The Daily Aztec

Hiking around Iceland’s breathtaking sites

Lauren J. Mapp

Lauren J. Mapp

by Lauren J. Mapp, Staff Writer

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Traveling to Iceland in the summer means missing out on seeing the northern lights, but one of the biggest summer draws is the ability to hike on various trails during a trip around the Ring Road.

Hiking throughout the land of fire and ice is a great way to observe the gorgeous terrain and geological landmarks of the island. Keep in mind, while hiking in Iceland, the weather can be fairly unpredictable, so be sure to be equipped with water-resistant hiking books and an all weather jacket.

Þríhnúkagígur

There’s nothing quite as thrilling, beautiful and horribly frightening as being lowered 700 feet into a volcano — even if it has been dormant for about 4,000 years.

Guided hiking tours into Þríhnúkagígur include taking a bus from Reykjavik to a ski resort in the surrounding lava field before walking the two  mile trail to the base camp. Inside the camp, you will receive a helmet and harness, then smaller tour groups will hike to the top of the volcano to be lowered into the magma chamber on a window washing machine.

The hike is fairly easy with the most difficult part being the ascension from the base of the volcano to the peak.

Expensive as it might be — the cost of a single ticket is ISK 42,000 ($388) — skimping on the cost of accommodations during the trip in order to go on this hike is definitely worth it.

Skaftafell

Glacial hikes are also available as part of guided tour options while traveling in Iceland. While there are several options to choose from, one of the hikes is offered by Glacier Guides and begins at Skaftafell in the Vatnajökull National Park.

Drivers bring you to Falljokull (the falling glacier) on a bus before tour guides lead the way around the glacial lake and up the glacier. In the distance you will sometimes hear what sounds like thunder but is actually the crashing of pieces of the glacier falling down.

Make sure to wear warm layers that you can easily remove, as climbing up the glacier can make you a little warm. Also be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots to attach the crampons to, and while the hike itself is easy, having metal claws attached to your feet can take a little time to get used to.

The trip only takes about three and a half hours, so if you schedule it early enough in the day, there is still time for a second short hike to the Svartifoss waterfall at Skaftafell.

Svartifoss is a waterfall that is distinguishable by its hexagonal, basalt columns. It takes about 45 minutes to hike up to the waterfall, making for a beautifully scenic detour.

Hverfjall

Located in northern Iceland, Hverfjall is a 1,300 foot tall volcanic explosion crater that was formed about 2,500 years ago.

Hverfjall’s two trails are easy but steep, upward hikes to the top of the crater, and it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to climb. Once on top, visitors can walk along the rim to view the inside of the crater and see beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Lake Mývatn can be seen from the top, and once off the volcano, make sure to stop at the Grjótagjá hot spring cave made famous from a scene in the HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

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