Since I´m a very extreme person, and also Jammu, I guess that´s how we ended up doing this extraordinary 5-day hiking route in Iceland. To begin with, I´ve never been sleeping in a tent, neither have I ever actually hiked more than one day, neither have i ever walked over 1 km with a big backpack, so what is a better solution to that, than doing a 5-day hiking trip in Iceland?
Laugavegur is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, and yes, believe me, it was definitely worth all the blisters, headaches and effort that it took. It´s by far one of the most wonderful (and also difficult) 5-days of my life. It´s not a difficult hike, since you can do it during many days. It´s in total 55 km, and many people do it also in just 2-3 days. But what makes it difficult is the weather, and we did indeed experience that, of course on the first day.
So, after I checked some pictures online from the hike, I just said to Jammu that we´re going to do this hike, yes, or YES. We bought all the necessary stuff, like tent, sleeping bags, food for 5 days, compass, clothes etc. already before the trip in Andorra. And I was so excited to already start the hike even before we were in Iceland. Imagine me at on our floor at home just chilling in the tent because I was so eager to already go hiking.
I´ll go through the hike day-by-day so it´s easier to follow and see how the surroundings changed even after each km.
I had read in several blogposts that it´s definitely worth taking an extra day to just stay and hike around the area in Landamannalaugar, so that´s what we did. There´s several huts / cabins / small houses on the hike route, but they´re usually fully booked already 1 year before nowadays, so that´s how we ended up sleeping in tents some of the nights. The benefit of having the huts is that you can cook inside, and also that you´re not so affected if there´s a rain storm for example, that we experienced the next day. We managed to get a hut the first night, the night in the middle of the hike and the last night of the hike route. We stayed at the hut in Landamannalaugar and hiked around the area the first day. I mean, just look at the pictures, the nature is so extremely beautiful, I couldn´t almost put down my camera because there was always something new and exciting to take a picture of. There´s also a small natural spring next to the hut as you can see in the pictures, it was super relaxing to just chill there in the hot water.
The day started awesome, nice weather, not too cold, neither too hot, and the plan was to hike to Hrafntinnusker, which is around 12 km. It´s an elevation increase of 470m so it was a pretty heavy hike with the 15 kg backpack. Anyways, that´s not how the nature, neither the weather had decided that the day will be for us. When we started hiking more up, the weather got worse, and at some point, you couldn´t even see more than 4-5 meters ahead of you because of the fog and rain. I was so happy to arrive to the hut in Hrafntinnusker, although we couldn´t enter it since we didn´t have it booked. The plan was to camp in a tent on the camping area next to the hut. It was so freezing cold up there and so windy. I tried to eat a sandwich without my gloves and the hands where shaking so badly. The warden of the hut told us straight to continue to the next hut because of the weather and because it was still very early on the day (around 1 a clock). I looked at Jammu and we both knew that we couldn´t stay up there in that freezing weather all day in a tent. The other option was to continue hiking for another 15 km to the next hut, so, that´s what we did. I couldn´t take much photos during the hike from Hrafntinnusker to Alfavatn since it was so foggy and the rain just didn´t stop at any point. As I already said before, the hike is not difficult, but it can be extremely dangerous if the weather is bad, and if you don´t have good clothes. There´s several people during the years that unfortunately never arrived to the next hut, and died on the way because of the weather conditions. We arrived late at night, wet and exhausted to the hut in Alfavatn. 28 km in total, crossing geothermal areas, beautiful mountains, a glacier and a volcano field. The weather didn´t get any better, it actually started to get really windy when we tried to set up our tent, but at least it wasn´t as freezing cold as on the glacier. Lucky us though, since they had just opened a bar / restaurant a few weeks back in Alfavatn, where we could enter and dry our clothes a bit. The night in the tent was probably one of the scariest nights in my life, since the rain was pouring down and the wind just kept getting stronger. As a first “tent experience” this wasn´t maybe the best option.
When the morning finally arrived, it was still raining. We were trapped inside the tent for few hours before it stopped raining, thanks to the weather gods for that. It was just around 4 km to Hvanngil where we had the hut booked for the next night, and I can tell you, we arrived, laid down at the bed, and stayed all day laying in the bed. I was so tired after the first day, and the feeling after taking a shower, wow. I guess you can see my happy face. The short hike was very beautiful, very green mountains and rivers. The first river crossing on the hike was a nice experience also, freeeeeeezing cold water, but doable.
I think the weather gods were just trying us during the first days, since from now onwards the weather was awesome. This hike was quite boring though, since it was basically 15 km walking on lava fields, very plain and nothing really exciting. We arrived after around 5 hours walking to Emstrur, where we set up our tent. I prefer this camping experience way more than the first day, I loved it. Sunny weather, beautiful surrounding mountains and a small river next to our tent. We even decided to do a so called “day hike” to a canyon that was close by, very impressive, although you can´t appreciate it as much on the pictures.
Happy and excited we woke up early and continued the hike in sunny weather. The last day was very long and it took us around 6 hours to arrive to the last stop of the hike. There were 2 river crossings which took some extra time, and also few steep parts that required some resting in between. It felt so cool to arrive, I felt so accomplished, although the route isn´t difficult and basically anyone can do it. And the red wine glass, fresh food and sauna that was waiting for us in Þórsmörk Volcano huts where we had booked the night, there´s no words that can describe how awesome that last night of the hike was.
All in all, the Laugavegur hike is definitely one of the most beautiful routes you can do in Iceland. It´s only doable during the summer months, so if you´re heading there between June – September, make sure you consider doing this hike!