Hiking Fimmvörðuháls With a Campervan

Hiking Fimmvörðuháls With a Campervan

James Taylor James Taylor
3. Mar 2020 ∼ 5 min. read

The Fimmvörðuháls Hike is one of Iceland’s most popular trails, and with good reason. This mountain pass takes hikers between the two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull into the beautiful valley of Thórsmörk, a surprisingly lush area of birch forest and beautiful glacial valleys. The scenery on the hike will take your breath away as much as the challenging climb itself; expect verdant plains, sparkling clear water, and lunar-like landscapes and craters near the highest point.

The trail is 25km long (around 13 miles), and usually takes hikers between 8 and 12 hours to complete. The highest point of the mountain pass reaches around 1000m before diving down into the Thórsmörk reserve.

Which Direction Should I Hike?

The hike can be done in either direction; either beginning at Thórsmörk to end in Skogafoss or vice versa. However, most hikers opt to begin in Skogafoss to save the epic landscapes in Thórsmörk for the last hours of the hike.

Where Can I Leave My Campervan?  

There’s no driving into Thórsmörk, so you’re going to need to park your campervan for the day and catch some buses. There are a lot of different options for parking the camper, but we’ve narrowed it down to the two best. The first is spot Hvolsvöllur, either in the huge parking area of the Lava Centre (for the return bus offered by Reykjavik Excursions) or at the N1 petrol station (for return buses offered by TREX and Sterna). We love both options, as the parking spaces are big enough not to worry about other car doors banging into your own while you’re away. The other location is at Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall further down the coast, but the parking area is a lot smaller and fills up quite quickly. Whichever option you choose, book your onwards bus to Skógar, which is offered by Sterna Travel. If you’ve parked at the Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur, you’ll need to cross the road to the N1 station, as this is where this bus picks up from.

The Hike

Once you’ve been dropped off in Skógar, it’s time to begin the trek. While its popularity might suggest otherwise, the trail is a challenging one. A good level of fitness is required, as well as some experience on longer hikes. Don’t forget to take water with you, and a few snacks for the trail. In general, hikers will take anywhere between 8 and 12 hours to complete it.

The Fimmvörðuháls Pass is best hiked between May and September; outside of those months, it becomes too difficult and dangerous. Even during the summer, the weather on the pass can change quickly, with fog, rain and even snow sweeping in at a moment’s notice. Visibility issues can present one of the biggest challenges on the hike, so make sure to always check the condition of the mountain pass, check the weather forecast, and log your trip with Safe Travel.

Buses from Thórsmörk to Your Camper

In 2020, there are four different companies that operate buses from Thórsmörk back to Seljalandsfoss and Hvolsvöllur. In 2020, the latest bus that you can catch back leaves the Basar Hut at 18:30. This doesn’t really give you a whole lot of time to complete the hike in one day. It’s possible, but you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the scenery along the way, so we recommend spending the night somewhere in Thórsmörk and booking your bus for the following day.

You can reserve a sleeping bag spot at the Basar Hut (on the south side of the valley) for which you’ll need to carry your sleeping bag, or at the Volcano Huts (a little bit northwest of Basar), which have a lot more different options.

For 2020, these are the bus companies that offer a route out of Thórsmörk, leaving from both the Basar Hut and the Volcano Huts.

1.      Reykjavik Excursions (from 1st of June until the 20th of September)

The first bus company that begins service to and from Thórsmörk is Reykjavik Excursions, which operate the Iceland on Your Own program. You can find their bus schedule here, which changes in frequency depending on the month. They drop off at Seljalandsfoss and the Lava Centre in Hvolsvöllur.

2.      Sterna (from 10th of June until the 15th of September)

Sterna is the company behind the Iceland By Bus program. It drops off at both Seljalandsfoss and the N1 Petrol Station in Hvolsvöllur. Check out the schedule and book it here.

3.      TREX (from 15th of June until the 10th of September):

Finally, TREX is the other company that offers a Thórsmörk bus. Like Reykjavik Excursions, the frequency of the bus changes depending on the month; their schedule and booking can be found here. They drop off at Seljalandsfoss and the N1 station in Hvolsvöllur.

4.      Volcano Huts (1st of May – 30th of June, and 1st of September – 30th of September)

There is an option earlier and later in the season than the three main bus companies, and that is to book directly through the Volcano Huts website. The bus only goes between the Volcano Huts and the campsite at Seljalandsfoss, so you would have to leave your camper there to make use of this option. But it does make it possible to hike the pass earlier in the season.

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