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Soggy Iceland

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Author: Valeria Lesik, Russia, Moscow
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My review will be devoted to the country of ice and volcanoes, amazing, incomparable - Iceland. I first fell in love with the northern beauty when I was passing through Finland. I promised myself that I would definitely visit Iceland.

After learning more about the country and the main places to visit, I realized that the best option - is a hike, besides the experience of hiking, but I could not even imagine what awaits me.

A couple of sent photos of the views - and my friend was as excited as I was. My mother was advised by a friend the club "Couloir", I went to the site and after reading the description of the hike "Trekking in Iceland - Landing on Mars", I immediately called and signed up.

The preparations began. We bought our plane tickets more than six months in advance. I researched every possible recommendation for gear and clothing. Footwear is the most important detail, the boots have to hold your feet well, because we have to go on the steep descents and ascents. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable: it can be sunny, and then in a few minutes begins pouring rain. Clothing and a tent should be protected from the rain as much as possible, as there is no place to dry them, and because of the high humidity nothing dries, and sleeping in a wet tent or sleeping bag is very unpleasant, believe me).

Going to the airport, I could not believe that I decided to do it after all. I only realized it was not a dream when I arrived in Reykjavik. When I got out of the airport, I was met with an icy wind and almost total darkness (yes, I arrived at 1 am). Around 2am I was at the campsite and this is where my adventure began. It was very difficult to set up our tent in the dark with a strong wind, but, after half an hour, we overcame the elements and went to bed.

In the morning we had a delicious, and most importantly, hot breakfast and met our group. The guides were Maria and Andrew. The first two days we lived in a cozy campsite in Reykjavik, got to know the city (if possible visit the outdoor pool in Reykjavik, it is next to the campsite) and went on a tour of the Golden Ring of Iceland. I was most struck by the waterfalls. I stood and watched with bated breath as the power of nature carried the endless stream of water away into the vast green valley. But I could not even suspect what beauties awaited me during the walking days! Believe me, photos don't do justice to the views you can see.

Поход по Исландии

And now let's move directly to the actual walking part. If possible, leave all unnecessary things in the storage room of the campsite (you can pick them up on the way back), all that you took plus about 5 kilos of food you will carry on yourself. The evening before the hike, we arrived at our starting point, the incredibly beautiful Landmannalaugar Valley. During the radial walk, I realized why this program is called Mars Landing. It is impossible to describe the emotions I experienced when I saw the colorful mountains and behind them a huge glacier, the view from the top of the mountain I could stare at forever. After the walk, I learned that there is a natural hot spring next to the campground. It's a small lake with scalding hot water flowing into it on one side and an icy rivulet coming down from the mountains on the other. But be careful, it's very cold to get out of the spring, it's 10 degrees warm outside, but it's definitely worth it.

Day 1

We woke up in the morning, packed our tents, put on our backpacks and hit the road. The scenery was changing rapidly: first we walked on a lava field, then climbed the narrow path upwards. Honestly, the first crossing was very hard for me (be sure to prepare for the hike to enjoy the beauty, not "die" under the backpack), despite the beauty around, I thought only about one thing: when we get to the campsite. The sun was burning, and it was terribly hot under the backpack, but stopping for a break, a treacherous icy wind blew through the jacket, and it became terribly cold. Finally we stopped for a snack, drew water from a small stream and made tea and sandwiches. God, those were the tastiest sandwiches I had ever had and the most welcome mug of tea. We climbed and climbed, and finally walked in the snow. The snow was pretty hard to walk in, and it had melted in the sunlight. And then, when I already caught myself thinking that I was beginning to regret it, I saw a campsite in the distance, and this gave me strength. Within twenty minutes I was happily pitching my tent and drinking tea. I decided not to go on the radial walk to save my strength for tomorrow.

Приют Холскудскали

Day 2

The next day was much easier as we began to descend and often walked through the plains. This was also my first ford. Since we were incredibly lucky with the weather and it didn't rain a single time in 4 days, there wasn't much water in the river. The water was really icy in them, but it was very invigorating. After the ford we had a rest stop with delicious sandwiches and tea, the wind died down and we, like seals, were basking in the sun. But unfortunately it didn't die down for long, when we arrived at our planned overnight stay on the lake, the wind was blowing very strongly, and it was decided to walk to the next campsite for another 4 kilometers. We passed the ford again and soon settled into a cozy campsite on the lava fields.

Day 3

Unfortunately, the weather that day turned bad and it rained a fine rain that seemed to stay in the air instead of falling on the ground. Clothes instantly became wet. The friendly campground owners allowed us to use the second floor of the stable to have breakfast in warmth and comfort. After breakfast, wearing rain gear, we hit the road. This day we walked mostly flat terrain, traversing lava fields and endless plains strewn with black sand. It was the coldest ford of the day. Rolling up our pants above our knees, we crossed the rushing river with cries of, "How cold it is," which was filled with overnight rain. The stop was at a very picturesque campsite on the bank of a small stream. After resting, we were able to get out for a radial walk. As we climbed just above our campsite, the incredible beauty of a huge canyon appeared before us. I stood there for a very long time and could not believe that nature had created it all. Such beauty and grandeur was breathtaking, you can not see anything like this anywhere else. And the most incredible thing is that there were almost no people, nature untouched and complete silence, which was broken only by the noise of the mountain river at the bottom of the canyon, which it created over millions of years.

Зеленые мха Исландии

Day 4

Today was the penultimate day of the trip. Our route was through the canyon that we had seen yesterday from above. After a few hours the rocky mountains and gloomy scenery changed to greenery, we even saw a real Icelandic forest. In fact, it's hard to call it a forest, but in the natural conditions of this island, it's amazing that it grew at all. All in all, we can say that today's crossing was quite easy, as I was already used to the strain and was able to enjoy the beauty of nature without thinking about a rest stopover. The overnight stay was in a campsite with hot showers and a sauna, so we were able to relax and get a good rest before the hardest day.

Day 5

We woke up very early because we knew we had a hard day ahead of us, namely the pass between volcanoes! This was the second day we were caught in the rain. It was insanely hot to walk in my raincoat, so I chose to soak in the rain. We gained altitude by walking up a narrow path that looped between huge rocks and seemed to get steeper and steeper with each step. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't think it would be this hard. The last halt was just before the start of the pass, we had about 100-200 meters to go up the mountain, and then the cloud caught up with us and we "walked right into it". The wind was incredibly strong, so the rain turned horizontal. When I read the reviews about Iceland, I thought that these are fairy tales and it can not be. But believe me, it can.

Треккинг в Исландии

After climbing the pass, we hiked for about 2.5 hours through the snow in the rain, and visibility was abominable. After about half an hour, I realized that I was soaked through, and there was just water splashing around in my boots. It was more mentally than physically difficult to walk. Every 15 minutes I asked the guide how much further I had to walk, because the snow kept on snowing. The only thing that gave me strength was that soon there would be a small house where we could get warm and have something to eat. Finally we reached it. There was a small room with a gas heater and a group that had passed us was already "drying". All attempts to dry something were in vain, because in one hour it was simply impossible. Things were soaked through, shoes were wet, backpacks were soaked under the rinkaver (be sure to put a sleeping bag either in a hydromeshock or in a bag that will not let him get wet, otherwise the rest of the hike will have to sleep in a wet sleeping bag, as in Iceland nothing dries).

After taking a break, grabbing a snack, and putting on our wet clothes, we moved on. Soon the snow ended and we came out on a road of rocks. Around us was a rocky landscape that was hard to see in the fog. We walked in the fog for about another 30 minutes or so, and then it dissipated and we saw an incredible landscape. Stones covered in bright green moss and cascades of waterfalls followed us all the way to the campsite. Tired, wet, and blown away by the incredible scenery, we saw the ocean in the distance and realized the campsite was nearby. This gave us a lot of energy. After a couple of hours we reached it. It was located at the foot of a huge waterfall. By the way, surprisingly, while we were going down, the wind dried all the clothes right on us, which was a nice addition to the dinner with a view of the waterfall. It was the last day of walking.

The next day we drove to a small village (although by Icelandic standards it's quite a large town) with a population of 200 people in an organized way. The campsite has warm showers, a washer and dryer. What else do you need to be happy?

Переход вдоль реки

The next day we went for a hike to the black beach and troll rocks. Believe me, it is worth seeing! I was lucky and managed to watch sea lions, which swam very close to the shore. By the way, if you look closely, you can see small Icelandic birds - puffins. We also had the opportunity to go to the glacier lagoon. You can get there by bus, but my girlfriend and I decided to hitchhike. A native Icelander picked us up. He was on his way to hunt and gladly gave us a ride all the way to the lagoon. On the way he told us about the traditions of the country, asked us about the experience of the pass and laughed that we had passed it in 12 hours. Also he showed us the pictures of his previous hunting on a reindeer and told us that after the hunter kills a reindeer, he must bite and eat a piece of the animal's liver. Such are the traditions of the real Vikings.

The Glacier Lagoon is a lake into which ice floes from the glacier descend and float out into the ocean. The ice is an unusual blue color. We were very lucky and were able to enjoy all the beauty of the lagoon in the bright sunlight. But, unfortunately, we had to go back to the campsite, because there was a long way to go and we didn't know if we would be as lucky to get to the campsite as quickly. But we were lucky! We were picked up by Americans who were driving a trailer to our campsite. The best thing about hitchhiking is that you get to interact with people from different parts of the world. For example, the Americans asked to play Russian artists to hear what's popular in Russia. It's all an incredible experience, both in communication and conversational English skills.

The next day we were leaving for Reykjavik. It was the last 2 days of our stay in Iceland. Encouraged by our hitchhiking successes yesterday, we hitchhiked again. Once again, we were lucky enough to get a ride from a nice Italian couple right to our campsite in Reykjavik. After the hike be sure to go to the outdoor pool. I already wrote about it in the beginning, you won't regret it!

Another thing worth mentioning is the Blue Lagoon (a very famous thermal spring in Iceland). Be sure to visit it before dark. We decided to save some money and instead of relaxing in the unusually blue water, we just sat in the dark water, more like a swamp. I liked it much better in the public pool, and almost 10 times cheaper.

Пустынные просторы Исландии

In conclusion I would like to say a huge thank you to our guide - Masha, she always patiently answered my questions about how long we still have to go, and was sympathetic to the fact that the physical condition of our group proved to be "not up to par".

Iceland is a beautiful and wonderful country, and in spite of the difficulties and changeable weather, I am very happy that I was able to visit it!

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