I have talked to many return tourists and travelers to Iceland. They have been to Iceland several times and want to do something different. Most have driven around the island and seen all the most famous waterfalls and attractions. If you are in this position or simply love hiking, then read on. :)
I'm gonna walk you through a very exciting hiking route in the highlands called "Fimmvörðuháls", which is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country and a great destination for people into photography.
The hike is only possible during summertime and normally people accomplish the trip in one day. There are also many people who split the hike to 2 days and stay in the mountain hut based up there. The one in the picture is not in use anymore though.
When I did this route, we hiked for one day. But as a photographer, I admit that it would have been better to have more time with all the amazing waterfalls and breathtaking views up there.
The first part of the pass is along Skógá river. It is dotted with an enormous amount of beautiful waterfalls falling from it, big and small. The famous Skógafoss waterfall runs from this river as well. After departing from the river, you will enter a more desolated area leading you to the pass between the two glaciers - Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
Upon arrival, you will discover the new craters and lava created in the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. I think the steam and heat from the lava is still noticeable which is awesome and cool to see. It's kind of otherworldly and amazing how you connect strongly with mother nature by seeing all those forces and steamy hot lava.
Some parts of this hike are really like from another planet leaving you with lunar rocky and lava landscape, steep hills and pure water that you can enjoy and drink. The highlight of the route is when you reach the highest point, overviewing breathtaking scenery over the endless amount of mountain ridges. Standing up there is fascinating and fairy-tale like, making you feel so small and in total awe.
Equipment and gear
Things I recommend for this trip are sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes, outdoor clothing for all kinds of weather because the climate is different between areas and weather can change rapidly in the highland. Even if your day starts out a sunny one, you might end up in rain, fog or blizzard at some point. You need a good backpack and it's helpful to have hiking poles, crampons (don't need big ones), food, snacks, and plenty of water, band-aid, sunglasses, and protection as well.
This route is not for total beginners and you have to be in pretty good shape. Keep in mind that you can fill up your water bottle directly from the river during the first 8 or 10km when hiking along Skógá river.
If you are ready to rock the highland and connect with nature this way, I highly recommend this journey. It's a once in a lifetime experience for every nature lover and hiker, something that you will never forget. If you are interested and want more information, please feel free to contact me, or the customer service team at Guide to Iceland.