Trekking Through the Rocky Mountains of Iceland

In Iceland’s central highlands the landscapes are often bare, with little more than rocks, snow and distant mountains. Small alpine flowering plants that manage to survive in these harsh surroundings offer a tiny splash of color.

It is an area where few people live and that, for most of the year, is closed to vehicles because it would be impossible for them to get through.

Yet, even here, at least during the summer, tourists are trekking by the side of the dirt road, spending their days putting one foot in front of the other and their nights sleeping in tiny one-person tents. Everything they need must be carried on their backs.

Those people are prepared to endure such hardships – crossing the country might take three weeks or more – reflects the allure that the land of fire and ice has long held for travelers.

Up the coast from Reykjavík lies the Jökulsárlón lagoon, where icebergs, ranging in color from pure white to blue, float after breaking off from a glacier. It makes for a surreal scene. Marvelous though these southern attractions are, anyone with enough time is well advised to venture into Iceland’s highlands.

Heading back west along the coast, and then north, leads to Landmannalaugar, a starting point for multi-day treks but also a great base from which to explore the neighboring mountains on single-day hikes.

The vast flows of lava – partly covered in moss – attest to the active volcanic history of this area, which also manifests itself in the stunning array of colors of the nearby mountains.

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