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The Black Raven Reefs

Offered by Fjallabak Trekking Company

Black Ravens Reef

Trip Details

  • Location: Iceland
  • Length: 8 days
  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Accommodations: Mountain huts
  • Group size: 6 – 12
  • Land Cost: $2,390
  • 2019 Dates:  July 7 – 14, July 14 – 21, August 4 – 11, August 11 – 18,  September 1 – 8

Hiking Trip Summary

Beautiful assisted  8-day walking adventure. 4 days hut to hut along the west and north flank of Mount Hekla, one of Iceland’s best known volcano and through the Fjallabak Natural Reserve to Landmannalaugar, then 3 days exploring by loops the vast and strange Hrafntinnusker Caldeira from a nice base camp ; a remote hut in the middle of nowhere.

This concentrated itinerary is part of our collection of trips that speak to purist hikers with a spirit of adventure. This year, we are offering several departures for a maximum number of 12 participants. The volcano Mount Hekla and the magic that revolves around its reputation, which goes well beyond Icelands’ shores, has always fascinated man. Considered during the Middle Ages as an access to hell, Ancient Rome in it’s day advised fishermen to see for themselves what lay beyond if they ventured as far. The volcano’s eruptions often ruined the countryside and were the source of worry for the Icelandic people, who feared and revered the volcano at the same time. But what was feared the most was that an eruption from one of the faces of the volcano would ruin its perfect shape.

The metaphor “Black raven reefs” is a perfect example of the natural poetry of the old Icelandic language. (Hrafntinnusker: Hrafn for raven, Tinna for black and Sker for reefs)
This describes a chaos of obsidian, an intense black razor sharp vitrified lava, which spreads among soft colored hills in the center of a vast caldera of the same name: Hrafntinnusker. large loops to explore the incredible caldera. More obvious are the amazing rhyolite mountains, formed in incredible bands of pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white, orange and red and glittering with innumerable black, glass-like obsidian lava… Walking among countless bubbling, steaming hot springs, we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty.
We will see preliminarily the innumerable solfatares with pools of mud, bubbles of powerful and noisy steam. On the edge of the caldera we advance on a platitude of black slag that leads to Mount Hekla which dominates the horizon close to its imposing and legendary mass.

With the exception of a lightweight day pack, all equipment and luggage is transported by a 4×4 support vehicle.

 

Itinerary

Day 1:  Reykjavik – Mt Hekla farmland
4-5 hours – ca.10 km ( 6 miles) Altitude 135 m to 175 m (443 to 574 feet)
Early morning rendezvous at 7:30 AM with your guide at Reykjavik Central Bus station. Hiking clothes, duffel bag and day pack ready for trekking. The trip begins. Approx. 3 hours (160 km) road transfer to the trailhead. The majestic Hekla volcano rises above a grassy plain and marks the entrance to the high volcanic lands. Probably It is Iceland’s most famous (or infamous!) and active volcano. Hike starts by late morning crossing grassland. The few little farms of the area have had to move many times over the centuries as eruptions have engulfed them. However, much of the countryside is now verdant with some former lava flows covered in green moss and arctic birch. Green moss, « bonsai » arctic birch grove along with the pure water springs, creates the feeling, perhaps, of a real Japanese garden. In August on this day, we can take a little longer as the berry and mushroom picking gets in the way of our passage.

 

Day 2:  West side of Mt. Hekla – The doors of Hell
6-8 hours – ca.22 km (14 miles) Altitude 175 m to 320 m (574 to 1050 feet)
We cross the river Western Rangá, then we hike the last series of hills made from palagonite rock (sub-glacially formed) that protects the last fragments of burned countryside. On the far side, we arrive onto a moon-like surface at the foot of Mount Hekla and cross a stretch of perfectly flat volcanic slag. The black surroundings, so dark they resemble the blue color of a crow’s feathers. Tiny, we are moving in a completely mineral world of infinite slag plain along the eastern flank of the volcano, which has been vomited most of the cast of the latest eruptions.

Day 3:  Valagjá – Mont Loðmundur
6-7 hours – ca.17 km (11 miles) Altitude 320 m to 590 m (1050 to 1940 feet)
We walk away from “the Gateway to Hell” (as Hekla was known in the middle ages) and the landscape begins to soften; the green colors of the mosses slowly covering lava fields and the pumices that rain on the land with each eruption. Crossing the “pass of the lambs” we walk in the direction of the majestic monolithic crown of Mount Loðmundur, surrounded by marshland and rich pasture, reflecting in the beautiful lake Loðmundarvatn reflecting Mount Loðmundur a flat-topped volcanic monolith that erupted through glacial ice during the Ice Age. Landmannahellir has been for ages and it is still used now by the shepherds as a base when catching thousand sheep in fall after having been grassing free the whole summer. We are in a legendary place with thousand stories to tell.

Day 4: Walk to Landmannalaugar 
Hiking from 6-7 h – approx.15 Km – Altitude 590 m> 700 m
The trail leads us through extraordinary landscapes. First we go around the beautiful lake that shines at the foot of Mt Loðmundur. Then we climb up the northern flank of the Caldera de Hrafntinnusker and enter the pastel colors of acid volcanism. Extraordinary view of the Landmannalaugar valley. We begin the descent towards the refuge and the campsite of the valley, a little surprised to meet suddenly so many people after 4 days of wonderful loneliness. After a bath in the famous hot water river in the middle of a marsh covered with cotton grass, In the evening we regain the tranquility of Landmannahellir.

Day 5: To the Hrafntinnusker Caldeira
16 km +/- 6-8 hours walk
From Landmannahellir we explore the incredible Hrafntinnusker caldeira from where reach the beautiful refuge of Dalakofi which will be our base camp for the next 3 days.

Day 6 and 7 – Exploring daily the Hrafntinnusker caldeira and surroundings
+/- 6 to 8 hours daily walks
The metaphor “Black raven reefs” is a perfect example of the natural poetry of the old Icelandic language. (Hrafntinnusker: Hrafn for raven, Tinna for black and Sker for reefs)
This describes a chaos of obsidian, an intense black razor sharp vitrified lava, which spreads among soft colored hills in the center of a vast caldera of the same name: Hrafntinnusker. large loops to explore the incredible caldera. More obvious are the amazing rhyolite mountains, formed in incredible bands of pink, brown, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white, orange and red and glittering with innumerable black, glass-like obsidian lava… Walking among countless bubbling, steaming hot springs, we cross this pearl of the interior, famous for its incredible natural beauty.
We will see preliminarily the innumerable geothermal hot springs with pools of mud, bubbles of powerful and noisy steam. On the edge of the caldera we advance on a platitude of black slag that leads to Mount Hekla which dominates the horizon close to its imposing and legendary mass.

Day 8 :Fjallabak Sud – Reykjavik
8-10 km +/- 4 to 5 hours walk –  2h driving on tracks – 1h30 driving on road
Luggage and equipment loaded in the trailer of our assistance jeep, we leave our last base camp to join in four hours of walk the Refuge of Hvanngil on the “too’ famous Laugavegur Trail. From there we take a 4wd mountain bus that brings us back to Reykjavik central bus station (BSI) in early evening. Back to civilization!

 

Additional Information

Included

English speaking guide from day 1 to day 7, bus transfers to and from the mountains, transport of luggage by 4×4 assistant vehicle, all accommodation in mountain huts and tents, full board(breakfast, lunch, dinner) from lunch day 1 to last day lunch.

Not Included

Flights to/from Iceland, Transfers from/to airport, accommodation and meals in Reykjavík, taxi ride to and from hotel to meeting point on first and last day, showers in the huts, drinks and other personal expenses, additional small group surcharge below 6 participants, insurance, tips to guides/leaders, items of personal nature, potential fluctuation in exchange rates.

Luggage

Presenting no difficulty for good walkers, each member carries only a light day pack. A 4×4 truck carries all your personal things, heavy equipment and supplies.

Accommodations and Food

Accommodation, during the trek is a combination of some nights in comfortable expedition tents and some nights in well equipped mountain huts, all in beautiful locations. Running water and kitchens within the shelter, but the toilets and sinks are usually outside, a few yards away, in a small building. Warm hot showers are available in some huts for a small fee.

Fjallabak prides themselves in providing the best cuisine in the highlands! Breakfast is Scandinavian-style, with muesli, breads, jams, fish and cheese. Packed lunch, with a variety of sandwich fillings, from smoked meats and fish to local cheeses and salads. Dinners involve fresh, local fish and meat dishes, with pasta, rice or potatoes, fresh vegetables and salad. Vegetarians and those with food allergies can be fully catered for with a range of tasty options. It is essential that you inform our office of any special food requirements at the time of booking!

For usability, but no obligation, you can bring with you a little speciality of your home country to share with your companions as well as a flask of some thing for a short drink in the middle of nowhere

Travel

All international flights are served by Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport, which is about a 45 minutes outside the capitol city of Reykjavik. Accommodations in Reykjavik before and after the trek are not included in Fjallabak’s itinerary. Please contact us if you would like more information about various levels of accommodations available or if you would like assistance booking accommodations in Reykjavik.

Who would like this trip?

This trek is designed for those who wish to fully experience unspoiled nature at its best, and to see what they may never even have dreamed still existed. The isolation and severity of the landscape demands each tour member to be in good physical condition and that they actively participate in the trip i.e. the group must work together to set up camp, prepare food etc.

Safety

The remoteness of the terrain, coupled with an ever-changing climate can make this a most challenging environment; therefore, safety is of primary concern. Your guide and our support vehicle are radio equipped. Fjallabak’s guides, all experienced mountaineers with extensive local knowledge, are fully trained in wilderness first aid and rescue procedures. To complement this, our personal clothing and equipment systems must be sufficient to ensure your comfort in all kinds of weather – see our kit list for advice.

Meeting point

This trip is 8 days. On day 1,  rendezvous at 7:30 AM with your guide at Reykjavik Central Bus station.

Ending Point

Drop-off will be at Reykjavik Central Bus station between 5pm – 7pm.

For a more information about how to book this trek with Fjallabak or to register, please call.

Iceland Trips

Fjallabak Trekking Company

Classic Treks 2019

Similar Trips

We just got back from the most incredible, amazing, awesome trip!…By the way, my son wants to go back (to Iceland) next year for the five day trek, and my daughter says the trip ‘changed her life’. Not bad!

Alice DelDonno, Lexington MA

Any hiking trip in the mountains requires a certain amount of effort and proper fitness training will enhance your enjoyment. In the mountains, time and elevation gain or loss as opposed to distance, tend to be the determining factors when defining hiking grades or level of difficulty. We have done our best to grade our trips consistently, please contact us for further clarification. We are happy to offer names of past participants.