Tag Archives: travelling

Hiking Laugavegur , Iceland

Hiking Laugavegur seem to be the hype since National Geographic published the top hikes one can do in the world and included Laugavegur. The hike is gorgeous and when you look at the distance – 55km- it doesn’t seem too strenuous. The hike can be completed in 2-4 days + an extra day if you decide to do the Fimmvörðuháls pass hike. I did the  Fimmvörðuháls pass in 2015 (from Skógar to Thorsmork) and decided that I wanted to do the rest on the way to see the solar eclipse in US. So what’s the trick? Is it hard? Well… it’s Iceland.

The distance or the elevation gain is not a major factor in this hike, the weather is. As long as you know this, you’re fine. And yes, albeit the hike is done in summer, that doesn’t mean it won’t snow. We found ourself in snowy conditions in day 2. Just prepare for it. Also for the fact that the temperatures will near 0 celsius at night.

How is the hike then?

Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker: 12 km

Lamndmannalaugar can be reached from Reykjavik via bus with no issues, we arrived early yet too late to go on the hike right away, so we spent the night. The campsite is quite popular for day hikes as well, so prepare for a big daily hikers crowd in the bathrooms. Yes it’s crowded. The ground itself, well when rainy, super muddy. We were lucky though and had little to no rain during our stay in Landmannalaugar. There’s plenty of options for day hikes and the surrounding rainbow colored rhyolite mountains.

Laugavegur, Iceland

Laugavegur, Iceland

Naturally we didn’t book the hut as ~70 euros per night on a bunk bet is just crazy. The campsite itself is busy and, but has some decent facilities like showers and plenty of toilets. No wind protected kitchen area though. Keep that in mind.

The hike to  Hrafntinnusker is mostly easy, gaining elevation very softly. Keep in mind though that Hrafntinnusker is the highest point of the trail, it gets snowy and orientation in snow could be tricky. The small memorial plate 1km from Hrafntinnusker, of a hiker who simply lost his track and froze to death so close to the hut, is a good reminder of that. The path is beaten by now. Unless there’s fresh snow, you should have no problem.

Hrafntinnusker to Alftavatn: 12km

Hrafntinnusker is a very basic campsite, 12 km from Landmannalaugar,  and even in the middle of July we camped in the snow fields. No showers and make sure to come early to get one of  the small walls to shade your tent agains the wind. As it’s rather short distance to Alftavatn, a lot of peoople make it one stretch. I found the evening here beautiful though. Even thouigh it was snowing and raining. The campsite is much calmer than Landmannalaugar, naturally. Make sure to check the ice caves and thermal features nearby.  Keep in mind the temperatures here drop to zero in the middle of summer easily.

Laugavegur, Iceland

Laugavegur, Iceland

Alftavatn is 12 km from Hrafntinnusker and the navigation is very easy and the route well market.

Alftavatn to Emstrur: 15 km

Alftavatn is fairly well equiped campsite, including a restaurant! It’s a new thing, so we didn’t eat there as we didn’t know it existed. Most importantly though, there is a small common room, where you can escape the elements. It might seem silly, but as we arrived to the campsite, it got extremely windy and rainy. Escape to the indoor warmth was very welcome. Keep in mind there’s scarcity of rocks along the lake you’ll be camping at, hence no wind-breaks and all the stones you can find are used to secure the tents. Come early and you get the stones, come late… well your loss. Oh there’s a guitar on the wall, we ended up making friends with random people just playing and singing as that’s the best way to pass the bad weather. There are showers and no wind shade for cooking.

From Alftavatn onwards, there are river crossings. It sure depends on the weather, but we found most of the crossings okay. There are tips on where to cross the deeper of the rivers, shared in the hut. If in doubt, just ask, they will give you recent info. In our case, we had to remove pants as the water reached mid tight. The current wasn’t very strong.

Emstrur to Thorsmork: 16 km

Emstrur is a tricky place to camp at  as the hit is set on a hill. Make sure to arrive early to sleep on a flat surface. There are really beautiful hikes around. Should the weather permit, make sure to check the canyon! The campsite has showers which are insanely busy, so prepare for long queues. It took me an hour to get into the shower. Well people should realize they don’t need to smell like pristine flowers…

Laugavegur, Iceland

Laugavegur, Iceland

The hike tho Thosrsmork is mostly really easy terrain, though upon arriving to Thorsmork, there’s a little trick… pass the Volcano huts campsite, which is pricy all the way to Botnar. Bus goes from there as well, the campsite is less crowded, offers fantastic common room to cook in and is less expensive. All wins! No long waits for the shower and crowd is behind in the Volcano hut campsite! Oh and if you have time, just spend time in the valley. It’s gorgeous!

Gear for Laugavegur

I try to go as light possible while hiking as I cary a heavy camera. That being said, I was quite unsure if my setting will be good enough for Laugavegur. Well it worked well! So in case you wonder what essentials I pack…

Tarptent single rainbow … now that was the biggest unknown as I wasn’t sure if one layer tent will do the job. It worked. Make sure to position is along the wind smartly. It withstood conditions some of the normal tents had trouble with!

Warmpeace Viking 600 sleeping bag … czech site, sorry. Incredibly warm three season light backpack. I was never cold in it, despite the snow outside.

Thermarest NeoAir Xlite  super light, perhaps the best sleeping mattress I ever owned.

Pinnacle Soloist GSI just enough food for myself. Two people would struggle.

Var2 stove which can use Coleman gas cartridges, available in Reykjavik (you can get the click Campingaz there as well). Light and does the job.

Hiking poles: anything goes. Got mine at Decathlon.

Rain gear: Hardshell jacket, rain pants & gloves as well as backpack cover. And I don’t believe in ponchos. I simply don’t think they work.

Long underwear completely from Merino. Icebreaker is my go to brand. Just really stock yourself on Merino.

Most importantly: leave anything cotton home!

Everything depends on your personal preference, but I managed to stuff everything into 45+10l backpack. Weight ~20kg including water daily.

Happy Laugavegur hiking!

 

Gallery

Iceland & Wyoming 2017

This gallery contains 37 photos.

I am late with my galleries, in fact the latest ever. I guess life was busy. This trip had originally a single purpose of seeing a solar eclipse. Well I decided I do owe Iceland some visits, namely Laugavegur hike. … Continue reading

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High Tatras, Slovakia, September 2016

This gallery contains 11 photos.

My life was getting more and more turbulent once I came back from London. The whirlwind of interviews and job hunting was slowly getting to me. I just needed a little secluded moment in the mountains. Not that far away … Continue reading

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Wildspitze, Austria, July 2016

This gallery contains 9 photos.

An attempt to climb Wildspitze, which didn’t work out. Taking the goals aside, one of the most gorgeous places I had a chance to see and hike. There’s something almost unearthly about glaciers. They’re beautiful, dangerous, serene… And I’m absolutely … Continue reading

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Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 2016

This gallery contains 16 photos.

A short break in Bosnia. Sarajevo, Mostar and of course the gorgeous mountains, including the Maglic peak, tallest mountain of Bosnia. Gorgeous sceneries in a country where you can still find yourself in the middle of mine field. The memory … Continue reading

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Japan, April 2016

This gallery contains 24 photos.

It was a really turbulent time in my life. I was finishing my thesis and all my travel/hiking plans were crashing as I needed to have an internet connection. Then, quite spontaneously, I booked a trip to Japan. Only me, … Continue reading

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Iceland, August 2015

This gallery contains 41 photos.

After a sudden change of plans, I was thinking of a plan B for holidays. I came up with Iceland. First time I visited sub-polar regions. And I felt in love. The nature is fantastic. The fire meets the ice… Hiking … Continue reading

Jökulsárlón shooting

There are places in this world where you know, that you’ve encountered nature’s magnum opus. Well, I believe there is one for every ecosystem. Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is the magnum opus of glaciers. You’ve seen the pictures, you know what to expect, but no matter what, you’ll end up standing in awe. I managed to go there during a sunny morning and a gloomy evening. And I’d say the gloomy evening fits the lagoon quite nicely. The blue color of the glaciers stands up.

Of course there’s not only the lagoon, there’s also a beach. Black one, as I know from Canarias. But this one is special. As the glaciers move from the lagoon towards the ocean, some of them get jumbled around and end up on the beach, looking like gemstones. Well out of this planet experience for sure. I wish I could go and spend there couple of weeks, just watching the glaciers.

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This was the first time I processed the images using graphical tablet. Well, now the things I considered too complicated to do in Photoshop (clumsy mouse), are super accessible.  I think I’ll revisit some of my older shots. Let’s see how more complex photoshop magic will work.

Backpacking on Cabo Verde

I must admit, when I bought the flying ticket to Praia, Santiago, I didn’t think very deeply about it. I knew I wanted to get to Fogo island, as there’s a volcano, not too different from Teide. After I got the flying ticket, I started to search for information and realized, there is little if some. Which is actually the reason I’m writing this down. Maybe it’ll help somebody who has decided to do similar trip.

First of all, Cabo Verde is a tourist destination, but majority of the tourists will go to Sal or Boa Vista, if they feel adventurous, they’ll go to Santo Antao. If you decide to go to Santiago, you’re pretty much out of tourist buzz. That brings good things and bad things. You certainly get some authenticity, but you don’t get by using other language than Portuguese or Creole. Forget about English.

One of the first things you might notice is the lack of tourist guides and maps. There’s only one chapter of the Lonely planet guide to West Africa. Luckily enough they sell pdfs of the sole chapters individually, so one doesn’t have to spend unnecessary money on the whole book. The chapter has 30 pages and it’s nearly not enough. Though, you’ll get some tips out of there, considering what to see etc.

Transport between the islands

Most of the islands have airport, exception being Brava and Santo Antao. Santiago and Sal have international ones, so that might be your entry point to the country. Both of them issue visa on arrival. If you want to do little bit of island jumping, there are two options: boat and plane. I met quite a few people who went by boat to Fogo, all of them claiming that they go back by plane. Plane is not that much more expensive, if you book directly on TACV website. If you book in advance, you end up with something like 100 euro for a return trip Santiago – Fogo. According to locals, not a bad price. Boat was 70 euro. Some travel Cabo Verde pages will claim that you might have troubles with booking and offer to book for you for 10 euros. Skip that, at least with Safari and paying online by Visa, I had no problem.

Maps

I had trouble getting maps for any place in Cabo Verde.  You can get decent hiking maps for Santiago in a souvenir store in Plateau in Praia (close to the end of the main pedestrian road, the end with lyceum), for Fogo, the maps are available in Zebra travel in Sao Felipe . The towns… well, people rarely use street names there, city maps won’t get you anywhere. Deal with it, it’s hard only during the first day.

Accommodation

Santiago is not prepared for tourists. Yes they do have quite a few fancy hotels, occupied mostly during volcanologists conferences, but the budget options are scarce and probably will be.  I found my accommodation in Praia through AirBnB, Brothers & Barros Hostel, newly opened hostel with nicely clean rooms for 20 euro/night. If you happen to get the tip from here, say hi to Danilson, the owner, from Jana from Czech republic. The hostel is not located on Plateau, but you can get there easily by public bus (they have quite convenient system of buses in Praia, once you figure which number goes where).  Plus, you cannot get more authentic than this. Don’t forget to get a fish on a street corner grill. It’s the best one I had, and costs only 2 euros.

The situation on Fogo is slightly better, still there are not many places to choose from. I went for Pensao Las Vegas as it was the cheapest option (20 euro/night), but if the next time, I’d go for Casa Beiramar, slighly more pricey, but worth it (read further). Both are located in the old town, so you’re pretty much in the center of everything, close to the markets etc.

Hiking and sightseeing on Santiago

If you decide to hike on Santiago, you’ll likely be the only hiker on the path. There are two hiking areas, national park Serra Malagueta and Rui Vaz, above Sao Domingues. In Serra Malagueta, you can even pick up very non- accurate map, but the guys from the local visitor’s center will show you the way and let you pay couple of ECV for the entrance. Not a big deal, but you’ll have to guess big part of the hike. Luckily enough, it’s circular. But the surroundings are stunning. Area around Rui Vaz is also really nice. You can just get of the bus in Sao Domingues, hike up to Rui Vaz (road) and from there, go to Sao Jorge, where is a small botanical garden. It’s a stunning hike amongst beautiful rock formation, but check out WikiLoc (I marked the path there). There are few path markers, but don’t rely on them. The botanical garden is free.  You’ll be able to catch a bus in Sao Lorenzo, on the main road, otherwise taxi it is. Buses from praia cost about 3.5/4.5 euro one way.

Serra Malagueta, Santiago

Serra Malagueta, Santiago

There’s also a nice walk from Cidade Velha to Fortaleza above the city. All in all, Cidade Velha is worth visiting, it takes just 15 minutes from Praia to get there. But bear in mind, the bus doesn’t go from the main ‘bus station’ in Sucupira market, but from Terra Branca. The bus costs approximately 1 euro.

Hiking around Fogo

Fogo is easily a hikers paradise. But, there’s but… In November 2014, the volcano exploded and buried two villages, which served often as a base camp for hikers, under the lava. Sad for locals, sad for hikers. The prices for a simple hike therefore rocketed up because of the cost of transport. You sure can rent a car there, but at 80 euros/day you just don’t want too. Hiring a driver for the whole day will cost you the same. Besides he know where to go and knows  how to drive on those stony roads. If you want to arrange a trip, your bet is Casa Beiramar, Mustafa, the owner is a climber/mountainer and loves Fogo. He can help you arrange a hike or climb anywhere on the island. He’s got some accomodation up in Cha de Caildeiras… well, rebuilding now, so even the trip to the peak will be doable with him again. He arranged a drive around the island for me, with a stop  for a hike amongst the coffee plantations in Moisteros, 80 euros for the whole day. Transport to Caldeiras, without the facilities can be also arranged there. Without guide, 50 euros.

Sulphur, Fogo

Sulphur, Fogo

Needless to say, it’s not cheap, but if you don’t know your way around (you most likely don’t as the inaccuracies are big), it might easily be an only option. I did the hike above the new explosion, which was memorable, but little bit short. A recommendable hike might be Bandeiras, hiking along the rim of the big caldera.  Sadly at the current prices, it’s 140 euros, which for me alone was way over my budget.

Safety

It’s sub-saharian Africa and you should act accordingly. While on Fogo, every crime rises attention, in Praia, petty crime is arising. I wouldn’t go around alone at night, but otherwise the country felt reasonably safe.

Pricing

All in all the general cost of things

  • flight between the islands 100 euros
  • Accomodation 20 euro/night cheapest
  • taxi praia intl – city center 10 eur
  • public transport in Praia 40 cents/ride
  • Local transport half the Santiago island for 5 euros
  • moderate restaurant 6 euro/dinner
  • cup of coffee around 1 euro

 

Gallery

Cabo Verde, April 2015

This gallery contains 11 photos.

After visiting all of the Canary islands, the next stop was quite natural, some archipelago belonging to Macaronesia. Turns out it’s quite easy to go to Cabo Verde, off coast of Senegal. I’ve chosen two islands, Santiago and Fogo. It … Continue reading