Trekking at the Door of Hell (southern route)

Itinerary

This short, but intense itinerary appeals to the true adventurer. It explores along the eastern and southern flank of Mount Hekla, one of Iceland’s best-known volcano and through the caldera of Hrafntinnusker in the Fjallabak Natural Reserve.

This beautiful strato-volcano (a volcanic edifice built over centuries through a series of volcanic eruptions) is still active and closely monitored by the volcanologists’ seismographs. We hike along the volcano at a reasonably safe distance in order to maintain safety and we stay informed about the relative volcanic activity.

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

Day 1

Reykjavik – Fjallabak North – Landmannahellir

Departure by bus from the Reykjavik bus station at 8:00 AM. After a 4-hour drive, the trail leads through the southern heaths and volcanic desert of Hekla, to the meeting point, where your guide will be waiting for you, already on site. (Unless he leaves Reykjavik with you). The majestic Hekla volcano rises above a grassy plain and marks the entrance to the volcanic highlands. This is probably Iceland’s most famous (or infamous!) and active volcano, the ‘Gateway to Hell’ (as Hekla was known in the middle ages). The black surroundings, resemble the dark blue color of a crow’s feathers. Like tiny specs, we move through a mineral world comprising an endless slag plain along the eastern flank of the volcano – the debris left behind by previous eruptions. A little bit further along, the landscape begins to soften; the mossy green drapes the lava fields and slowly covers the lava fields and the pumices that spread over the land with each new eruption.  We walk toward the majestic monolithic crown ofMount Loðmundur, surrounded by marshland and rich pasture. Lake Loðmundarvatn mirrors the surroundings and Mount Loðmundur, a flat-topped volcanic monolith that erupted through glacial ice during the Ice Age. Throughout the ages, Landmannahellir has been and still is, used by the shepherds as a corral when they drive home thousands of sheep in the fall after they have been grazing and roaming all summer long. We are in a legendary place with a thousand stories to tell.

Driving: 140 km of road 70 km on tracks
Trekking: 3-4 hours walking around Landmannahellir

Day 2

Caldera of Hrafntinnusker – The black raven reefs

Get your hiking clothes, duffle bag and daypack ready for trekking. The trek begins to climb slowly to the colorful caldera of Hrafntinnusker (or Torfajökull). Walking between countless bubbling, steaming hot springs; we cross this gem of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty, dazzling in all shades and colours. The famous Landmannalaugar Valley is just below us, but we stay away from the crowds and explore the extraordinary caldera. The old Icelandic name “Black raven reefs” is a perfect example of the Ancient’s naturalistic and poetic use of language. (Hrafntinnusker: Hrafn for raven, tinna for black and sker for reefs)

Trekking: 6-8 hours – ca.20km (12 miles)
Alt. 590 > 1000 m > 800 (1940 > 3300 > 2575 feet)

Day 3

Fjallabak South to Tindfjöll

Here we can admire the alignment of mountain ranges, all perfectly parallel, aligned in the same direction: the direction of the mid-Atlantic ridge that crosses Iceland from North to South providing a spectacular view of Fjallabak South and three major icecaps: Mýrdalsjökull, Eyjafjallajökull and Tíndafjallajökull.
Our trail crosses small green valleys where crystal clear streams meander through marshes dotted with cotton grass, gaping canyons, and moss-draped volcanic cones. The mind starts to wander into the mythic lands of Mordor – is this the outlook post of the Elven Kingdom? 

Trekking 6-8 hours
Alt. 800m to 550m 

Day 4

Tindfjöll to Road No 1 (Reykjavik or individual Westmann Islands extension)

The Tindfjöll called “The Peaks” is a small chain of mountains with many summits, including the largest, Ýmir (1462m) and Ýma (1448m). Of course, this is not the Himalayas, nor the Patagonian Andes, but a mixture of the two in miniature form, that creates the illusion of virgin immensity that is so typical for Iceland. While Tindfjallajökull is the smallest glacier in the country, it is located on a giant crater about 7 to 10 miles in diameter, which was formed by an explosion of ancient fissures.

Following the Mountains, we cross the desolate lava fields of Mount Hekla’s volcanic eruptions, which dominates the northern horizon with its presence. Then we rapidly descend to the valley, where the expanses of lava are now covered by grassy meadows, sheep, and noisy birds. Transfer by jeep to the village of Hella, on the circular road No. 1 where our base is situated.

Trekking: 5-6 hours hike – ca. 18 km (11 miles)
Alt. 550 to 250 m (1800 to 800 feet)

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.

 
  • 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 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 below 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
  • July 3 – 6,  2019
  • July 10 – 13, 2019
  • July 17 – 20, 2019
  • July 24 – 27, 2019
  • July 31 – August 3, 2019
  • August 7 – 10, 2019
  • August 14 – 17, 2019
  • August 21 – 24, 2019
  • August 28 – 31, 2019
  • September 4, 2019 – 7, 2019
  • September 11, 2019 – 14, 2019
  • September 18 – 21, 2019