A hike in the highlands of Kerlingarfjöll Mountains and Thjórsárver
5-day vehicle-assisted hike, overnight in huts, full board.
Travel date: August 02-06 2013
This trip takes us to the centre of Iceland. The unique Kerlingarfjöll mountain range is one of the most magnificent, and least known, geothermal areas in Iceland, surrounded by high rhyolite mountains.
The hike takes us through valleys abounding with hot springs and fumaroles, up through mountain passes and into an entirely different landscape south of Hofsjökull glacier.
The glacial water forks endlessly, spreading over a large area. The flora in this fertile area is one of the largest nesting sites in the world for the pink-footed goose.
Thjorsarver area is a hotspot for biodiversity. BirdLife International have recognized the Thjórsárver wetlands as an Important Bird Area, primarily because of its importance for the Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrynchus). With 6–10,000 breeding pairs, the Thjórsárver wetlands support one of the largest breeding colonies of these birds in the world, and provide a moulting site after their summer migration. The wetlands are also an important breeding area for other tundra birds, including the Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima) and Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). Indeed, the wetlands probably have more breeding birds than any other area in the central highlands. In addition, the wetlands have more vascular plant and moss flora than any other area in the otherwise barren central highlands. The lichen flora of the permafrost mounds (palsas) is also diverse and includes some rare species.
On the way back to Reykjavík, little-known waterfalls in the glacial river Thjorsá will be explored.
"This is the area in which the notorious outlaw Eyvindur of the fells
and his wife Halla found a place to hide in the 18th century. It is
believed that they lived as outlaws in the highlands for 20 years"
Participants will be picked up at their hotels around 8:00 a.m. Bus to Kerlingarfjöll mountains, via Hellisheiði heath and Kjölur highlands. Arrival at Kerlingarfjöll mountains at noon.
Weather allowing, participants can choose to climb up to Snækoll peak, which offers a magnificent vista over the highlands. The walk is approximately 1.5 km each way and the elevation is just under 400 metres, measured from the parking lot by the chalets in Kerlingarfjöll where we will sleep the first night. The walk takes 3–4 hours.Day 2:
A day to inspect the geothermal areas in Kerlingarfjöll. The hike starts at the camp and takes us up and over the Ásgarðshryggur mountain ridges down to Hveradalir (Hot Spring Valley), where hot springs and fumaroles abound. We will examine these phenomena at our leisure. From there we will hike up to Efri Hveradalir, or Upper Hveradalir, and from there over a mountain pass and down through the Illahraun lava fields, situated in between Kerlingarfjöll and Hofsjökull glacier.
The bus will meet us by the path and will drive those who choose directly to the night camp in Setur, a chalet owned by the 4x4 club, situated at the borders of the Þjórsárver natural reserve. We will sleep in Setur for the next three nights.
The next two days give us a chance to explore the Þjórsárver natural reserve. For these days it is important to be prepared to wade. We start wading Blautukvísl river, the entrance into the highland serenity in the natural reserve. With a backpack including tent and sleeping bag and food we take a short hike to our campsite in the middle of vegetation and natural fountains. The rest of the day we relax in the highland oasis together with the pink-footed geese.Day 4:
We wake up in the wilderness, the area in which the notorious outlaw Eyvindur of the fells and his wife Halla found a place to hide in the 18th century. We tread in the paths of pink-footed geese along the riverbanks through the fertile and grown wetlands. One soon gets used to crossing rivers and it becomes quite a joy. We head for the grown hillocks by Múlajökull glacier, where we will examine plants, ancient riding paths, nesting areas of geese and some ruins of ancient farms..
The Nauthagar pastures are a veritable oasis at 600 metres above sea level. The flora is remarkably rich, and 25–45°C hot pools offer the chance to take a soothing mountain bath. From the Nauthagar pastures we return to Setur, where we will have a festive dinner in the hut to celebrate our last night in the highlands.
We will drive along Gljúfurleit road on our way back. We will inspect waterfalls in the upper part of Thjórsá river, known only to a few. We arrive in Reykjavik in the evening.Included:
- - Pick up at lodgings
- - Transportation
- - Guided tour in English*
- - Full meals (traditional Icelandic dishes)
- - Overnight in huts and one night in tents
- - Transportation of luggage
The group shares kitchen duties and cooks together.
Price: 144.000 ISK
Minimum number of passengers: 8
Difficulty level: 3 (out of 3). Moderate to challenging hike.
* French and german on request