The Black Raven Reefs

Itinerary

The metaphor “Black raven reefs” is a perfect example of the natural poetry of the old Icelandic language. (Hrafntinnusker: Hrafn for raven, ‘Tinna’ for black and ‘Sker’ for reefs).

It describes a chaos of obsidian, an intense black razor sharp vitrified lava, which spreads among soft colored hills in the center of a vast caldera of the same name: Hrafntinnusker, large loops to explore the incredible caldera. More obvious are the amazing rhyolite mountains, formed in incredible bands of pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white, orange and red and glittering with innumerable black, glass-like obsidian lava… Walking among countless bubbling, steaming hot springs, we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty.

We will see preliminarily the innumerable solfataras with pools of mud, bubbles of powerful and noisy steam. On the edge of the caldera, we advance on a plateau of black slag that leads to Mount Hekla, which dominates the horizon with its imposing and legendary mass.

With the exception of a lightweight daypack, all equipment and luggage are transported by a 4x4 support vehicle.

Day 1

Reykjavik – Mt Hekla farmland

Early in the morning meet your guide at 7:30 AM, at Reykjavik Central Bus station. Have your hiking clothes, duffel bag, and day-pack ready for trekking. The bus journey takes approx. 3 hours (160 km) to reach the trailhead. The majestic Hekla volcano rises above a grassy plain and marks the gateway to the high volcanic lands. It is probably Iceland’s most famous (or infamous!) active volcano. The hike starts by late morning, as we begin to cross the grassland. The few little farms of the area have had to move many times over the centuries as the became engulfed by eruptions. However, much of the countryside is now verdant with some former lava flows covered in green moss and arctic birch. Green moss and « bonsai » arctic birch are reclaiming the desolate landscape, sustained by pure water springs, they create the feeling of a kind of natural Japanese garden. In August, this section takes a little longer as we allow ourselves to become distracted by the berries and mushrooms along the way.

Trekking: 4-5 hours – ca.10 km ( 6 miles)
Altitude 135 m to 175 m (443 to 574 feet)

Day 2

West side of Mt. Hekla – The doors of Hell

We cross the river Western Rangá, then we hike the last series of hills made from palagonite rock (sub-glacially formed) that protects the last fragments of the charred countryside. On the far side, we arrive onto a moon-like surface at the foot of Mount Hekla and cross a stretch of perfectly flat volcanic slag. The black surroundings, so dark they resemble the blue color of a crow’s feathers. Tiny, we are moving in a completely mineral world of infinite slag plain along the eastern flank of the volcano, which has been vomited most of the cast of the latest eruptions.

Trekking: 6-8 hours – ca.22 km (14 miles) Altitude 175 m to 320 m (574 to 1050 feet)

Day 3

Valagjá – Mont Loðmundur

We walk away from “the Gateway to Hell” (as Hekla was known in the middle ages) and the landscape begins to soften; the green colors of the mosses slowly covering lava fields and the pumices that rain on the land with each eruption. Crossing the “pass of the lambs” we walk in the direction of the majestic monolithic crown of Mount Loðmundur, surrounded by marshland and rich pasture, reflecting in the beautiful lake Loðmundarvatn reflecting Mount Loðmundur a flat-topped volcanic monolith that erupted through glacial ice during the Ice Age. Landmannahellir has been for ages and it is still used now by the shepherds as a base when catching thousand sheep in fall after having been grassing free the whole summer. We are in a legendary place with thousand stories to tell.

Trekking: 6-7 hours – ca.17 km (11 miles)
Altitude 320 m to 590 m (1050 to 1940 feet)

Day 4

Walk to Landmannalaugar 

The trail leads us through extraordinary landscapes. First, we go around the beautiful lake that shines at the foot of Mt Loðmundur. Then we climb up the northern flank of the Caldera de Hrafntinnusker and enter the pastel colors of acid volcanism. Extraordinary view of the Landmannalaugar valley. We begin the descent towards the refuge and the campsite of the valley, a little surprised to meet suddenly so many people after 4 days of wonderful loneliness. After a bath in the famous hot water river in the middle of a marsh covered with cotton grass, In the evening we regain the tranquility of Landmannahellir.

Trekking: 6-7 h – approx.15 Km 
Altitude 590 m to 700 m

Day 5

To the Hrafntinnusker Caldeira

From Landmannahellir we explore the incredible Hrafntinnusker Caldeira from where reach the beautiful refuge of Dalakofi which will be our base camp for the next 3 days.

Trekking:16 km +/- 6-8 hours walk

Day 6 + 7

Exploring the Hrafntinnusker Caldeira and surroundings

The metaphor “Black raven reefs” is a perfect example of the natural poetry of the old Icelandic language. (Hrafntinnusker: ‘Hrafn’ for raven, ‘Tinna’ for black and ‘Sker’ for reefs).

This describes a chaos of obsidian, an intense black razor sharp vitrified lava, which spreads among soft colored hills in the center of a vast caldera of the same name: Hrafntinnusker. large loops to explore the incredible caldera. More obvious are the amazing rhyolite mountains, formed in incredible bands of pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white, orange and red and glittering with innumerable black, glass-like obsidian lava… Walking among countless bubbling, steaming hot springs, we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty.

We will see preliminarily the innumerable geothermal hot springs with pools of mud, bubbles of powerful and noisy steam. On the edge of the caldera, we advance on a plain of black slag that leads to Mount Hekla which dominates the horizon close to its imposing and legendary mass.

Trekking: +/- 6 to 8 hours daily walks

 

Day 8

Fjallabak Sud – Reykjavik

Luggage and equipment loaded in the trailer of our assistance jeep, we leave our last base camp to join in four hours of walk the Refuge of Hvanngil on the “too’ famous Laugavegur Trail. From there we take a 4wd mountain bus that brings us back to Reykjavik central bus station (BSI) in the early evening. Back to civilization!

Trekking: 8-10 km +/- 4 to 5 hours walk
Driving: 2h driving on tracks – 1h30 bus journey

Rates in 2019

The International Airport is located outside of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, in the southwest of the country. It is served by many international airlines, including some discount airlines such as Easyjet from countries all over Europe, Canada, and the United States.

A regular shuttle bus service, which is scheduled to meet each flight, transfers visitors to the city.

A regular bus will take you to the meeting point. Sometimes the guide will accompany you on the bus, sometimes he will already be at the starting point of the trek and await you there.

Return:

Normally, transfer to and from the beginning and end point of the trek is by public transport. However, this can be changed by us without notice. It is sometimes possible for us to drive you or bring you back with our own vehicles, or to follow another (beautiful) route.

 
  • English speaking guide
  • Bus transfers to and from the mountains
  • Transport of luggage, supplies, and equipment by 4×4 assistant vehicle
  • Accommodation in mountain huts and camps
  • Full board from lunch day 1 to last day lunch
 
  • Flights to/from Iceland
  • Transfers from/to airport
  • Accommodation and meals in Reykjavík
  • A taxi ride from your hotel to  Reykjavik meeting point on day 1
  • A taxi ride from Reykjavik Central bus station to your hotel after returning from the trek
  • Showers in the huts
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Drinks and other personal expenses
  • Additional small group surcharge for groups comprising fewer than 6 participants
 
  • Difficulty level: 2-3 Moderate
  • Average walking per day: ca. 15-16 km (9-10 miles)
  • Total walking distance:  ca.48 km (30 miles) / 24 hours walk (4-day version)
  • Total walking distance:  ca.62 km (39 miles) / 36 hours walk (6-day version)
  • Altitude between: 135 m and 600 m (440-1970 feet)
  • Positive gradients: ca.1200 m (ca.3900 feet)
  • Downhill gradients: ca.1000 m (ca.3280 feet)

Itinerary and security: the day by day program can be modified or even reversed. However, these changes are rather rare for reasons of safety due to natural phenomena: volcanism, early or late snowfall, bad weather, flooding rivers, exceptionally unfavorable weather … The guide knows the terrain well and is sole master in interpreting the whims of all-powerful nature on this volcanic earth under these high latitudes, and to make the necessary decisions. 

Composition of the group: In general, the participants of our trips come from several countries: French speaking from France, Switzerland, Belgium and Quebec but also English speaking people from Great Britain, Ireland, United States (Democratic trending), Australians, New Zealanders or other nations who know how to express themselves in English like Scandinavians, Germans, sometimes Japanese or Russians, and even sometimes Icelanders.
Your Icelandic or French guide is fluent in French and English and masters very well at least one other European language. Traveling with Fjallabak can represent a unique opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and socialize with companions from other countries than yours that you might otherwise never have approached. A unique opportunity to make friends from all around the world and twist the neck to certain prejudices and misconceptions inked

Accommodation: sleeping bag (your own) in mountain refuges and huts: Bunks with comfortable mattresses. Running water and kitchen in the shelter, but the toilets and sinks are usually outside, a few yards in a small building apart. Warm hot showers with charge are available in some huts. If you want more privacy during the night while we sleep, we offer you the possibility of sleeping in tents that we provide, please notify us in advance. On the treks where camping nights are planned, the camps are made up of double tents (or single on request) with a comfortable and insulated mattress and a large equipped mess tent.Electricity: take enough batteries for your camera because you will not often be able to recharge batteries in the huts. Also take a normal charger (220v for European standard outlets) as there are some shelter that have electricity. 

Food: We pride ourselves for providing the best cuisine in the highlands! Breakfast is Scandinavian style, with muesli, breads, jams, smoked fish, charcuterie and cheese. The picnics can be a bit repetitive after a week (we are in Iceland), with a variety of sandwiches, smoked meats and fish, excellent local cheeses, green salad, tomatoes and cucumbers. Dinners, varied and often excellent, include fish and lamb dishes, served with pasta, rice or potatoes, vegetables and a green salad.
However, vegans will have to supplement their luggage even though we can accommodate their needs.
For conviviality, but without obligation, you can bring with you a specialty of your country as well as a good bottle of alcohol.
Accommodation during the trek: Sleeping bag accommodation in mountain huts and huts (usually a comfortable and mixed lodging) and according to the itinerary and the conditions, at the peak of the season a few nights might be spent in spacious double tents equipped with comfortable mattresses. Showers are available in some huts, not all.

Special diets: It is essential that vegetarians specify what is banned from their menu, such as those suffering from food allergies (lactose, gluten, etc.). It is important that you advise us of your special food requirements at the time of booking. If the list is long or there is danger with certain allergies, please send us the details by mail. so that the team of our warehouse/storage can take this into account in the preparation of food. Your guide will be aware of your plan, but it does not necessarily mean that he is a specialist in that matter, so it’s up to you to tell him about it at the beginning of the journey when preparing the first meal! It is also up to you to control at each meal what suits you.

Each day a 4×4 vehicle carries the luggage and the food from hut to hut. We do not see this vehicle during the day, because it takes tracks that we rarely encounter. Someone feeling tired one day can make the trip with the driver (often a friendly guide of our team) which will make him discover another aspect of the highlands. A 4×4 assistance vehicle carries the luggage, food supplies and equipment between shelters and camps. We do not see this vehicle during the day, because it takes tracks that we rarely encounter. Someone feeling tired one day can make the trip with the driver (often a friendly guide of our team) which will make him discover another aspect of the highlands. Our carbon impact is lower because the kilometric average of the vehicle does not exceed 30km / day.

Preparation of the trip and notes: This is an assisted hut to hut trekking. At the peak of the season, we might camp for a night or two. The level of walking is moderate to sustained. You only carry a light bag containing what you need for the day. This trek does not present any serious difficulty for people in good physical shape having at least some experience of long walks in the mountains. An experienced guide leads the trek. This trek passes through totally desert areas. Most of the walking is off-trail, with ever-changing terrain conditions. Therefore, sturdy hiking shoes that fit well your feet are a must. Most days involve river crossing, so it is essential not to forget your sandals. See our kits list for more information. You hike 6-7 hours per day, on average, but it can be longer, depending on the weather, the average level of the group. The maximum altitude does not rise more than 1000m. The change of altitude for most days does not exceed 300 m.

Participation: An experienced Icelandic guide leads the trek. As we are not in Nepal but in Iceland, it is expected that the members of the group lend a helping hand to their guide in the preparation of meals, washing the dishes, cleaning the floors before leaving the huts, setting up and taking down the tents when camping. Once in the mountains, the group becomes an independent entity. Fellowship, teamwork and forged friendships add much to the richness of each person’s experience.

You’ll need to bring comfortable and adequate clothing to protect you from cold and wet weather, such as polypropylene, Capilene, or pile. Wool and wool/synthetic blends are also suitable – though wool, if wet, dries slowly compared to synthetic fabrics. We discourage the use of cotton in wet conditions it dries very slowly. When camping, tents are provided. You will be responsible for bringing your mattress and sleeping bag.

When layering, the innermost layer should be long underwear. The middle layer can be a synthetic turtleneck or wool shirt, and pants. The outermost layer must be a breathable waterproof jacket such as a good quality Gore-Tex wind/rain parka and over-pants.
For quantities for each item listed, use your own judgment, based on the expected weather conditions and overall packing/weight restrictions for your luggage.

  • Regular underwear. Synthetics are easier to wash and dry
  • Synthetic thermal underwear
  • Long-sleeved, synthetic or wool shirt
  • Short-sleeved synthetic or cotton/synthetic T-shirts
  • Medium-weight synthetic fleece sweater or jacket
  • Full-length pants, quick-drying synthetic fabric
  • Down jacket from mid-August to September (optional)
  • Hiking shorts, quick-drying synthetic fabric
  • Pile/fleece pants, ideal for around the camp
  • Sun & rain hat
  • Wool hat
  • Gloves (wool or pile)
  • Waterproofed shell gloves
  • Medium weight synthetic socks
  • Gore-Tex rain/wind parka
  • Gore-Tex rain/wind pants
  • Hiking boots, medium-weight, all leather, with padded ankle, good arch support, and a lug sole traction. Your hiking boots should be waterproof, well broken in, and suitable for rocky terrain or possibly snow.
  • Comfortables shoes to wear when not hiking (optional) Teva-type sandals for river-crossings. Absolutely recommended! Gaiters. 


Travel Accessories

  • Comfortable sleeping bag +10°C to –10°C which can be opened all the way
  • Cotton sheet for hut’s mattress
  • Pillow if you can’t sleep without one (optional)
  • Swimsuit and towel for hot spring bathing and swimming pool
  • 1-to-2 liters capacity unbreakable water bottle or thermos
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries (from August only)
  • Swiss Army-type pocket knife (Must be kept in a duffle bag, not in hand luggage, when flying !)
  • Toiletry kit—soap, toothbrush, and so on.
  • Moisturizing Lotion. (The air in Iceland is very dry)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunglasses. Highly recommended!
  • Spare pair of prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, or contact lenses (but not only lenses, as wind-blown dust can make them very uncomfortable)
  • Sunscreen and lip protection (The sun in Iceland is much more intense than you probably imagine)
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Netting hood

Optional Travel Accessories

  • Hiking poles. Highly recommended
  • Binoculars
  • Repair kit with needle, thread, and safety pins
  • Reading and writing material
  • Your favorite snack food such as raisins or chocolate
  • Protein supplements for vegetarian
  • 1 or 2 good bottles of wine or a bottle of something stronger
  • Jul 7 – 14, 2019
  • Jul 14 – 21, 2019
  • Aug 4 – 11, 2019
  • Aug 11 – 18, 2019
  • Sep 1 – 8, 2019