|→ Distance / ↑ Ascent||Time||Map|
|→ 73 km / ↑ 1800 m||4 days||See the online map below|
This is a beautiful 3-5 day hike going through pure Icelandic wilderness but also through one of the busiest places of the country.
The 5 stages are as follows:
1) Lake Mývatn – Krafla (13 km)
2) Krafla – Lake Eilísvötn (12 km)
3) Lake Eilísvötn – Dettifoss (13 km)
4) Dettifoss – Vesturdalur (20 km)
5) Vesturdalur – Ásbyrgi (14 km)
Since the distances are not tremendous, some of the stages can be joined together. We joined stage 1 and 2 mostly because there is no water between lake Mývatn and the lake Eilísvötn. On the other hand, you can easily spend more days in each location since there are great surroundings deserving proper exploration.
Stage 2 and 3 are unmarked. Stage 2, especially, demands a good map, a compass and good orientation skills, or GPS. I’ve made a map of the trail, you can find it below. Remember that Icelandic landscape changes greatly so, as usual when using GPS, don’t follow the coordinates blindly.
There are a few campsites and hotels in Reykjahlíð. Then there is a very small campsite with basic facilities in Dettifoss, regular campsites in Vesturdalur and Ásbyrgi. The rest of the time you have to wild camp, just don’t forget it’s forbidden within the Vatnajökull National Park, and be responsible. Don’t leave any rubbish or toilet paper behind. If you have to go to the toilet, dig a proper hole.
Food & water
The only groceries are in Reykjahlíð. In Ásbyrgi there is a café and a petrol station where basic food can be purchased (it’s very pricey there).
There isn’t any water between Mývatn and the lake Eilísvötn. By the lake Eilísvötn there are streams from its western and also the eastern side. At Dettifoss there is water only at the campsite, but it’s for hikers only. After reaching Hólmatungur which is about a half way from Dettifoss to Vesturdalur, more and more water starts to appear in the nature in form of streams, springs and waterfalls.
In general, the trail is stunning and it’s worth doing. The landscape varies greatly and you can enjoy a volcanic desert, lava fields, both small and tremendous waterfalls and canyons. If you happen to be around, I’d definitely recommend doing it, particularly if you want to escape the throngs of tourists for a few days. If you want to know and see more, check my report! (available soon 🙂
Max elevation: 713 m
Min elevation: 19 m
Total climbing: 1800 m
Total descent: -2046 m