Iceland – Laugavegurinn – What, how (much), when?

Accomodation during the hike

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Camping in the wild is strictly forbidden on the entire Laugavegur trail. You can sleep in the mountain huts along the trail or put up your tent around them in a designated area. Spending the night in a mountain hut will cost you 8000 ISK per night per person, which is approximately 68 euros. That money will only get you a bunk bed in a dormitory-style room where you have to cook your own food and bring your own sleeping bag. Showers are not always available, and when they are, they cost 500 ISK (4,20 euros) for five minutes of lukewarm water in a non-heated building. Every mountain hut has a sanitary building with toilets, sinks for brushing your teeth, washing dishes, drinking, etc. In September a lot of the faucets were shut off because of the freezing temperatures. There’s nowhere to resupply your food or snacks, except at the end in Þórsmörk, where there’s a restaurant. So take plenty food and snacks for four days or you will starve. In the mountain huts there’s a basic kitchen, when you camp you’ll have to rely on your own gear.

Camping will cost you 2000 ISK / person / night, which is about 16,80 euros. But let me be very clear on this: camping in Iceland can be FREEZING! We slept in a four-season tent with down sleeping bags and isolating Therm-a-Rest sleeping mats and at some moments we were still shivering (even with all of our clothes on). Of course, it was mid-September and freezing temperatures are not uncommon. On the bright side, the trail is less crowded and you have a much bigger chance of seeing the northern lights in September.

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Because of the popularity of the trail and the low amount of beds in the mountain huts it is required to book your accommodation a long time in advance. Some mountain huts are fully booked months in advance in high season.

Reservations can be made here: http://en.fi.is

Camping doesn’t require any booking in advance, just pay as you arrive. In most places you can use your credit card, but don’t take the risk and just bring enough cash.

When?

We went late September, but this is usually discouraged. We got really lucky with the weather, but keep in mind that these are not the normal weather conditions for this time of the year.

The best time of year to go is: the end of June until the end of August. Be warned: the opening of the mountain huts this late in the year could depend on the weather! Always check this before you leave.

How to get there?

(All the prices and dates below are valid for 2017! Please check https://www.re.is for more information or other tours)

Reykjavik Excursions has an expanded bus network all over Iceland. You can take bus 11 from Reykjavik all the way to Landmannalaugar from 13th of June until 18th of September. Price: 9000 ISK (76 euros).

Price from Þórsmörk (end of hike) to Reykjavik (bus 9a): 8400 ISK (70 euros).

TIP: Reykjavik Excursions offers the ‘Hiking Passport’ (valid from 13/06 until 07/09): from Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar and from Þórsmörk to Reykjavik for the price of 14000 ISK (120 euros).

We rented a car in Keflavik airport because we were lucky enough to spend three weeks in Iceland. We parked our car in Hella, at the Kjarval Supermarket bus stop. We thought it was rather safe to leave the car there.

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Bus 11: Reykjavik – Landmannalaugar

Bus stop

Daily

13/06 – 18/09

Daily

13/06 – 18/09

Daily

13/06 – 31/08

Daily

13/06 – 18/09

Reykjavik (RVK City Hostel)

06:40

07:15

12:30

/

Reykjavik (BSI Bus Terminal)

/

08:00

13:00

16:00

Hveragerði

07:15

08:40

13:40

16:40

Selfoss (Campsite)

07:30

08:55

13:55

16:55

Selfoss (N1 Gas station)

07:35

09:00

14:00

17:00

Hella (campsite)

07:55

09:30

14:25

17:30

Hella (Kjarval supermarket)

08:00

09:35

14:30

17:35

Leirubakki

08:25

09:55

14:55

18:00

Landmannahellir

/

11:00

16:00

/

Hrauneyjar

09:00

/

/

18:35

Landmannalaugar

10:00

12:05

17:00

19:30

Bus 9a: Þórsmörk – Reykjavik

Bus stop

Daily

01/05 – 15/10

Daily

 02/06 – 31/08

Daily

01/06 – 31/08

Þórsmörk (Básar)

15:00

07:20

20:00

Þórsmörk (Langidalur)

15:15

07:30

20:10

Stakkholtsgjá (Canyon)

15:35

/

/

Þórsmörk (Húsadalur)

16:00

08:00

20:40

Seljalandsfoss (Waterfall)

17:15

09:00

21:40

Hvolsvöllur (N1 Gas Station)

17:45

09:30

22:00 –

22:10(pauzestop)

Hella (Kjarval Supermarket)

17:55

09:35

22:20

Hella (Campsite)

18:00

09:40

22:25

Selfoss (Campsite)

18:25

10:05

22:50

Selfoss (N1 Gas Station)

18:30

10:10

22:55

Hveragerði (Campsite)

18:40

10:20

23:05

Reykjavík (BSÍ Bus Terminal)

19:35

11:15

23:45

Reykjavík (RVK City Hostel

19:50

/

00:15

Level of difficulty

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The Laugavegur trail is only 55 kilometers long, so doable for a lot of people. Despite the short distance, days are long and sometimes exhausting. Crossing the rivers can be hard and dangerous when the water is high. Bring in loose rocks on the bottom, a strong current and a heavy backpack and you’ll lose your balance very quickly. Take it easy, always try to find the best place to cross the river (where the river is at its broadest). Bring sandals for a better grip and to avoid wet boots. Hiking poles can be a lifesaver!

If you choose to sleep in the mountain huts you’ll save a lot of weight in your pack. But in both cases, you need food and snacks for the entire hike, because there is nowhere to resupply. Freeze-dried food is your best option: they are light, you only have to add boiling water and they usually contain a lot of calories (yes ladies, you need them when you hike!). Complement this with noodles, instant soup, chocolate, raisins, etc. The water from the rivers is drinking water, and it’s delicious!

The path is well-marked, but a map and gps are recommended for emergencies. When the weather is bad, and there’s a lot of fog, you’ll get lost in no time.

You can hike Laugavegur on your own (not alone! Never hike alone!). You don’t really need a guide or an expensive organization to do this trek if you’re experienced.

Six days?

You can extend your walk by two days or 22 kilometers. From Þórsmörk you hike over the Fimmvörðuháls pass in between two glaciers, the Mýrdalsjökul and Eyjafjallajökull (yes, like the volcano). The ‘grand finale’ at the end is the Skógafoss: a magnificent waterfall of 60 meters high and 25 meters wide in Skógar.

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Dangerous?

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The Laugavegur is no walk in the park! Don’t forget that this is real wilderness, you probably won’t have any signal on your cellphone and weather conditions change rapidly. There’s always a weather report in the mountain huts. Sign in at the mountain huts so they can track where you’ve been if something happens. If you have any doubts, please ask the guardian of the hut for advice and follow that advice. They really do know best!

Prepare for all weather conditions, but especially pack clothes that protect you against cold and rain. Even when you sleep in the mountain huts, it is advisable to be prepared for bad circumstances.

People have actually died on this trail. Because of storms, hypothermia or just because they got lost and were never seen again. Even some experienced hikers have lost their lives doing this trek. I am not telling you this to scare you of, but to warn you. Icelandic nature is beautiful, but also brutal. You often get the feeling that people don’t belong there. If the weather is good, it is hard to imagine this. But when you can’t see more than 2 meters because of thick fog you realize just how easy it is to get lost. And this is something we experienced firsthand.

 

Costs

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The prices below (in euro) are all excluding the cost of necessary clothes and camping gear. This is something that you can make as pricy as you like.

An organized trek (for example with ‘Mountain Guides’): Includes: 5 day trek with guide, 4 nights in huts, food for 5 days, luggage transportation from hut to hut, bus from and to Reykjavik.

Total: 1680 euro per person

On your own: (for a 3 nights, 4 days itinerary):

  • Mountain hut: 67 x 3 = 201
  •  Camping: 16,20 x 3 = 48,60
  • Reykjavik excursions ‘Hiking Passport’ (from Reykjavik to start and from end to Reykjavik): 120
  • Food for 4 days (average of 7 euro per meal): 84

 

Total sleeping in huts: 405 euro / person

Total camping: 252,60 euro / person

A huge profit if you are willing and capable to carry your own backpack and prepare this hike yourself.

Flying into Keflavik Airport (from Belgium):

We flew with AirBerlin, Dusseldorf-Keflavik Airport, and paid 140 euros per person (return trip) in September 2015. We took a train to Dusseldorf Airport (110 euros return trip). In 2015 the cheapest return ticket from Brussels to Iceland was 450 euros. Now there’s Wowair that provides cheap tickets to Iceland from Brussels starting from 250 euros in high season.

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