Trekking Iceland – Volcanic Trails – Álftavötn to Strútur

In contrast to yesterday, today’s hike was a long one – 20km worth!  Yet we didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get going as we ate breakfast on the bench outside the Álftavötn Hut in the glorious sunshine under bright blue skies.

Outdoor breakfast in the sunshine at Álftavötn Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Outdoor breakfast in the sunshine at Álftavötn Hut

There were several more river crossings to negotiate

River crossing on Day 3 of Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Not so deep, but still wide and cold!

swathes of bright green to cross, with skittish Icelandic sheep keeping a wary eye on us

Icelandic sheep and green hills - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Icelandic sheep country

and waterfalls to admire.  Iceland is, after all, the land of waterfalls!

waterfalls - Central Highlands, Iceland

Land of waterfalls

Iceland is also the land of crazy changeable weather (particularly this Summer – the worst in 104 years according to all the Icelanders I met), and 1.5 hours later, the rain started.

Hiking along a river with the weather turning - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

So much for the bright blue skies and sunshine

An hour after that, the sun came out again – just as Kjartan called a halt for lunch on a plain of volcanic sand with almost fluorescent green moss.  I love how the moss cradles the water droplets in its embrace!  Kjartan, of course, claimed that he’d specifically timed lunch to coincide with the sun coming out.  Yeah, right!

Vibrant green moss that is so typical of the Central Highlands of Iceland

The vibrant green moss so typical of the Central Highlands of Iceland.

After lunch, we continued our hike through stunning scenery, skirting around the edge of a massive delta

Descending towards a huge delta - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

My trekking companions descending towards the massive river delta that looked a little like an old crater

and crossing the relatively deep (mid-thigh on me) and fast flowing river Hólmsá to arrive at our reward for the day.  The Strútslaug thermal hot pool!

Strútslaug thermal hot pool - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

View from the Strútslaug thermal hot pool

This natural pool is only small and has a silty bottom (the idea is to try to not move around too much to stir it all up), but it is the perfect temperature for soaking and relaxing in the most stunning environment.

Contemplating the view from the Strútslaug thermal hot pool - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Contemplating the view from the Strútslaug thermal hot pool

With the cold river only a few steps away, naturally someone in the group suggested a “polar plunge”, something that several of my fellow trekkers decided to brave.

Cold river plunge next to the Strútslaug thermal hot pool - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Some of my trekking companions taking on the cold river plunge next to the Strútslaug thermal hot pool

I wasn’t going to, but then Mike threw down the challenge of betting a Kiwi would do it if there were one in the group, so I really couldn’t let Australia down.

It. Was. Freezing!

I had asked Martin to record my plunge into the icy waters for evidence, but I’d forgotten that I’d left my camera on an odd setting.  Yes, you guessed it.  After braving and bearing it once, I had to go back in and do it all over again!

My cold river plunge next to the Strútslaug thermal hot pool - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Yes, I got shamed into doing it too!

Refreshed and relaxed, we left the hot pool behind as we still had quite a distance to cover before we made it to the next hut at Strútur.  The drizzle mostly held off

Crepuscular rays as we avoid the worst of the rain - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

as our route took us through more gorgeous scenery

Views along the hike from the Strútslaug thermal hot pool to Strútur in the Central Highlands of Iceland

with a view of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier

Mýrdalsjökull glacier sitting atop more greenery - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Can you see the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the image? It sits above the vibrant green moss that is so typical of the Central Highlands of Iceland

before finally arriving at Strútur late in the day.  Our dinner of baked Icelandic lamb was very welcome after such a long hike!

Sunset from Strútur in the Central Highlands of Iceland

Sunset from Strútur Hut

Trekking Information

Distance = 20km

Time taken = 9hr 48 mins

Map

Basic Map of the hike from Álftavötn to Strútur in the Central Highlands of Iceland - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the hike from Álftavötn to Strútur in the Central Highlands of Iceland - from Strava

Read more about hiking the Volcanic Trails

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of the 7-day trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides

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

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