Iceland is an island country with stunning features such as glaciers, waterfalls, and geysers. The Laugavegur trail, a renowned hiking route with spectacular views of the country’s mountains, is one of its numerous natural wonders. The trail is 55 kilometers (34 miles) long and takes hikers through various landscapes, including colorful rhyolite mountains, black sand deserts, and hot springs.
In this article, we’ll look at the history and beauty of the Laugavegur trail and offer advice to hikers considering taking on this adventure.
The Laugavegur route has a long and illustrious history. Icelanders traditionally used the trail as a commerce route connecting the country’s southern and northern regions. During the summer, farmers utilized it to transport their animals to and from grazing places. The route was vital to Iceland’s economy and society, allowing people to travel and trade long distances.
The trail began to attract hikers and visitors in the early twentieth century, who were drawn to its rugged beauty and unusual vistas. The trail remained unknown outside Iceland until international hikers found it in the 1960s and 1970s. The trail’s growing popularity resulted in upgrades to infrastructure and services along the route, such as the construction of huts for hikers to stay in.
The Laugavegur trail’s history highlights Iceland’s rich cultural and environmental heritage. For generations, the path has played a significant role in the country’s economy and society, and it is still an essential aspect of Iceland’s tourism business today.
Description of the Sight
The Laugavegur trail is one of Iceland’s most popular hiking destinations for its stunning natural beauty and unique landscapes. The trail is approximately 55 kilometers (34 miles) long and takes hikers through diverse environments, from colorful rhyolite mountains to black sand deserts and hot springs.
The trail begins in Landmannalaugar, a geothermal area in the southern highlands of Iceland. The area is known for its colorful rhyolite mountains, hot springs, and steam vents. The mountains are formed by volcanic activity and are composed of various minerals, including iron, sulfur, and magnesium. The colors of the mountains range from red and orange to yellow and green, creating a stunning and otherworldly landscape.
From Landmannalaugar, the trail leads through the black sand desert of Mælifellssandur, where hikers can see the Hekla volcano in the distance. The desert is formed by volcanic activity and is covered in black sand and ash. The contrast between the black sand and the colorful mountains of Landmannalaugar is a striking sight.
The next section of the trail takes hikers through the Emstrur region, known for its lush green vegetation and views of the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. The region is home to various plant and animal life, including arctic foxes and birds like puffins and ptarmigans.
The final section of the trail leads through the Thorsmork Valley, surrounded by glaciers and mountains. The valley is named after the Norse god Thor and is said to be one of his favorite places to visit. The valley is home to various wildlife, including reindeer and arctic foxes.
Throughout the trail, hikers can also see and experience geothermal features such as hot springs, steam vents, and fumaroles. These features result from Iceland’s volcanic activity and add to the unique and otherworldly nature of the trail.
The Laugavegur trail is a stunning and unforgettable sight that offers hikers a chance to experience Iceland’s natural beauty up close. The trail’s diverse landscapes and unique geology make it one of Iceland’s most popular hiking destinations and a must-see for any nature lover visiting the country.
Ways to Get to Laugavegur, Iceland
There are a few different ways to get to the Laugavegur trail, depending on your starting point and mode of transportation. Here are some options:
1. By Bus: The most common way to get to the trail is by taking a bus from Reykjavik or other major towns in Iceland to the starting point at Landmannalaugar. The Icelandic Touring Association operates a daily bus service during the summer months between Reykjavik and Landmannalaugar. The bus ride takes around 4-5 hours and offers scenic views.
2. By Car: If you can access your vehicle, you can drive to the trailhead at Landmannalaugar. However, it’s important to note that the road leading to Landmannalaugar is a rough, bumpy mountain road requiring a 4×4 vehicle and an experienced driver. The road is only open during the summer, typically from mid-June to mid-September, and can be closed due to weather conditions.
3. By Plane: If you’re coming from abroad, you can fly into Keflavik International Airport near Reykjavik and then take a bus or rent a car to get to Landmannalaugar.
4. Guided Tour: Another option is to join a guided tour that includes transportation to and from the trailhead. Several companies offer guided hiking tours of the Laugavegur trail, which can be a convenient and stress-free way to experience the trail. Whether you take a bus, drive, fly, or join a guided tour, the journey to the trail will surely be memorable.
Details on hiking Laugavegur, Iceland
When to Go: Weather and Season
Based on snow and trail conditions, the Laugavegur trail’s huts and camping areas usually are open from the end of June until the end of August. The Volcano Huts in órsmörk are open most of the year, and visitors can visit órsmörk even when the Laugavegur Trail is closed.
In the spring, certain sections of the Laugavegur Hiking Trail may be covered in snow, while others may be damp and muddy as the ground thaws. Markings and waypoints may be hidden under snow or washed away during the spring melt.
During the summer, you are likelier to have pleasant weather and 24 hours of daylight. The trail will be busiest during the second and third weekends of July and the second and third weekends of August.
The cottages along the trail are not served in the fall, although camping is permitted. In favorable weather, the fall is a great time to complete the Laugavegur trip because fewer people are on the trail. In the second half of July, dusk begins to fall about midnight, and by September, the nights are pitch black with no lights visible in the highlands, so carry some lights with you. By the end of August, the weather begins to cool, and frosty conditions may occur.
The weather in Iceland’s highlands can be erratic. Strong gusts, heavy rain, hail, and even snow can strike with little notice. Always check the weather prediction and keep your gear and clothes dry in your bag.
The communal sleeping arrangements are simple but safe, warm, and dry (all that matters at the end of a long journey). There is no privacy, and it can seem rather cramped; you must enter a different facility to use the restrooms and bring your own sleeping bag. Each hut has a fully equipped kitchen for the exclusive use of individuals sleeping there, but you must bring your own food to cook. Always find a warden to check you in before entering the building to avoid confusion.
There is no access to the inside of the huts, including the kitchen, if you want to remain in a tent; other campsites have no shelter at all. Because the Icelandic Highland environment is vulnerable and foot traffic ruins it elsewhere, you must camp only at designated campgrounds.
Food and Water
The food available for purchase at the huts is limited, and they do not sell hot-cooked meals. However, you can make meals at the huts and bring them with you on each day’s expedition. The shelters offer safe drinking water. You can keep your food in the huts and only bring what you need for the day. As you plan your journey, buy all of your snacks and food.
Swimming is a popular activity in Iceland, and there are many opportunities to swim along the Laugavegur trail. One of the most popular places to swim is in Landmannalaugar, where there are several natural hot springs and pools. The hot springs are heated by geothermal activity and are a popular spot for hikers to relax and soak in the warm water after a long day on the trail.
Another popular swimming spot along the trail is in the Thorsmork Valley, where there is a glacial river that hikers can swim in. The water is cold, but many hikers enjoy the refreshing experience of swimming in a glacial river surrounded by mountains and glaciers.
It’s important to note that swimming in natural bodies of water in Iceland can be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. The water can be cold, and the currents can be strong, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions. It’s also important to respect the environment and leave no trace when swimming or using natural hot springs.
Swimming in Iceland can be a unique and refreshing experience, and there are many opportunities to swim along the Laugavegur trail. Just take proper precautions and respect the environment while enjoying this popular activity.
Tips to know when Hiking Laugavegur, Iceland
Here are some tips to remember when hiking Laugavegur Iceland:
- Even in the summer, the nights on the Laugavegur route are frigid. A high-quality, appropriately rated sleeping bag makes all the difference on those frigid evenings. Remember that some cottages do not have heating running at night; if you’re camping, you’ll be glad you spent the extra money.
- Because the route is only open during the summer, you can expect almost 24 hours of sunshine. You can sleep anywhere, especially after a long day of trekking!
- River crossing footwear: The Laugavegur route is famous for its numerous, freezing-cold river crossings. These crossings are a hundred times safer in waterproof solid shoes with good grip than in bare feet or flip-flops.
- Wind and rain can ruin your day if you aren’t prepared. A sturdy waterproof jacket is vital; you should also have a rain cover for your backpack.
- Proper clothing: remember the layering strategy and carry clothing that will keep you warm while resting and cool while scrambling up steep inclines in the hot sun!
- A garbage bag: Always remember to take your rubbish with you!
While the Laugavegur trail is a popular hiking destination, there are also potential dangers that hikers should be aware of. Here are some of the main hazards to watch out for:
1. Weather: The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and change quickly, even in the summer months. Hikers should be prepared for rain, wind, and cold temperatures, even on sunny days. Hypothermia can be dangerous if hikers become wet and cold, and hikers should bring appropriate clothing and gear to stay warm and dry.
2. River crossings: Hikers must cross several rivers along the Laugavegur trail. These rivers can be dangerous and unpredictable, especially during heavy rain or snowmelt. Hikers should be prepared to turn back if a river crossing is too dangerous and should never attempt to cross a river if the water is moving too quickly or is too deep.
3. Terrain: The terrain along the Laugavegur trail can be challenging, with steep ascents and descents, loose rocks, and uneven ground. Hikers should be prepared for challenging terrain, wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots, and bring trekking poles if needed.
4. Sun exposure: The sun in Iceland can be intense, even on cloudy days, and hikers should be prepared to protect themselves from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat protect the skin and eyes from the sun.
5. Navigation: The Laugavegur trail is well-marked, but hikers should still be prepared to navigate and read a map or GPS device. Hikers should also be aware of their surroundings and not rely solely on technology for navigation.
Overall, hikers should be prepared for the potential hazards of the Laugavegur trail and take appropriate precautions to stay safe. By being prepared and aware of the potential dangers, hikers can enjoy a safe and memorable hiking experience along this stunning trail.
The Laugavegur route is a breathtaking journey that allows hikers to experience Iceland’s natural splendor. The trek is challenging and secluded, but the rewards are worth it. Hikers should be prepared for all types of weather, bring appropriate gear and equipment, and adhere to Iceland’s camping and hiking regulations and guidelines. The Laugavegur trek may be an unforgettable experience for hikers of all levels with adequate preparation and a sense of adventure.