Trek Notes - Iceland

Torfajokull


Markarfljot Valley Tour - 9 Days

In recent years Iceland has started to appeal to the "Short breaks" fraternity, so we have devised a tour for those who have limited time and effectively only want to take a weeks leave, or who want to do a shorter trek as part of a longer stay in the country. This 9-day tour is based around the gushing waters of the impressive Markarfljot valley and gorge southern Iceland. This is a largely uninhabited area containing a wide variety of terrain, infact some of the finest in Iceland. Once the trek has started we shall be in terrain largely free from the effects of man's presence and shall be entirely dependent on our own resources, remote from services of any kind. The area is the most powerful thermal region in Iceland, named after a small ice cap nearby. Walking Between Skogar and Fljotsdalur there are stupendous views of the Markafljot gorge, this is about the furthest inland that sea birds come in to roost. You will also have enough time to have a look round Reykjavik and maybe eat some Roll -Mop Herring!


O
utline Itinerary
Flights from Heathrow generally fly out at around 21:00. So if you are flying from Heathrow, you will not arrive at the hostel before midnight, but it will be open.

Please note that variations to these itineraries may occur due to roads being impassable, acts of God (who is still very active in Iceland!) and sometimes through substitution of chartered
for scheduled transport. Other circumstances may cause minor changes.

Day 1: Fly to Keflavik, transfer to your accommodation in Reykjavik.

Day 2: Assemble and take bus to Skogar where there is an impressive waterfall and an outstanding local museum. Start trek up to near the summit of Fhimmvorduhals (@ 940m), passing between the glorious Eyjafallajokull and Myrdalsjokull ice caps. Reach Hut near to Fimmvorouhals. Look out for the horny Icelandic sheep! (Circa 12km)

Day 3: Setting out from the hut we cross over a high pass and commence a spectacular descent to the wooded area of Thorsmork. (c. 12km)

Day 4: Spent in Thorsmork, relaxing, wildlife viewing, and local walks.

Day 5: A long walk today; heading north through Emstrua to the Markarfljot Bridge, cross the river and follow the spectacular gorge south to the Einhyrningur Hut set in a grassyarea . (c. 21km)

Day 6: Descend from the hut to the glacial River Gilsa, which we have to cross in order to find the trail heading along beside the river and then across the rich lawns to the turf roofed Fljotsdalur Hostel amidst its panoramic setting with sweeping vistas towards the sea and mountains. Here you will find a little library with books concerning aspects of Iceland. There are also good bird watching opportunities. (15km)

Day 7: Free day in Fljotsdalur: local walks etc.

Day 8: Departure to Reykjavik (135km) to arrive about midday. There may be the opportunity for some or all the group to divert and return via Gullfoss and Geysir (this will be at an extra cost) return at about 17:00 to hostel.

Day 9: Heathrow passengers flight departs at around16.00, so they will have some time to look around Reykjavik, one of Europe's smallest Capital cities. A colourful low rise town, with some interesting new-ish buildings such as the huge icicle-like concrete church and the dock area, which contains some interesting if not exactly cheap restaurants.

Transfer to Keflavik airport.

Books & Maps
It is suggested that no books are brought on the trek. Weight is at a premium whilst backpacking. As background reading before departure the following is a useful source of information on Iceland in general.
Thorsmork/Landmannalaugar 1:100,000 map 7.00

N.B It is possible to leave pre-packed clean clothes, etc., with the organisers at the beginning of the trip, to be picked up at the end. This is usually more suitable than leaving packages at the Reykjavik accommodation.

Included
Return flight by 'Icelandair' from Heathrow to Keflavik, transfer to and from Reykjavik. All food on trek, but breakfasts only in Reykjavik. The Icelandic government on passengers leaving Keflavik by air levies an "international departure tax"; it is included in quoted tour charges. No visa is required for citizens of the EC, USA, Canada or Australia.

Grade
Even the most experienced hillwalker will find much to stimulate and challenge them on this trek. Due to the remoteness of the terrain no vehicle support is possible once on trek. Some equipment will therefore have to be divided amongst the group and carried in rucksacks. Treks in May may encounter snow underfoot to varying degrees. This can be a physically demanding tour, so clients should be prepared before departure to ensure they make the most of their Iceland experience. Make sure that you have gear that you are comfortable with!

This trek affords many opportunities to see and walk through an amazing and varied landscape and the rewards soon outweigh the hardships (i.e. the basic huts and the thought of carrying your own baggage!) on this fantastic trip.

Daily distances walked should not exceed 21km. However, clients should be able to cover more than this distance in emergency conditions. The bonus here is that at this time of year it is light nearly all the time.

Equipment & Clothing
If you regularly walk in the hills you should already have much of the equipment and clothing required. Iceland, despite its name is not a land of perpetual frost! In July shorts can be worn. Warm and windproof clothing should be brought: gaiters will be valuable. A three-season sleeping bag and a foam insulation mat will be needed. A detailed list of recommended clothing and personal equipment will be sent with confirmation of reservation.

Food & Accommodation
All meals on trek are included in the cost. Accommodation on the three nights in Reykjavik is hostel style, and you will need your sleeping bag; you have to pay for all meals individually in Reykjavik. This amounts to one full day and two evening meals. However Breakfasts are included where practical. They are not included if you are taking early morning flights. Also if you are on the Heathrow flight coming in on the first night you will probably be too late to go into town for the meal.

Reykjavik is expensive: in contrast there are few opportunities to spend any money whilst on trek. To eat out in a proper restaurant in Reykjavik costs, at a minimum, around fifteen pounds. This is a minimum; you may well want to spend more. It is cheaper than this if you just want to snack on a takeaway type meal. There are burger bars and inns that serve local dishes such as pickled herring and vegetables for considerably less. Be warned that a round of drinks can leave your wallet choking.

The three huts used on the tour are simple and basic . Accommodation in Reykjavik is in a very nice dormitory-style pension with a kitchen area that you can use so maybe bring some tea, packet soup or noodles for a warming snack while you are there. It may also be worth considering bringing a hip flask of your favourite tipple. Although strictly contrary to good mountain practice, it will be a welcome friend in the evening time.

Food is of a good standard and consists largely of high-energy foods and dehydrated meals that soon spring to life when nurtured by Icelandic water (and a bit of stirring) over the Primus!
There will not be a specific vegetarian departure this year.

However, we are sympathetic to client's requirements and do our best to cater for vegetarians if we are notified at the time of booking. As food is pre-stocked in the huts, we ask clients to let us know well in advance of their needs and to be flexible wherever possible concerning food. If on a strict diet, vegetarians should bring some vegetarian food that does not need much preparation.

How the Trek is Organised
The trek penetrates deep into uninhabited country and uses simple huts and pre-dumped food stocks, augmented by food carried by group members. Group members must be able and willing to take a full part in jobs necessary on this kind of expedition: loads of up to 20kg (44lb), 15 kg (33lb) for women, will sometimes have to be carried. Team spirit is an essential part of the trek. Practicality and adaptability are the keys to comfort whilst crossing the Torfajokull region on foot.

Important
Please note that we work with. Mr. Dick Phillips on all the departures that we advertise. He has been operating tours to Iceland for 45 years now and has a wealth of knowledge of this area.

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