Trekking Iceland – Volcanic Trails – Hólaskjól to Álftavötn

At less than 10km in distance, my first day of hiking in the central highlands of Iceland was a short one.  While I was raring to go, this was a welcome “rest” for the others who had already been hiking for 3 days in very wet conditions.  The mood at the breakfast table was resigned as we watched the drizzle fall steadily outside, but this turned to palpable relief by the time the luggage transfer arrived and we set out on the hike at 10am.  Thank goodness for late starts!

Loading the luggage and our food into the support vehicle at Hólaskjól Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Loading the luggage and our food into the support vehicle at Hólaskjól Hut. I love supported treks where you only have to carry a day pack!

“Wow!” 

That’s all I can say about the first kilometre or so of the trek where we hiked through the bright green moss along a narrow trail. 

Surrounded by "trolls" - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Hiking through a valley of “trolls” – amazing volcanic rock formations

We were surrounded by interestingly shaped volcanic outcrops – still and silent “Trolls” who had been turned to stone by the touch of the Sun’s rays according to Icelandic folklore.  These guys had clearly been here for a while judging by the green cloaks they were now wearing, and it is surprisingly easy to find their faces when you really start looking!

"Trolls" - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Can you imagine this as a Troll that has been turned to stone? The Icelanders could!

Our hike took us past several waterfalls including the impressive Silfurfoss (“foss” means “waterfall” in Icelandic)

Silfurfoss waterfall - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Just a 10 minute walk from the Hólaskjól Hut is the impressive Silfurfoss waterfall

and along a carpet of green

Hiking in a never-ending field of green - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

as we followed the Syðri Ófæra river.

Hiking the trail along the Syðri Ófæra river - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Hiking the trail along the Syðri Ófæra river

This same river turned out to be our major obstacle for the day, and we all watched with growing anxiety as Kjartan explored the crossing point to find the best route.  It didn’t bode well for myself nor my fellow short companions that the water came up to his mid-thigh, and in the end, I decided to remove my long hiking pants and just cross in my underwear. 

Given the strong current, Kjartan had us stow our trekking poles and link arms with at least two other people to make the crossing.  At the deepest point, the water came to just below my hips, and I was grateful for the support of Jewells and Gunnar as we all made it to the other side safely.  Apparently Kjartan hadn’t seen the river this deep for several years!

Fording the quite deep Syðri Ófæra river - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Where we had to cross the Syðri Ófæra river, it was quite deep and had a strong current. I stripped down to underwear and we crossed in groups of 3 with our arms linked for extra support/stability

We dried off and got dressed again on the other side, and then sat down to eat our gourmet lunch creations (well, mine was 😀 ) as we took in the views back towards the gorge.

View from our lunch spot on the Syðri Ófæra river - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

View from our lunch spot on the Syðri Ófæra river

The last couple of kilometres saw us ford another river (not as deep or strong as the first), hike over never-ending green hills, and encounter more trolls (these ones sporting tufts of hair) before reaching Álftavötn, a very traditional Icelandic hut that is half buried in the earth and really beautiful inside.

Exterior and interiors of the traditional Álftavötn Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Álftavötn Hut is very traditional and built half-buried in the earth for insulation. It’s interior is really beautiful and rustic.

Our first job upon arrival was to collect our gear and what supplies we needed for dinner, breakfast and lunch tomorrow from a small shed located about 500m away.  Many hands (and a wheelbarrow) made this a relatively quick task,

Storage shed near Álftavötn Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Collecting our gear and food supplies from the storage shed near Álftavötn Hut. The access road doesn’t actually reach the hut itself so we employed the use of a wheelbarrow to cut down the number of trips required

which left plenty of time to head off and explore the surrounding area.

Views from around Álftavötn Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Álftavötn Hut is in the most incredible location, surrounded by spectacular scenery

When I returned, the BBQ out the back was already fired up for our salmon dinner with rice and salad, and caramel pudding with pears for dessert.  I love the food that is provided on treks with Icelandic Mountain Guides.  Delicious!

Salmon BBQ outside of Álftavötn Hut - Volcanic Trails - Central Highlands, Iceland

Wonderful Salmon BBQ for dinner at Álftavötn Hut

Trekking Information

Distance = ~6km (sorry, forgot to start my watch at the beginning – doh!)

Time taken = ~3.5hrs

Map

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

Altitude Profile

Basic altitude profile of the hike from Hólaskjól to Álftavötn 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.

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*