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At the heart of Iceland: the Landmannalaugar

Slightly inland, but easily accessible from Reykjavik, this region is one of my favourite places in Iceland. The landscapes are magnificent, lunar, unlike anything you've seen before.

How to get there?

The road to Landmannalaugar is only open in the summer. It is really more of a track than a road, a 4x4 vehicle is essential. To reach the campsite and mountain hut, you must cross a ford. The river is about forty centimetres deep but it's quite fast flowing. It is not a concern for the Icelanders who are accustomed to these kind of landscapes, but it is sometimes difficult for tourists as there is no indication of the crossing. Personally, I took the 4x4 bus from Reykjavik, which I would highly recommend. If you are in the capital and you want to make a visit to Landmannalaugar before returning, you can usually leave your belongings at your accommodation, allowing you to travel light.

Landmannalaugar is a very unique place. En route, you will pass through arid areas and fields of rocks, with very little vegetation. The winds are strong and they whip up the volcanic sand banks, especially near the Hekla volcano. Upon arrival, you will notice a drop in temperature compared to Reykjavik or Vik. In the height of summer, midday temperature is only around 5°C.

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Walks around the mountain hut 

Just beyond the mountain hut, before beginning your hike, you will pass by a vast stretch of white flowers, indigenous to Iceland. They give the impression that you're walking past a floating field. Then, you will leave the greenery for arid areas with a reddish glow, with volcanic stones and rocks, which, although measuring a metre high, look as if they have been split in half by a sword. The air is full of white, sulphurous smoke, which is released from the rocks and has an unappetising odour of rotten eggs.

Be careful in these areas, the sulphur gases can damage camera lenses. A shallow river flows close to the hiking trail, and can be crossed easily. Whilst hiking in Landmannalaugar, you really get the impression that you're in another world, surrounded by ochre coloured mountains and black rocks. Sheets of snows are still present during the summer, only a few metres from the path.

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Iceland

One of the country's most famous treks starts from the Landmannalaugar mountain hut and leads you to Thorsmork in 3 days, or to Skogar in 6 days. There are several mountain huts en route, however, they are very popular and must be booked months in advance. You also have the option of sleeping at the campsites located near the mountain huts, but remember to bring a good sleeping bag, the nights are (very) chilly! But you will be rewarded for all your efforts with the extraordinary landscapes that you will discover throughout your hike.

After a day of hiking, or if you trek from Thorsmork or Skogar, take advantage of the natural hot spring situated about one hundred metres from the Landmannalaugar mountain hut. Immerse yourself in the warm vapours and clear water, with views over the mountains and their peaks scattered with snow. It is a true delight after a long day's walk. The only downside is that it's quite difficult leaving the warmth of the spring and going back out into the cold. If you need to rinse off, there are showers, but they're quite far away and you will have to pay for warm water. However, the experience is definitely worth these little inconveniences.

Marielle Awad
62 contributions
Updated 22 March 2018