Day 7: Exploring Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is a region near the volcano Hekla in the southern part of Iceland's highlands.
The Landmannalaugar area is a popular tourist destination and hiking hub in Iceland's highlands. The area displays a number of unusual geological elements, like the multicolored rhyolite mountains and expansive lava fields, not far from the service center. The many mountains in the surrounding area display a wide spectrum of colors including pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, and white. Two of the most popular mountains among hikers are Bláhnjúkur (meaning "blue peak") and Brennisteinsalda (meaning "sulphur wave").
Landmannalaugar is famous for its hiking trails. The most popular routes include the 2 hour hike through the Laugahraun lava field to Mt. Brennisteinsalda ("Sulphur Wave"), the 1 hour hike up Mt. Bláhnjúkur ("Blue Peak") and the 4 hour hike to Ljótipollur crater lake ("Ugly Puddle"). Landmannalaugar can also be the starting point of several longer hiking trails, such as the 3-4 day Hellismannaleið hike by the roots of Hekla volcano and Sprengisandur route for the people who are willing to rough it through the immense volcanic desert.
Landmannalaugar is the usual starting point for a four day long hiking trail aptly called Laugavegur, as the main shopping street in Reykjavík city center is called the same and is referred to the herds of people that walk the trail every day. The name actually means "The Landmannalaugar Trail", "Laugar" being a shortened version for "Landmannalaugar". The usual four day trail ends in Þórsmörk, but one or two days can be added, trekking then all the way to Skógar nearly at the coast via Fimmvörðuháls between the two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
I returned to Iceland for my third time there to hike the world’s famous Laugavegurinn (Laugavegur) trek combined with its Fimmvörðuháls hiking neighbour; we went in the south-to-north direction starting in Skógar and finishing our journey in the colorful Landmannalaugar area.
The itinerary was rather straightforward and not surprising: Skógar -> Fimmvörðuháls -> Þórsmörk -> Emstrur (Botnar) -> Álftavatn -> Hrafntinnusker -> Landmannalaugar.
We were quite lucky with the weather except for the Emstrur -> Álftavatn part when we experienced the most horrible weather I have ever encountered during my hiking trips – really strong wind and constant rain made from this part a “survival” odyssey. It is often said that weather is a crucial factor in this hike and our experience from this particular day (and also from the other – beautiful – days) just confirmed that.
This is a shot taken during our day walk around this beautiful and colorful Landmannalaugar area.