/ Iceland hiking

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
AlisonSmiles - on 20 Mar 2013
Have guidebook, will travel ...

I'm planning an Iceland trip - probably early June through to mid July, maybe 4 or 5 weeks. Have Cicerone guide and am thinking Western end of the place and not attempting to skeddadle around the entire island in the time I'm there.

Anyone been? Any can't miss walks / sights or general tourist hints other than prepare for all weathers ...

Ideas for recipes with local food welcome. I have no idea what to do with dried fish ...
Trangia on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

I've been, but on a 5 day self drive sight seeing tour rather than to walk.

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon is a must, as is seeing the geysers, loads of waterfalls, glaciers, larva flows, fault lines etc etc.

If you hire a car I strongly recommend that it includes a satnav (in English) because navigations is challenging at times due to unpronounceable place names!

Keep your fuel tank topped up because out in the country there are big distances between filling stations.

Be prepared to be shocked by the costs of everything particularly food and alcohol. As a guide think what you would normally pay in the UK and double it at least!

The popular tourist spots tend to get overun by coach parties.

The people are friendly and pretty well all speak excellent English.


toad - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles: short trip with lots of variation, I'd suggest Snaefellsness - coast, glaciers, mountain in a very compact area and all within a couple of hours of Reykjavik. The golden triangle of Gulfoss, Geysir and Thingvelir is popular, but justifiably so. If you camp there, you get the Geysirs to yourself after the coaches have gone!

Alternatively head round the coast to Vik and beyond to Skaftafell. You get the wierd experience of driving over the ash plains, together with some quality mountains and the opportunity to get close to the glaciers very easily. You can get to Jokulsarlon (the ice lake where they've filmed all sorts of stuff) from there as well, but it is a fair drive from the airport (6 or 8 hours)

Food is expensive. The fish is good, but pretty much everything else is dried/tinned and imported. There is some good lamb, but expect to pay for it. I did a couple of nice restaurants when me and mrs T went touring at Stykkisholmur, but mostly we lived off pasta glop and porridge when I was working at Skaftafell. The bread and pastries are suprisingly good, though. Pretty much every settlement has a small bakery, but you may still be 80km from a settlement!
toad - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to toad: PS you don't need a satnav outside of Rejkavik - there's only one road! (I exaggerate only very slightly)
Carolyn - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

It's possibly worth going half way round the south coast, there's a lot of impressive stuff round there. I particularly like the bit where glacier hits lake before the sea, very impressive icebergs.

There's also a cave right next to the road full of ice structures, that's well worth a look. Raufarholshellir.

Info - there's a guy based in the north Peninnes who (used?) to run walking/cycling/caving trips in Iceland. He owned one of the tiny youth hostels out there, which was a mine of fascinating log books and similar. I'll try and remember/find his name - he used to advertise in the climbing mags, but I probably haven't looked in the last 5 years or so.
Lion Bakes on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

Went for 2 weeks a few years back. Rethink your days. You have near enough 24 hour daylight, so take advantage of those hours to walk during the best weather windows. Enjoy, it's all good, and very varied. If you get upto latraberg, superb 1000 foot high cliffs, and puffins, thousands of the buggers! Enjoy.
Carolyn - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

Dick Phillips, that's the man...
toad - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles: Another thought. Car hire is horrendously expensive. There are some good buses, though usually only one or two a day. Or just hire for part of your trip. Remember you can't take hire cars into the interior anyway - it eats them! The locals tend to drive big US 4x4s outside of the city - a hangover from when it was essentially a big American airbase at Keflavik.

Oh and remember to shower BEFORE you swim. Pools are usually thermal and untreated - brilliant swimming
genericflipper - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:
I did the popular Thorsmork to Landmannalauger trek and really enjoyed it. I went in late June and they had just opened the huts up shortly before then. There was a little bit of snow, but I was passed by someone jogging in shorts and a bumbag! Amazingly varied scenery, unlike anything I've seen elsewhere. all well way-marked, but very quiet that time of year.
Gav M - on 20 Mar 2013
Solaris - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

Just planning my third trip and would say that with 4-5 weeks, it's definitely worth doing some multi-day treks. It's better not to plan to walk too far each day because there's lots to see and do and it'd be a pity to feel rushed.

I have visited the Reykjanes/Hengill area and would say that the trek Paddy Dillon describes would be very good; ditto Mývatn area and Snæfellesnes. I haven't been to the Western Fjords but they have been highly recommended to me. The Golden Circle (it's a triangle really, but that wouldn't do!) is really well worth including. The Laugavegur and Þórsmörk are popular for good reason.

A couple of practical tips would be to learn how to pronounce Icelandic: apart from anything else, it'll make map reading much easier. And Dick Phillips is very helpful, especially when you know what you want. Oh, and maps are much cheaper bought from Iceland than eg Stanfords if Dick doesn't have them. http://www.ferdakort.is/ is the place for 1:50k sheets, though 1:100k can be surprisingly useful and Mál og Menning seem to me to be better than Ferðakort. And, finally, brush up on your river crossing technique before going...

stevesmith - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

Dick Phillips knows everything about independent travel to and within Iceland.

There's an excellent tourist bus service which will enable you to reach all the best parts of the island. The bus station is near the city airport in Reykjavik. The big three sights of Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir are all worth seeing.

Blue Lagoon is indescribably weird and rather expensive, but good fun. There is an excellent geothermal swimming pool next to the Reykjavik City Youth Hostel on Sundlaugarvegur.

The Youth Hostel at Stykkishólmur used to have its own boat for trips out onto Breiðafjörður Bay - small islands, sea eagles, fishing for cod.

If you have time try and visit Landmannalaugar and the Skaftafell National Park (although they aren't out west!). Here are some pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/roofofeurope/sets/72157627296904019/

Expect some cold wet windy weather. Then it'll be a nice surprise if the sun shines all day!

Have a great time!

Mark Bull - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

You might find this book useful too: http://shopicelandic.com/en/store/summit-100-mountain-hikes-in-iceland

Beware of the old Icelandic maps with the white covers like this: http://stanfords.s3.amazonaws.com/coverimage/Ferdakort_Iceland100k_jkt.jpg - they are spectacularly inaccurate in places!

AlisonSmiles - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to All!

Thanks everyone, definitely going to do multi day stuff. With the (in)frequency of the buses it seems self sufficiency is the way forwards. I'll figure out the fish. Provided there's an icelandic equivalent of two minute noodles I'm sure trail food will work out just fine.

Will definitely follow up links - I can find lots of companies who do organised stuff but I'd rather do it independently so the Dick Philips link is really really helpful. Might see though if I can find a few days being guided on glaciers at some point ...
toad - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles: Can't remember the name of the chain, but the supermarket with the big pink elephant is as close to an Aldi/Tesco hybrid as anything and is there in most settlements - cheap by Icelandic standards (ie not at all by ours!). Slightly wierd thing is that there are a lot of US brands, but you'll figure it out!
peas65 - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

We did the Landmannlauger to Thorsmork trek which was excellent in 3 days, i would continue to Skorga and do the final two days which looked stunning, if i went back. We did the trek in early July and it wasnt too busy except the odd big guided group. We did think though that as you get 24 hour day light that it would be amazing to walk at night when everyone else is sleeping, that way you would avoid everyone else and it would be pretty unusual.

Very jealous, Iceland is an ace country. I am sure other treks will be awesome too.

The blue lagoon is a great end of trip treat, we went whale watching which was ok ( we hardly saw anything but just luck i think). If you travel by Bus they are great as they are 4 x4 buses and do river crossings and everything, otherwise you would have to hire a serious vehicle to get to some places. The buses also stop en route so you get have a look around places.
stevesmith - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to toad:

It's a pink pig! - think piggy bank - the chain is called Bonus
Darron - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

Thorsmork area is a good central point for traipsing about
nightmonkeyuk - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:
Jealous. I want to go back.
The landmanalaugur is pretty much unmissable in my opinion. Truly stunning but try and get the 1:250 map before you go as i couldnt find any when i was there although the trails are pretty well marked.
You can do the golden circle (ping, gullfloss and the geysirs) in an afternoon and they are def worth a visit.
Weather is pretty potty and expect high winds so if camping make sure your tent is up to it.
Blue lagoon is decent, but pretty pricey - i'd still say it was worth it though.
Oh and the raw/smoked lamb is utterly revolting so avoid!
toad - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to nightmonkeyuk:
> (In reply to AlisonSmiles)
> Jealous. I want to go back.
mm. Me too. After this thread my Iceland guidebooks seem to have magically made their way into the loo on their own.
remi_mcm - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles: Hi,
Spent 3 months (June, July August) in Iceland in 2011. Icelands one of those places where the touristy (accessible) things are really beautiful and amazing, but the hidden gems are so much better and very often not that far off the beaten track!

Ive gone around the Island 3 times, and walked South to North across it once, Ive done some of the summits on the west coast (Snaefellsnes peninsula) and South (Skaftafell). Also tried to walk from Djupavik (Northwest fjords) to Hornstrandir and that whole area, but a slipped disc and stomach infection turned me round.

In honesty that tourist destination are nice, apart from I would stay well clear from the blue lagoon fiasco! Its expensive and not that super special . If youve got 5 weeks, I would do the laugavegur, starting from Skogarfoss in the South, and go over Fimmvorduhals (I saw magma at the top) into Thorsmork and then start the trail. In good conditions, and fitness this should take you 3-4 days to Landmannalaugar. If you want to continue North from here PM me and Ill give detail. Ps. You can also send food via bus service to Landmannalauger if you want to stay around there for a week. There is so much more to see here (lml) than meets the eye!

now Snaefellsnes peninsula is huge, but so incredibly varied. So much hidden stuff on this peninsula! there is alot to see but it can be pretty far apart. Stykkisholmur in the north of the peninsula is a nice village, and I would highly recommend taking the ferry (if you look young you can blag your way on as a child, cheaper £, ive got a beard and it worked :P) north to the west fjords, and make a decision to go west or east. Id go west, get to Latrabjarg (big cliffs) and walk the entirety of them (14km) and get to a red sand beach camp, and come back the next day. You can hitch along the road around towards Isarfjordur, saves having to wait/pay for a bus. Dyjnandifoss is on the way, as well as many other hidden gems (hot pools, sorry wont divulge exact location). The peninsula around bildudalur has a road, known as the "icelandic death road" you can walk it 1-2 days, but my gosh is it scary in a car! totally worth the detour...at the tip of the peninsula is also Icelands most haunted valley :P Remember in the NW fjords, getting somewhere takes agggeeessss cause you have to travel the full length of the fjord!

If you can get to Hornstrandir then GO!

North: The hills behind akuryri are pretty magical, and easy to get lost in when the fog drops down. Godafoss is also up there, if your a competent swimmer and not to scared the waterfall area make for a fantastic (chilly) swim!

Myvatn is nice, but not that special....Hverfell makes for a fantastic scree (ash) run. I can provide you with details of a beautiful walk to the Akureyri walking club hut from myvatn. The hut is literally on the green border of the icelandic desert.

Asbergi Trail, start from Myvatn => Krafla => Dettifoss and then join the trail. the trail has an upper and a lower, the lower literally follows the mighty river, and is so much better! Iceland can be quite bleak at moments, but the lower trail makes you feel like in a jungle at times!

Im sure the east coast is nice, but I only ever got very wet and cold there....

Spent 5 days in Jokulsarlon (Glacier Lagoon) its magical and seriously have a wander up and onto the glacier, it offers so much magic at 3am when the sunrises!

Skaftafell is pretty fantastic, but get off the trail and just go rogue, we camped up high in the park (Sshhh!)

Well I could go on forever about where to go.

We camped 94 days in a row, and only hitched around
Camp Wild where you can, its free and so much nicer, if you camp in a town/nat park, just arrive late and leave early to not pay, or just make silly games with the wardens and youll probably get away with it :P

We ran out of money half way through, and then just asked around for food from shops/restaurants/gas stations at the end of the day, we probably ate better this way.

If you want some pics, see my Iceland 2011 folder here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmcmurtry/sets/72157628867701727/

Or my friends pages: https://www.vimeo.com/35960543 OR http://willcopestakemedia.wordpress.com/

email him or myself for any more detail, info or whatever. Hope you have a great time

Tim Chappell - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles:

The pointiest hill in Iceland (AFAIK) is Baula. It's the same height as Am Basteir (but much easier). It's a nice little walk. Do it.


There are some pictures of my walk up it in my Gallery, too.
Mark Bull - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

You call that pointy? I raise you Hraundrangi

remi_mcm - on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Have a go on Kirkjufell, Its quite steep with 2/3 very exposed sections, protected by old blue boat rope wrapped around grass tufts.


View from top: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmcmurtry/8066195006/in/set-72157628867701727/

Ps. Avoid the Fulmars :P

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.