In six days we will go through a whole variety of landscapes, from moss-covered lava fields, through colourful rhyolite mountains, passing active geothermal hot spots, take dip into a natural hot spring, hike in the monochromatic landscape where the white of the snow meets the black glass obsidian mountain. We will be hiking close to glaciers, go through glacial-fed rivers and into valley where glaciers have clearly and vividly formed that stunning area. Prepare yourself for long summer days with spectacular landscape and very few people. The kind of place that you will have to remind yourself that you are not dreaming. People that have never been to the moon often say this is like being on the moon, including myself. I have been guiding this route about 20 times and I still absolutely love it. As you might have guessed by the name of my company; I love food, I love cooking, I love eating food, I love talking about food and most importantly I love sharing food with good people. Ever since I was studying adventure tourism in Canada I have tried my best to make the food delicious in wilderness setting. To work around all the limitations of cooking in the wild.
The hike, as most places in Iceland is alpine, meaning there are no trees to be found anywhere around. Unless of course you count the trees on the 5th and 6th day trees. That would be extremely generous and very Icelandic of you to do so. I have been guiding this tour around 20 times. Still, I find this trip to be fascinating. Now I am finally doing these tours how I always envisioned them. With the right group size so everyone can get my attention, a night in Landmannalaugar so we can bath in a natural hot spring, great local produce as much as I can and many other smaller things as well. All in hopes to improve the overall experience for my guests.
The trips will be supported. We will experienced highland driver in a modified 4x4 highland truck driving with our luggage from hut-to-hut. I really think this is a great way to travel like this. Because then we will only have a day pack with the things that we need for the day. The driver will drive with our one bag of luggage each where our sleeping bag, clean clothes, a nice book to read, toiletries etc. will be stored. Allowing us to have great and fresh food for the journey as well. Everyone will be responsible to load and unload their bag into the truck and the same goes with the highland bus to and from the hike. The tour will be guided by myself, Einar Sveinn Westlund.
Each day we will hike 12-17km, except for the last day which is shorter. Total of around 75km. 55km on the Laugavegur trail and around 20km counting the first and the last day.
Day 1 - Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar
Hut: Landmannalaugar www.fi.is/en/mountain-huts/all-mountain-huts/landmannalaugar
The tour starts at BSI bus terminal in Reykjavík. The highland bus leaves at 07:00 (AM). We meet up 30 minutes before that. It takes about 4 hours and half to drive to Landmannalaugar. Once we are there, we will put our gear in place, this is where the hut that we will be sleeping at. The area around Landmannalaugar gives a sense of being on a different planet. With all its colours, lacks trees, mountains, lava fields and vast nature. The first day and last day are going to be different to the other ones because we will have a choice of where to go depending on the weather conditions and the group. Around Landmannalaugar are some nice hikes. Bláhnúkur, blue mountain that has blue rhyolite rocks, Suðurnámur mountain range that overlooks the geothermally active area of Landmannalaugar and far into the direction of the Laugavegur hike of the following day. Ljótipollur, The Ugly Puddle is an old caldera crater lake with red rocks around it. Quite humble name for that place. Any of the choices to hike around Landmannalaugar will be the right one. After the hike we will cook some nice dinner in the hut and go for a dip in the natural hot spring afterwards. This is the only day where we will be able to go into hot springs. Then of course shower and go to sleep all happy and tired.
Day 2 - Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker
Hut: Hrafntinnusker www.fi.is/en/mountain-huts/all-mountain-huts/hrafntinnusker
We will hike through moss-covered lava field, over colourful rhyolite mountains towards the monochromatic area of Hrafntinnusker, which means obsidian mountain. This day has perhaps the most drastic change of landscape in this hike. On the hike are different spots where we can see the geothermal activities of the area, in lakes, in small pockets and most notable in Stórihver. Where we will smell the sulfur and see where the heat of the geothermal activity melts the snow up there. Hrafntinnusker hut is the most primitive of this hike. There is no shower and there are outhouses instead of flushing toilets. This gives a real sense of old-school adventure. I find this hut to be cozy. Hrafntinnusker hut stands at 1.100m height which is the highest point of our hike. During this day we will not see a whole lot of plants and vegetation giving a surreal feel of being on a different planet. We will cook dinner together.
Day 3 - Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn
Hut: Álftavatn www.fi.is/en/mountain-huts/all-mountain-huts/alftavatn
Our biggest descending day. Now we will also get a hint of river crossings. In the first half of the hike this day we will be going up and down quite a bit. We will return to rhyolite and mud. As the day progresses, we will get an incredible overview of the southern part of the highlands. With peaks sticking out of black sand, with some snow lines and glaciers in the background. Áftavatn means swan lake which would be appropriate name if I had ever seen a single swan on that lake. It is a lake though, so half of the name is correct. As we descend, we will start to hear some birds, see some vegetation where freshwater streams start. The shower after this hike is perhaps going to be the most anticipated shower that you take for a while. Of course the dinner will be at the hut.
Day 4 - Álftavatn to Emstrur
Hut: Emstrur www.fi.is/en/mountain-huts/all-mountain-huts/emstrur
The flat day. This day is pretty much flat. This is not to be confused with easy day. Half an hour into the hike we will cross a river. This river is usually about knee deep but can vary depending on the rain in the mountains. Which course is followed by another river crossing through a glacial-fed river. This wakes you up more than a double espresso ever could. We always cross in a controlled manner and I have had guests of all ages and backgrounds cross these rivers. During this day we will see mountain peaks sticking out of the black sand, we will see Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Don't worry I'll teach you how to pronounce these names during the hike. This area is formed with volcanic activities happening under glacier. When these two massive forces collide, we end up with stunning nature. You might have to slap your self in the face few times during this day to make sure that you are not dreaming. After the dinner in Emstrur we will go out again to check out a massive canyon nearby. Yes, we will have enough light as we have the long summer days in Iceland. Being so close to the arctic circle helps a lot with the 24-hour sunlight, in June, It’s a bit less in August.
Day 5 - Emstrur to Þórsmörk
Hut: Þórsmörk - Langidalur https://www.fi.is/en/mountain-huts/all-mountain-huts/thorsmork-langidalur
This is an interesting day. Gradually, we start to see more vegetation, hear more birds, we will even see what we classify as trees. Which are at best small bushes elsewhere. The gorge will be on right side most of the day. Still stunning rock formation, in some areas there are basalt columns, we do get closer to the glaciers and get a feeling of being at lower elevation. This is the longest day of around 17 km and one river crossing. You will be experts at crossing rivers at this time so this should not be an issue here. There is one glacial river that we will be crossing from a sturdy bridge that is above a small canyon. If you have extreme fear of heights this spot is the only one on the trail that I think might be a concern for you. The bridge is well built, and it has only one time been a problem for one of my guests. You can expect the biggest meal this night. As it is always nice to have even more elaborate meal on the last night. Out of many spectacular places that I have been Þórsmörk is my favourite spot. With three glaciers around it, crazy rock formations, rivers that change day-by-day depending on how much the glaciers are melting. I am sure you will find this place as magical as I do.
Day 6 - Þórsmörk – Reykjavík
We will start the day with nice breakfast. After that we will head into Stakkholtsgjá canyon. There are two river crossing that we will be doing two times. This is an interesting area that used to be under the sea. Surprising place to many that get there. We can clearly see different layers of different eras of the history. This is a great way to finish this trip. It is all on flat. This hike is great to process everything that we have experienced during these 6 days of hiking. We will have lunch before the highland bus comes and picks us up at 15:00 (3:00 PM) to take us back to Reykjavík, where it all started. I will have booked at a restaurant for the night that anyone can choose to come. The meal is not included in the tour. However, it has been great way to finish up at a restaurant. During the drive back to Reykjavík we will be driving through few rivers and driving on gravel. It would surprise me to see any of you awake after the hour and half that it takes to get on pavement. The bus tour back is around 4 hours and half. We will arrive in Reykjavík around 19:30 (7:00 PM)
Since we have a supported trip our highland driver will drive hut to hut with our food. This means you can expect high quality food. I am used to cooking for vegetarians, vegans, people with gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance and I believe I have a pretty good understanding on how to accommodate special dietary needs. My girlfriend is vegetarian and gluten intolerant and she has many fantastic recipes to pass on to me. I will be doing research on different recipes for whichever food requirements people have. There is an additional charge of 40.00€ total for a special dietary requirements. Food allergies fall into this category as well.
If you are interested in Icelandic ingredients cooked in all sorts of way that is what you can be expecting. I will not be serving the shocking traditional food that let’s face it mostly just tourists eat such as rotten shark. I will not be revealing the menu prior to the tours so it can be a surprise from day to day. I will at least be serving lamb and fish since those are some of our best ingredients in my opinion. The plan is to forage wild ingredients for the last two dinners if we can.
Included & not included in the tour
The idea is that guests should not have to take up their wallet the entire time during the trip.
Guiding in English. I am Icelandic, I have experience guiding this trail, I graduated with adventure guide diploma in Canada and I have a current and up-to-date Wilderness First Responder certificate (80-hour first aid for wilderness setting).
Highland bus to and from Reykjavík
Accommodation during the trip. 5 nights in mountain huts.
One bag to be driven hut to hut with a support driver. Each guest will be responsible to load and unload their bag every day.
All food. Including during the drive to and from the trail. 5x dinners, 6x lunches, 5x breakfasts and snacks. Note, if you have a special dietary requirement total of 40.00€ will be added to the price.
Hot shower every day except for 2nd day at Hrafntinnusker because there is no shower there. The hot showers are on a 5-minute timer, if you need more you can purchase extra time or stay as long as you please in a cold shower. 5 minutes does not seem much, but it is more than enough time.
Charging battery. Every guest will borrow a power bank to charge their phones and other devices.
Travel to and from Iceland. Each guest is responsible to get to Iceland AND to have all required documents for the Covid-19 restrictions. See more here www.covid.is/english
Transportation to the meeting point at BSI Bus Centre in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Accommodation in Reykjavík before and after the tour. Each guest is responsible to book their own accommodation in Reykjavík.
Personal hiking gear and gear for self-care such as towels, toiletries etc.
Sleeping bag, every person is responsible for their own sleeping bag. There is no need to bring a sleeping mat as there are in the mountain huts.
Personal travel insurance.
Optional farewell dinner at a restaurant on the 6th day
Three departures in 2021
June 22nd – June 27th
July 05th – July 10th
August 19th – August 24th