The Laugavegur Trek is a 55 kilometre (km) trail that traverses across the southern highlands of Iceland. Most hikers start the hike in Landmannalaugar and end in Þórsmörk. If you’re feeling up for it you can continue on the Fimmvörðuháls hike to Skogar.
You can drive or take a bus to both Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. Either location would be a great two-day trip if you’re not interested in completing the hike but I would highly recommend it.
We decided to camp along the trail and did not pay to stay in the huts. We had originally read online that you could use the kitchens within the huts even if you were camping but that turned out to not be true. You can still use the outdoor kitchen and washroom facilities. Camping cost us about $10 US per person and showers ranged in price, usually $2 – 5 US depending on the length of time you spent in there. Be prepared to pack out all of your garbage, you are not allowed to leave anything at the huts – and rightly so, I imagine it’s a long drive up there for the staff!
Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Álftavatn (24 km) We left for the Laugavegur Trek early Sunday morning with the plan to reach Þórsmörk in three days. The ride out was our first look at the Icelandic landscape and boy, was it amazing – moss so vibrant it looked fake, steaming soils and enough sheep to outnumber the tourists (almost, but not quite!). We arrived in Landmannalaugar at 9:00 am and the rain was pouring down. We decided it would be a good idea to take cover, repack and eat some oatmeal before beginning the hike. Luckily we chose to do this as we realized the gas canister that we had purchased did not fit our stove. The lovely people working at the Landmannalaugar hut swapped out our canister for the correct one. Phew! Or else we would have been eating cold dehydrated food for the remainder of the hike.
As soon as we started hiking we we’re already in awe of the views, rhyolite mountains, steaming hot springs and groups of hikers galore. As we starting ascending the Brennisteinsalda Volcano the crowds began to wean out and the colours became more spectacular. The landscape truly looked like an oil painting with varying colours created by sulphur, lava, moss and iron. Quickly the colourful mountains were replaced by black rocks, snow and steep ascents. As we descended into Hrafntinnusker hut the weather looked less than ideal. The winds were pretty strong and it was still rainy and cold. We stopped in the doorway of the hut for a quick break to eat and warm up. It was lovely chatting with people from around the world. We ended up meeting an Australian couple who were also making the decision to continue onto the next hut and decided that would be the best idea while our energy levels were still up! We were happy with our decision to keep on going as we walked past other hikers setting up on the rocky, snowy ground.
We traversed across snowy fields, climbed up and down more hills and hiked into a lush landscape on our way to Álftavatn. There is an amazing vantage point overlooking the lake and hilly landside where the hut was located. After a cold stream crossing and a hike along a dirt road, we made it to the hut. The rain had calmed down during the second part of the day so it was enjoyable to cook dinner, sip on some highland whisky and slowly set up our tent.
Day 2: Álftavatn to Emstrur (16 km) We woke up late on Day 2 and lazed around in the tent to see if the rain would die down. By the time we started packing up we were one of the few tents remaining. As soon as you leave the hut you climb a short distance and then immediately cross a glacier stream. After speeding through the water, we quickly put our boots on to keep in front of the crowds. There were a number of stream crossings on the way to Emstrur, some with strong current and water up to your waist! After crossing a few bridges and seeing some beautiful waterfalls, we entered into a barren mars like landscape. If you’ve ever felt like you were moving forward but stuck in the same location, this would be that place. We were tired and ready to finish as our eyes and teeth filled with dirt and grit from the blowing black sands. In the distance we could see another pair of hikers ahead of us on the trail. I attempted to measure their distance and time while we snacked. Based on my calculations we were aiming to get into the hut before 7 pm. When we finally saw the hut in the distance we could hardly wait to set up camp and enjoy some dinner. We found a beautiful spot for our tent that overlooked the glaciers in the distance; not a bad way to end the night.
Day 3: Emstrur to Þórsmörk (16 km) The next and last day we woke up to sun! This was great as we were able to dry out some articles of persistently wet clothing and enjoyed the hike with one less layer. Grabbing a hot shower at the hut we felt refreshed and on our way. Shortly after leaving the hut we reached a canyon where we spent some time taking photos and exploring the lush scenery. As the trail continues it stretches along the Myrdalsjokull glacier, giving you a great views as you hike. Thorsmork is located in a lush valley under the glaciers Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. After two cold river crossings we entered a dense birch forest and knew we were close. When we arrived at the hut we immediately started looking for a nice place to set up our tent. We were taking the following day as a rest day in Thorsmork before continuing onto the Fimmvörðuháls hike so having a nice home base was the plan. We found a secluded spot nestled along a stream with amazing views of Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. Thorsmork is a beautiful location for day hikes. The Thorsmork hut had a “general shop” with snacks, drinks and some shelf stable foods. We were able to get some chips and pop as a treat at the end of our hike which was a nice luxury. The next day was pretty rainy but we were able to some short hikes in the area. The most rewarding hike was a short climb on Valahnukar. The trail starts and ends at the hut and goes almost straight up. At the end you reach a beautiful 360 degree view of Thorsmork valley. The braided rivers below, glaciers that appear close enough to touch and terrifying cliffs that drop suddenly to valley bottom. We spent a few hours up there just marvelling at the views.
The Laugavegur Trek lived up to its hype. While not an overly challenging hike it did provide a variety of landscapes across the 55 km’s that I doubt no other trail would be able to match. We will definitely be returning to hike the trail again!