Sunday, 2 August 2015

Rent a car in Iceland: Car Comparison by price in Iceland + Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland

If you’re planning to tour Iceland by car, then Iceland car rentals provide the cheapest and best way to explore the vast island. With public transportation being scarce outside major cities like Reykjavík, renting a car becomes the cheaper and most viable option for tourists to explore the island fully. Though it may seem expensive initially, it is much cheaper and less strenuous than having to purchase a car or travel by bus. With plenty of car rental companies in Iceland at your disposal, you will never fail to get a deal that suits your budget. 

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The wide array of vehicles available for hire also makes it possible for you to get a car that can take you almost anywhere on the island from SUVs, four wheel cars, luxury cars, 4×4 rental cars and jeeps just to mention a few. In this article, we give you some tips on picking an Iceland car rental provider as well as taking a look at some of the best car rental companies on the island. 

CAR COMPARISON BY PRICE
November 7th to November 15th - 2015 (8 days)

Option A - New cars:

HERTZ
Toyota Aygo                                 451€
Toyota Rav4                                 862€

AUTO ICELAND
Toyota Aygo                                 392€
Dacia Duster 4x4                         590€

EUROPCAR
Hyundai i10:                                 617€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             1.050€

REYKJAVÍK CARS *                  BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (1st place)
Hyundai i10:                                    240€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:                489€ 

AVIS
Hyundai i10:                               412€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:             766€

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (2nd place)
Kia Rio Diesel:                            369€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       483€
*prices with all insurances included


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Option B - Old cars:

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent old models)
Hyundai i10:                                240€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                      479€

SS CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                  315€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                          534€

SADCARS
Toyota Yaris                                 359€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                           659€

ICELAND CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                260€
Toyota Rav4                                490€

GEYSIR
Hyundai i20:                                336€
Hyundai Tucson:                         564€

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Renting a car is really the best and only way to see the country so be sure to factor it into your budget. We went there thinking we would just take a bus to other areas -wrong. The only buses that exists outside the capital city of Reykjavik are tour buses. So technically you can take a bus but you will pay for it because it will be part of an organized tours and it will add up fast. If you are traveling with another person a car is the cheapest way to see the country. Plus, driving in Iceland is very easy and there isn’t much traffic.

7 TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND

Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore Iceland (it’s tough to beat hitch hiking) but it doesn’t have to blow your budget. With public transportation being non-existent outside of the larger cities, like Reykjavik, renting a car gives you the freedom at a fraction of the cost when compared to the sightseeing tours sold at tourist information centers.

Below are seven ways to save money on your Iceland car rental:

Don’t buy it: You don’t need theft insurance for the vehicle. According to our agent, car thefts in Iceland are rare and he actually told us not to bother with any of the additional insurance (yes, they have insurance for ash from the volcano) either, so we didn’t. 

Go online: The best deals can be found online for Iceland car rentals. By booking online, you will find a better deal than renting directly from a tourist center in Iceland. Some online companies even offer discounts if you book online therefore you will be able to save a lot by booking online. There are a variety of car rental companies on the island so take your time and visit their websites, compare prices, and look at their packages and whether or not they offer discounts for booking online. By doing this, you will be able to get a good deal at a pocket friendly price. 

Pick up at Keflavik International Airport: Because the airport is located about an hour from Reykjavik, you will have to spend €15 – €20 each way to get to and from the airport. So, you might as well just rent your car from the airport and roll your shuttle bus fees into the car rental. 


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Get to know your vehicle: The longer you keep the rental car the cheaper it becomes.

Petrol Blues: When considering renting a car be sure to factor in the cost of gas. In Europe, petrol is sold by the liter not the gallon; therefore, expect to pay about $5 per gallon. 

Choose Your Rental Dates Wisely: Sept. 1 in Iceland signals the beginning of the low season, which runs until May 31. Renting a car in Iceland becomes even cheaper during that time. And by cheaper I mean €35/day vs. €85/day – it’s a HUGE price difference. 

Consider your budget: Look for a car rental company that falls within your budget. Remember you do not have to spend a fortune on car rental therefore try to get a car rental service that will leave you with some cash to spend on the road.


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

DRIVING IN ICELAND

Driving Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to find out how to drive in this country. We know that the landscapes are beautiful, which naturally draws the driver’s attention away from the road. But in order to reach your destination safely, you must keep your full attention on driving.

-The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/hr.
-The speed limit is often 60 km/hr on thruways, but in residential areas it is usually only 30 km/hr.
-The main rule in rural areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/hr, and paved roads 90 km/hr.
-Signs indicate if other speed limits apply.

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HIGHLAND DRIVING

Driving in the Icelandic highland is quite different from driving in the lowland. The conditions can change fast due to weather, rain and even sometimes snow. Therefore roads can be closed and rivers can be too big to cross. Before you start your travel you should get information about the area as well as leave your travel plan with someone who can check up on you if needed.

You can make your travel plan here:

-Start by checking if the area you are going to visit is open
-Get as much information about the area as you can
-Information centers, rangers and hut wardens can help you get the information needed
-Are you sure that you have the experience and knowledge needed to go the highland?
-If you are driving be on a 4x4 jeep, other cars will only get you into trouble
-If you are no sure how to cross a river skip it or wait for the next car to assist you over

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ILLEGAL OFF-ROAD DRIVING

When the fact that the country lies right below the Arctic Circle is taken into consideration, along with the fact that the growing season is short, it is apparent that the environment can take many years, decades or even centuries to recover. For example, many people don't realise that by uprooting or driving on moss, damage is caused that can take at least a decade or, more likely, some hundreds of years to mend – and we're not even talking about the highlands where the summer is much shorter.

Whilst travelling around the country, the highest respect for the Icelandic environment must be shown. It's good to remember to take nothing besides photographs and leave nothing behind except footprints.

-Check out the road map and see where the roads and trails are.
-Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centres, and from rangers or staff.
-Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information, at visitor centres or here.

While on your trip around the country you’ll quickly see that in many places, road ruts and paths have formed from other people. Often they are closed off with nothing more than a row of small rocks. Don’t be caught in the pitfall of following those paths; only stay on roads and marked trails. Instead, think about the damage off-road driving has caused, take photos and educate friends and acquaintances. See how long such damage takes to heal. Notice that ruts don’t just look ugly; they draw in water and thereby cause even further damage, leading to erosion of soil and vegetation. Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any farther by driving. That’s the only right thing do. Besides, you can easily expect a sky-high fine or prison term for offences.

We should all set a good example. Together we share the responsibility of ensuring that everyone gets the chance of enjoying a pristine natural environment for years to come.

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CROSSING A RIVER

One thing is for sure when you go hiking in Iceland and that’s that you’ll not get far without coming to the first stream. Usually they’re little brooks, which are good to get a fresh drink from. On the other hand, they can be large rivers and you will need to wade them, in which case you should bear some things in mind:

-Rivers often have less volume earlier in the day, so organising hiking trips accordingly is not a bad idea.
-Look around for suitable locations to ford. Be aware that places that are good for crossing with jeeps are seldom good for crossing on foot.
-Look for meanders in the river which are places where there is loose gravel and sand and the current dies down as the river expands.
-Meanders are usually the best location you’ll find for fording a river though the river may be wider there.
-Preferably wade the river with two or three other people at a time by clasping arms together at the elbows.
-Loosen any straps on backpacks and be sure not to have anything tied tight that could complicate things if you or someone else might fall.
-It’s best to have special wading shoes as it is not wise to cross barefoot - this can increase the likelihood of a fall.
-Before fording, it’s smart to decide on a spot farther down the river where everyone will go to if someone might unfortunately fall.
-If you fall, roll onto your back, keep your feet in front of you and trudge to the place - or near to it - that was previously decided upon.

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When planning your hiking trip get information about rivers, if they are possible to cross on foot and then what time is best and etc. Never cross a river unless you are 100% sure of how to do it and feel safe doing it.

Helpful Tips on 4x4 Driving in Iceland

If you have plans to visit Iceland's country side then you should also pick a 4x4 vehicle since you will most likely be driving on some gravel roads. And should you go off the beaten path to visit the Iceland highland then you are sure to encounter some F-roads that are only driveble by larger 4x4.

Iceland gravel roadsAll major roads in Iceland are paved. But keep in mind that of 13.000 km total roads in Iceland only about 5.000 is paved with asfalt.

Most gravel roads are not difficult to drive on or dangerous, you just need to keep special attention while driving and make sure you are not going to fast. These roads are often narrow and many bridges only have one lane. You are also likely to meet some sheeps and Icelandic horses so make sure you are paying attention.

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List of the most popular F-roads

Here is a list of the most popular F-roads in Iceland and average opening times:
F-RoadNameAvg. opening date
F206 Lakagígar June 12th
F208 Fjallabaksleið nyrðri
(Landmannalaugar and Eldgjá)
June 12th
F225 Landmannaleið, Landmannalaugar June 15th
F35 Kjölur (Hveravellir) June 11th
F26 Sprengisandur June 27th
F88 Askja June 20th
F902 Kverkfjöll June 19th
F52 Uxahryggir June 5th
F550 Kaldidalur June 13th

Driving in snow and difficult weather conditions

Make sure you are always driving according to road and weather conditions. If there is snow and the roads are slippery make sure to take it slow and drive safe. If you are driving outsite of populated areas make sure to find out the conditions of the roads on your route. You should also check out the weather forecast.

Check road conditions in Iceland here:
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/the-entire-country/island1e.html

Check weather forecast here:
http://en.vedur.is

Carpooling in Iceland:
http://samferda.is

Map of Iceland:
http://atlas.lmi.is/kortasja_en/

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Kolla, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

For many years now, Askja has been the most popular excursion from Lake Mývatn and one of the top destinations in Iceland.

You will travel through the largest wilderness of Iceland, filled with marvels of nature, driving across lunar landscapes where US-astronauts trained before they ventured to the moon in 1969.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

You will see scenes of unforgettable nature and exiting geology. Askja, the huge caldera, is still in the making through bedrock subsidence above a deep-seated magma source. It lies centrally in the mountain massif Dyngjufjöll and is an active centre of a volcanic system.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Askja was not explored until the 19th century. In 1874-1875 there was a series of volcanic eruptions in the system, culminating in a very powerful eruption. Some 2 billion cubic metres of ash and pumice where blown from vents now on the bottom of Lake Öskjuvatn . This 11 sq. km-lake formed within a few years, following the event. It is the deepest lake in Iceland, 220 m. The latest eruption in Askja occurred in the autumn 1961.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

We recommend you to walk at the slopes of a 1961-crater. An easy 30-min.-long walk leads you to the explosion crater Víti (Hell) at the rim of Lake Öskjuvatn.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

A small, milky and warm lake adorns the crater. Amazingly, it turns into a heaven if you care to take a bath in it. After enjoying the unearthly quietness and bizarre landscape our passengers return to the bus.
Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Víti is a popular bathing site, but if you intend taking a dip, please be aware that the sloping path is very slippery in wet weather.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Route back to Lake Mývatn, you could make a stop is made at Herðubreiðarlindir where clear water flows from springs in an old lava flow. The springs sustain beautiful vegetation and form small ponds providing conditions for flowering plants and birdlife in the otherwise barren, volcanic landscape. The high bulk of the old sub-glacial volcano (tablemountain) Herðubreið (1682 m) rises about 3 km distant and provides a breathtaking background to this wilderness oasis.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Askja is a 50 km2 caldera in the Dyngjufjoll mountains. The mountains emerged in eruptions under an Ice Age glacier cap. Askja itself was formed, for the most part, at the end of the Ice Age in a major ash eruption which caused the roof of the magma chamber at the heart of the central volcano to subside. Askja is a part of Vatnajökull National Park. The caldera contains several volcanoes, including Víti (explosive volcanic crater). Water has accumulated in the crater, its temperature is variable - it is around 30°C on average.

HOW TO GET THERE?

The road to Askja goes from road 1 to road 901 and onto mountain road F905. Onward to F910 to Drekagil. On this route there are two fords to cross, usually small. From Drekagil goes mountain road F894 (8 km) to the car park at Vikraborgir.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Another option is to go from road 1 to mountain road F88 via Herðubreiðarlindir to Drekagil. On this road ther are fords on the rivers Grafarlandsá and Lindá that need to be crossed. The fords can be difficult or even impassable for small jeeps.

HOW TO DRIVE ON F ROADS?

So what do you have to keep in mind when planning a trip to the highlands?

-You have to be driving a 4x4 vehicle.
-It is strongly advised that people travel together in 2 or more cars.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

-You should check information about the conditions of the roads before you start your journey. It is best to call 1777 or check www.road.is.
-Make sure that the F road you plan to travel on is open for traffic.
-Driving outside of the roads in the highlands is strictly forbidden. Actually, driving off road in Iceland is always forbidden!

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

-Buying a detailed map of the route you will be travelling is much better than using the standard free map you can get at tourist information centers and gas stations. This is not necessary but can be very helpful.
-Whenever possible, try to talk to local people about conditions in the area, such as rangers.
-Tell somebody about your travel plans. You can for example tell the good people over at www.safetravel.is (or just the ranger you talked to before).


-It is good to be prepared for all types of weather as the weather in the highlands can change almost with a blink of an eye.
-Be aware that telephone signals in the highlands are not very stable and you can go for a long while without a mobile connection.
-The emergency number in Iceland is 112. You are able to call it in the highlands, even without a mobile connection.
-There is no petrol station in the highlands so make sure you fill up! :)


THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CROSSING THE GLACIER RIVERS

When you cross rivers, make sure that the 4 wheel drive has been engaged before going into the river. Drive very slowly and use the low range if possible. Never switch gears in the middle of the river.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Glacial rivers usually have less water in the mornings. During warm summer days, the flow of the river can increase a lot. Heavy rain can also increase the flow of a river substantially. Be aware that rivers can sometimes not be crossed even if the road is open and you are driving a 4x4 vehicle.

A good rule of thumb regarding glacier rivers is that if you would not want to wade through a river you should not drive through it. Crossing rivers can be a serious matter if people are not careful. Whenever possible, cross with someone with experience in crossing rivers.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Fords over rivers are usually marked and should be easy to spot. Be aware of big rocks that might be under the surface of the water. The worst place to cross is where the water is most calm because that is usually the deepest part of the river. The best way to cross is to follow the torrent diagonally down the river, that way the torrent helps the vehicle over.

If you prefer a guided tour, we recommend a guided tour from Lake Mývatn to the Askja Caldera with this Icelandic company.

You can also make it with a Bus 4x4 from the company Visit Askja. Good price and great adventure!

Peter and Helga
Iceland24

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Lofthellir in North Iceland: Natural Ice Sculptures in a 3,500 year old lava cave

In the far north of Iceland lies a weird but beautiful world of ice and darkness. Enter Cave Lofthellir. Here, the underground boasts the greatest natural ice sculptures currently known in an Icelandic lava cave.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

Lofthellir is a 3,500 year old lava cave that extends around 370 meters long and boasts formations that will leave you in awe. You can choose whether you want to start the tour from Akureyri or the Lake Myvatn area.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

To get to the cave, you’ll drive to an area a mere 45 minute drive from Lake Myvatn. You’ll cross the unique volcano Hverfell, through the crater row of Lúdentarborgir to the roots of Mt. Hvannfell. After a 30 minute or so walk across a lava field, filled with unusual rock and landscape formations, you’ll arrive at a ladder made from rope which you’ll descend in order to enter the cave.

You’ll likely be given rubber boots since although it’s likely to be dry on your hike, you’ll need protection for your shoes once you enter the ice cave. Remember, it’ll be very wet inside.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

Once you descend the ladder with your weatherproof gear on, you’re greeted with crystal clear ice before you make your way into the core of the cave itself.

After a few shallow chambers, you need to use a rope to get to the larger chambers, pulling yourself up along a slick area of ice. If you’re claustrophobic, then this may not be for you but if not, it’s certainly an adventure. On the way back, I recommend just sliding down the ice holding onto the rope while you do so – it’s one way to feel ten years old again in a split second.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

The colors inside the cave are stunning – vibrant and surreal at the same time.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

At one point while we were in the main chamber, our guide turned off all the lights and asked us to dim the flashers on our helmuts. Suddenly, we were completely in the dark with the only sound to be heard, a mere drizzle of water from an icicle above.

Lofthellir Cave - Ice Cave Tour

We sat quiet for many minutes listening to that soft drizzle and not uttering a word – silence meets serenity. It was a magical experience and something I’d recommend doing even if your guide doesn’t call for it.

lofthellir

Note: I did it with Visit Askja (info@visitaskja.com), a personalized adventure tour company that specializes in trips. All opinions expressed here are my own. I’d recommend taking one or more of their tours when you’re in the north of the country.

They have free hotel pick-up and departure time is 09:30am. This tour takes around 4-5 hours and the longest hiking time is 2x25 minutes.


This tour is not recommended or suitable for young children, people with claustrophobia or people that are not in reasonable physical condition. There is ice and water on the floor of the cave and the temperature inside the cave is around 0°C.

lofthellir

Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Falling 45 m with a width of 100 m, Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Visitors generally approach Dettifoss on the west side of the River Jökulsá where the road through Hólssandur is better. However, there are plans to improve the road on the east side. Please take care whichever route you chose.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

On the eastern bank, the footpath down to the falls is extremely rough and a number of accidents have occurred when visitors have strayed from the track. The grassy slopes on the western bank become extremely slippery when they are wet.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Selfoss is a smaller waterfall a little way upstream with a drop of 10 m. There are easy paths from Dettifoss, which allow a pleasant 1 km walk.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)
Selfoss waterfall
Below Dettifoss, the Hafragilsfoss waterfall cascades 27 m into a deep canyon. It is best to drive to Hafragilsfoss, which is located in an environment that is geologically and historically as fascinating as Dettifoss.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)
Hafragilsfoss waterfall
Some years ago, plans were proposed to harness the hydroelectric potential of the canyon, but they were scrapped when the lava strata in the area were found to be too porous for a reservoir. On the east bank of the canyon, near Hafragilsfoss, the river has cut through a crater row named Randarhólar to expose a volcano's lava pipe in the cliff wall

How to get there

Road 864 (east)

Road 864 goes from road 1 to Dettifoss on the east side. This is a gravel road and driving speed depends on road conditions each time. Road 864 is closed during winter time due to snow or wet conditions (muddy road) and does not open until early summer (end of May). Distances on road 864: Road 1 - Dettifoss: 32 km

Road 862 (west)

Road 862 is on the west side of river Jökulsá. Road 862, from Dettifoss south to road 1, on the west river bank, is a new, paved road which is passable for all vehicles. The road is not in service every day during the winter time and is often closed during snowy periods.  Distances on road 862: Dettifoss - road 1: ~ 20 km; Dettifoss - Mývatn: ~ 50 km



Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west bank)

The numbers of the hiking paths are in accordance to the number of the paths on the hiking map. Note that at crossroads out in the field these numbers are not at sign posts.

D-1 Dettifoss 
Distance: 1,5 km (back and forth) 
Walking time: 0.5 -1 hr 
Starting point: Dettifoss parking area 
Route difficulty: Easy route (blue)

Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Its enormous power can be felt if you lay your hand on a rock close to the waterfall, it vibrates! Slowly the river digs its way through the waterfall´s edge and each year Dettifoss moves half a meter to the south. From the car park to Dettifoss is a 1 km walk (one way). It is possible to go the same way back.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Warning: The spray from the waterfall goes mostly to the west side of the riverbank, over stone platforms and hiking trails. The area close to the waterfall is therefore really wet, paths can be slippery and visitors have to take special care. During winter time and frost periods heavy piles of ice can form and visitors should not go close to the rim of the canyon.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

D-2 Dettifoss and Selfoss
Distance: 2,5 km (circle) 
Walking time: 1hr 
Starting point: Dettifoss parking area 
Route difficulty: Easy route (blue)   

Contrasting landscape is one of the main characteristics of Jökulsárgljúfur. This trail reveals the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss, against the humble and beautifully shaped Selfoss waterfall. From the parking area to Dettifoss is a 1 km walk (one way). It is possible to go the same way back. However, it is interesting to keep on south, along the riverbank towards Selfoss and then go the more westerly route back to the parking area and close the circle.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

D-3 Hafragil lowland 
Distance: 9 km (circle) 
Walking time: 3 hrs 
Starting point: A small parking area east of Hafragil Route 
difficulty: Difficult route (black)  

Warning: Steep trail, large boulders, risk of falling rocks.

The area in and surrounding Hafragil lowland contains the most difficult but also the most facinating hiking trails in Jökulsárgljúfur and caution should be exercised. The route to the Hafragil lowland starts at a small car park by the turn off to Hafragil waterfall. From there you go east towards the river and you approach the lowland via Sanddalur. There is a fixed rope to help you down a rocky section.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Next you have to descend a steep and rocky slope and then the walk continues past the majestic Hafragil waterfall and through a rocky landslide along a small cove, Fossvogur, under a vertical rock face. This trail is not for people afraid of heights. The route back up takes you into the Hafragil gorge, following sheep tracks up the slope. When up at the rim you head south and follow the Hafragil gorge on the west side until back at the small car park.

Hiking trails at Dettifoss (east bank)

Hafragilsfoss
Distance: 0,5 km (back and forth) 
Walking time: 30 minutes 
Starting point: Hafragilsfoss parking area 
Route difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

From Hafragilsfoss parking area is a short walk to Sjónnípa, the crater where an ancient volcano's feeding dyke can be seen. From there is a great view over Hafragilsfoss waterfall as well as the river gorge. This is the deepest and most terrifying part of the gorge, which is around 100m high in the area. People are not adviced to go down to the lowland by the waterfall.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Hafragilsfoss - Dettifoss - Hafragilsfoss 
Distance: 5km (back and forth) 
Walking time: 1,5 – 2 hours 
Starting point: Hafragilsfoss parking area 
Route difficulty: Challenging route (red)

A parked path leads from Hafragilsfoss waterfall, along the river gorge and to the Dettifoss parking area. This hike offers a great view over the river gorge.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

2 days trip HIKE 
A hike from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss  

Hiking up along the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, from the luxuriant Ásbyrgi to the barren but magnificent environment around Dettifoss, is a unique experience for every hiker. The diversity of the landscape is unique and captures the eye at every footprint: tremendous gorges, quiet ponds, clear springs, rough river, luxuriant forests and bare gravel plains.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Distances:
  • Ásbyrgi - Dettifoss, total: 32 km (shortest way) 
  • Ásbyrgi - Vesturdalur: 12 km or 13.6 km (see route description) 
  • Vesturdalur - Hólmatungur: 8 km 
  • Hólmatungur - Dettifoss (along Hafragil): 11.5 km 
Hiking map 

Here is a hiking map of Jökulsárgljúfur: [pdf 1.8 MB]

Route description 

It takes two days to hike between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss and normally lodged in Vesturdalur (Hljóðaklettar). The route can be walked in both directions (start ingeither in Ásbyrgi or Dettifoss). In Jökulsárgljúfur it is only allowed to camp at the official campsites in Ásbyrgi, Vesturdalur and at Dettifoss (a small campsite with few facilities).

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

From Ásbyrgi to Vesturdalur there are two paths to choose from: One is to follow the rim of Ásbyrgi, and go south along Klappir and Kvíar, just over 12 km. The other route is to go the easterly path, closer to the river, but that route is 13,6 km long. Both routes start at the Visitor Centre in Ásbyrgi.

From the Visitor Centre, there are two ways to access the rim of Ásbyrgi. An easier way is to go east over the golf course and turn south at the intersection east of the golf course. From there the path goes up the lowest part of the cliff. A more difficult way is to go directly south from the Visitor Centre, towards the intersection at Tófugjá. There, turn east and go up the cliff, where there is a rope for support. It is not recommended to go this way if people have a heavy burden. Up at Tófugjá it is possible to choose which way to go to Vesturdalur (along the rim of Ásbyrgi or along the Jökulsá river).
Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

The route between Vesturdalur and Hólmatungur is about 8 km. The only river that has to be waded during the hike, Stallá, is at this section. Stallá is a spring river that flows into the Jökulsá river. The river is shallow and cold, but wading restores tired legs and makes the trip more memorable.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

From Hólmatungur there is roughly a 10 km hike south to Dettifoss, if you go into the Hafragil lowland (black route).  If you go along the Hafragil ravine the route is 11,5 km. It is not recommended for people with a heavy burden to go down to the lowland. In that case, hikers are advised to go to the campsite at Dettifoss, ease the burden and then explore the lowland.

Accommodation 

On the route there are no cabins and it is only allowed to camp on the park campsites. In Vesturdalur there is a beautiful camp site. There are toilets and running, cold water, but no shower facilities. Please contact the rangers before camping. At Dettifoss there is a small camping area, only intended for hikers. The area is just north of the parking lot. There is no running water at the campsite, but rangers bring fresh water to the site every day. Please use the water spaerly.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Drinking water 

  • Between Ásbyrgi and Vesturdalur there are no streams or springs to take water from. Hikers have to carry all fluids with them. 
  • In Vestudalur there is running water in the toilet buildings. It is not recommended to drink water from the spring river due to high traffic of people in the area during the summer. 
  • In Hólmatungur there ​​are a lot of streams from which is safe to drink water. 
  • Between Hólmatungur and Dettifoss the only spring river is down in Hafragil.   
  • At Dettifoss there is no running water. Park rangers carry water in tanks to the campground. Hikers are kindly requested to moderate the use of that water.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Obstacles on the route 

The trail is mostly easy. The main obstacles on the route are:  
  • Tófugjá in Ásbyrgi is the way that goes up the rock wall of Ásbyrgi canyon. There is a ladder and rope for support. You can choose another way to get up to the rim. See route description. 
  • Stallá is the only river that has to be waded. It is shallow and cold but not a major obstacle for hikers. 
  • Hafragil lowland is the most difficult trail in Jökulsárgljúfur but also the most magnificent. People who carry heavy burdens, are advised not to go down to the lowland, as the path is really narrow in some areas. In Sanddalur the trail is really steep and there is a rope for support to go up/down. Furthermore, the trail goes along large boulders and there is a danger of falling rocks. For those who carry heavy burdens and want to explore the lowland it is better to go all the way to the campsite at Dettifoss, leave the luggage there and then walk back down to the lowland. Those who are afraid of heights are also not advised to go this route.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

Travel opportunities 

The trail from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss is a one-way route. Hikers need to have plans to get back from the endpoint. There are two companies that offer regular transport between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss, SBA and Fjallasýn. SBA offers daily tours between Dettifoss and Ásbyrgi from the 18th of June to the end of August. For more information, visit the SBA website. On reauest, the company Fjallasýn offers transport and/or guided tours between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss. For more information visit the Fjallasýn website. The school-bus driver Guðmundur Þórarinsson also offers service to hikers and tourist, tel: 892-8928.

Dettifoss waterfall travel guide, Iceland - Hiking trails at Dettifoss (west and east)

If you prefer a guided tour to Dettifoss, we recommend you this company.

Johanna, Iceland24