed spaces in the huts along the route. The young lad in the ranger hut was pretty gobsmacked that we decided to turn up without a reservation and without a tent as an alternative….hmmm started to feel a bit of idiot, gave him my name for him to see if we would go on the waiting list, only to find out that we had spaces in the huts after all, stemming from my initial enquiry 4 months earlier!! The catch was that it was for a day later, not the end of the world, just a night in Landmannalaugar hut before we could set off.
After a later than expected start – kitchen not opening until later than 7 and lots of faffing packing our rucksack – off we went. The guidebook describes day 1 as a lot of climbing, and whilst there certainly was climbing, the overall gradient and the distraction of an ever-increasing incredible view ensured that it was not too laborious. The middle section went over bizzare landscape and was generally undulating. About half way along, the route continues along a wide ridge, keeping high above a small valley with hot springs and mud pools. We actually (by accident) walked down into the small valley, a diversion well worth doing as you can get very very close to the hot springs and mud pools, in fact you are walking through them! Once you join the path back up on the saddle, the view of ‘wizards hat’ hill in front makes a great snack stop.
The final part of the walk (not helped by the poor visibility and drizzle) made the route feel very remote and lunar indeed. The hut at Hrafntinnusk came before we knew it, and took only 4 hours for the 12km, including lots of stops for photos/lunch and adjusting kit!
· The hut at Hrafntinnuske is very ‘rustic’. If I did this route again I would definitely continue on and miss this hut – weather dependent. Saying that, this opinion is formed by the fact that we had to share it with 30 hyperactive 13 year olds and the clouds came in taking away the view. Outside of the hut was very windy and cold, so sitting outside was not an option. Therefore we had to spend the evening stuck in the upstairs sleeping area listening to excitable teenagers!
- · There are no showers here and there are only drop toilets
- · The boot room is very well heated, and makes a very effective drying room
- · They charge your phones/electrical items for free (well these wardens did!)
- · There is a path signposted from Hrafntinnuske to Landmannahellir if you fancy doing something different (or if the remaining huts are full)
- · A nice mini hike to do whilst you are whiling away the hours (or trying to avoid schoolchildren) is the short walk to the area of the most concentrated hot springs, we did it but the whole area was covered in thick cloud so I can’t comment on whether it was worth it.
We woke to thick mist, and whilst the wardens assured us that the mist tends to lift at about 11am in the morning, we were keen to head off and escape the claustrophobic feeling of the hut. So off we went at about 8ish. As we walking towards the end of the season, the snow was as its lowest which made the seemingly never-ending undulations exposed. So, in combination with the thick mist, the walking was slow-going as path/pole finding was carefully done! It was however, lovely to set off as we didn’t see another person for nearly 2 hours so felt very remote indeed.
- · There are flush toilets (!) and the showers cost 500kr (for 5 minutes)
- · There is a bus service to and from here – Reykjavik Excursions
- · You can charge your phone here (for approx. €7!)
- · There are several nice short excursions – one being around the lake and the other up to a nearby ridge for gorgeous views
Deeper and wider than the first river, this is where sandals and poles REALLY come into their own. I honestly think I would have struggled without them. Once crossed there begun a long, long and very windy walk along a flat area through a dust storm, up and
over a saddle where it was so windy I was genuinely knocked off my feet – heavy rucksack and all! A few more ups and downs and we arrived at Botnar-Emstur, the least ascent and descent of any of the days but with the river crossings, wind and dust storm it felt the most challenging day yet taking five ho
urs. Due to the high wind several of the campers decided to stay in the huts, so ours was completely full with several people sleeping on the floor – cosy!
Things I wish I knew beforehand – day 3
- · There are flush toilets and the showers cost 500kr (for 5 minutes)
· There is a bus service to and from here – Reykjavik Excursions
- · There is a truly spectacular view of the gorge only 20 minutes away. Well worth the walk out, although slightly unnerving peering over the edge with gusty winds behind you!
- · The campsite is small and exposed to the wind
- · Poles and sandals (plus a towel handily available) makes the river crossings more bearable
- · Lighting is not good in huts, so a head torch to read/get to toilets in night is a must
- · If you do this hike in four days then the hiking lengths are fairly short, so it’s good to have entertainment – my walking companion had podcasts on her ipod, I was very jealous
- · Map – 1:100000 Landmannalaugar and Porsmork not very useful for navigation but interesting to look at and to identify mountains/rivers
- · For the fords – bring sandals and poles – otherwise it takes ages and gets really painful!
- · Sunglasses very handy for the dust storms
- · Huts have everything you need – no need for bowls/cutlery etc. they even have free food cupboards and flasks for day walks!
- · Avoid the crowds and cook tea early in the huts
- · If it’s windy then it’s really windy so girls (and guys) with long hair, take a buff to save your sanity!
- · Keep a towel handy to wipe your feet on day 3 and 4 for the river crossings
- · Would recommend going north to south
- · Planning your food carefully is key to enjoyment
- · I really wish we carried on to Skogar – looked incredible and different type of walking again
- · The campsite at reykjavik is very good value, it has loads of free gas canisters and food. Free showers. Inside kitchen/chill out area. It’s next door to the amazing swimming pool and hot pods. All excursion/airport buses stop here, and you it has luggage storage – just feels like you in the middle of a drop out band camp 🙂
- 55 litre rucksack
- waterproof jacket and trousers
- walking trousers/trousers for wearing in the hut
- 1 hiking top/1 top for wearing in the hut/1 top for last day
- underwear and socks
- down jacket
- gloves and buff
- 1 book
- 1:100 000 map and compass
- sleeping bag
- walking poles
- head torch
- ear plugs
- blister pads/ibuprofen
- several dry bags to keep thing in
- Hot chocolate sachets
- Small bottle of antiseptic hand wash
- Small pack of wet wipes
- Ipod with audio book and pod casts