The total hiking distance is close to 53 km and the route from Thorsmork to Skogar on the south coast adds 24-26 km.
The Landmannalaugar – Thorsmork route is called “Laugavegurinn”, The Hot Spring Route, which is very appropriate. It is clearly marked between the huts in Landmannalaugar, Hrafntinnusker (Obsidian Skerry), on lake Alftavatn (The Lake of the Whooper Swans) and on river Sydri-Emstrua in Fremri-Botnar.
The trail “Laugavegurinn” is one of the most popular and most travelled hiking trails in Icelandic wilderness. It is equally popular with domestic and foreign hikers. This is not without a reason as the trail offers a great variety of landscape. Mountains in almost every colour of the rainbow, great glaciers, roaring hot springs, big rivers and lakes. Generally the hike lasts four days and the starting point is Landmannalaugar (altitude approx. 600 meters) Overnighting is in huts but you have to supply your own sleeping bag. Those with confirmed reservations have a higher priority so it is important to look in advance if you want to have a certain place to stay.
Distance 12 km, estimated walking time 4 – 5 hours. Elevation increase 470 meters. From the hut in Landmannalaugar (75 persons, GPS 63°59.600 – 19°03.660) the trail goes through a rough lavafield “Laugahraun”. From there on up the slopes of “Brennisteinsalda” and to the plateau. The view offers an incredible spectrum of colours. After 3 – 4 hours you arrive at “Stórihver”, a hot spring and almost the only green spot visible in the first day. In most years the rest of the trail from “Stórihver” to “Höskuldsskóli” hut is covered with snow. Chances of fog are very high so even though the trail is clearly marked you must be careful. A walk to the icecaves (approx. 1.5km from the hut) is a must. The huts location GPS 63°55.840 – 19°09.700 and sleeps 36 persons.
Distance 12 km, estimated walking time 4 – 5 hours. Elevation decrease 490 m. The first part of the trail takes us through a valley with some small ravines but be careful as they may be filled with snow. If the visibility is good a walk up to the top of mountain “Háskerðingur” (1281 m) will reward your with a breathtaking view. Soon we leave the colourful rhyolite mountains and enter an area with dark palagonite mountains and glaciers. You will also notice a considerable increase in vegetation. The trail down the “Jökultungur” is rather steep but leads down to a friendly oasis on the banks of river “Grashagakvísl” a fine place to rest for a while. From there on the trail to the two huts by the lake “Álftavatn” is on flat land. There are two huts (58 persons, GPS 63°51.470 – 19°13.640).
Distance 15 km., estimated walking time 6-7 hrs., elevation decrease 40 m. The trail takes us over the ridge “Bratthóls” into “Hvanngil” ravine, wading across the river “Bratthólskvísl”. In “Hvanngil” are two huts, one built for sheepherders in 1963 and one for tourists, built in 1995. A short walk from the huts is the river “Kaldaklofskvísl” with a bridge for hikers. On the eastern bank of “Kaldaklofskvísl” the trail branches, one branch leading eastwards to “Mólifellssandur” (Road F 210) but the other one southwards to “Emstrur” and we choose the latter. Less than one km from “Kaldaklofskvísl” another river has to be waded and approximately 4 km further we come to the river “Nyrðri Emstrur” but this time there is a bridge to cross it. Soon we will be overlooking the huts in “Botnar” (40 persons, GPS 63°45.980 – 19°22.480). A fine walk in the evening is to the “Markarfljótsgljúfur” canyon.
Distance 15 km., estimated walking time 6-7 hrs., elevation decrease 300 m. First we have to go around the canyon of “Syðri – Emstrur” and there is a very steep path down to the bridge so be careful. Then a walk through the area known as “Almenningar” with crossing of among other rivers “Þröngá”. It is good practice when wading to go hand in hand and head downstream. After crossing “Þröngá” a 30 minutes walk takes us to the hut in “Langidalur” in “Þórsmörk” (75 persons, GPS 63°40.960 – 1930.890) Landscape and vegetation is changing rapidly. Birchwood and all kinds of plants a welcome change after the desert now behind us. The hut in Thorsmork is Basar huts in Godaland, in Langidalur Hut Skagfjordsskáli and
cottages and huts in Husadalur.
Those who decide to continue on the well-marked route over the Fimmvorduhals Pass to Skogar can divide the leg by staying overnight in the hut in the pass after a 5 hour walk and continue for five hours the next day down to Skogar.
Spending one night in the hut in the pass allows hikers to make a detour to the top of South Iceland’s highest mountain, Eyjafjallajokull. Every precaution should be taken en route on the ice cap.
From mid June to Mid September.