Day: 3 Landmannalaugar & Þjórsárdalur
Overnight location: Arhus Cabins or Hotel Hella. Breakfast included.
Today we drive the rough unpaved road to Landmannalaugar, an oasis in the barren highlands, surrounded by the center rhyolite mountains. Group members have the options to explore the area on their own or join the guide for a short hike through a rough lava field and up the slopes with an incredible spectrum of colors. The highlight is a 90-minute round-trip hike up toward Brenninsteinsalda, the rainbow mountain of Iceland, which is one of the most spectacular volcanic mountains in Landmannalaugar. The name in English translates to “sulphur wave”. It comes from the yellow sulfur spots which have colored its sides. But there are other colors too: green from copper, black and blue from lava and ashes, red from iron in the earth and white from silica. It could very well be the most colorful mountain in Iceland, and so its picture is often found in books and calendars. The mountain is still “hot” where you can see sizzling sulfur springs and center at its sides. For this hike, good boots and walking poles are helpful. In Landmannalaugar there is also a natural geothermal stream where you can enjoy a refreshing bath. Have swimwear and towel ready. On the way back to our accommodation, we stop at the beautiful waterfall Hjalparfoss in Thjorsardalur valley surrounded by unusual basalt rock formations. Nearby we explore the Viking farm ruins at Stong, which was completely buried in pumice during one of Mt. Hekla’s bigger eruptions in 1104. A leisurely hike brings us to Gjain, a green oasis in an otherwise rocky, barren moon-like landscape. Thjorsardalur is off-the-beaten-path and is dominated by Mt. Hekla and other volcanoes in the vicinity. Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes; over 20 eruptions have occurred since settlement in 874. During the Middle Ages, Europeans called the volcano the “Gateway to Hell”. Please note that in case Landmannalaugar is not accessible during May and June departures, we travel only to Thjorsardalur valley on that day.
Driving distance: (290km / 180mls)