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Hiking

Stafafell Travel Service (tel. 478-1717 or 478-2217; www.eldhorn.is/stafafell), based at the Stafafell Youth Hostel, is the best resource for planning your hiking trip. They can book the F980 bus, arrange transport from Höfn, reserve mountain huts, discuss your route and preparations, sell you a map -- and sometimes even arrange to have food sent in.

Útivist (tel. 562-1000; www.utivist.is), one of our favorite Icelandic tour companies, offers a 6-day guided hiking tour around Lónsöræfi once a year. Mysteriously no other companies offer multi-day guided tours; though, as anywhere in Iceland, you can always find a guide if you ask around.

Several interesting day hikes are directly accessible from Stafafell, without taking the bus up Route F980. One particularly nice route leads through Seldalur to Hvannagilshnúta, a gorge surrounded by rhyolite rockslides in streaked colors. However, the scenery in these lower reaches of Lónsöræfi pales in comparison to the interior regions.

It's possible to take the F980 bus in and out just for the day -- this is even marketed as a "tour" -- but you'd be cheating yourself. From mid-June to early September, the bus leaves Stafafell each day at 9am and reaches Illikambur, the end of the road, around 11am. Weather cancellations are rare. A round-trip fare is 5,000kr ($80/£40), or 6,000kr ($96/£48) if you're coming from Höfn. The bus returns from Illikambur at 2pm, reaching Stafafell at 4pm.

An ideal 2-night itinerary would comprise taking the bus to Illikambur, spending the first night at Múlaskáli hut, another night at Egilssel hut, and then walking the 5 to 6 hours back to Illikambur the following morning, in time for the 2pm bus departure. Three nights is even better, and with 4 nights you'd hardly run out of routes to explore: make sure to see the Tröllakrókar (Troll Spires). With another 2 days, you could skip the Illikambur bus and instead hike from Stafafell to Múlaskáli, overnighting at the hut situated halfway.

Remember to bring extra shoes for stream crossings; the flow comes mostly from the glacier and is very unpredictable. Keep a map handy as trails can be poorly marked. Also bear in mind that Lónsöræfi has one of the country's highest precipitation rates.

The Snæfell-Lónsöræfi Trek

One of Iceland's better-known treks extends between Lónsöræfi and Snæfell, a 1,833m (6,014-ft.) peak northeast of Vatnajökull. The hike takes at least 4 days, and can be extended to 7 days if the start or end point is Stafafell. Mountain huts are spaced along the route at intervals of no greater than 17km (11 miles). The trek's northern half is very different from Lónsöræfi, as it traverses the glacier Eyjabakkajökull and a more desolate, less mountainous landscape. This trek is for experienced outdoorspeople: hikes are fairly strenuous, trails are often poorly marked, and you may need rope, crampons, and an ice axe. The trek can head in either direction, but going from Snæfell to Lónsöræfi gives you a net loss of altitude and saves the most interesting scenery for last. The Stafafell Youth Hostel is your best travel resource; make sure to review trail conditions beforehand. Snæfell is reached via Egilsstaðir by car, so be prepared for a long one-way trip to reconnect with your belongings.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.