#fimmvorduhals

 

If you ask an Icelander about the most beautiful place in the country, many would reply Þórsmörk. For many Icelanders, Þórsmörk is their favorite place for camping and visiting during summer and the number one place if they had to set up a list of favorite locations in  Icelandic nature.  It is almost romantic and comparable to our sacred place Þingvellir except in the Highland. It is an oasis surrounded and protected by mighty rivers, mountains, mountain ridges, cliffs, and glaciers.  Although defined as the Highland the altitude is not as high as in most of the Highland which is why Þórsmörk has more vegetation than most places in the Highland. It is an area of magnificent landscape, mighty rivers, endless creeks and peaks, beautiful canyons, impressive hiking trails, continuously moving glacier tongues, excellent camping areas and infinitive ways to have an outdoor adventure. Not to forget proximity to active volcanos that have just recently spared glowing lava down into some of its canyons.

Þórsmörk is hiker's paradise

There are many excellent hiking trails in Þórsmörk. Two of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland end in Þórsmörk. Laugavegur hiking trail from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk and Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail from Skógar and Skógafoss waterfall to Þórsmörk.  Both hiking trails are spectacular and so is most of the places and landscape in Þórsmörk. If your trip to Iceland and travel in Iceland takes you to Þórsmörk, we recommend spending at least two to three days hiking and enjoying nature in this remarkable place.

Access is not easy and requires a good 4X4 vehicle

Although it is quite easy to find the way to Þórsmörk by taking a turn on Road Nr. 1 to the Road Nr. 249 that also leads to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, the road to Þórsmörk is a rough and challenging Highland Road. As Road Nr. 249 continuous from Seljalandsfoss it turns into F249, Mountain Road Nr. 249, within eight kilometers.  From there by the old bridge over the river Markarfljót, it is a rugged road only for a large 4X4 vehicle.  There are some streams, creeks, and rivers you need to cross and most of them can change from “small” too big in a heartbeat due to rain, warmth and all kinds of climate related matters.  Driving to Þórsmörk in a small car is simply and plainly irresponsible and can be very dangerous.  One of the best options is to take a bus if you don't want to go through the expense of hiring a good 4X4 vehicle. 

 

For many Icelanders, Þórsmörk is their favorite place

 

Landmannalaugar is one of the most remarkable and fascinating places in the Icelandic Highland. It is a place most people fall in love with from the moment they visit this extraordinary creation of Mother Nature.  Although this unique place in the Icelandic Highland, located 600 meters above sea level, is best known for its cozy geothermal bath and as a starting point for the famous 54 km. four days hiking trail Laugavegur, it is much more. Landmannalaugar offers other shorter, exciting, and breathtaking hiking trails with stunning sceneries and landscape.  It is a wonderland for photographers with an endless variety of geological formations, smoking hot springs, lava, rivers, creeks, gullies, ravines, and rhyolite mountains that change colors from one hour to the next depending on the mood of the sun and the clouds. It is a remote place only open from the first weeks of July until the end of September. A place that is always reluctant to show its colors and beauty outside this period as it is often packed with snow or under attack by severe blizzards and cold.

Landmannalaugar opens for traffic in late June every year

Landmannalaugar opens for traffic in late June every year

A Base Camp for the hiking trail Laugavegur

In recent years, Landmannalaugar has become a kind of a Base Camp for the hiking track Laugavegur and tourists admiring this pearl in the Highland. The Icelandic Touring Association (Ferðafélag Íslands in Icelandic) built a hut in 1969 that houses 110 people. There is also a nice camping ground with extremely hard soil and thus very resistant to tent pegs.  You might have to "pin" your tent down with rocks. So usually people camping in Landmannalaugar must fasten their tents with rocks and stones, which are plenty in Landmannalaugar. The camping site also has an excellent service and exceptionally cool atmosphere.   For decades, it has been a favorite place among Icelanders to visit during summer. 

You only need to take a short hike to see some spectacular landscape in Landmannalaugar

You only need to take a short hike to see some spectacular landscape in Landmannalaugar

Part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve

Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, which in size is approximately fifty thousand hectares of land in the south of the Icelandic Highland. It was established in the late eighties to protect the sensitive nature in the Highland. The Highland Road Fjallabak nyrðri runs through most of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and is one of the easiest Highland roads to travel in Iceland, although a 4X4 is recommended. As always when people are traveling the Icelandic Highland we emphasize that it is a very sensitive area and driving outside market roads is strictly forbidden.

Landmannalaugar camping site

The camping site at Landmannalaugar is entirely different other camping sites in Iceland

Finding your way and how to drive to Landmannalaugar

There are actually two main entrances to Landmannalaugar from the west. When you drive from Reykjavík, you find your way to Dómadalsleið Nr. F225, often referred to as Landmannaleið, or Nyrðri Fjallabak mountain road Nr F208.  Usually, Nyrðri Fjallabak opens sooner than Landmannaleið in early summer. We recommended that you rent a good 4X4 vehicle if you intend to drive a Mountain Road in Iceland marked as a F road on maps.  So from Reykjavík, you start from the Ring Road Nr. 1 and drive eastward. Soon after you pass the bridge on the river Þjórsá, you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north on Road Nr. 26, and by the mountain Búrfell, you take a right turn on Dómadalsleið mountain road Nr. F225.  If the road is closed, you continue for approximately 25 kilometers on Road Nr. 26 until you come to the mountain road Nr.F208 Nyrðri Fjallabak mountain road. Both Landmannaleið and Nyrðri Fjallabak lead to Landmannalaugar.  Both roads can be a bit difficult and we can only emphasis to rent a 4X4 vehicle. Both roads usually open in early July and sometimes F208 opens around the middle of June. Both roads close around the middle of September.  Both roads require that you cross rivers. 

The geothermal natural pool has always been one of the major attractions in Landmannalaugar

The geothermal natural pool has always been one of the major attractions in Landmannalaugar

Below is the location of Landmannalaugar on the map of Iceland

 

Many trails in Landmannalaugar have great view

Fimmvörðuháls, the Five Cairn Ridge, is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland.  Although quite challenging, and even dangerous, many Icelanders and visitors walk this 22 km and 1000 meter high track every summer. Obviously, it has something to offer.  It is a spectacular hike with stunning views and many natural wonders: waterfalls, craters, canyons, glaciers and breathtaking landscape.   In 2010, a small eruption started on the track almost by the most challenging part of the track, Heljarkambur or Crest of Hell.

Most of the hikers walk from the well-known waterfall Skógarfoss to Þórsmörk. At the peak, the track is on the east side of Eyjafjallajokull and west side of Mýrdalsjökull.  Both glaciers house powerful volcanos that can erupt with short notice.  Even the most notorious volcano in Iceland's history as well as geological history, Katla in Mýrdalsjökull, has been due for a long time. 

In 1970, a group of eleven hikers started the trail in good weather determined to walk to Þórsmörk. There was nothing exceptionally unusual about the weather or the condition.  On the top near Heljarkambur, a severe weather hit the mountain and three of the hikers became exhausted and died within hours.  The rest of the group made it to Básar in Þórsmörk with enormous hardship and difficulties.  The story is a constant reminder of the unpredictable weather that two glaciers can produce. It is also a reminder of the necessity to prepare to hike over Fimmvörðuháls thoroughly and take all the percussion possible. 

The track is only accessible from late May until September and is only for highly trained and experienced hikers at any other time of the year.   

Although quite challenging, and even dangerous, many Icelanders and visitors walk Fimmvörðuháls 22 km and 1000 meter high track every summer.