Iceland (2006) ~ 05. Landmannalaugar
Caught a bus for Landmannalaugar from Selfoss, a town on the banks of the Ölfusá river in southern Iceland. I was excited since I was going to the wild desolate interior! Landmannalaugar would be my starting point for the Laugavegur trek, it is supposed to be one of the finest treks in the world.
The bus was going pretty fast, went through a few rivers (!!) and of course it was a 4x4. At the start I fantasized I was in the moon... then I thought maybe I was visiting Mars... no wonder why many sci-fi movies choose Iceland as their setting when they want to depict alien planets.
One of our stops seemed to be longer than the usual so we took our time to go around and explore the scenery.
Eventually, we found out that the long stop was not actually a break but a proper stop because our bus had broken down! Our driver took it really easy and sat down to relax. Even though we had to wait for two hours for the next bus to come pick us up, it wasn't bad at all as we had time to walk around and explore the landscape.
I've read quite a few stories about that trek like how one guy died on the 1st day very close to the first hut, he was going through a blizzard and the visibility was so low he couldn't find it. As I was not an experienced hiker, trekking alone was not the best option. So during that long stop I met a really nice French couple and we decided to trek together.
Finally, we arrived in Landmannalaugar. It is located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the highlands of Iceland. Fjallabak takes its name from the many wild and rugged mountains around. It is at the edge of Laugahraun lava field, which was formed in an eruption around the year 1477 and is known for its natural geothermal hot springs. Upon arrival there was heavy rain but Icelanders say "if you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes" and they are actually right! After a while the rain stopped and it was full sunshine, perfect time to go out for a stroll and take some photos.
A nice path going through some marshland would take you to the geothermal hot spring. With a temperature of around 36-40 degrees Celsius all year round, surrounded by rhyolite mountains, this was definitely one beautiful hot spring to bathe in! You would go in with your swimming suit and the natural pool was really big with enough space for everybody. You need to be careful not to damage the vegetation by the pool and it is forbidden to tear mud from their banks.
From the camping site I could catch some views of the beautiful multi-colored mountains. But that was just an appetizer as I would have to cross them the next day, starting the multi-day Laugavegur trek!
I had initially planned to camp but in the end decided to sleep inside the hut (2200kr for sleeping in instead of 800kr camping with a tent). I was in need of some good rest for the start of the trek the following day. The facilities were great, clean toilets, showers and a kitchen, the place was perfect! Built in 1696, it has room for 75 guests, is heated with geothermal heat and is open all year round, even during winter. Checking the guestbook I found out that most of the visitors here were Swiss, French and Icelanders. Made myself at home, relaxed and decided to sleep early, needed to charge my batteries, finally the next day we would be trekking!
*All photos taken with a Canon Powershot S1 IS, 3.2 megapixels, my 1st digital camera.
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