Trip Report    

Global Adventure - Backpack the Remote Volcanic Highlands of Iceland

An extraordinary adventure off the beaten path through immense and varied country!

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • The route was mostly off-trail and ranged from deep moss to steep pumice scree to broad ash fields cut with braided rivers and steep gullies.  Most rivers were not bridged and we had to hunt for  safe spots to cross.   

This adventure followed a mostly off-trail route starting with a climb of Steinstindur peak and then moving between small converted shepherds' shelters now run by an Icelandic outdoor club called Utivist, sharing trail only 3 of 12 days with the popular  Laugavegur trail.   Though the shelters were barely large enough for our group, we made them work and ended up preferring them to the much larger Laugavegur huts with their attendant crowds.  We were often in sight of two of Iceland's large glaciers, forded several braided rivers, soaked in two natural hot pools, saw dozens of waterfalls, and loved the wide variety of terrain and the unique color palette of this  area (GREEN!  set off by dark black and sometimes lime green, orange and brown).   We saw very few people except when we intersected the Laugavegur.  The terrain ranged from lava and ash fields to mossy slopes to  craggy lava rock, crumbly mountains and steep-sided gullies.   Few rivers were bridged so we had to do some reconnaissance to find safe spots to cross at times.

I arranged the trip with the help of an experienced guide who had led this route multiple times before and who also organized food drops around every 3 days where roads intersected with a hut, so that our packs could be a bit lighter.  An experienced navigator confident in off-trail travel could probably find their way between these huts (and Gaia has a semblance of a trail on it, though we didn't follow that track) but it's very helpful to have someone local to arrange drivers (we shuttled between two segments and had a shuttle to the start from Reykjavik and back there from the end).  Hut bookings are essential, even in these tiny remote huts.

Contact me for information on the specifics of the itinerary and huts.