thorsmork

Fimmvorduhals hike guide

Fimmvorduhals hike guide

I’ve seen several articles which claimed to be the “Fimmvorduhals hike guide” but they still didn’t contain all information I needed and didn’t answer all my questions. I’m not saying they are not useful, they are just not detailed enough. For example, I couldn’t clearly find out how long the hike will take us, getting some very mixed estimates ranging anywhere from 6 hours to 2 days. This and more I tried to put together in 1 comprehensive article about the Fimmvorduhals hike.

Fimmvorduhals hike – what is it?

It is said to be one of the most beautiful Icelandic hikes. And I can only confirm that it really is. At least in nice weather 🙂 Otherwise, it may easily turn into a long and unpleasant struggle.

Fimmvorduhals pass is a mountain pass located between the two glaciers between Skogar (yes, Skogafoss waterfall) and Basar hut in Thorsmork. And this is exactly the trail of the hike – the traverse from Skogar to Thorsmork or the other way round. Skogar is best known for its beautiful waterfalls, while Thorsmork is famous for its hard-to-access natural beauties, valleys, rivers, glaciers, and mountains. And the Fimmvorduhals hike is full of everything of these.

trail around fimmvorduhals snowfields

The trail around Fimmvorduhals snowfields

For any Icelandic enthusiast, the Fimmvorduhals hike is a must-go. It’s not a question of if, but rather a question of when. Of course only if you feel like doing it – because it’s not that easy (but also not any horror – in good weather) and it takes 7 to 12 hours to complete – based on your skills.

When to go

This is a crucial decision. I changed the planned day for the hike 4 times. This meant 4 times contacting the bus company for changing the tickets and 4 times explaining this to my foreign hiking buddy Vicente 🙂 But it was well worth it. If the weather doesn’t look good, please don’t go and better change your plans / reschedule the hike to a different day.

The basic answer is easy – in summer only. Some parts of the hike are covered by snow all year round, so you cannot avoid snow completely. But there are spots that are impassable if there’s too much snow and there are spots that are easily passable even when walking on the snow. So, the more specific answer would be – ideally in the second half of July or in August. At this time, the last winter’s snow should be already melted and the “next year’s” snow hasn’t arrived yet.

descent from fimmvorduhals craters

Descent from Fimmvorduhals craters of Magni and Modi to Thorsmork

Generally, the trail is open for hiking from somewhere around the beginning of June to somewhere around the middle of September. But the more away you go from July/August, the more difficult the hike will be. Of course, it all depends on your hiking skills. If you are used to hiking in snow, wind, cold, and/or rain, you have more flexibility in terms of when to go.

Even in July/August – please look at the forecast and look at the safetravel.is for any warnings. Although Fimmvorduhals is not Mt. Everest, it can get bad in unfavorable weather. How to read the weather forecast? We wrote an entire article about how to find good weather in Iceland, feel free to read it. Besides that, a short summary of it is below in the “Weather” section.

Weather

Ideally, you want to naturally aim for no rain, no wind, and clear skies. If this is the case, you have already won. But in Iceland, this is not the case most of the time 🙂 So what you at minimum want to aim for is little rain and little wind. Although fog is unpleasant because your view isn’t the best, it isn’t life-threatening, as is often the case with wind and rain.

It’s important to study the forecast at en.vedur.is. This is an Icelandic meteorological station and you will not get any other foreign forecast which is more precise. Forget about Google’s weather.com, sorry for saying that, but that one is complete bullshit. At en.vedur.is don’t look just at the general forecast – go into the detailed forecast for rain, detailed forecast for the wind, and look specifically at the Fimmvorduhals pass. We described this in detail in our Iceland weather forecast article.

hiking the waterfall way

Hiking the Fimmvorduhals waterfall way

Last but not least – looking at the 1 week ahead forecast is (almost) completely useless 🙂 The weather changes very quickly, oftentimes in minutes/hours, 1-week ahead forecast will almost surely change. The forecast which most of the time worked pretty well in our case was 1-2 days ahead forecast. This one didn’t change that much.

The word of caution – even the best forecast doesn’t guarantee you the weather it states. Reality may be better or worse (usually worse in Iceland). So please be prepared for it. And anytime you feel unsafe to proceed, better don’t proceed and turn back. Accommodation/money loss is always more reasonable than health loss. One part of the hike – the part exactly between the two glaciers – is the part where the weather is usually the most unpredictable, changes quickly, and usually is worse than forecasts.

How to get to the Fimmvorduhals hike

Another crucial question after the choice of the season, date, and day is a question of how to get to and from the Fimmvorduhals hike. Do you have a rental car? Yes, you can drive to Skogar (or Thorsmork) then – but how to get back, if the hike ends 30 kilometers away? 🙂 Unless you have an (experienced) friend (with a big 4×4) waiting for you at the other end of the trail, you would need to take the bus or the guided Fimmvorduhals tour with transportation. Or stay overnight in accommodation in Thorsmork. The bus is usually the cheapest option.

If you Google the buses from/to Skogar and Thorsmork, you will soon realize you don’t have that many options. If you want to start in Skogar and end in Thorsmork (as we did, and most of the visitors as well) the first bus arrives at Skogar at 9:45 AM and the last bus leaves Thorsmork at 20:00 PM. This means that if you want to complete the Fimmvorduhals hike in 1 day, you need to do it in 10 hours. Period.

hiking to baldvinsskali hut

Hiking to Baldvinsskali hut

Here is the schedule of the Thorsmork buses. Beware, that the evening bus from Thorsmork runs only during the peak season. Otherwise, you have to reach out for the other options. These are:

  1. Booking a night roughly at the halfway of the hike in the Baldvinsskali hut
  2. Booking a night in Thorsmork – the closest option is Basár hut, the next option is Langidalur campsite and the furthest one (but maybe the most glamorous) is the Volcano huts in Husadalur

What I did was to drive with our car to Hvolsvollur and leave the car there at the big car park of N1 gas station. Then I took the bus to Skogar, which (as mentioned above) arrived shortly before 10 AM. Then we made the Fimmvorduhals hike (which took us roughly 8 hours in a medium-to-quick pace) and ended up at Basar hut before 7 PM. Finally, we took the same bus back from Basar hut to Hvolsvollur and I came back to our car at 10 PM in Hvolsvollur, thus making it all in 1 day.

It is possible to do the same also with Reykjavik as your start/endpoint, but add additional 2 hours each way (that’s what my friend Vicente has done).

Buses to and from Thorsmork and Skogar

As of the 2022 season, the only option to do the Fimmvorduhals hike in 1 day and come back to your accommodation is to

a) complete it under 10 hours, AND

b) depart from Reykjavik or Hvolsvollur/Hella.

The Fimmvorduhals bus schedule is located here. This 1-day loop can only be achieved during the peak season when the last bus from Thorsmork leaves as late as 8 PM.

The Fimmvorduhals bus is also called “the highland bus” and the tickets – although a bit misleading – work pretty well. You can buy 1 ticket which includes the round trip – i.e. either from Reykjavik/Hvolsvollur to Skogar + from Thorsmork back to Reykjavik/Hvolsvollur – or the other way round. The ticket from Reykjavik is roughly 20-30Eur more expensive compared to that from Hvolsvollur.

thorsmork bus basar hut

Bus to/from Thorsmork standing at Básar hut

After buying the ticket you also have to reserve your seats on the bus for a particular day and time by writing an email to the bus company. To sum it up, the entire process works like this:

  1. You buy the ticket (free cancellation up to 24 hours before departure)
  2. You write an email to the bus company with a specific date and time request (free changes up to 24 hours before departure)

I recommend booking in advance and then making changes a few days before if necessary due to weather. That’s what I had to do several times due to changing rain and wind forecasts. There are usually enough places on the buses (and if there’s a lot of tourists, they usually send more buses). That being said – yes, it’s good to book in advance, but changing a few days before the hike shouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances.

If you already know beforehand that you can’t make it on time for the bus schedules, you may still book a night in either the Baldvinsskali hut or in Basar/Langidalur/Husadalur campsites. If they have free places, you may come there even without booking it in advance. Of course, booking in advance is recommended. But you can call there and ask a few days in advance for availability and decide based on that.

Length

The hike is 26 kilometers long (16 miles). How long does it take to complete it? This is the aspect that is kind of hard to estimate because everyone has a different pace. One American website stated that it took their entire family some 6-7 hours to finish the hike. This I find unbelievably fast (don’t know if they are superheroes or what), but it can be considered as a bottom estimate of the time.

On the other hand, some guys on the Alltrails app stated it took them around 12 hours to complete the hike. This is a bit long in my opinion, but it can be pretty much realistic if you have a slow hiking pace. So yes, the estimate to complete the entire hike is somewhere between 7 to 12 hours and depends on both the weather and your hiking skills.

last part fimmvorduhals hike

Last part of the Fimmvorduhals hike

We’ve done the Fimmvorduhals hike in the perfect weather and it took us 8 hours to complete it, including small food breaks and several little photo pauses. If I had to assess our pace, I would say it was pretty quick in the beginning and then we slowed down considerably. So, to sum it up, our pace was probably medium-to-quick. This may change drastically in case of bad weather, though, so count on that, please.

This is also how I recommend doing the hike. It’s better to be quicker in the beginning, not make that many pauses and check the trail map about your status. If you realize that 3 hours have passed and you are already halfway through the hike (as we realized), then your pace is probably quick and you can slow down. And vice versa – if you realize that 5 hours have passed and you are halfway through the hike, then your pace is probably slower and you should hurry up to make it under 10 hours.

Who to go with

This may be a strange question for someone, but I’m gonna put it in here anyway 🙂 My wife didn’t feel like doing such a long and strenuous hike and I didn’t want to push her. On the other hand, I really wanted to do the hike. So how do we solve this situation? One of the options is to go alone. Yes, this is doable. We even met a girl our age who has done the hike alone. Still, I don’t recommend going alone. You never know what can happen during the hike and it’s always better to have a companion for a plethora of reasons.

little streams at fimmvorduhals

Little streams in the beginning of the Fimmvorduhals trail

I knew I didn’t want to go alone for the trail I hadn’t already known. But I didn’t give up and I decided to find a company – via FB. There are many groups on Facebook devoted to Iceland, one of them particularly popular called “Travel Iceland”. I’m thankful to this group for useful Icelandic info and even for finding a hiking buddy for the Fimmvorduhals hike 🙂 And I was pretty lucky, because (only after we started the hike) I realized my hiking buddy Vicente was really well equipped and an experienced hiker.

Difficulty  

I’m originally from Slovakia where we do have somewhat high (2500+ meters) mountains. I’m used to hiking, though I wouldn’t say I’m any good at it. I would consider the hike to be of medium difficulty. The trail itself is not that difficult. The first half of the trail is basically a long gravel/clay walk without any steep sections. The only real issue with the Fimmvorduhals hike might be its length – for someone this hike may be too long for 1 day. For me, it was just right and I still had some energy left after the finish.

The second half of the trail (after the hut) is slightly more technical, but except for one spot, I didn’t find it dangerous or highly difficult. This one spot is the 2nd hill after the Baldvinsskali hut (when going from the Skogar direction). There’s a steep slope with the ground consisting of a mix of clay, ice, and ash. The grip is not very good and the angle/slope is pretty steep. This is the only part where I felt unsafe and even scared a bit. But that may be my specific issue – I just don’t like steep slopes with bad grip and uneven terrains – like ice and ash. This is where hiking poles literally saved my life (or at least avoided a broken leg).

most difficult part finished

Resting after finishing the most difficult part of the hike

Snowfields were not any big issue for us, they were easily passable and not steep at all. No crampons were needed. I even took a pair with me, just to be sure, but I didn’t need to use them at all. Next, the only part of the hike with chains – the part after Modi and Magni volcanoes – wasn’t that dangerous in my opinion. Yes, the chains are a bit scary, or better said, the steep fall below them is a bit scary – but this part is short and thanks to the chains easily doable.

Last but not least, the famous Kattarhryggur pass – the “cat’s spine”, was maybe a bit scary because it was narrow, but otherwise it was not any difficult. The pass has firm and flat ground, so if the wind isn’t too strong it shouldn’t be an issue.

For some inexperienced hikers or visitors afraid of heights (like my wife) this hike may be too stressful. For medium+ experienced hikers used to heights, chains and mountain passes it is definitely doable, some may even consider it to be easy. It’s definitely long, though.

Clothes and equipment

I’m not much of a person who would advise you which jacket you should buy on Amazon 🙂 But I can definitely advise you to dress well for the Fimmvorduhals hike. What does “dress well” mean? Well, dress for any kind of weather – especially rain, wind, and cold. A waterproof layer (pants and jacket) is a must (at least in your backpack). Something to protect you from cold and wind is a must as well (some backup hat, gloves, jacket, etc.). You might not need any of these if the sun shines and the wind is non-existent, but they come priceless if the weather turns to the dark side.

The temperature during the summer hike usually ranges anywhere between 5°C-20°C (51F – 68F). If the wind blows badly and the sun doesn’t shine, you may easily feel like -5°C (23F) even in August, though! On the other hand, without wind, and with the sun shining, there were parts when we hiked in our T-shirts only.

Do you need hiking poles? For 98% of the trail I would say you don’t. BUT. For the steep section after the Baldvinsskali hut, I cannot imagine going without them. My friend Vicente, though, has done it without any hiking poles, but he’s a hiking machine :)). My final advice would be – better take them.

fimmvorduhals views into thorsmork valley

Views from the Fimmvorduhals into the Thorsmork valley

Do you need crampons? During the best time to go (mid-July to the end of August) you don’t need them at all. At other times it really depends. But the parts covered the most by snow are not very steep, so I wouldn’t say you need crampons under normal circumstances.

Anything other to take? Good shoes, sun cream in case of sunny weather, water and food (there’s no place to buy any during the trail and Skogar campsite is not well equipped).

Our experience

Since the day I’ve first seen the Fimmvorduhals hike and read about it, I knew I have to try it 🙂 Planning is crucial for the Fimmvorduhals hike (see above). After many changes, we finally decided to go for the hike on Day 3 of our highlands trip.

A month before the hike I found my hiking buddy via Facebook group Travel Iceland. My wife didn’t feel like going for such a long hike and I didn’t want to push her. My buddy – Vicente – seemed to know what he was doing, although you never know before you really get to know each other 🙂 I took care of the entire organization of the trip – i.e. mainly choosing the specific day, buying bus tickets, and making a bus seat reservation.

fimmvorduhals thorsmork descent

The final part of the Fimmvorduhals hike near Thorsmork

Our plan

We had a 3-day window when we could both do the hike (as an intersection of my and Vicente’s schedule). I waited 5 days before the hike and when the weather looked reasonable I booked the bus and reserved the seats for Friday. I received the response from the bus company anytime from 1 hour after my email to almost 24 hours – but they always responded and always positively. Vicente travelled from Reykjavik, I travelled from Hvolsvollur.

The plan for our trip was as follows:

  • Vicente getting on the bus at 7:00 in Reykjavik towards Skogar
  • Me coming by car to Hvolsvollur and getting on the same bus to Skogar at 9:00
  • Starting the hike at 10:00 in Skogar
  • Finish the hike before 20:00 in Basar
  • Take the bus back from Basar hut at 20:00 – me to Hvolsvollur, my friend to Reykjavik
waterfall way skogar fimmvorduhals hike

The waterfall way in the first third of the Fimmvörðuháls hike

3 days before the hike the weather forecast changed and it looked much better for Saturday. So, I wrote a kind email to the bus company asking for rescheduling and they quickly replied positively. 2 days before the hike the forecast started to show some strong winds exactly in the worst part of the hike – between the two glaciers. I decided to reschedule again – back to Friday – although I must have looked dumb already at that point in the eyes of the bus company.

On a Thursday evening, I looked at the forecast once again and it showed slight rain for Friday and the wind forecast for Saturday disappeared. I felt like an idiot but I decided to write the bus company once again and reschedule the trip for the fourth time. They replied late in the evening that yes, it’s rescheduled. At that moment I just prayed I had made a good decision. And it turned out I did. The weather on our day was almost perfect.

fimmvorduhals snow trail

The snowy part of the hike

The Fimmvorduhals trail step by step

0. Map of the Fimmvorduhals trail

Click to enlarge:

fimmvorduhals hike map skogar thorsmork

Fimmvörðuháls hike map (from Skógar to Thórsmörk)

1. Skógar and Skogafoss

The Fimmvorduhals trail starts with the magnificent, giant green scenery of Skogar. This is usually the place where most of the tourists both start and finish, as was the case during our first visit to Skogafoss. While Skogafoss is an admiringly beautiful place definitely worth visiting, it’s a mistake not to continue further up the Skogafoss waterfall trail. It doesn’t take too long to finish it, nor is the trail too hard. So we do recommend you reserve some extra time to see it!

Bottom part of Skógafoss

Bottom part of Skógafoss waterfall (and a wedding in the background ☺)

2. The waterfall way

It is the waterfall way that begins with the famous Skogafoss and continues with several other, less known but not any less beautiful waterfalls. The waterfall way is one of the most beautiful short hikes in Iceland I’ve seen. I can highly recommend doing this hike to everyone – even if you don’t want to continue. Just take the waterfall way from Skogar and come back.

waterfall way fimmvorduhals hike

The waterfall way looking back to Skogar

The entire waterfall way is around 8 kilometers long and took us around 2 hours to complete from Skogafoss to the last waterfall on the route. That being said, we hiked very quickly with only short pauses for taking pictures. At a relaxed pace, it may take some 2.5-3 hours one way. But you don’t need to take it all the way to the end. The most beautiful part was its first half, i.e. some first 4 kilometers. Doing that as a roundtrip makes for some 3-hour long hike at a relaxed pace that everyone can make.

waterfall way skogafoss fimmvorduhals iceland

The Fimmvörðuháls hike trail during the waterfall way part

Water and moss are literally everywhere during this part of the Fimmvorduhals hike. We felt as if we were a part of some fairy tale, with hobbits possibly chasing us somewhere. This hike is also doable even if it rains lightly and the visibility isn’t perfect, so it’s a great candidate also for moody days. And what’s one of the best features about Icelandic landscapes – they look very different in the cloudy and in the sunny weather. So, you may even visit them twice and still have a different experience!

waterfall way skogar iceland

One of the largest waterfalls at the waterfall way of the Fimmvorduhals hike

3. The ascent towards Baldvinsskáli hut

The waterfall way ends with a little bridge and roughly marks the first third of the Fimmvorduhals hike. The next part is the most boring one – the first part of the ascent towards Baldvinsskali hut. For around 40-50 minutes there’s pretty much nothing to see and you just have to walk up the gravel road where emergency vehicles can drive to Baldvinsskali hut.

fimmvorduhals trail

The most boring part of the Fimmvorduhals hike – right after the end of the waterfall way

Then you will reach the area where nice views start to slowly appear – in good weather with good visibility of course. The combination of snow, gravel, and hills in the distance is very nice, though definitely not the best part of the hike. We soon spotted the Baldvinsskali hut in front of us, and, as expected, it was covered in a fog 🙂

fimmvorduhals trail to baldvinsskali hut

Fimmvorduhals trail just before the Baldvinsskali hut

This part of the hike took us around 1.5 hours to complete, still at a pretty quick pace, including a 10-minute lunch break. After 3.5 hours of quick pace, we were supposed to be already almost halfway through the entire hike. This meant, we decided to slow our pace and enjoy the scenery more and take more pictures.

baldvinsskali hut fimmvorduhals hike

A very bad selfie (and our only picture) of us in front of the Baldvinsskáli hut in a total fog

4. Between the two glaciers

The middle part of the hike – between the Baldivnsskali hut and the Kattarhryggur pass is the most difficult one, yet I still think – not too difficult. This is also where the weather usually gets worse (more foggy, rainy, or windy). We were pretty lucky, though, to have nearly perfect weather with fog only on at a short part near the hut. This middle part is also the one where hiking poles do come in handy.

fimmvorduhals trail glaciers snowfields

Right after the Baldvinsskali hut, first glacial snowfields of the Fimmvorduhals trail appear

The first snowfield appears right after the Baldvinsskali hut (coming from the Skogar direction) and in our case was pretty easy to walk on. Just remember we had no rain, no wind, and an occasional fog and sun. There are several other snowfields on a way towards the craters of Magni and Modi. None of the snowfields seemed difficult to us and crampons were useless in our opinion. If you walk carefully and follow the steps in the snow (in case they are there), you shouldn’t have a problem crossing the fields. This part of the hike really felt like “ICEland” thanks to all this snow even in the middle of the summer.

5. The most difficult part of the Fimmvorduhals hike

After a few snowfields, the most difficult part of the hike (at least for me) followed. We descended into the small valley full of ash, clay, and melting ice and snow. Firstly, we had to descend down through the slippery path consisting of ice and ash. It was unclear where exactly the path led and we had to find our own. OK, done. But next, we had to climb the very unpleasant hill. We had already seen several hikers in front of us struggling at this part and in a while, I completely understood why.

fimmvorduhals trail difficult part

For me the most difficult part of the Fimmvörðuháls trail in front of us

The hill in front of us was pretty steep and had a pretty bad grip. It reminded me of the slippery part of the hike to Bláhnjukúr in Landmannalaugar, but this one was much worse. This hill again consisted of black ash, melting ice, gravel, and clay. None of them was any firm and I felt like slipping and falling with each step. And this didn’t feel very pleasant given that you were on a steep slope. This part was the only one where I was a bit scared and which seemed dangerous to me. But that may be only me – I just hate places where I can’t stand firmly on the ground.

fimmvorduhals slippery trail

The steep and slippery trail made of ash and dry clay. Hiking poles saved my life.

Hiking poles literally saved my life at this part and thanks to them I was able to finish it without stumbling. I cannot imagine hiking this part in rain or strong wind, that must be terrifying.

6. Almost two thirds into the hike

Afterwards, several lunar landscapes followed. Red ash, black ash, moon-like hills, really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The terrain wasn’t difficult anymore at this part. The only spot where we were slightly confused was a crossroad where you had to decide to go on a big snowfield or climb through big black lava stones. We decided to go for the stones and then followed to the nearest yellow stick-mark.

fimmvorduhals trail most beautiful part

For me one of the 3 most beautiful parts of the Fimmvörðuháls hike

What follows is a beautiful picturesque lunar area around the craters of Magni and Modi. The views are getting better at this part and in nice weather, you are able to already see a bit into Thorsmork valley as well as into the other beautiful valleys in the distance.

7. Magni and Modi craters

If you have time, definitely go for the little detour up to the Móði crater. It takes less than 10 minutes to reach the top (turn left in the direction of the red peak, coming from the Baldvinsskali hut).

fimmvorduhals peak of modi crater

Unforgettable views from the peak of the Móði crater

If the visibility is good, views from the top of the Móði crater are entirely stunning. 5 hours have passed and we were already two-thirds into the entire hike, so we took our time and stayed for a while on top of the Móði, enjoyed the views, and slowly descended back.

fimmvorduhals hike highest point

One of the highest points of the Fimmvorduhals hike with stunning views

Shortly after reaching Magni and Modi craters, the magnificent Thorsmork valley starts to reveal itself in front of you. This was one of my favorite views of the entire hike. A huge green valley, mountains, rivers, and different valleys are everywhere in the distance. From this point onwards, only the descent follows – no more climbs 🙂

8. The only chains of the hike

chains at fimmvorduhals

The only chains at Fimmvörðuháls trail

As you approach Thorsmork, views are getting better and better. Eventually, we reached the only technical passage of this part of the hike – chains. The descent continues next to the steep ravine and to make it more safe chains were tied into the nearby stones. Take care though, some of them are moving. This passage is a little bit scary when looking at it but otherwise isn’t dangerous because you just walk on the firm flat ground, holding onto chains (and the ravine is below you).

This is the wrong way. The right path leads to the left via chains.

My friend mistakenly took the wrong way and had to literally jump a bit from the cliff to be able to proceed. Do not take this way, it’s dangerous. After seeing him struggling, I took the right path described above. Chains are the right part. Take chains.

fimmvorduhals chains part

The part many find the most dangerous. Not me. Chains to the right, valley to the left.

These chains at Fimmvorduhals are the part many people described as the scariest one. I definitely didn’t think so. The worst part for me was the one in the middle of the hike with slippery ash and clay without any chains.

9. Thorsmork valley descent

views of thorsmork from fimmvorduhals

Views of Thórsmörk from the final part of the Fimmvörðuháls trail

The final slightly technical part of the entire hike is the famous Kattarhryggur, or “cat’s spine” pass. It’s a narrow pass where there’s a steep ravine both on your left and on your right. There are no chains, but the pass is pretty flat with firm ground. Unless the weather is very windy or otherwise unpleasant, hiking this part shouldn’t be any problem.

kattarhryggur cat spine fimmvorduhals

A famous Kattarhryggur (cat’s spine) pass was not that bad in a beautiful weather

The gradual descent into the Thorsmork valley continues afterward. Huge green areas with views towards Thorsmork, Krossa river, and its arms. We made roughly a 1-hour long break before Kattarhryggur to admire the surroundings and arrived down at the Basar hut at 7 PM. Without the break, the hike would take us 8 hours at a medium-to-quick pace, including photo pauses and short food pauses. Our bus was supposed to leave from the Basar hut so we stayed at Basar and waited for it.

Coming back

If you have time, energy, or you simply don’t go for the bus from Basar, you may continue on foot to other campsites which are further away. The closest one is the Langidalur campsite (another bus stop), which is roughly 30 minutes by walk from Basar. And then there’s also the Husadalur campsite with well-known Volcano huts, which is another 20-30 minutes by walk from the Langidalur campsite. We took the bus from Basar to Hvolsvollur (and my friend to Reykjavik) at 8 PM and ended our beautiful day.

Fimmvorduhals hike Videos


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Day 3 – Fimmvörðuháls hike

Day 3 – Fimmvörðuháls hike

This article just summarizes in detail our experience during the Fimmvorduhals hike. If you are interested in a detailed Fimmvorduhals hike guide – including tips on weather, season, clothes, transportation, length, and difficulty – read our full Fimmvörðuháls hike guide.

fimmvorduhals hike map skogar thorsmork

Fimmvörðuháls hike map (from Skógar to Thórsmörk)

Since the day I’ve first seen the Fimmvorduhals hike and read about it, I knew I have to try it 🙂 Planning is crucial for the Fimmvorduhals hike (see below). After many changes, we finally decided to go for the hike on Day 3 of our highlands trip.

A month before the hike I found my hiking buddy via Facebook group Travel Iceland. My wife didn’t feel like going for such a long hike and I didn’t want to push her. My buddy – Vicente – seemed to know what he was doing, although you never know before you really get to know each other 🙂 I took care of the entire organization of the trip – i.e. mainly choosing the specific day, buying bus tickets, and making a bus seat reservation.

fimmvorduhals thorsmork descent

The final part of the Fimmvorduhals hike near Thorsmork

Our plan

We had a 3-day window when we could both do the hike (as an intersection of my and Vicente’s schedule). I waited 5 days before the hike and when the weather looked reasonable I booked the bus and reserved the seats for Friday. I received the response from the bus company anytime from 1 hour after my email to almost 24 hours – but they always responded and always positively. Vicente travelled from Reykjavik, I travelled from Hvolsvollur.

The plan for our trip was as follows:

  • Vicente getting on the bus at 7:00 in Reykjavik towards Skogar
  • Me coming by car to Hvolsvollur and getting on the same bus to Skogar at 9:00
  • Starting the hike at 10:00 in Skogar
  • Finish the hike before 20:00 in Basar
  • Take the bus back from Basar hut at 20:00 – me to Hvolsvollur, my friend to Reykjavik
waterfall way skogar fimmvorduhals hike

The waterfall way in the first third of the Fimmvörðuháls hike

3 days before the hike the weather forecast changed and it looked much better for Saturday. So, I wrote a kind email to the bus company asking for rescheduling and they quickly replied positively. 2 days before the hike the forecast started to show some strong winds exactly in the worst part of the hike – between the two glaciers. I decided to reschedule again – back to Friday – although I must have looked dumb already at that point in the eyes of the bus company.

On a Thursday evening, I looked at the forecast once again and it showed slight rain for Friday and the wind forecast for Saturday disappeared. I felt like an idiot but I decided to write the bus company once again and reschedule the trip for the fourth time. They replied late in the evening that yes, it’s rescheduled. At that moment I just prayed I had made a good decision. And it turned out I did. The weather on our day was almost perfect.

fimmvorduhals snow trail

The snowy part of the hike

The Fimmvorduhals trail step by step

1. Skógar and Skogafoss

The Fimmvorduhals trail starts with the magnificent, giant green scenery of Skogar. This is usually the place where most of the tourists both start and finish, as was the case during our first visit to Skogafoss. While Skogafoss is an admiringly beautiful place definitely worth visiting, it’s a mistake not to continue further up the Skogafoss waterfall trail. It doesn’t take too long to finish it, nor is the trail too hard. So we do recommend you reserve some extra time to see it!

Bottom part of Skógafoss

Bottom part of Skógafoss waterfall (and a wedding in the background ☺)

2. The waterfall way

It is the waterfall way that begins with the famous Skogafoss and continues with several other, less known but not any less beautiful waterfalls. The waterfall way is one of the most beautiful short hikes in Iceland I’ve seen. I can highly recommend doing this hike to everyone – even if you don’t want to continue. Just take the waterfall way from Skogar and come back.

waterfall way fimmvorduhals hike

The waterfall way looking back to Skogar

The entire waterfall way is around 8 kilometers long and took us around 2 hours to complete from Skogafoss to the last waterfall on the route. That being said, we hiked very quickly with only short pauses for taking pictures. At a relaxed pace, it may take some 2.5-3 hours one way. But you don’t need to take it all the way to the end. The most beautiful part was its first half, i.e. some first 4 kilometers. Doing that as a roundtrip makes for some 3-hour long hike at a relaxed pace that everyone can make.

waterfall way skogafoss fimmvorduhals iceland

The Fimmvörðuháls hike trail during the waterfall way part

Water and moss are literally everywhere during this part of the Fimmvorduhals hike. We felt as if we were a part of some fairy tale, with hobbits possibly chasing us somewhere. This hike is also doable even if it rains lightly and the visibility isn’t perfect, so it’s a great candidate also for moody days. And what’s one of the best features about Icelandic landscapes – they look very different in the cloudy and in the sunny weather. So, you may even visit them twice and still have a different experience!

waterfall way skogar iceland

One of the largest waterfalls at the waterfall way of the Fimmvorduhals hike

3. The ascent towards Baldvinsskáli hut

The waterfall way ends with a little bridge and roughly marks the first third of the Fimmvorduhals hike. The next part is the most boring one – the first part of the ascent towards Baldvinsskali hut. For around 40-50 minutes there’s pretty much nothing to see and you just have to walk up the gravel road where emergency vehicles can drive to Baldvinsskali hut.

fimmvorduhals trail

The most boring part of the Fimmvorduhals hike – right after the end of the waterfall way

Then you will reach the area where nice views start to slowly appear – in good weather with good visibility of course. The combination of snow, gravel, and hills in the distance is very nice, though definitely not the best part of the hike. We soon spotted the Baldvinsskali hut in front of us, and, as expected, it was covered in a fog 🙂

fimmvorduhals trail to baldvinsskali hut

Fimmvorduhals trail just before the Baldvinsskali hut

This part of the hike took us around 1.5 hours to complete, still at a pretty quick pace, including a 10-minute lunch break. After 3.5 hours of quick pace, we were supposed to be already almost halfway through the entire hike. This meant, we decided to slow our pace and enjoy the scenery more and take more pictures.

baldvinsskali hut fimmvorduhals hike

A very bad selfie (and our only picture) of us in front of the Baldvinsskáli hut in a total fog

4. Between the two glaciers

The middle part of the hike – between the Baldivnsskali hut and the Kattarhryggur pass is the most difficult one, yet I still think – not too difficult. This is also where the weather usually gets worse (more foggy, rainy, or windy). We were pretty lucky, though, to have nearly perfect weather with fog only on at a short part near the hut. This middle part is also the one where hiking poles do come in handy.

fimmvorduhals trail glaciers snowfields

Right after the Baldvinsskali hut, first glacial snowfields of the Fimmvorduhals trail appear

The first snowfield appears right after the Baldvinsskali hut (coming from the Skogar direction) and in our case was pretty easy to walk on. Just remember we had no rain, no wind, and an occasional fog and sun. There are several other snowfields on a way towards the craters of Magni and Modi. None of the snowfields seemed difficult to us and crampons were useless in our opinion. If you walk carefully and follow the steps in the snow (in case they are there), you shouldn’t have a problem crossing the fields. This part of the hike really felt like “ICEland” thanks to all this snow even in the middle of the summer.

5. The most difficult part of the Fimmvorduhals hike

After a few snowfields, the most difficult part of the hike (at least for me) followed. We descended into the small valley full of ash, clay, and melting ice and snow. Firstly, we had to descend down through the slippery path consisting of ice and ash. It was unclear where exactly the path led and we had to find our own. OK, done. But next, we had to climb the very unpleasant hill. We had already seen several hikers in front of us struggling at this part and in a while, I completely understood why.

fimmvorduhals trail difficult part

For me the most difficult part of the Fimmvörðuháls trail in front of us

The hill in front of us was pretty steep and had a pretty bad grip. It reminded me of the slippery part of the hike to Bláhnjukúr in Landmannalaugar, but this one was much worse. This hill again consisted of black ash, melting ice, gravel, and clay. None of them was any firm and I felt like slipping and falling with each step. And this didn’t feel very pleasant given that you were on a steep slope. This part was the only one where I was a bit scared and which seemed dangerous to me. But that may be only me – I just hate places where I can’t stand firmly on the ground.

fimmvorduhals slippery trail

The steep and slippery trail made of ash and dry clay. Hiking poles saved my life.

Hiking poles literally saved my life at this part and thanks to them I was able to finish it without stumbling. I cannot imagine hiking this part in rain or strong wind, that must be terrifying.

6. Almost two thirds into the hike

Afterwards, several lunar landscapes followed. Red ash, black ash, moon-like hills, really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The terrain wasn’t difficult anymore at this part. The only spot where we were slightly confused was a crossroad where you had to decide to go on a big snowfield or climb through big black lava stones. We decided to go for the stones and then followed to the nearest yellow stick-mark.

fimmvorduhals trail most beautiful part

For me one of the 3 most beautiful parts of the Fimmvörðuháls hike

What follows is a beautiful picturesque lunar area around the craters of Magni and Modi. The views are getting better at this part and in nice weather, you are able to already see a bit into Thorsmork valley as well as into the other beautiful valleys in the distance.

7. Magni and Modi craters

If you have time, definitely go for the little detour up to the Móði crater. It takes less than 10 minutes to reach the top (turn left in the direction of the red peak, coming from the Baldvinsskali hut).

fimmvorduhals peak of modi crater

Unforgettable views from the peak of the Móði crater

If the visibility is good, views from the top of the Móði crater are entirely stunning. 5 hours have passed and we were already two-thirds into the entire hike, so we took our time and stayed for a while on top of the Móði, enjoyed the views, and slowly descended back.

fimmvorduhals hike highest point

One of the highest points of the Fimmvorduhals hike with stunning views

Shortly after reaching Magni and Modi craters, the magnificent Thorsmork valley starts to reveal itself in front of you. This was one of my favorite views of the entire hike. A huge green valley, mountains, rivers, and different valleys are everywhere in the distance. From this point onwards, only the descent follows – no more climbs 🙂

8. The only chains of the hike

chains at fimmvorduhals

The only chains at Fimmvörðuháls trail

As you approach Thorsmork, views are getting better and better. Eventually, we reached the only technical passage of this part of the hike – chains. The descent continues next to the steep ravine and to make it more safe chains were tied into the nearby stones. Take care though, some of them are moving. This passage is a little bit scary when looking at it but otherwise isn’t dangerous because you just walk on the firm flat ground, holding onto chains (and the ravine is below you).

This is the wrong way. The right path leads to the left via chains.

My friend mistakenly took the wrong way and had to literally jump a bit from the cliff to be able to proceed. Do not take this way, it’s dangerous. After seeing him struggling, I took the right path described above. Chains are the right part. Take chains.

fimmvorduhals chains part

The part many find the most dangerous. Not me. Chains to the right, valley to the left.

These chains at Fimmvorduhals are the part many people described as the scariest one. I definitely didn’t think so. The worst part for me was the one in the middle of the hike with slippery ash and clay without any chains.

9. Thorsmork valley descent

views of thorsmork from fimmvorduhals

Views of Thórsmörk from the final part of the Fimmvörðuháls trail

The final slightly technical part of the entire hike is the famous Kattarhryggur, or “cat’s spine” pass. It’s a narrow pass where there’s a steep ravine both on your left and on your right. There are no chains, but the pass is pretty flat with firm ground. Unless the weather is very windy or otherwise unpleasant, hiking this part shouldn’t be any problem.

kattarhryggur cat spine fimmvorduhals

A famous Kattarhryggur (cat’s spine) pass was not that bad in a beautiful weather

The gradual descent into the Thorsmork valley continues afterward. Huge green areas with views towards Thorsmork, Krossa river, and its arms. We made roughly a 1-hour long break before Kattarhryggur to admire the surroundings and arrived down at the Basar hut at 7 PM. Without the break, the hike would take us 8 hours at a medium-to-quick pace, including photo pauses and short food pauses. Our bus was supposed to leave from the Basar hut so we stayed at Basar and waited for it.

Coming back

thorsmork bus basar hut

Bus to/from Thorsmork standing at Básar hut

If you have time, energy, or you simply don’t go for the bus from Basar, you may continue on foot to other campsites which are further away. The closest one is the Langidalur campsite (another bus stop), which is roughly 30 minutes by walk from Basar. And then there’s also the Husadalur campsite with well-known Volcano huts, which is another 20-30 minutes by walk from the Langidalur campsite. We took the bus from Basar to Hvolsvollur (and my friend to Reykjavik) at 8 PM and ended our beautiful day.

Fimmvorduhals hike Videos


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Day 1 – Thorsmork

Day 1 – Thorsmork


Þórsmörk. The “Valley of Thor” has been high on our list of to-visit places since our first ring road trip to Iceland. Why? Because it’s amazingly beautiful and it’s still one of the places which are not crowded yet. The reason behind that is pretty straightforward – it’s accessibility. The road F249 leading there contains several river crossings which get bigger and bigger as the road progresses and eventually end with the biggest one – the Krossá river.

Thorsmork is an unbelievably beautiful, one-in-the-world valley located near the ring road close to Seljalandsfoss. It is pretty hard to access, mainly due to treacherous river crossings, which need to be managed very very cautiously and with respect.

stakkholtsgja canyon thorsmork

Stakkholtsgjá canyon Þórsmörk

Some say “never go to Thorsmork with a rental car!” or “go to Thorsmork only with a guide!”. While I mostly agree, this is still too much of a generalization. I would rather say: Don’t drive to Thorsmork if you are not WELL PREPARED. What does well prepared mean? You should go in the right season, during the right weather, drive the proper car, study the roads in advance, study the river crossings in advance and on-site.

If this is too much effort for you, then don’t go to Thorsmork with a rental car! For those willing to put up this extra effort, we wrote this guide on visiting Thorsmork.

We also made video footage of our self-drive day trip to Thorsmork, including all of the major river crossings and best stops along the way. Just a word of caution – we went under almost ideal conditions!

Our trip to Thorsmork

We had a base near Hella and were choosing where to go on our first day mostly based on the weather. As the weather looked nice all around the south, the choice was tough. After some thinking, we chose Thorsmork, because you really need a nice day to visit it. Our Icelandic friends had also told us that the water level in the rivers was pretty low these days, which encouraged us to try getting near the Langidalur campsite of the Thorsmork valley.

f249 road thorsmork

F249, a dangerous road to Thorsmork, due to its river crossings.

We had left our accommodation at 9 AM and headed towards Seljalandsfoss, where a detour towards Thorsmork lies – roads 249 and F249. Our ultimate destination for the day was the Langidalur campsite. We didn’t want to go directly there though, because this would involve crossing the Krossá river. However, it was still possible to avoid Krossá by leaving the car just a few meters away from the crossing and continuing by a footbridge. I also planned for several nice stops along the road, the first of them accessible even with a 2wd car.

Road 249 and the following F249 are gravel roads without any steep sections and without potholes, which is pretty good, given the roads are F-roads. The only quality issue with the roads (not talking about river crossings) is the big gravel. This means you have to drive really slowly to not damage your car and the journey will be bumpy anyway. The biggest caveat of F249 are river crossings, though.

Nauthusagil waterfall

Soon we arrived at the first stop of our trip – Nauthusagil canyon and waterfall. For us, Nauthusagil was one of the most magical places we’ve seen around Iceland. The place is still remote and not that much visited, despite its remarkableness. One way trip to Nauthusagil takes about 20 minutes.

nauthusagil waterfall parking

Nauthuságil waterfall “parking” 🙂

The waterfall and the canyon are accessible even by a 2wd car because they still lie next to 249 road only. We left our car at the small car park, where at the time of our visit 3 other cars stood. At that moment, the sun had already started to shine in between the clouds, only confirming our view that this should be a very nice day for visiting Thorsmork.

After parking the car, we followed the paved path along the small stream heading towards (not yet to be seen) the hidden Nauthusagil canyon. The path is easy to follow and it’s almost impossible to get lost since there’s only one way. The path soon gets narrower and changes into the hop-on-the-stones route. The rest of the way is basically walking and jumping on the various types and sizes of stones and boulders in the little water stream.

nauthusagil waterfall trail

Nauthusagil waterfall trail

Only walking the entire path is a truly magical experience. We felt like in a fairy tale. This was even underscored by the fact that we hadn’t met a single person yet at that time. The gorge is really beautiful and not that long. Soon you will reach the point where some tend to stop and turn, however that is a huge mistake in our opinion 🙂

If you want to get directly to the Nauthusagil waterfall, you have to climb 2-3 meters of boulders with a help of a vertical chain. Some find this spot intimidating, but even my wife who is afraid of all types of chains during hikes was able to make it with some help. It’s not the place for people with any movement problems, though.

nauthusagil waterfall chains

Nauthusagil waterfall chains

The most beautiful part of this little hike comes right in the end. We reached the source of all this water – the Nauthusagil waterfall. And it quickly became one of our favorite Icelandic waterfalls at all. We were also lucky enough to be there completely alone. Moreover, the sun played its beam game by shining through the cracks from above making it an even more stunning experience. One of the top places in Iceland.

nauthusagil waterfall thorsmork

Magnificient Nauthusagil itself

My advice for Nauthusagil would be simple – go for it as soon as you can – before it becomes as crowded as many other Icelandic spots!

Gigjokull glacier

After leaving Nauthusagil canyon, road 249 soon changes into F249, which means the first river crossings are coming. The tour companies making trips to Thorsmork usually also stop next to the Gigjokull glacier. This is the glacier tongue pretty well visible on your right when coming from Seljalandsfoss direction. If I had to say how is it different from any other Icelandic glaciers – I’m not sure – maybe because of its steepness. Otherwise, it’s a classical blue-white-black color combination of ice-snow-ash when it comes to Icelandic glaciers.

The road to Gígjökull is a detour from 249 to the right towards the mountains. After driving for a few minutes, we reached the pretty fast-flowing river. The river looked like you definitely don’t want to wade into it by feet – which is also a good rule of thumb whether to try to ford it by car or not. If you are afraid to try it by feet, it’s probably too dangerous to drive through it as well. Hence, we decided to turn back. Looking back at the situation, I think our car was pretty much capable of doing that crossing, but never mind – better choose the safer option than to risk wrecking your car if feeling unsure.

thorsmork gigjokull glacier

Gígjökull glacier and river crossings

Beware, the Gígjökull tracks we drove are just dirt tracks. Not even F-roads. This means they are even harder to drive than F-roads. Always check with your rental company if it allows for such roads, choose your car wisely and study the roads in advance. Mostly only super jeeps are allowed to drive the dirt tracks.

I had studied before there’s also another road leading to Gígjökull – if you continue a few hundred meters further via F249 there’s yet another detour to the right. And yes, we tried even this route. But firstly, you have to cross the first “bigger river” near the Lónið lagoon. This was a first crossing that looked scary. Firstly, the river was flowing really fast, which is a thing you generally want to avoid. Secondly, we were not able to assess what the depth of the river actually was, because the current was dirty and we couldn’t see through to the bottom.

thorsmork river crossing f249 lonid

First scarier river crossing on F249 next to Lónið lagoon

Since trying to “randomly cross” is usually not a good option, I decided to put on my wading socks and get into the river myself. Although the current was strong as expected, the river was pretty shallow. Thus, I decided “it’s time to cross”. The crossing, although bumpy, was otherwise smooth and we safely made it to the other bank. Then we turned on the road to Gigjokull glacier, making it our second attempt to reach it.

Once again, we soon arrived at the fast-flowing river and the little hill leading down to the crossing was in a very bad condition with huge holes, stones, and sharp boulders all over the road. At that point, we already had a pretty nice view of the Gigjokull glacier (and didn’t want to waste the whole day for the glacier) so we decided to turn back and rather enjoy our next stops.

wading river lonid thorsmork

Me wading river Lónið at F249 in Thorsmork

We were heading towards Stakkholtsgja (see below) and on the way there, another major obstacle has been waiting for us. The crossing of the Steinsholtsá river may often be classified as bigger. We arrived at Steinsholtsa with big respect and were ready to turn back in any case if feeling unsure. We were lucky that at the time of our visit 1) water levels were generally low due to the dry period, 2) our friend reassured us this day was good to cross, 3) we could observe a car crossing right in front of us.

We wrote much more about river crossing tips, techniques and warnings here, though. Having almost ideal conditions for crossing, we decided to move forward and were able to finish the Steinsholtsa crossing without bigger problems.

Stakkholtsgja canyon

Our next stop was another supposedly-beautiful and not that much visited place – Stakkholtsgja canyon. We arrived at the improvised gravel car park – which can be found thanks to the sign “Stakkholtsgja” (or thanks to cars parking there ;)) We parked our car next to huge modified Land Cruisers with 40”+ tires, making our car look like a small one. I guess this time of the year these huge superjeeps were just overkill because the roads were passable even with a smaller car. But I’m also pretty sure that at many other times these beautiful ones do come pretty handy.

Stakkholtsgja canyon is a stunning ravine carved in between huge rock formations on the sides. The trail towards the end of the ravine (which ends up being surprisingly amazing) is an easy walk that takes around 40 minutes one way if you know the trail. If you don’t know the trail – as was our case – add around 30 minutes for figuring out how to ford the Stakkholtsgja river by feet 🙂

stakkholstgja canyon trail

Stakkholstgjá canyon beginning of the trail

Stakkholtsgja ravine trail

Stakkholtsgja canyon hike is an unmarked hike where you again can’t get lost easily because it leads in between the two bigger hills. In the beginning, the path is a well-trodden mud path, which then turns into a gravel road leading along the river stream. Once again, only walking this path is an amazing experience, where you’re basically strolling through the base of this magnificent canyon. It definitely belongs to one of our favorite Icelandic canyons, easily surpassing e.g. Fjadrargljufur canyon (mainly due to being roughly a thousand times less touristy).

stakkholstgja thorsmork trail

Stakkholstgja canyon trail

After 20 minutes of walking, we arrived at the river which was crossing the path. We met there the group of tourists who were trying to figure out the same as us – how to ford the river without getting wet? This was the question of the day 🙂 For about 20 minutes we desperately searched for a suitable place to ford – without success. The group we met probably made the same conclusion because they got their shoes off and crossed barefoot. This definitely didn’t look like a pleasant experience, not that much because of the cold water but mostly because of the uneven, rocky riverbed.

Fording Stakkholtsgjá

At that point, we looked at our trail map and realized we are already pretty close to the end of the trail, so we wanted to turn back – or more precisely, my wife wanted to 🙂 I didn’t want to give up that easily and persuaded my wife to keep searching for the way to cross. And actually, she was the one who found the proper way soon after our little argument. We crossed the river at its left part, some 100 meters before the river turns right (and crosses the trail). The crossing meant jumping several times from stone to stone and from mud to mud. We successfully didn’t get wet though and didn’t have to ford the river barefoot.

As much as I would love to describe the exact spot where we forded, I’m unable to do so. We didn’t take any footage while holding our hands and jumping from stone to stone. We may reassure you, though, it should be possible even without getting wet 🙂 Just search for the right spot.

stakkholstgja river fording

Stakkholstgja river fording

After the ford, we continued hiking at the left part of the canyon reaching the final part of this little hike completely from the left (opposite to our first attempt from the right). At that point, we eventually met the group we had met before, that had just finished their barefoot ford. We continued towards the end of the trail (which was located pretty close by). At that moment we realized what a good decision it was not to turn back. We arrived at the end of the canyon which is a huge stony gorge and you may hike it all the way up through the big boulders!

stakkholstgja thorsmork waterfall

Stakkholstgja ravine waterfall

Rewarding End

This is exactly what we did and didn’t regret doing it at all. It’s a place somewhat similar to Nauthusagil ravine but much much bigger and still somewhat different. I definitely do recommend making the extra effort to get there to be able to admire this beauty.  Surroundings like from a different world.

stakkholstgja secret canyon

Stakkholstgja ravine with its “secret” endpoint

When coming back from the endpoint of the Stakkholtsja hike, we again struggled a little bit to find the best spot to ford the river, but after a few minutes, we again managed to cross the river without getting wet. Back at the car park, we saw a couple with a guide apparently on a “private tour”. They just went out of the car, looked at the canyon from the distance, and headed back. What a pity they weren’t advised to continue towards the end of the gorge…

F249 river crossings

We already mentioned two major river crossings in the text above – Lónið lagoon river crossing and Steinsholstá river crossing. The Steinsholtsa river is notoriously known for getting some tourist cars drowned regularly. You really ideally need to do all of the following: 1) ask locals for conditions, 2) look at the weather forecast, 3) have a proper car, 4) have already some experience with river crossings, 5) check for conditions onsite, ideally by wading the river yourself by feet or watching someone cross before you. Read more on river crossing rules and techniques on our blog.

On our way to Langidalur campsite (towards Valahnjukur hike), there were 3 more major river crossings. The first of them was the Stakkholstgjá river, the second crossing was the Hvanná river and the third one was the famous Krossá river. We did the first two crossings (Stakkholtsgja and Hvanna) in our car and definitely wanted to avoid Krossá as it is too dangerous. We highly recommend you avoid it as well.

crossing steinsholtsa river thorsmork

Crossing Steinsholtsá river on F249

F249 river crossings of Stakkholstgjá and Hvanná were very similar to the Steinsholtsá crossing we described above. We were lucky with having almost perfect conditions of low water levels, i.e. shallow rivers and even some drivers crossing right before us, so we didn’t even have to wade these two rivers by feet. However, oftentimes the conditions are much worse! That being said, if you are unsure, better try fording by feet / or wait for someone else to cross first. And if still feeling unsure, better always turn back!

Valahnjukur hike

As a next activity, I wanted to do a hike which would give us a nice view from above the entire Thorsmork area. I studied beforehand all of the hikes available around the area (and there are many of them) and finally opted for probably the shortest one. Not because we couldn’t do a longer one, but because the Valahnjukur hike seemed to be the best in terms of view/difficulty ratio. And it was 🙂

thorsmork valahnjukur hiking trail

Valahnjukur hiking trail

Thorsmork hiking trails

Thorsmork is a hiker’s paradise. Here is the map of all Thorsmork hiking trails (or at least most of them). If you are into hiking, you may easily spend here a week and still not be able to hike every trail. That being said, the area has a similar “nature shape” around all of the hikes. This means if you choose just one good hike during the good weather (no rain and good visibility) it will give you a very good overview of the area. And any other hike will be pretty similar in terms of views and surroundings.

thorsmork hiking trails map

Thorsmork hiking trails map

On the next day, I did a Fimmvorduhals hike, which actually was much higher in terms of peak height compared to Valahnjukur. But the view over the Thorsmork valley still wasn’t as good as from Valahnjukur – so the height isn’t everything, also the location is.

Crossing Krossá

An ideal start point for the Valahnjukur hike is the Langidalur campsite, which is located right next to it. How to get to the Langidalur campsite? To get to Langidalur, you need to cross the Krossá river. We definitely didn’t want to do this in the car, even when the water levels were pretty low and we had a big car. Krossá is notoriously known to be one of the most dangerous river crossings in Iceland, due to its strong current, uneven riverbed, and deep water levels.

So what if you don’t want to ford Krossá by car? Well, you can either take the bus (as we mentioned in our Thorsmork guide), or call the “Krossa taxi” at Volcano huts (but you need to get closer to Husadalur campsite in this case). Or you may use the footbridge over Krossa – if it’s there – as we did.

thorsmork krossa footbridge

Thorsmork Krossá Langidalur footbridge

When are the footbridges in place and when not? They are in place during summer if it is not too dangerous. What does it mean too dangerous? Well, mostly high water levels and/or bad weather. Yes, that water level can even reach the footbridge – in that case, the footbridge is removed by rangers and you cannot cross Krossa any other way than by superjeep/bus. Exactly this was the case some 4-5 days after our trip – it rained a lot in the area and the footbridges were removed. And even the Icelandic bus got stuck in Krossa at that time!

However, as I mentioned, at the time of our visit Krossá was calm. We parked the car close to the big green footbridge over Krossá and used the bridge. Please, be sure to park the car in the right spot – i.e. NOT on the road and NOT even on any tracks which you see on the ground. Buses and modified superjeeps use this way, so please don’t get your car in their way to not get yourself fined. Leave your car next to the road on the gravel – use your common sense.

Right after we climbed on the bridge, we spotted an Icelandic bus nearby. We waited to watch it do the Krossá crossing. It’s always admirable to see it being done correctly 🙂 The bus didn’t go exactly where the road led, but rather it made a turn and positioned itself in the direction of the stream. Exactly as you should do it according to the river crossing rules – go down the stream. Even under these very good, dry conditions, we saw how the bus was shaking on an uneven riverbed. We just got a visual confirmation that the decision to not do the crossing on our own was good.

Valahnjukur

Coming back to Valahnjukur – Valahnjukur is a really easy, quick, and very rewarding hike in terms of views all around the Thorsmork valley. You can easily do it with your family or your older relatives. Even in rain, the hike seems to be pretty doable. Just keep an eye on visibility – if it’s foggy, you won’t see anything, I’m sorry. But since Thorsmork is located in between the mountains, all the storms and clouds tend to “break” on them, and the weather in the valley is usually much better compared to all the nearby places (e.g. Fimmvorduhals pass). More about this in our “How to find nice weather in Iceland” article.

thorsmork valahnjukur top view

A spectacular view from the top of Valahnjukur

Valahnjukur hike is well marked right from the Langidalur campsite, and, again, it’s almost impossible to get lost. It took us around 30 minutes one way to get to the peak, including pauses for photos and view admiration.

We arrived at the peak of Valahnjukur at 4 PM. We were lucky enough to both – be there alone and have beautiful visibility all around the area. This is one of the best short hikes all around Iceland. If you are able to reasonably get here, I definitely do recommend you take it. Views are simply stunning.

thorsmork valahnjukur hike

Thorsmork Valahnjukur hike

To come back to Langidalur, you may either use the same trail (the quickest option) or take the loop firstly to Husadálur and then back to Langidalur. We went for the first option because there is pretty much nothing special to be seen on the second route.

On our way back to Hella I wanted to make two more stops – Gljufrabui waterfall and Seljavallalaug hot spring (yes, both the really touristy ones, we had not been there yet before and wanted to see them). Anyway, my wife told me she has enough energy for one more stop only, so we compromised on picking Seljavallalaug hot spring.

The water level in the rivers usually tends to be higher in the afternoon/evening due to melting ice. At the time of our visit, however, this wasn’t the case. We already knew from the crossings in the morning that the rivers are pretty shallow, so the crossings weren’t problematic nor time-consuming this time. Please take special care that this is also true in your case – it doesn’t have to be!

Seljavallalaug hot spring

If I said that Nauthusagil, Stakkholtsja, and Valahnjukur were some of the most beautiful places in Iceland, with Seljavallalaug this was not exactly the case. The surroundings of the pool were beautiful – untouched nature all over the place. However, the pool itself was one of the worst of all hot springs in Iceland – dirty, slippery, not very hot, and full of tourists. Still worth visiting, though.

seljavallalaug hot spring trail

Seljavallalaug hot spring trail

Seljavallalaug is located on private land and to get there you need to walk. You can park your car also on the private land – there are 2 not very big car parks, which, however, weren’t completely full at the time of our visit. We parked the car at the one closer to the pool (but it really doesn’t make any difference, because they are both next to each other). Luckily for visitors, the landowners have not yet started to get money for the parking and visit of the pool. This may change in the future, though.

After parking your car it’s a 30 minutes (one way), non-demanding walk around a nice area. It’s not marked, but it also isn’t hard to follow because a) there’s no other route, b) you will probably meet several fellow tourists on the way there. Exactly as I explained above about the weather in Thorsmork, while Thorsmork was partially sunny at the time of our visit, here at Seljavallalaug the sky was clouded completely and it rained lightly.

seljavallalaug hot spring

Seljavallalaug hot spring

There’s an old changing room at Seljavallalaug (actually 2 rooms, maybe supposed to be for men and women, but people mixed it anyway). As I said above – the pool is big, full of algae, slippery, and with water of a temperature of around 30°C+, which is not that much compared to several other 40°C+ Icelandic hot springs. Nevertheless, many other visitors seemed to enjoy the pool very much anyway. To sum it up, Seljavallalaug was still a nice experience, although we prefer other Icelandic hot springs and pools much more.

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A detailed guide to Thorsmork

A detailed guide to Thorsmork

Þórsmörk. The “Valley of Thor” has been high on our list of to-visit places since our first ring road trip to Iceland. Why? Because it’s amazingly beautiful and it’s still one of the places which are not crowded yet. The reason behind that is pretty straightforward – it’s accessibility. The road F249 leading there contains several river crossings which get bigger and bigger as the road progresses and eventually end with the biggest one – the Krossá river.

Thorsmork is an unbelievably beautiful, one-in-the-world valley located near the ring road close to Seljalandsfoss. It is pretty hard to access, mainly due to treacherous river crossings, which need to be managed very very cautiously and with respect.

stakkholtsgja canyon thorsmork

Stakkholtsgjá canyon Þórsmörk

Some say “never go to Thorsmork with a rental car!” or “go to Thorsmork only with a guide!”. While I mostly agree, this is still too much of a generalization. I would rather say: Don’t drive to Thorsmork if you are not WELL PREPARED. What does well prepared mean? You should go in the right season, during the right weather, drive the proper car, study the roads in advance, study the river crossings in advance and on-site.

If this is too much effort for you, then don’t go to Thorsmork with a rental car! For those willing to put up this extra effort, we wrote this guide on visiting Thorsmork.

We also made video footage of our self-drive day trip to Thorsmork, including all of the major river crossings and best stops along the way. Just a word of caution – we went under almost ideal conditions!

How to get to Thorsmork

The safest, most convenient (and most expensive) option to reach Thorsmork is to take the guided tour. Another safe and convenient option is to take the bus. The biggest disadvantage of the bus, however, is that it will take you only to the final destination and not stop at the picturesque stops along the road. The option we chose was to drive to Thorsmork by car. This is definitely the most adventurous, the most time-consuming (you need to plan and prepare well), and naturally the least safe option. But still manageable if done correctly, with planning, with respect, and with previous experience.

thorsmork bus basar hut

Bus to/from Thorsmork standing at Básar hut

If you plan to drive to Thorsmork yourself, you firstly need to choose a favorable time to do so (see below). Then, it is of the uttermost importance to choose the very good car capable of getting there. For Thorsmork this usually means Toyota Landcruiser AND bigger (31”+ tires), ideally with a snorkel. However, it’s not that simple. We wrote a detailed guide on how to choose the proper car and not forget anything. “Can we drive there in 4×4 Dacia Duster?” You may try. Some people succeeded, some wrecked their cars in rivers paying 10 000s Euros bills for that. Your decision. We don’t recommend that.

gigjokull glacier iceland

Toyota Land Cruiser in Thorsmork with Gigjokull glacier in the background

Last but not least, even with a proper car and during the proper time – you HAVE TO ford the rivers correctly. What does it mean correctly? At the right spot, at the right speed, from the right direction. And more. We wrote a detailed guide on river crossings, please read it if you plan to do them. Some examples that the car is not everything – just look at this 40” superjeep stuck in Krossá (our friend afterward crossed it with a much smaller car, because he chose the better crossing spot).

When to go to Thorsmork

Firstly, when the road F249 is open and serviced – i.e. only during the summer. Is that all? No, not at all. Secondly, the water level in the rivers should be favorable, i.e. as low as possible. How are you supposed to know what is the water level like right now? Well, that’s a good question without an easy and straightforward answer. To simplify it the most – ask someone local, check on road.is for warnings and always check on sight – ideally by wading the river firstly by walking into it yourself.

Thirdly, preferably only during good weather – no heavy rain, good visibility, no strong winds. Fourthly, none of the above would be sufficient if you don’t have a proper car and also if you don’t cross with proper technique.

Our trip to Thorsmork

We had a base near Hella and were choosing where to go on our first day mostly based on the weather. As the weather looked nice all around the south, the choice was tough. After some thinking, we chose Thorsmork, because you really need a nice day to visit it. Our Icelandic friends had also told us that the water level in the rivers was pretty low these days, which encouraged us to try getting near the Langidalur campsite of the Thorsmork valley.

f249 road thorsmork

F249, a dangerous road to Thorsmork, due to its river crossings.

We had left our accommodation at 9 AM and headed towards Seljalandsfoss, where a detour towards Thorsmork lies – roads 249 and F249. Our ultimate destination for the day was the Langidalur campsite. We didn’t want to go directly there though, because this would involve crossing the Krossá river. However, it was still possible to avoid Krossá by leaving the car just a few meters away from the crossing and continuing by a footbridge. I also planned for several nice stops along the road, the first of them accessible even with a 2wd car.

Road 249 and the following F249 are gravel roads without any steep sections and without potholes, which is pretty good, given the roads are F-roads. The only quality issue with the roads (not talking about river crossings) is the big gravel. This means you have to drive really slowly to not damage your car and the journey will be bumpy anyway. The biggest caveat of F249 are river crossings, though.

Nauthusagil waterfall

Soon we arrived at the first stop of our trip – Nauthusagil canyon and waterfall. For us, Nauthusagil was one of the most magical places we’ve seen around Iceland. The place is still remote and not that much visited, despite its remarkableness. One way trip to Nauthusagil takes about 20 minutes.

nauthusagil waterfall parking

Nauthuságil waterfall “parking” 🙂

The waterfall and the canyon are accessible even by a 2wd car because they still lie next to 249 road only. We left our car at the small car park, where at the time of our visit 3 other cars stood. At that moment, the sun had already started to shine in between the clouds, only confirming our view that this should be a very nice day for visiting Thorsmork.

After parking the car, we followed the paved path along the small stream heading towards (not yet to be seen) the hidden Nauthusagil canyon. The path is easy to follow and it’s almost impossible to get lost since there’s only one way. The path soon gets narrower and changes into the hop-on-the-stones route. The rest of the way is basically walking and jumping on the various types and sizes of stones and boulders in the little water stream.

nauthusagil waterfall trail

Nauthusagil waterfall trail

Only walking the entire path is a truly magical experience. We felt like in a fairy tale. This was even underscored by the fact that we hadn’t met a single person yet at that time. The gorge is really beautiful and not that long. Soon you will reach the point where some tend to stop and turn, however that is a huge mistake in our opinion 🙂

If you want to get directly to the Nauthusagil waterfall, you have to climb 2-3 meters of boulders with a help of a vertical chain. Some find this spot intimidating, but even my wife who is afraid of all types of chains during hikes was able to make it with some help. It’s not the place for people with any movement problems, though.

nauthusagil waterfall chains

Nauthusagil waterfall chains

The most beautiful part of this little hike comes right in the end. We reached the source of all this water – the Nauthusagil waterfall. And it quickly became one of our favorite Icelandic waterfalls at all. We were also lucky enough to be there completely alone. Moreover, the sun played its beam game by shining through the cracks from above making it an even more stunning experience. One of the top places in Iceland.

nauthusagil waterfall thorsmork

Magnificient Nauthusagil itself

My advice for Nauthusagil would be simple – go for it as soon as you can – before it becomes as crowded as many other Icelandic spots!

Gigjokull glacier

After leaving Nauthusagil canyon, road 249 soon changes into F249, which means the first river crossings are coming. The tour companies making trips to Thorsmork usually also stop next to the Gigjokull glacier. This is the glacier tongue pretty well visible on your right when coming from Seljalandsfoss direction. If I had to say how is it different from any other Icelandic glaciers – I’m not sure – maybe because of its steepness. Otherwise, it’s a classical blue-white-black color combination of ice-snow-ash when it comes to Icelandic glaciers.

The road to Gigjokull is a detour from 249 to the right towards the mountains. After driving for a few minutes, we reached the pretty fast-flowing river. The river looked like you definitely don’t want to wade into it by feet – which is also a good rule of thumb whether to try to ford it by car or not. If you are afraid to try it by feet, it’s probably too dangerous to drive through it as well. Hence, we decided to turn back. Looking back at the situation, I think our car was pretty much capable of doing that crossing, but never mind – better choose the safer option than to risk wrecking your car if feeling unsure.

thorsmork gigjokull glacier

Gígjökull glacier and river crossings

Beware, the Gígjökull tracks we drove are just dirt tracks. Not even F-roads. This means they are even harder to drive than F-roads. Always check with your rental company if it allows for such roads, choose your car wisely and study the roads in advance. Mostly only super jeeps are allowed to drive the dirt tracks.

I had studied before there’s also another road leading to Gigjokull – if you continue a few hundred meters further via F249 there’s yet another detour to the right. And yes, we tried even this route. But firstly, you have to cross the first “bigger river” near the Lónið lagoon. This was a first crossing that looked scary. Firstly, the river was flowing really fast, which is a thing you generally want to avoid. Secondly, we were not able to assess what the depth of the river actually was, because the current was dirty and we couldn’t see through to the bottom.

thorsmork river crossing f249 lonid

First scarier river crossing on F249 next to Lónið lagoon

Since trying to “randomly cross” is usually not a good option, I decided to put on my wading socks and get into the river myself. Although the current was strong as expected, the river was pretty shallow. Thus, I decided “it’s time to cross”. The crossing, although bumpy, was otherwise smooth and we safely made it to the other bank. Then we turned on the road to Gigjokull glacier, making it our second attempt to reach it.

Once again, we soon arrived at the fast-flowing river and the little hill leading down to the crossing was in a very bad condition with huge holes, stones, and sharp boulders all over the road. At that point, we already had a pretty nice view of the Gigjokull glacier (and didn’t want to waste the whole day for the glacier) so we decided to turn back and rather enjoy our next stops.

 

wading river lonid thorsmork

Me wading river Lónið at F249 in Thorsmork

We were heading towards Stakkholtsgja (see below) and on the way there, another major obstacle has been waiting for us. The crossing of the Steinsholtsá river may often be classified as bigger. We arrived at Steinsholtsa with big respect and were ready to turn back in any case if feeling unsure. We were lucky that at the time of our visit 1) water levels were generally low due to the dry period, 2) our friend reassured us this day was good to cross, 3) we could observe a car crossing right in front of us.

We wrote much more about river crossing tips, techniques and warnings here, though. Having almost ideal conditions for crossing, we decided to move forward and were able to finish the Steinsholtsa crossing without bigger problems.

Stakkholtsgja canyon

Our next stop was another supposedly-beautiful and not that much visited place – Stakkholtsgja canyon. We arrived at the improvised gravel car park – which can be found thanks to the sign “Stakkholtsgja” (or thanks to cars parking there ;)) We parked our car next to huge modified Land Cruisers with 40”+ tires, making our car look like a small one. I guess this time of the year these huge superjeeps were just overkill because the roads were passable even with a smaller car. But I’m also pretty sure that at many other times these beautiful ones do come pretty handy.

Stakkholtsgja canyon is a stunning ravine carved in between huge rock formations on the sides. The trail towards the end of the ravine (which ends up being surprisingly amazing) is an easy walk that takes around 40 minutes one way if you know the trail. If you don’t know the trail – as was our case – add around 30 minutes for figuring out how to ford the Stakkholtsgja river by feet 🙂

stakkholstgja canyon trail

Stakkholstgjá canyon beginning of the trail

Stakkholtsgja ravine trail

Stakkholtsgja canyon hike is an unmarked hike where you again can’t get lost easily because it leads in between the two bigger hills. In the beginning, the path is a well-trodden mud path, which then turns into a gravel road leading along the river stream. Once again, only walking this path is an amazing experience, where you’re basically strolling through the base of this magnificent canyon. It definitely belongs to one of our favorite Icelandic canyons, easily surpassing e.g. Fjadrargljufur canyon (mainly due to being roughly a thousand times less touristy).

stakkholstgja thorsmork trail

Stakkholstgja canyon trail

After 20 minutes of walking, we arrived at the river which was crossing the path. We met there the group of tourists who were trying to figure out the same as us – how to ford the river without getting wet? This was the question of the day 🙂 For about 20 minutes we desperately searched for a suitable place to ford – without success. The group we met probably made the same conclusion because they got their shoes off and crossed barefoot. This definitely didn’t look like a pleasant experience, not that much because of the cold water but mostly because of the uneven, rocky riverbed.

Fording Stakkholtsgjá

At that point, we looked at our trail map and realized we are already pretty close to the end of the trail, so we wanted to turn back – or more precisely, my wife wanted to 🙂 I didn’t want to give up that easily and persuaded my wife to keep searching for the way to cross. And actually, she was the one who found the proper way soon after our little argument. We crossed the river at its left part, some 100 meters before the river turns right (and crosses the trail). The crossing meant jumping several times from stone to stone and from mud to mud. We successfully didn’t get wet though and didn’t have to ford the river barefoot.

As much as I would love to describe the exact spot where we forded, I’m unable to do so. We didn’t take any footage while holding our hands and jumping from stone to stone. We may reassure you, though, it should be possible even without getting wet 🙂 Just search for the right spot.

stakkholstgja river fording

Stakkholstgja river fording

After the ford, we continued hiking at the left part of the canyon reaching the final part of this little hike completely from the left (opposite to our first attempt from the right). At that point, we eventually met the group we had met before, that had just finished their barefoot ford. We continued towards the end of the trail (which was located pretty close by). At that moment we realized what a good decision it was not to turn back. We arrived at the end of the canyon which is a huge stony gorge and you may hike it all the way up through the big boulders!

stakkholstgja thorsmork waterfall

Stakkholstgja ravine waterfall

Rewarding End

This is exactly what we did and didn’t regret doing it at all. It’s a place somewhat similar to Nauthusagil ravine but much much bigger and still somewhat different. I definitely do recommend making the extra effort to get there to be able to admire this beauty.  Surroundings like from a different world.

stakkholstgja secret canyon

Stakkholstgja ravine with its “secret” endpoint

When coming back from the endpoint of the Stakkholtsja hike, we again struggled a little bit to find the best spot to ford the river, but after a few minutes, we again managed to cross the river without getting wet. Back at the car park, we saw a couple with a guide apparently on a “private tour”. They just went out of the car, looked at the canyon from the distance, and headed back. What a pity they weren’t advised to continue towards the end of the gorge…

F249 river crossings

We already mentioned two major river crossings in the text above – Lónið lagoon river crossing and Steinsholstá river crossing. The Steinsholtsa river is notoriously known for getting some tourist cars drowned regularly. You really ideally need to do all of the following: 1) ask locals for conditions, 2) look at the weather forecast, 3) have a proper car, 4) have already some experience with river crossings, 5) check for conditions onsite, ideally by wading the river yourself by feet or watching someone cross before you. Read more on river crossing rules and techniques on our blog.

On our way to Langidalur campsite (towards Valahnjukur hike), there were 3 more major river crossings. The first of them was the Stakkholstgjá river, the second crossing was the Hvanná river and the third one was the famous Krossá river. We did the first two crossings (Stakkholtsgja and Hvanna) in our car and definitely wanted to avoid Krossá as it is too dangerous. We highly recommend you avoid it as well.

crossing steinsholtsa river thorsmork

Crossing Steinsholtsá river on F249

F249 river crossings of Stakkholstgjá and Hvanná were very similar to the Steinsholtsá crossing we described above. We were lucky with having almost perfect conditions of low water levels, i.e. shallow rivers and even some drivers crossing right before us, so we didn’t even have to wade these two rivers by feet. However, oftentimes the conditions are much worse! That being said, if you are unsure, better try fording by feet / or wait for someone else to cross first. And if still feeling unsure, better always turn back!

Valahnjukur hike

As a next activity, I wanted to do a hike which would give us a nice view from above the entire Thorsmork area. I studied beforehand all of the hikes available around the area (and there are many of them) and finally opted for probably the shortest one. Not because we couldn’t do a longer one, but because the Valahnjukur hike seemed to be the best in terms of view/difficulty ratio. And it was 🙂

thorsmork valahnjukur hiking trail

Valahnjukur hiking trail

Thorsmork hiking trails

Thorsmork is a hiker’s paradise. Here is the map of all Thorsmork hiking trails (or at least most of them). If you are into hiking, you may easily spend here a week and still not be able to hike every trail. That being said, the area has a similar “nature shape” around all of the hikes. This means if you choose just one good hike during the good weather (no rain and good visibility) it will give you a very good overview of the area. And any other hike will be pretty similar in terms of views and surroundings.

thorsmork hiking trails map

Thorsmork hiking trails map

On the next day, I did a Fimmvorduhals hike, which actually was much higher in terms of peak height compared to Valahnjukur. But the view over the Thorsmork valley still wasn’t as good as from Valahnjukur – so the height isn’t everything, also the location is.

Crossing Krossá

An ideal start point for the Valahnjukur hike is the Langidalur campsite, which is located right next to it. How to get to the Langidalur campsite? To get to Langidalur, you need to cross the Krossá river. We definitely didn’t want to do this in the car, even when the water levels were pretty low and we had a big car. Krossá is notoriously known to be one of the most dangerous river crossings in Iceland, due to its strong current, uneven riverbed, and deep water levels.

So what if you don’t want to ford Krossá by car? Well, you can either take the bus (as we mentioned in the beginning), or call the “Krossa taxi” at Volcano huts (but you need to get closer to Husadalur campsite in this case). Or you may use the footbridge over Krossa – if it’s there – as we did.

thorsmork krossa footbridge

Thorsmork Krossá Langidalur footbridge

When are the footbridges in place and when not? They are in place during summer if it is not too dangerous. What does it mean too dangerous? Well, mostly high water levels and/or bad weather. Yes, that water level can even reach the footbridge – in that case, the footbridge is removed by rangers and you cannot cross Krossa any other way than by superjeep/bus. Exactly this was the case some 4-5 days after our trip – it rained a lot in the area and the footbridges were removed. And even the Icelandic bus got stuck in Krossa at that time!

However, as I mentioned, at the time of our visit Krossá was calm. We parked the car close to the big green footbridge over Krossá and used the bridge. Please, be sure to park the car in the right spot – i.e. NOT on the road and NOT even on any tracks which you see on the ground. Buses and modified superjeeps use this way, so please don’t get your car in their way to not get yourself fined. Leave your car next to the road on the gravel – use your common sense.

Right after we climbed on the bridge, we spotted an Icelandic bus nearby. We waited to watch it do the Krossá crossing. It’s always admirable to see it being done correctly 🙂 The bus didn’t go exactly where the road led, but rather it made a turn and positioned itself in the direction of the stream. Exactly as you should do it according to the river crossing rules – go down the stream. Even under these very good, dry conditions, we saw how the bus was shaking on an uneven riverbed. We just got a visual confirmation that the decision to not do the crossing on our own was good.

Valahnjukur

Coming back to Valahnjukur – Valahnjukur is a really easy, quick, and very rewarding hike in terms of views all around the Thorsmork valley. You can easily do it with your family or your older relatives. Even in rain, the hike seems to be pretty doable. Just keep an eye on visibility – if it’s foggy, you won’t see anything, I’m sorry. But since Thorsmork is located in between the mountains, all the storms and clouds tend to “break” on them, and the weather in the valley is usually much better compared to all the nearby places (e.g. Fimmvorduhals pass). More about this in our “How to find nice weather in Iceland” article.

thorsmork valahnjukur top view

A spectacular view from the top of Valahnjukur

Valahnjukur hike is well marked right from the Langidalur campsite, and, again, it’s almost impossible to get lost. It took us around 30 minutes one way to get to the peak, including pauses for photos and view admiration.

We arrived at the peak of Valahnjukur at 4 PM. We were lucky enough to both – be there alone and have beautiful visibility all around the area. This is one of the best short hikes all around Iceland. If you are able to reasonably get here, I definitely do recommend you take it. Views are simply stunning.

thorsmork valahnjukur hike

Thorsmork Valahnjukur hike

To come back to Langidalur, you may either use the same trail (the quickest option) or take the loop firstly to Husadálur and then back to Langidalur. We went for the first option because there is pretty much nothing special to be seen on the second route.

On our way back to Hella I wanted to make two more stops – Gljufrabui waterfall and Seljavallalaug hot spring (yes, both the really touristy ones, we had not been there yet before and wanted to see them). Anyway, my wife told me she has enough energy for one more stop only, so we compromised on picking Seljavallalaug hot spring.

The water level in the rivers usually tends to be higher in the afternoon/evening due to melting ice. At the time of our visit, however, this wasn’t the case. We already knew from the crossings in the morning that the rivers are pretty shallow, so the crossings weren’t problematic nor time-consuming this time. Please take special care that this is also true in your case – it doesn’t have to be!

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