Hiking Iceland – In the Shadow of Vatnajökull – Day 4

On the last day of the In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides, we awoke to a cloudy morning with low fog hanging over the tops of the mountains. Quite a contrast to the brilliant finish to yesterday!

Múlaskáli Hut under grey skies - East Iceland

We made our final lunches out on the deck

Making lunch on an Icelandic Mountain Guides Trek

Part of the morning routine on an Icelandic Mountain Guides trek – making your own lunch

before heading across the river (thankfully with a footbridge!) and up the ropes at the start of our last day of trekking.

Crossing the bridge and climbing the rope on the last day of Shadow of Vatnajökull - East Iceland

Although the colours were muted by the clouds, the mountains were impressive,

Hiking trail on Day 4 of of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

and the steep climb made for some fantastic views back over the river.

River view from ridge on Day 4 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Can you see Múlaskáli Hut?

Once we’d climbed out of the river valley, our trail took us on an undulating route across green flats and down into rocky gullies with small streams at the bottom.

Scenery from last day of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

As we took a break at one of these gully crossings, Þorbjörg decided she’d teach us a simple Icelandic song.  I didn’t do too badly remembering the lyrics actually, but it helps that the word for Sun in Icelandic sounds the same as does in Spanish 🙂


The lyrics, translated into English are:

Sun outside

Sun inside

Sun in the heart, Sun in the mind

Nothing but Sun

Love it!  And how interesting the focus on the Sun 🙂  Perhaps because they see relatively little of it here in Iceland?  This was the first time anyone had sang on this hike, and it occurred to me that I’d been missing the singing that had been so much a part of my other hikes with Icelandic Mountain Guides.

The trail continued through numerous gullies and took us boulder-hopping along a stream 

Hiking along a stream on Day 4 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

before descending into the biggest gully of them all!  I waited on one side of the gully for the others to have a 20 minute rest at the bottom, so I could get this shot of them walking up the steep slope on the other side.

Hiking up scree slopes on Day 4 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

And it was actually very steep!  Especially when I was so far behind and “sprint-hiking” to catch up with them again 🙂

A little further along, we came to an amazing lookout over the delta of the river that would lead us to the ocean

Lookout over the delta leading to the ocean on Day 4 of Egilssel Hut - Day 2 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

and for the remainder of the hike we basically followed the river along the moss-lined trail.

Hiking along the river delta on day 4 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Þorbjörg had told us at the start of the day that we would have one final river crossing right at the end of the hike.  But what she didn’t tell us was that this one had a suspension bridge over it 🙂 .

Final river crossing - with a bridge - Day 4 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Ironically, less than 1km from the end of the trek, 4 of us (me, Eric, Melinda and Martin) managed to lose the group in the small Icelandic forest on the other side of the bridge.   

Icelandic forest on Day 4 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Yes – there are forests in Iceland

We were not far behind the others, but by the time we’d finished taking photos and crossed the bridge they were nowhere to be seen.  Unfortunately, there was also a fork in the path. The obvious way forward was to keep following the yellow poles, which also went in the direction that Þorbjörg had indicated we were going.   So this we did.  But as we kept walking and failing to see the group (we even tried yelling and blowing the emergency whistle and still nothing), our confidence eroded to the point where we ended up turning back and waiting at the bridge.

Not a minute after arriving back at the bridge, Þorbjörg comes running along that same trail to find us.  Doh!  It turns out we were only about 100m shy of the group when we turned around!

Yes – it is possible to get lost in an Icelandic forest 🙁

Reunited with the group, it was only another 200m of hiking to reach the edge of the stony river delta where our “super-jeeps” were waiting to transfer us to Höfn.

Hiking towards the super-jeeps in the river delta - Shadow of Vatnajökull - East Iceland

The end of the journey

It was very slow going until we reached the main road (they basically drive up the river bed for several kilometres), and then it was all over far too quickly as we dropped people off at the hostel and said our goodbyes. 

Group photo taken at Tröllakrókar on Day 3 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland


In the Shadow of Vatnajökull is a beautiful, remote hike in East Iceland.  It is not particularly difficult, but you must be prepared for walking across stony ground without trails, wading across cold rivers, basic food and accommodation, weather of all kinds, and some short but moderately steep uphills and downhills.  All the while carrying a ~10kg backpack.

I particularly loved the variety of the landscapes that we hiked through in only 4 days, and hope that the other hikes I’m doing in Iceland have a similar diversity. 

Million thanks to Þorbjörg and my trekking companions for a wonderful trip!

Trekking Information

Distance = 14.25km

Time taken = 7 hours


Basic Map of Day 4 of In the Shadow of Vatnajokull - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Read more about hiking In the Shadow of Vatnajökull

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of the 4-day trek “In the Shadow of Vatnajökull” with Icelandic Mountain Guides

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.


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