Fimmvörðuháls – Fimmvörðuskáli to Þórsmörk

The first half of our 25-kilometer hike from Skógar to Þórsmörk had been dominated by waterfalls, barren mountain vistas, and an unending uphill climb. But after passing between the two glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, our path would start its descent, and the clouds which had been plaguing us all day would clear up, revealing the valley of Þórsmörk below us: one of the most stunning landscapes we’ve ever seen.

After passing the Fimmvörðuskáli hut, we emerged into serious glacier land, and were forced to trudge across huge banks of snow. The terrain was surreal. Between the snowbanks were fields of lava, strange tiny cones of ash and sinister black craters. At one point, we noticed that the land was smoking. The ground here was still super-heated from the 2010 explosion of Eyjafjallajökull. I reached down to touch the soil, digging down before yanking my fingers back. It was a little much for my mind to process… was I supposed to freezing here, or burning?

Once we had the smoking landscape of snow and lava behind us, the sky cleared up and Þórsmörk came into view. This valley is one of the most beautiful areas in Iceland. In fact, when we asked locals about their favorite places, Þórsmörk was the most common answer. And I can see why. Having it laid out before us from the mountain heights was absolutely magical.

With the valley visible below, we figured the final few hours of our hike would be easy. Nope… nothing like it. This was by far the most challenging stretch of the day, requiring extremely steep descents on tricky terrain, at a point when we were already physically and mentally fatigued. Some sections even forced us into scooching along the ground on our butts, terrified about kicking loose a stone and tumbling down.

But slowly, slowly we made it. Our tent was waiting for us at the campsite of Básar, and we had just enough energy left to set it up before collapsing into our sleeping bags. It had been quite a day… we’ve done a lot of hiking in different places around the world, but I don’t think for sheer, majestic nature, anything holds a candle to the Fimmvórðuhals.

Locations on our Map: Fimmvörðuskáli Hut | Básar

Lava Cave Tour And Blue Lagoon Visit

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. ElaineFarrell

    This is so amazing, your photos are incredible. I just wonder how doable this would be in November? Did you navigate the trek yourselves, if so was it well marked, or did you have a guide, or do you know if there are local guides? Thanks, Elaine Farrell 

    1. Mike Powell

      Yes, as RubenB says, November is almost certainly out of the question. We did the hike by ourselves, but only after having spoken to a lot of Icelanders about our equipment and the trail. It’s definitely safest to have a guide, but again, the trail will almost definitely be closed in winter.

  2. RubenB

    We did the hike from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork the last week of september and the first day we walked 7 hours in the snow.  Sometimes it went really difficult because of steep ups en downs.  The huts between the two places were all unmanned, but open.Everybody we spoke discouraged us to hike over the Fimmvorduhals because it would be too dangerous, so in november … even when the weather is good … I wouldn’t try.

  3. Luke Darracott

    Hi!First of all. The website. Life saver for planning and your photos are fantastic. I’m heading to Iceland for a two-week writing/photography/childhood dream trip in September and love hiking. Problem one is I’ll be hiring the cheapest 2WD car that SAD has to offer – going alone and can’t afford a bigger one. Therefore I’ll be without the reach of the F roads. Problem two is that many of the ‘mind-blowing’ walks are impossible to get to without a 4WD or paying through the roof for Super Jeep tours and the like. Yet I really want to have a go at at least something ver off piste. The Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar hike(s) is the one that keeps popping out at me as it’s fairly near the 1 road. Yet the problem will be getting back to my car, which I imagine would be left at Skogar. Problem three? I only will have 14 days or so in Iceland and I’m heading around the whole country – Troll peninsulas included. Ergo can’t afford to spend days and days and days hiking.In short: would you recommend this route as a good one/two day-er? If so how do I negotiate it with my 2WD: i.e. getting to and fro? If not this then any other day hikes that are easy for us 2WD people?Many thanks! And, once again, your site is fantastic. 

    1. Mike Powell

      Glad you like the blog! You’re going to have a great time in Iceland… such an amazing country. It’s hard for us to recommend hikes, since the conditions can be so different depending on the season and the weather. I would really check with the tourist office in Reykjavik — based on your time frame and interests, they should be able to make recommendations. One thing you could do, is hike up Skogar — the first part of the trail is amazing; very steep, but tons of waterfalls. And then you could return the same way, back to your car. That way you don’t have to off-road, and it’s just one day of hiking. But again — check with the tourist office; they might have even better ideas!

  4. Amy Andress

    I feel like I just comment on all of your blogs, but I think they are amazing 🙂 The hike in your video looked absolutely incredible. Where were you in your video at 28:00 seconds??

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