Packrafts bring variety and freedom to your travels. They are not ideal if you would rather hike the whole journey. They are not ideal if you would like to paddle the whole journey. They are ideal if you’re looking for adventure, and whatever comes your way.
We chose not to paddle the Þjórsá all the way to the sea. Instead we packed up the boats and set off on foot once more to go and have a look at the volcano that had been causing such chaos across Europe all year. Like everyone else in Europe, we couldn’t say its name. But we wanted to have a look. From there we would take to another river to work our way down to the sea.
We decided to incorporate Iceland’s most famous long-distance hike into this stage of the journey. I have been writing a few travel pieces for the Sunday Times recently. They are not interested one iota in my macho tales of derring-do. Rather they want stories that may encourage other people to go out and try the same thing. The 4-day Laugavegur trek seemed ideal for this. It was rumoured to be remote, difficult-but-do-able, and very, very beautiful. It would also lead us to the foot of the famous volcano. We hiked for a couple of days from the river to Landmannalaugur, the start of the hike, and then started the hike. Still following?
The trek turned out to be everything that I had hoped, and more. It should be as famous as the Inca Trail; it is certainly as rugged and beautiful, but without the trail of backpackers’ pink toilet paper along the way.
Unfortunately for you, having just written 1000 words about the route for the newspaper I cannot quite summon the energy to write about it all over again. So instead I have put together this audio slideshow of photographs and a recording I made along the trail.
Or you can just listen to the audio here:
Oh, and as for the name of “the famous volcano”: like many place names in Iceland, it became less of a tongue-twister as I began to learn the meaning of its component parts from my maps: Eyja = “island”, fjalla = “mountain”, jökull = “glacier”. The mountain with a glacier that can be seen from the islands off the country’s south coast… Eyafjallajökull. Simples!
Coming up in the next installment: I bite off a hell of a lot more than I can chew as we try to raft a deep canyon. Scary moments…
Missed the other pieces in this story? Catch up with them all here.