Current as of: May 25, 2024 - 07:53

A view along the Laugavegur Trail near Landmannalaugar in Iceland. Sheep graze surrounded by arctic cotton grass.

Iceland's Laugavegur Trek Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Iceland
  • Programmes: Walking & Trekking
  • Activity Level:

    4 out of 7 - Moderate / Challenging

  • 7 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 7 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: TSE
  • Carbon Footprint: 9kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Hike one of the best-loved walking trails in Iceland to discover otherworldly landscapes

Iceland is now firmly established as one of the most dramatic trekking destinations on the planet – the varied landscapes forged over eons by volcanic eruptions and gigantic glaciers. One of the most popular trails is known as the Laugavegur Trail, and this is the focus of our week. All meals are included while camping, and we start in the colourful Landmannalaugar mountains before heading to the dramatic Thorsmork region where we discover the craters from the 2010 eruption. Few trekking routes can match the striking vistas on offer here.

In addition, the early departures offer long days, up to 24 hours of daylight in July, while the late August and early September departures bring darkness and with that the chance to see the Northern Lights.

At a Glance

  • Two hotel nights, four nights of participatory camping
  • Three full and two half days of walking
  • Low altitude throughout
  • Group normally 7 to 16, plus leader. Minimum age: 16

Highlights

  • Take the best-known trekking route in Iceland
  • Discover natural hot pools, waterfalls, lava fields, craters and volcanic fissures
  • Experience 24-hour daylight in July, chance of the Northern Lights in late August and September

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 4 (Moderate/Challenging). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

Walks are of varying length and distance – the longest day is around nine hours. This trek is on a clearly defined path; however, there can be some loose ground and uneven terrain. Walks are subject to change in the event of adverse weather conditions. While camping, group members are expected to participate, including putting up and dismantling your own tent and helping the leader with some kitchen duties and preparing meals. Luggage is transported by minibus from camp to camp, meaning you only need to carry provisions for each day, see packing list for further details.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 7

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Map TSE

Land Only

  • Start City: Reykjavik
  • End City: Reykjavik

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Reykjavik

After a Flybus transfer to our hotel, we begin with a briefing from the leader, usually at 6.30pm. Here you receive an outline of the week ahead and have the chance to ask any questions. After, our groups typically go out for dinner together.

Day 2
Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar

We transfer up to the unmistakable Landmannalaugar mountains. The drive will take approximately four hours as we head through the south of Iceland, up the Thjorsardalur valley towards Mount Hekla, an enormous volcano responsible for enormous destruction in centuries past. Here, we turn into the Highlands and the black volcanic desert of the Fjallabak area. The Fjallabak Nature Reserve is one of the most popular areas in Iceland for trekking with a landscape like nowhere else, from black volcanic plains to multicoloured rhyolite mountains. At the heart of all this are the Landmannalaugar mountains, where we pitch our camp before having lunch.

Typically, most trips begin the Laugavegur Trail today; however, we take the opportunity to enjoy a daywalk in these unique surroundings.

Our afternoon walk heads to the top of Blue Peak and across the black Laugahruna lava field. The hot pools originate in this lava field, which was created in 1477, the last known eruption in the area.

This area is believed to be the southern end of the Bardarbunga volcanic system. The last eruption in the Bardarbunga system was a fissure eruption in the northern end from 2014 to 2015. Some 93mi (150km) north of Landmannalaugar, it was the largest eruption in Iceland for more than 200 years, though luckily did not have the same impact on air travel as the more famous Eyafjallajokull eruption of 2010.

Our guide will prepare the evening meal in our mess tent, though group members are expected to pitch in and help with food preparation and washing up.

Distance covered: 4mi (6km)

Ascent: 1,230ft (375m); Descent: 1,230ft (375m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3
Landmannalaugar to Alftavatn

For the next two days, we cross the Torfajokull volcanic area (rhyolitic stratovolcano), which was formed by a series of subglacial volcanic eruptions. It is the largest rhyolitic area in Iceland, consisting of rolling rhyolite hills with numerous hot springs and sulphur vents.

We start by crossing the Laugahraun lava field to the slopes of Brennisteinsalda, known for its photogenic spectrum of colours. We take a short but very worthwhile detour to the top.

En route we pass the Storihver hot spring, cross the high plateau and enter the Hrafntinnusker area. Here steam rises from hundreds of vents and our route passes numerous hot springs along the way.

From Hrafntinnusker and across the Torfajokull Massif – the route meanders southwards and we hike past steaming hot springs and boiling mud pools before we start dropping down Jokultungur to the black volcanic plains west of the Myrdalsjokull glacier. The view is spectacular on a clear day with Myrdalsjokull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers in the foreground and the black volcanic landscape between. We enter a totally different landscape of Palagonite ridges and peaks with black volcanic plains and big glacier rivers all around. Our aim for the day is Alftavatn lake where we pitch our tents once more.

Distance covered: 14mi (22km)

Ascent: 2,953ft (900m); Descent: 3,166ft (965m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Alftavatn to Emstrur

We head further south towards Myrdalsjokull ice cap across the black volcanic landscape. There are several rivers in this area, the largest are bridged but the smaller ones are not. We make a detour just before we make it to our destination of the day, Emstrur, heading west for the Markarfljotsglufur canyon. The Markarkfljot glacial river has cut this canyon nearly 655ft (200m) deep and it is worth a visit. After the canyon, we have a short distance to Botnar in the Emstrur area, a small green oasis in the black volcanic desert.

Distance covered: 11mi (17km)

Ascent: 755ft (230m); Descent: 1,099ft (335m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Emstrur to Thorsmork (Basar)

We start the day by crossing the bridge over the Emstrur River on our way to Thorsmork. We hike along the western edge of the Myrdalsjokull Ice Cap and leave the pitch-black volcanic area. Vegetation increases slowly and, eventually, we get to the lush birch-covered area of Thorsmork (Thor’s woodland). Thorsmork valley is a beautiful place with magnificent glaciers, a river and wind-swept mountains. This area has been a favourite with local walkers for decades and it’s easy to see why. We hike across the Thorsmork valley and over the Krossa glacial river (by bridge) and to our camp in Basar.

Distance covered: 12mi (20km)

Ascent: 1,411ft (430m); Descent: 2,264ft (690m)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Glacier walk, return to Reykjavik

Today we pack up ready to head back to Reykjavik. Before returning to the city, we go for a hike on Solheimajokull, an outlet glacier extending from the Myrdalsjokull icecap. We explore this wonderland of ice sculptures, crevasses, and long, narrow ridges. We strap on the crampons and get the ice axes before making our way up this massive ice flow. After the glacier walk, en route to Reykjavik we stop at Skogarfoss and Kvernufoss, two particularly photogenic waterfalls. On arrival in Reykjavik, we can check in and then head out for our final meal together. The leader can recommend or book a restaurant for the group.

Distance covered: 4mi (6km)

Ascent: 361ft (110m); Descent: 361ft (110m)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
End Reykjavik

Those wishing to spend extra time in Reykjavik will find it time well spent as this busy city has plenty to offer, from the Harpa Concert Hall to the many restaurants and cafés, not forgetting the geothermal baths, a key part of Icelandic culture.

Meals included: Breakfast

Ascents, descents and distances: All ascents, descents and distances listed in the daily itinerary have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. However, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these Trips Notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Hotel and camping

Iceland’s Laugavegur Trek

The first and last nights are spent in Reykjavik. Here we usually use Hotel Klettur or the Storm Hotel, which both have comfortable rooms. As hotel availability in Reykjavik can be scarce during summer due to strong demand, we may occasionally use one hotel on the first night and a different hotel on the last night. If this is the case, any luggage you choose to leave in Reykjavik will be transferred from one hotel to the other for you.

When camping, we usually stay at organised campsites with good facilities. Showers are available for a small fee – about 350 Icelandic kronas (US$2.60) – at some and are included at others. Some also have facilities for washing clothes. Spacious two-person tents with sewn-in groundsheets and separate flysheets are supplied. We provide a dining tent with a table, campstools, and LED lamps. Please note, some campsites in Iceland cannot be prebooked, and are allocated on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. In busy periods, we may occasionally use campsites different to those outlined in the itinerary.

Single accommodation, including a single tent, is available on request.

Single supplement from £ 360

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, four lunches and four dinners are included.

Typical meals when camping:

  • Breakfast: Fresh fruit, yoghurt, porridge, muesli, bread, jam, tea/coffee
  • Lunch: Bread and soup, cheese, tuna, biscuits
  • Evening meal: A combination of the following: meat (including Icelandic specialities such as smoked lamb), fish, pasta, beans, noodles, vegetables, and hot drinks. We will also have a few bars of chocolate, dried fruit, biscuits and some sweets to sustain us on the walks. Those who prefer evening drinks are advised to buy them in the duty-free upon arrival at the airport.

Dietary requirements: Vegetarians can be catered for, please advise at time of booking. As this is predominantly a camping trip, there is limited flexibility in camp. If you have specific dietary requirements, please ask at the time of booking to allow us to check with our local partners. Unfortunately, due to the remoteness of some locations, we are unable to cater for vegans.

Transport

We use a comfortable van or bus, ruggedly built to Icelandic standards and able to cope with most types of terrain, including fording glacial rivers. Airport transfers are on the Flybus service.

Weather & Seasonality

Iceland is on the northern edge of the temperate zone, meaning it has cool summers. Daytime temperatures in summer can be anything from 10C to 20C (50F to 68F), though they can reach 25C (77F) and could equally drop close to freezing point. As we are in a mountain area, you must be prepared for some days of poor weather with strong winds and rain, but usually the weather is quite pleasant, though cool. There is constant daylight, but not midnight sun, in May, June and July.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Keflavik Airport (KEF)

Airport transfers

The start hotel will be approximately 45 to 60 minutes’ drive from the airport. Prior to travel, all clients will receive a Flybus voucher, which must be exchanged at the Flybus counter inside the airport or on the first bus for two tickets – one to the hotel and another back to the airport.

Flybus offer bus transfers throughout the day and make stops at various city hotels including our start hotel. It is sometimes necessary to change bus at the Reykjavik bus terminal to continue your journey to the start hotel. You will receive further details in your Final Joining Instructions.

Why Flybus?
We use FlyBus so you have full flexibility to choose the flight times that work best for you. This also means we avoid adding to the road traffic and carbon emissions by having a private bus meet our groups. It is the most cost effective and responsible way to transfer from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik. If you prefer to be met by a taxi, this can be arranged at an additional cost. Contact your sales representative for more detail.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Reykjavik
Location end: Reykjavik

What To Take

Essential Equipment

Icelandic weather is very changeable, particularly in the mountainous interior. You must therefore bring a range of clothing to cover different possible situations.

  • Three-season sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Sleeping mat – Therm-a-Rest or similar
  • Waterproofs (top and bottom)
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Neck buff/snood
  • Thermal underwear (top and bottom)
  • Hiking boots with ankle support
  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • Water bottle
  • Torch (flashlight) for August and September departures
  • Shoes for river crossings, either rubber shoes or light shoes that will dry quickly
  • 25-40 litre backpack – main luggage is transported by minibus

Environmental considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impact wherever possible, even when nature calls. If no facilities are available, you may need to go behind a tree, bush or rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind, we recommend taking biodegradable bags with you. Once you have done your business, put the used paper in the bag and dispose when appropriate facilities are available.

Optional Equipment

  • Sleep mask
  • Walking poles
  • Ear plugs

Practical Information

Visa

Iceland

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Iceland. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/iceland
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/iceland
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland/entry-requirements
• USA:  www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Iceland.html

Vaccinations and Health

Iceland

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus and rabies. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

Local Time

Iceland's time zone: Atlantic/Reykjavik (UTC +00:00)

Electricity

Iceland’s electricity: Plug types C (two round pins) and F (two round pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Additionally, portable power banks are useful for this trip. Charging stations for phones and power banks are available at the campsites (paid locally on a ‘first come, first served’ basis). The support car driver will also allow charging of phones and power banks in his vehicle, including during transit between campsites.

Iceland’s Laugavegur Trek

Money

Iceland's currency: Icelandic króna (ISK)

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in Reykjavik. Outside Reykjavik, there is no access to ATMs.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We recommend you allow 10,500-15,700 kronas (US$75-US$115) in total for the two dinners not included in Reykjavik. Unfortunately, Iceland is very expensive for eating out. For small snacks and drink stops en route allow about 4,350 kronas (US$32) in total.

The Blue Lagoon is a popular destination close to both Reykjavik and Keflavik airports. Depending on your flight times, you may be able to visit on your arrival or departure day. Destination Blue Lagoon offer packages with transfers between Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon and Keflavik Airport. Book direct at https://destinationbluelagoon.is or speak to your sales representative for more information.

Tipping

Our staff are paid fairly for their work; however, should you wish to tip the leader and/or driver this is entirely at your discretion. Icelanders do not expect a tip, and as such advice on an amount is not always forthcoming, so as a guide you could consider approximately 2,600 kronas (US$20).

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • Local guides keep you well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels, restaurants, and other enterprises, and by championing locally produced food wherever possible.
  • We stay in family-owned farms, which provides a great opportunity for interaction with local people.
  • Read more about our other initiatives here.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively reduce waste; this includes eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles by providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • Our local partner is a member of Landvernd the Icelandic Environment Association, and Fuglavernd Bird Life Iceland. Both are heavily involved in local conservation initiatives.
  • We rewild 1,075swft (100sqm) per passenger to compensate for all trip and flight emissions.
  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels with us.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Walking trips like this have very little detrimental impact on the environment and the locals, as it is a quiet, low-impact activity requiring comparatively few resources to support.
  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring a reusable water bottle on this trip, also consider avoiding single-use hotel toiletries, which generate a large amount of plastic waste.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.