This post it to give a review of the walk and also provide some tips for travelers thinking about doing this.
I did this walk with Lucy (who took some convincing at first) on the 13th June 2017. This is probably just before the peak season begins for Iceland.
You’ve probably done your research, but here are some points about the hike.
It is about 23km (14.3 Miles) in length (according to our GPS history). You can view our progress and time here. https://www.endomondo.com/users/3943298/workouts/946830172
There are two tracks from Skogar to Basar, the Blue easy one and the Red ‘hiking one’. This one describes the track marked blue. They both start from the same place, but diverge about 1/3 of the way up.
The hike starts at the base of the Skogarfoss waterfall at Skogar and finishes at the Basar campsite in Thorsmork.
We started at 9am and finished at 7pm with one hour to spare before the bus back to Skogar departed.
We also had enough time for a lunch break and a dinner break each break about 20-30mins as well as numerous stops for getting stones/ice out of shoes and drinks stops.
You need to catch two buses to get from the end of your hike back to Skogar. The 9A at 20:00 from Basar to Seljalandsfoss and then the 21 from Seljalandsfoss to Skogar.
Ensure to check the https://www.re.is/iceland-on-your-own/ bus schedules.
The bus is quite large (seats > 35) and as Basar is where the bus first departs, you’ll be guaranteed a seat. Perfect after a long day.
Don’t be concerned about missing the 21 bus from Seljalandsfoss to Skogar as it co-ordinated to wait for the 9A from the Thorsmork region. Expect to arrive back in Skogar at around 22:10.
I would not purchase the bus tickets online as they are not cheaper than paying using cash/card. Just buy your tickets at the Basar bus stop or bus driver. The bus stop also serves as a Basar information desk and will accept card and cash.
The prices from Basar to Skogar were 5600 ISK each.
The trip back was enjoyable as it went through rivers and streams like a 4×4 tour, be prepared for a bumpy ride though.
Safety & Equipment
Safety is probably going to be your primary concern, so be prepared by bringing at least 1.5 – 2.0 L per person as well as preparations for cold/wet weather.
Your shoes need to be waterproof to some extent or you’ll be walking with your feet wet most of the time with soaked socks! If you have ice poles, bring them as they will help you navigate parts whilst spreading the load across your arms.
Check the weather forecast before you go. I wouldn’t attempt this in bad weather, firstly visibility will be poor and it would make for a miserable trip and you wouldn’t see anything!
It is best to save it for another day as there are plenty of other things to do in Iceland anyway.
This hike is difficult for me. I would say it is probably the most challenging hike I have done. But challenging for you might be easy for you… so how do you and I compare it?
Compared to Paintbrush Canyon – Cascade Canyon Loop in Grand Teton, USA (19.7 Miles / 31 km) this walk is shorter but steeper in areas and more challenging due to ice. I’d say they are on a similar level.
Compared to Eskdale YHA to Buttermere YHA in Lakes District, UK, including Scafell Pike and summit (15 miles / 24 km). About the same difficulty.
Get an Android app like HikingTrail and get a saved topo map of the area before you go. Although the track is well marked, I can imagine there being some times where it’s hard to see it.
Areas of Track
The first section can be described as having a lot of waterfalls!
Just before where the Red and Blue track split up is a bridge. Be careful!
After this sign, we stopped for lunch and then the weather cleared up a bit. From here you could see one of the huts.
From here on, it gets icey. The ice can be as deep as your ankles and shins.
Yes, there is a lot of ice. Most things above 975m in altitude had ice on it. So be prepared for about 3km or so of ice.
Sometimes the track markings are hard to see, follow the guide of the mass footsteps!
After all the ice, you see a plateau. The way down to the plateau is very steep!
After the plateau it’s all greenfields and flora and a nice walk back down to Basar. From this point it’s around 1hr 30 minutes to Basar, and it’s where we stopped for our dinner.
On the way back to Basar you’ll be treated with nice views of the valley and braided river.
By the end of it all, you’ll find yourself outside the bus stop where a 4×4 bus will take you back to Seljalandsfoss.
All the best and good luck!