Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker

10-12km
4-5 hours

On the first day of the Laugavegur Trek I arrived at the bizarre landscapes of Landmannalaugar, surrounded by lava, rhyolite mountains, snow, greenery and volcanic activity. I was lucky to have such blue weather to see it all with as a halo of thick cloud circled the drop off point.

It was an early start in Reykjavik for the trek. The bus arrived at 7.15am to pick us up from Reykjavik City Hostel/Camping for the journey to Landmannalaugar. We had to transfer to a highland bus at the BSI terminal before commencing the real journey.

As we left Reykjavik we passed the mountains where last time we had gone down inside an extinct volcano. We also passed by Hveragerði geothermal springs and pillars of smoke swirled from the ground.

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The mountains and geothermal hot springs around Reykjavik

The bus passed through incredible landscapes giving us a taste of what was to come. We forded many rivers, but amusingly some 2WD cars were still hungry to get in on the off-road action. I don’t think they got very far and definitely not past some of the bigger rivers that the bus was prepared for.

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Bus vistas - not bad eh?

We passed a dozen horseback riders who were on some strange outback adventure. Despite not having a horse or a Super Jeep to carry me or my things, I was enthusiastic about the journey ahead.

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The pony club and a warm welcome in Landmannalaugar (looking away from the tent city)

We arrived at Landmannalaugar at about 12.30pm and I set off shortly after one last power banana. I was surprised to see so many tents pitched amongst the stones. The place was teeming with package tourists going on their little day hikes.

I thought it might be more interesting to walk the route along the southern edge of Námskvísl lake up to Brennisteinsalda (855m). It was different and probably didn’t take that much longer, but it didn’t feel like it did my legs any favours.

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Walking across the lava fields towards Lake Námskvísl and a couple of squatters

The view from the top though was pretty spectacular on a sunny day. Don’t think for a minute that I meant a warm sunny day because it was still quite chilly. Typical Icelandic summer at 65 degrees north.

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Looking out across the lava fields at the rhyolite mountains

So after a quick lunch and a selfie I headed back down to join the trail. It took me over more volcanic soil (it’s always so boggy and sticky) and ravines full of frozen snow.

It was mostly just misty and foggy unlike the Landmannalaugar that I left behind. I assume I passed Stórihver hot springs because I could smell the sulphur and I passed this little pool.

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Geothermal pool near Stórihver

I reached a fairly full camp ground at around 5pm and I was lucky to find some man-made rock walls for sheltering the tent. Apparently it can get very windy at Hrafntinnusker.

It was far too foggy and cloudy to climb Söðull (1132m), and it stayed that way all night, but at least it wasn’t windy. I slept pretty well really.

Although I started to wonder if it was even necessary to sleep. I wasn’t that tired and there was still light. It occurred to me that unlike normal hiking back home, there’s no need to be constrained by daylight hours and really you could keep walking as long as your legs could carry you. You could even save days by walking on a rolling schedule like shift workers. Weird! But very handy.

However, with no views to see, it was better just to stay put, wait out the weather and hope for clearer skies tomorrow.

Well not so bad on the first day and on to the next section of the Laugavegur Trek from Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

To see the rest of my July 2016 trip to Iceland click here.

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