Positioned right between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers in southern Iceland, Fimmvörðuháls roughly consists of a 25-kilometer-long and 1,000-meter-high pass accessible to visitors between mid-June and late-August. Its location makes it one of the most sought-after hiking trails in the country, with some travelers opting for a six-day trip by adding in
Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk nature preserves. The Fimmvörðuháls trail alone takes between eight and 10 hours to complete.
There are two mountain huts – the first one is modern and the second is quite rudimentary – along the route. The journey from Skógar to Thórsmörk is one of the most memorable hiking experiences in the country, if not the world, as it offers splendid panoramas of south Iceland, and of the new lava fields formed by the infamous Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.
A small eruption actually took place at Fimmvörðuháls following months of earthquakes under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, just a few weeks before the big outbreak. This eruption produced a 300-meter-long fissure on the northern part of the pass, creating two new craters that later on erupted toward Thórsmörk, briefly stopping tours and hikes in the process. A small reminder that Iceland, despite being on everybody’s lips lately, is still a very wild, unpredictable place to travel to.
It is not advised to attempt hiking at Fimmvörðuháls outside of tourist season or without a guide and proper equipment; the geography and terrain provide conditions for violent Nordic storms, and all visitors should be prepared for drastic and sudden changes in weather. This hiking trail is accessible from the famous Skógarfoss Waterfall, which is located about two hours outside of Reykjavik (154 kilometers) via route 1, Iceland’s Ring Road. Parking is easily accessible and free of charge at Skógarfoss. It is also possible to book day tours from Reykjavik or Seljalandsfoss, or, alternatively, to reach the start of the hiking trail by public transit with buses 11 and 51 from Reykjavik.