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Iceland expedition – back on our feet

Iceland campsite

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.


Laugavegur trekking route, Iceland

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 start of our next river, the Markarfljot.


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.

Laugavegur trekking route, Iceland
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:

Hot springs

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…

The start of our next river, the Markarfljot.

Packrafting Iceland

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This expedition was generously supported by:

Missed the other pieces in this story? Catch up with them all here.

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  1. Wow – more incredible photos!

  2. Jack Theodore Posted

    Al – the audio slideshow is beautiful. So much enerygy and enthusiasm too. Definitely worth the 3 minutes of watching., Thank you.
    Jack T

  3. I agree – the audio slideshow is superb. Thanks for making it.

  4. Yet another post with something different and rewarding for us readers. Ace.
    I really want to go to Iceland now!!

  5. Sandra Richardson Posted

    I discovered this post while Googling for Great Treks of the World. Single handedly you have made me change my mind from trekking the Great Wall of China and now I shall go to Iceland instead.
    I am 56 and so not nearly so fit as you. But I will do this, mark my words! Thank you for inspiring me!
    Best Regards,

  6. WOW! I’ve hit the jackpot finding this blog. LOVE you photos and expedition tales. I’ll have to look for your books. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I feel like a weekend warrior next to you.

    I ran dogs for 12 years. There is nothing else like it. Even hiking in Iceland.

  7. Great trip. I’m jealous! Just wondering what media software you use to make your slideshows?

  8. Dear Alastair,
    What an incredible adventures and what an amazing job you did capturing those moments. Sheer coincidence (a recommendation from a friend) led me to your website, after which I discovered your Iceland adventure sounded almost too familiar to me. After some digging I discovered I briefly met you and Chris in the Landmannalaugar hut on the 15th of July in the summer of 2010. At that time I was 17 years old and I was travelling trough southern Iceland on my own and I remember being quite impressed by your story about traversing Iceland and wildcamping. Sadly, because of a hardware failure I lost all of my pictures, and the only thing I had left were my own memories. That’s what made finding your pictures extra special for me: these were all made at the same time and at the same location (though yours are probably a thousand times more beautiful). Funny thing is that next week, after 3 years and partially inspired by the story of your traverse, I will embark on a three week wildcamping adventure in Iceland with a friend. If the circumstances allow it, we will sure visit Landmannalaugar to recapture those moments. Thank you for filling my memories with your beautiful pictures, and best of luck on your future inquiries! Kind regards from the Netherlands, Pieter de Leeuw

  9. Insane photographs, I’m heading to Iceland next year and found this blog post really inspiring

  10. Loved reading about your trip. Very informative and has given me ideas of what to do there and how I need to plan.



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