All about and around Landmannalaugar in the highlands of Iceland. 
    Built on personal experience and taste of insiders.
    Though experience is big and taste is great, try other issues as well, to be sure.
   on on icelandic sites in the world
Map for hikers












Information for hikers -
if you are planning
to walk around
or stay there

Order by artist himself:
1 book - 1.000 isk.

Real icelanders from Westfjords
without makeup

Few tips for visitors in Landmannalaugar

The scheduled-bus from Reykjavík to Landmannalaugar leaves, in the summertime, daily from the Bus Central Station, BSÍ at 8:30.  A two-ways-ticket cost 7.900 kr. in 2003.

Roads on maps and roads in reality are not the same.  There is a way to reach Landmannalaugar by a normal car, but use a 4-wheel-drive car to be sure. Normal car-rental-insurances are not valid in the highland.

There are 40 km. from Landmannalaugar to the nearest tank-station.  In most highland areas the distance is a lot longer than that.

In the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, you are not alloved to camp everywhere.  You may only do it at Landmannalaugar, Landmannahellir and Hrafntinnusker.  Don´t count on a tent-rent.  Bring your own tent.  At those places are also huts.  For them you need a reservation.  For Landmannahellir call 853 8407 or 893 8407.  For Landmannalaugar and Hrafntinnusker call 568 2533.  A bit outside the reserve is the highland-motel and tankstation Hrauneyjar (487 7782 or 487 7750).

In Landmannalaugar you can buy food, local maps and more.  Be equipped for all kinds of weather before you enter the highland.

There is a horse-rent in Landmannalaugar.  You don´t need to bring equippments or skills for it.  Guidet tours in various lengths.

In Landmannahellir and Landmannalaugar you can buy cheap fishing-license for the mountain-lakes.  You can rent a fishing rod in Landmannalaugar, but you better bring your own.  Most of the time, you can buy fresh trout in the shop in Landmannalaugar, but to be sure, you should order it 2 days in advance (minimum 1 kg.) in 854 0974 (from 1. July to 31. August).

Kort fyrir göngufólk,
Map for hikers,
Karte für wanderer,
Carte pour marcheurs

Parasites again


The parasites in the pool were not as bad as last summer.   The first symthoms were seen at the end of the summer and as far as we know, none of them was serious.   Schientists do not share opinions on how strong affects they can have on the human body.   One of them means that there might develope a species which could affect the neurosystem in mammals (including humans).   In spite of the worried visitors from last year, the pool was used by many bathers.   Warning signs dit not hinder it, because they came first at the end of August.



Again this summer the volunteer organisation BTVC did great things in Landmannalaugar.   Both entrees up to the lava Laugahraun were made more accessible.   The one above the hut has been a common spot for accidents but with the skillfully put stone steps, that should no longer be so.   In a cooporation with the local ranger, the volunteers marked some of the main hiking trails in the surrounding area.   They also made an attempt to bring the Laugavegur hiking trail into better condition, where there are big wounds after thousands of feet.

Winter driving causes damage

Last winter there was little snow in the highlands.   That didn´t fit well with the growing leasure of snow driving.   Some drivers have suffered from lack of estimations and/or common sense.   So many and deep wounds on earths surface in this region have not been made for decades.   And it can take up to centurys for the earth to recover.

Death of a hiker

Even though the summer was hot and nice, there are always some windy and rainy days.   One such day killed a young badly equipped Israeli.   A hutwarden tried to warn him but still he went for the Laugavegur trail and did not even follow the sticks.   When he got lost he managed to call his sister in London.   She called Iceland, without knowing where exactly her brother was lost.   He died close to the hut in Hrafntinnusker.   This was not the only badly equipped tourist but what saved the others was that they were willing to listen.


The false alarm

There was a huge false alarm last summer, situated somewhere in the southerly highlands.   Twenty french tourists and their icelandic guide were supposed to be sick and lost.   An enormous search took place.   It cost a lot of money and it also damaged land because the searchmen´s wehicles went not only over roads.   The Landmanna region was searched high and low.   Some stupid bypassers decided to consider the wheelprints as roads.   So in the end the false alarm costed both loads of money and damaged land.


Condition of roads

The roads were bad this year.   Water had carved some of the rougher paths.   The main roads in the highlands around Landmannalaugar were full of holes and rills.   When people got injured in Landmannalaugar, it was not considered wise to transport them on the bumpy roads.   Twice or three times a helicopter had to come instead of the ambulance van.   The few and pouring rainy days, togeather with the heavy traffic, were the main cause for the holes but the roads didn´t get any better either by hosting a rally contest.


Rally contest

Friday 20. of August there was a Rally contest on some mountain roads, partly within the Fjallabak nature reserve area.   The sceduled bus and numerous other travellers had to wait, to avoid being put into great danger.   The tranquility, the roads and in some cases the ground beside the roads were spoiled.   Four institutions are responsible for the permission (environment, roads, law and order and local authorities).   They will reconsider their methots for the next summer.

Wedding at Landmannahellir

The local ranger and a former hut warden got married by the cave Landmannahellir (20 km. from Landmannalaugar, where they first met).   There was good weather, hundreds of people, loads of speaches and plenty to eat and drink.   In the end there was fire, dance and firedance and the last drunkhards went to sleep on a new day.


Fishing control

There was a strict fishing control this summer, at the lakes of the area.   The permits are cheap, they are available both in Landmannahellir and Landmannalaugar and the change of getting fish is big.   Still some people want to cheat on it.   From now on that is history.


There was good weather this summer.   The summer started early and showered the vegetation but was mostly dry in the touristic time.   Some exceptions caused bad roads and one dead man.   Fife days in a row the temperature in Landmannalaugar reached 24 degrees and once 25 deg.   Few days ago a sandstorm terrorised the lower south country.   Later we´ll know if and how it affected the highlands.



The big river Tungnaá has a ford, Hófsvað, which can be crossed on big vehicles under certain circumstances and with skills and great care.   A group of adventurers did so, this authumn and did it well.   Don´t try this too.




The parasites in the pool

Last year, 2003, bathers in Landmannalaugar got itch from parasites. We thought they (the parasites) would not survive the winter. But since we wrote our old article, we have read more information from the biologist Karl Skírnisson. He says that between the time that the parasit´s eggs leave the nose of the bird until it enters another bird or a human body, it dwells in a snail. There it transforms from the egg-state. Living in the snail in the hot water, the parasite can theoretically survive the winter and wait for new birds to breed in. So possibly you can suffer after a bath in the hot pool this summer.

The Highland-Questionnaire has been turned to a report

            The survey, done in Landmannalaugar in summer 2003, has been calculated into hundreds of conclusions.  They are now available on 80 pages of text and columns.  The main text is only in icelandic but all the comments of the participants are there in original language (mainly english and partly icelandic and german). 
We, shopkeepers in Landmannalaugar and creators of this homepage, also made this survey and it´s report on our own, without any support except the one from the participants.  There is no time and energy left for translation, so if you want to read this, you have to learn icelandic first.  Since you probably don´t have time and energy for that, we´ll give you some facts from the report here:
            People absolutely don´t want hotels to be built in the highlands.  Guesthouses and private huts also are not popular.  Picnic-tables and information-signs, on the other hand, are wanted.  Asphalt roads should stay in the flatland, or at least outside of the Nature Reserve.  Usually people find less need to put human marks on the Nature Reserve than on other parts of the highland.  Icelanders are much more willing to build all kinds of stuff in the mountains.  In general they have more opinions, positive and negative, than the foreign visitors.  So do the people who have travelled the most in the highland.  Mostly they disagree with too much structures.  Women are a bit less likely than men to demand more "civilisation" up there.  So are passangers of the sceduled bus.  They seem to make a good difference between Nature Reserve and other highland parts.  Actually a lot of people don´t know well, what, where and how big this Reserve is.  Generally power-stations are not popular. Steam-power plants are best acceptet but the power-lines seem to be hated by all kinds of people.            

Order report?
If you are fond of statistics and want to practice your icelandic, we can send this report to you.  Then you send us a lot of money.  It costs 7000 IKR (it´s about 83 Euro).



Torfajökull for electricity?

     The Icelanders have started valuing land before they turn it into power-station-fields.  Now the first part is finished.  It includes the places in the highland, where energy-gaining could be possible.  The geo-thermal-active Torfajökull-area is one of those places.  This area includes Landmannalaugar, Hrafntinnusker and Reykjadalir.  Four committies deal vith the valuation.  The first one values the nature in it´s broadest sence.  The second values the importance for human outdoor activity.  Of course these committies found the area of  high importance.  The third committie tried to calculate what would bring the society more money and work, power station or not, but they didn´t come to a conclusion.  The fourth committie values how much energy there is.  They say it´s a lot but don´t know how much.  It seems that the area will be spared for the next years, at least.

A neighbour area, Markarfljót (by half of the Laugarvegur-trail, closer to Ţórsmörk), was also valued.  It was a total agreement that it should be spared.  In every case the sacrifice would be bigger than the winnings.

Another neighbour area, on the other hand, is likely to be activated for the purpose of electricity.  Then Skaftá would be let to the lake Langisjór, which then becomes a reservoir for the power-stations in Tungnaá.  A new hydro-electrical Plant would be addet to that chain, up by Langisjór.

osk      15.12.03


The roads

            Maybe the roads were not better than in resent years, but there was a lot of mending and building to ensure safer transpassing.  Dangerous curves and hills were unsharpened, pipes were put under the road at a place where the water often cuts it and one fort was made easyer.  The same workers also took care of mending the dams, protecting the camping area, but they had been damaged by violent floods in the rivers.  This was all properly done, with respect for the environment.  Then there was another team, supposed to plane the road but just made it worse.  The tractor broke down, was left in a spectakular landscape for some weeks and when they finally came to get it, they ruined hundreds of square-meters of soft earth with their machines.  It is so important in such a sensible surrounding, that sensible people can do the rough jobs.



            The Fjallabak Nature Reserve is huge and open in all ends.  Therefore it is extreamely difficult to keep an eye on that it´s visitors respect it enough.  Only one ranger is supposed to do so.  In addition, he also is responsible for informing the guests about the land and it´s life.  Fortunetaly the ranger, this summer was very active and enthustiatic.  His duty also was one or two weeks longer than in resent years.  Of course he realised that the "teachers-role" was hopeless (with about 90.000 visitors pro summer).  So he made the message visible by closing forbidden tracks and marking allowed paths.  There are always some people who mistreat their surroundings.  Some got caught by this big and serious rangers and others were reminded on good behaviour with rows of stones by the side of the road. 

The weather

            The spring came early.  Two of the main entrances to Landmannalaugar were opened a month earlyer than in an average year:  the first or second of june, which is a record.  The melting was quick and there was a lot of snow still in the very highest parts, so there was much water.  In a neighbour area it caused damage and in our area it affected the traffic (cars got stuck in the rivers) and the bathing (surface-water cooled the pool).  Traffic and bathing soon got better though, as the snow vanished.

            The warm and wet summer was good for the vegetation.  Never was the area as green as in this summer.  During our season, we counted only 8 days totally dry in Landmannalaugar.  But the totally wet days were just as few.

            In one place the vegetation suffered badly from the rain.  It happened in Landmannahellir, that it poured down 70 mm per hour!  This is as much as in one average month.  The dry moss svallowed the water but didn´t have the roots to hold such a weight.  So the green and even slopes of the mountain Sáta, flushed down.  This used to be the fairest of all green mountains but now it reminds of a prisoners coat.  An soil-lavina from Hellisfjall momentary closed the eastern road to Landmannahellir...


Parasites in the pool

            To many foreygn visitors came to the pool this summer.  Those who should have stayed at home, were maggots of snails, flewn to the country with sick birds.  They breed in the nose of their victims, after travelling there through the nerv-system and the brain.  Fortunately mammal blood is fatal for them, which means that as soon as they crawl under the human skin, they die.  This causes itching.  The pool was closed in late August.  Don´t worry, it will be opened again next summer.  Those creatures can´t survive the cold air, so the winter will kill them (and already has, when you read this).  Let´s hope that the next summer will be less hot and not giving those animals a temptation to come again.


            There have been some positive changings on the paths around Landmannalaugar.  A british volunteer organisation, BTCV, is mainly to be thanked for that.  They finished fixing the cirkle around the Laugahraun-lava.  It was skillfully made, so that it is hardly noticable.  Finally it is passable without crawling and climbing and hundreds of extra paths have been closed, so the tramped down moss has a chance to recover.  Another great action was closing the zick-zack wound above Landmannalaugar, in Suđur-Námur.  A decission had been made to let people up elsevere.  In the comming summer we will see if the carefully healed wounds can be closed.  This kind of mending was the first of it´s kind in the world.  Hikers are challanged to respect the prohibition of walking there and use the new path instead.  It is less steep and less harmful for the vegetation.

            There will be more path-markings in the coming years.  Some long distance-paths are on the drawing tables, but as so far, they have only been talked about.  There are so many beautyful possibilities for the hikers, around Landmannalaugar.  But as long as the trails are badly marked, the traffic spoils the surrounding rapidly.  Please walk carefully.  We, the makers of this homepage, will make our contribution by making a useable hiking map of the area.  Incorrect maps have been making the situation even worse.


The new signs for the Natur Reserve

            When entering the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, people no longer have to do it without noticing.  There are new signs put by the 3 main entrances.  On them are maps of the area, showing where to camp and which roads are allowed to drive.  Unfortunatele there is no distinction made between roads for general traffic and the difficult ones.  Anyway, travellers should have their own maps, and they are hardly worse than these.  There is a text in english, explaining the main rules to be cept inside the Nature Reserve.

The mew hiking trail-map

            Finally a detailed map with hiking-trails around Landmannalaugar came to the market.  An altitute-line is drawn by every 5 meters.  So almost every hill and hole are to be seen on the map.  With such a brilliant base, it was awfully pitty to notice, that the hiking-trails were carelessly and sometimes incorrectly drawn on the map.  There are no distinguisses made between hard or easy trails nor marked or unmarked ones.  No text describes the trails either.  This map costs 1.000 kr.  For those who have invested in it and want to have it correct, they can come to the Fjallafang-info-bus next summer to compare it with a map with corrections.


Diving in the lake Höfđavatn

            The highest lying lake in the area has been supposed to be without fish.  This summer it was prooved by a diver, who went there.  He found lots of other life, small water-insects and vegetation, so that he hardly saw a meter around him.  Observing the bottom in such a poor sight is hard.  The deepest spot he found was 6 meters.

An attempt to make a digital buisseness in Landmannalaugar

            There are always more and more customers in the shop in Landmannalaugar who think they can use their debet-cards.  The shopkeepers tried out tecnical equipments to see if it was possible.  Th result was negative.  Maybe they will find out for the next summer how payments can be gathered during the day and brought to the bank by night, while driving through a spot with a telephone connection.

Radio thelephone for security

            The huts from Landmannalaugar to Ţórsmörk have been equipped with wireless telephone apparatus for people who need to be rescued.  People who manage to reach the hut get in direct connection with an emergency line and get spotted immediately.

Cooperation by the police

            The police in three counties in South Iceland is for the first time having an internal contact, while looking after the highland-area.  The guardians of law and order have been more freequently seen up there than in resent years, giving those a straight message, who think that everything is allowed 400 m. above sea level.  No serious accidents happened during the summer, nor was any of the crimes committed, reported.




  In contact again!

      We are on our way to the mountains. There has been little snow this year, so there is a possibility that we open the shop in the middle of June.

19. 05. 2003


At last we did it! Pictures are coming on the right place: photos and paintings together. We will sort it better in autumn.

The Laugavegur-hiking-trail streched out to the north-west

The hiking-trails from Skógar-Ţórsmörk-Landmannalaugar are being connected with a new one, Hellismannaleiđ, leading through Landmannahellir and Áfangagil, where there are both nice huts and campsides.  It ends (starts) by river Ţjórsá.  This part will add even more to the already variable landscapes and viewpoints of Icelands now longest hiking-trail.

Other plans of marking hiking-trails (to the south-east) have been postponed.



A new map of hiking-trails around Landmannalaugar

Finally an exact map of the Landmannalaugar-area has been made and will be avaible in the coming summer.  There are only 5 meters between the contour-lines.  It will cost about 1.000 kr.  The old and far less exact Nature reserve-maps are still available in german and french for 50 kr. in Fjallafang´s shop.



Fresh arctic charr

For more than a decade, there has been an attempt to reduce the overpopulation of arctic charr in some of the lakes in the area.  This project will go on in the coming summer as well.  When the fishermen catch more than ordered for bigger groups (in telephone 854 09 74) there will be fresh trout available in Fjallafang´s shop.



Geothermal powerplant in the mountains south of Landmannalaugar

The Landmannalaugar area, or being more exact, the Torfajökull-area, has enormous geothermal activity.  Icelands government has a tendency to gain electric power on all costs.  Ewen this area has been put on the plan.  Fortunately actions have been postponed and most people agree that spots like Landmannalaugar themselves and Jökulgil are to be left unspoiled for all times.  But there are other close places in danger, such as Reykjadalir.        

























   Nína Ivanova & Ómar Smári Kristinsson © 2003—2011

last updated - 01.10.2011