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Made in Iceland – on hiking through the highlands for 25 days

Written by 10 November 2011 49 Comments

This summer I completed a 25day long solo-hike through Iceland and made a short documentary about it called MADE IN ICELAND. Since then I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback I’ve got-  and the many questions about my trip. And here they are,  the answers to a collection of the most frequently asked questions about the hike:

2 Made in Iceland   on hiking through the highlands for 25 days

ICELAND
Why did you choose Iceland as a destination?

Iceland is well-known for it’s beautiful landscape, it’s photogenic and deserted hiking routes. The only thing you’ve got to be scared of is to be gobbled down by a rabid Arctic fox. With an average bodyweight of 3kg making it the biggest predator in Iceland, there is not much to keep you from sleeping tight at night. That rasping sound is only a sheep rubbing it’s fluffy back- hopefully!

ROUTE
What route did you take and how many km did you cover?
At the beginning of my trip, I hiked very common routes like the Laugavegur and the Kjölur. Instead of hopping onto one of the highland buses at the end of the Kjölur route, I decided to hike till I would reach the ring-road. I spent 3 days walking along a straight gravel road with car rushing by me at 70km/h (and realizing that this car will reach a point in one hour, that you’ll not see in the next 3days does not help keeping the moral up). I covered about 15 to a maximum of 30km per day and approximately made 250 to 300km in total. After reaching the ring-road I hitch-hiked further north and circled one of the peninsulas near Akureyri. In the end it doesn’t matter which route you take. More important is, that you actually DO go out there and start to walk.

5 Made in Iceland   on hiking through the highlands for 25 days

ORIENTATION
Did you have a GPS on you?

Yes, I did. The GPS helped a lot by giving me certainty when I wasn’t sure if I navigated correctly with map and compass, but in some places it might not get you out of a tight spot. The one time I got “lost” in the mountains, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I just couldn’t pass the escarpments and steep detritus in front of me to get there.

FOOD
What did you eat?
I had porridge every morning. That was fine, as I’m usually a big fan of it- what changed very quickly when I ran out of milk-powder. A muesli bar for lunch, a package of trekking food for dinner and whenever possible a cup of tea with sugar, big amounts of chocolate and hot-chocolate to keep the mood up. Still I was constantly hungry!

EQUIPMENT
What c
amera did you use, and how did you charge your batteries?
I had a Canon 550D with me, two lenses and a (lightweight, but still unbearably heavy) Manfrotto tripod. After m 5th day of hiking I had to head back to Reykjavik. My battery back with AA-batteries was not working as it should have and I had to restock food as well. When I started the next part of my hike I had 6 fully loaded Canon- batteries with me- I had bought all that were in stock in camera shops all over Reykjavik.

HAPPINESS
What was you happiest moment during the hike?
Seeing that Arctic- fox hobbling towards me was a very special moment, as he didn’t seem to bother at all that I was there. I hadn’t expected to come that close to the Icelandic wildlife and neither was I prepared to such fluffy cuteness strolling around. Having such an encounter in the harsh wheather and fast highlands feels like a friendly smile from nature, trying to tell you that you are being accepted here now.

4 Made in Iceland   on hiking through the highlands for 25 days

ANXIETY

What was the worst moment?

I guess being up there on that mountain, feeling the ground move with every step, must have been one of the most horrible situations of my life. I knew, that if I would fall and hurt myself, it would take people 5 days to even start searching for me as I wasn’t expected back before that. Throughout the entire hike my phone had no reception and in this particular situation I realised how vulnerable I was. I also felt stupid, as it was me who got myself into that situation, because I thought I would be modest and intelligent enough to stop and turn around, when it would get too dangerous, but I then I didn’t. I learned a lot about myself that day.

RESUME
What do you think about the trip now that you’re back?
It feels like I’ve never been away, the experience was so different from my usual life, it seems absurd to believe that it actually happened. It was not always easy and I questioned my decision many times, but this hike might have been one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life. I can only give one advice: Pack your stuff, buy that ticket and live, explore, discover! It’s always worth it!

1 Made in Iceland   on hiking through the highlands for 25 days

pixel Made in Iceland   on hiking through the highlands for 25 days




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49 Comments »

  • Weltenbummler*in said:

    Oh Iceland, I would love to go there! Looks so fantastic.

  • Miguel said:

    Hey Klara! I just came across your video. It’s amazing!

    What about the huts you stayed at? where they abandoned in the middle of the isle?

    Viele Grüße von Paraguay!

  • Klara said:

    Hi Miguel,
    they are actually huts for trekkers and other passers by and in some cases are also listed as emergency huts. For a little fee you can find shelter there. On more common routes like the Laugavegur there are hut wards managing them because it can get very busy there and the I found it much more comfortable to put up my tent as I did at most days. In the north though the cabins felt like an oasis in an ever moving, always howling environment. Especially in the highlands a calm moment without wind started feeling awkward and spooky.

  • Tiago said:

    Hi Klara!

    Thanks so much for the great post! That’s really the right attitude: to leave the fears at home and hit the gravel path :)
    I’ve already done a few solo trekings and it’s amazing what crosses into one’s mind during those days. It’s not easy but I always found myself a much better person afterwords.

    A couple questions, still:
    I assume you were in the summer, right? How bad was the weather? windy for sure..
    Also, did you found any place to re-supply outside the road/ring?

    cheers!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • Tiago said:

    Great Post!

    That’s really the right attitude: to leave the fears at home and hit the gravel path! :)
    Fortunately I’ve already made quite a few solo trekkings and it’s amazing the stuff that crosses one’s mind day after day. It’s not easy but I’ve always found myself arriving home as a better person afterwards.

    a couple of questions:
    Did you managed to re-suplly on the inner mainland?
    I figured you went on the summer. Still, how bad was the weather?

    cheers!

  • Sander Lelieveld said:

    You have not only discovered Iceland, but even experienced it. Few people do.

    So many people are afraid, you do not have to be.

    We have been in Iceland few times, and the more questionable it was what we were doing, the better memories we share. We have been driving in the interior with our Land Rover, and also hiking beyond the usual places. What a great country. And yes, soemtimes you have to seriously consider to return, because you can get into danger there. High winds, serious sold, snowfall, all in the mid of the summer season, can always happen. YEAH, but as long as you’re prepared that is OK. Hard and damn inconvenient, but a challenge and nothing more than that. We also had to to return sometimes. Might not have been here otherwise. OK, par of the game there.

    If you think “no”, act “no”.

    I GREATLY enjoyed your filming, pictures. stories and even this FAQ. Well done.

    I am looking forward to going back, we plan summer 2012. And, you? Any chance to see your tent somewhere in the middle of nowhere?

  • Andrei said:

    Great adventure! Did you by any chance make any calculations regarding the total sum you had to pay for the expenses?

    I really enjoyed watching it and would love to do that some day, just that it would be good to know an approximation on the cash i need.

  • Andrei said:

    Oh another question if you are so kind to answer!

    How did you manage with the water? Were you stopping every 2-3 days in cities/villages to resupply? Since I realize you can’t carry too much with you in the first place.

  • Klara said:

    FAQ NR.2

    Resupply:My first resupply was after 5 days of hiking and back in Reykjavik because I also needed batteries. The next part of the trip was about 8days long resupplying in a small village next to the ring-road (Including my first shower since 8days. A rather amazing experience).Better to resupply in bigger towns as food can get very expensive in Iceland. In the highlands you wont find any villages etc. for several days. But you can send food-parcels to some of the huts from the BSI in Reykjavik. Cheap and incredibly helpful.

    Money:Hard to say how much money you need. I spend a lot on equipment before going there but got my flights very cheap, only paid once for a bed (7€ farm-stay) and only went out to have a pizza once. Because I was invited :) The rest of days I was sleeping in a tent, couchsurfing when I was in Reykjavik, and eating stuff from the supermarket.

    Water: You’ll find the most wonderful, ice-cold water running in all the little rivers around you. Liquid purity! I also had water from a lake with a swan colony living there, I wouldn’t recommend it, but it was still fine. Moving water is fine most of the time, just check if there are millions of sheep or a hut very close to where you get it, or have a short walk upstream.

    Weather: There is a saying. If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait a minute. I had 4 days without a glimpse of sun, it was unbearable and very depressing. But I also had wonderful days and hardly any rain. You’ll just have to cope with what you get I guess! :)

  • Made in Iceland said:

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  • Kathi said:

    Ich glaub was schöneres und beeindruckenderes hab ich überhaupt noch nie gesehen!
    Ich hab mein Erasmus-Semester in Island gemacht, aber leider im Winter – da war nicht viel mit wandern… Ich möcht gerne wieder hin, und dann auch soviel wandern wie möglich!

    Wie hast du dich denn auf die Tour vorbereitet? Ich meine jetzt vorallem im Bezug auf Informationsbeschaffung und Ausrüstung?
    Darf man in Island einfach so wildcampen?

  • Andrei said:

    Great detailed reply. Thank you very much for the info, really useful.
    I saw a sponsor or supported tag at the end of the movie. Did they help you with any particular things you needed? (like maybe the camera? which is great by the way, awesome quality)

  • Tiago said:

    Thanks so much for your reply Klara! I’m looking forward to see your next works! :)

  • Lara said:

    Interesting and beautiful story, though I wish you would also include a warning on how dangerous hiking alone can be, especially in a place as untamed and remote as Iceland. I lived there for over half my life and honestly I would never go hiking on my own or without telling someone specifically where I’m going. Too many fearless and utterly clueless tourists have done what you’ve done and haven’t lived to tell their fantastic tale. Just today, the body of a missing tourist in Iceland was found… he was alone and probably had dreams of doing the same things you did, but unfortunately wasn’t as lucky as you were.

    Iceland is home to me and I always recommend it as a place of beauty and adventure, but always offer words of caution. The terrain and unpredictable weather patterns are things most people have never experienced before and this has proved to be the downfall of too many people who have wanted to satisfy their wanderlust yet weren’t grounded enough in reality to understand what exactly they’re getting themselves into.

  • Mayte said:

    Good report Klara, well done, but as you find out yourself nature can be difficult. I would like to point out to every one who wants to visit Iceland a very important thing to have in mind: BE HUMBLE, nature is magnificent and dangerous and we want people to have a different experience , but a safe one. Think about your safety and the safety of the rescue teams who put their lifes in jepardy when looking for people who left theyr destiny with the sun shining in the morgning and find themselfs in the midle of nowhere in a snow storm in the afternoon. Get always information and never go to the glaciers without having a expert with you. Enjoy nature, and as we do, dance barefoot in the moss with the only sound of nature. SENSE ICELAND
    AND HAVE A GREAT TIME.

  • Andrei said:

    Lara, it was a good idea to post your warning. I encourage people not to go alone in hikes. 2 minds are always better than one and in case something happens to any of them, the other one can go ask for help. And of course if they are just a bit smart they could realize they must take baby steps before venturing if its their first time, in order to see what the weather and terrain is like and possibly how fast assistance can get to you.

  • Klara said:

    I’ve heard about the young man who was found on the glacier. A very sad story.

    I had hoped that my scared eyes would be a warning for everyone to not take hiking too easy. I got myself in a quite dangerous situation and I wasn’t proud of it. Still I think it’s important to not let fear stop us from doing what we love to do in life. Fear from being alone at night or not having somebody to talk for several days. Good research, a hiking partner, information, a chat to a local or just a short question to a oncoming hiker about the trail can make a hike much saver. Maybe being aware that you are only a guest and the decision to turn around when intuition tells you to do is as important as a good hiking map. People hike on their own not to search for danger but for themselves, one reason why I had no intention whatsoever to cross one of the glaziers.

    I hope that nobody who got motivated to start a hike through MADE IN ICELAND ever gets hurt! Because it actually makes me incredibly happy that there are people who now realise that a day in the wild outdoors, in movement and without the distraction of modern life could change their point of view (on themselves) and make them a happier person- because that’s what it did for me…

    Thank you very much for bringing up the topic and thank you all for the spirited discussion! That’s wonderful! :)

    Klara

  • Lara said:

    Klara, completely agree with the statement of not letting fear being the thing that stops one from truly living. I think what’s most important for those who wish to experience nature is not to be fearful of it, but to have respect for it borne of humility.

    As for hiking alone to search for themselves, there is a big difference between reflection in solitude vs sheer isolation. The former is about finding peace and a place in this mortal world, the latter is about running away because of a sense of worldessness and making oneself out to be selfish hero on some ridiculous quest. The latter will inevitably lead to tragedy whether through the loss of life or maybe even loss of identity as they continue to search for something that was never really lost to them in the first place. At least for me, communing with nature was about finding happiness and peace before me and most importantly, within me.

  • Erfolgreiches Startnext-Projekt: Made in Iceland | joachimott | journal said:

    [...] in Form des Videos liefern konnte. Aber auch, dass die Vorbereitung und PR-Arbeit (über Facebook, Vorstellung auf Reiseseiten und bei nomadearth ziemlich professionell [...]

  • Victoria said:

    Hey Klara!
    Amazed by your energy, pictures and video!
    I´m a fan of landscape photography and your pictures are one of the most beautiful i´ve seen in a long time.
    I have the same camera you used, but my pictures are nowhere near yours.
    Do you have any tips? I´m guessing you shoot everything in manual mode. What photo editing program do you use?
    Im so inspired by your work right now!

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    [...] photos by Klara Harden, from Travelettes.net Be Sociable, [...]

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  • MADE IN ICELAND : TV WILD – Watch Wild World said:

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  • Nadine Sykora said:

    Wow, Klara, this is breathtaking. Now I MUST go to Iceland!

    I do have one question for you, what lenses did you use on your 550D? The videography is some of the best I have ever seen.

    Cheers ,
    One videographer to another..

    -Nadine

  • chris wetzel said:

    Awesome work. I had a question I was hoping you could help with. How did you achieve the shots that appear hand-held, such as walking at the beginning of the video, and at 225 looking back at yourself. Are they indeed handheld shots? Thanks, your work is an inspiration!

  • Miguel said:

    Next project? ;)

  • Birk said:

    Hi there…may i ask you could you draw your route in some basic map? there is no need to be correct, just for my idea… this summer i have similar plan to walk from south to north… i guess it will be around 550km

  • 7 Great Travel Documentary Films | BackPacker said:

    [...] 2. Made In Iceland Where? Iceland, Europe What? solo Hiking, Trekking, Nature Abstract: “… This summer I completed a 25day long solo-hike through Iceland and made a short documentary about it called MADE IN ICELAND. [...] It feels like I’ve never been away, the experience was so different from my usual life, it seems absurd to believe that it actually happened. It was not always easy and I questioned my decision many times, but this hike might have been one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life. I can only give one advice: Pack your stuff, buy that ticket and live, explore, discover! It’s always worth it!…” (from travelletes.net) [...]

  • Kelly said:

    I stumbled upon Made in Iceland this evening on vimeo. I hardly know where to begin. “Stunning” is such an understatement. Made in Iceland would have been quite a lot for a full production crew to handle, but for you to do it solo is profound and inspiring. I am an old man in Austin. To see the work of one so young, produced with such grace and art humbles me. Your vision, your adventurous nature, and your humor give me great hope for us all. Much love from Texas. Tausand dank!

  • Maria said:

    Hi Klara,

    I’m so inspired by your film and courage. Embarrassingly, i watch it every night before bedtime just to dream the whole expedition. I just wanted to know what your advice would be for if someone decides to hike solo across Iceland? What would be important to note and what are the precautions to take (for eg. let someone know the duration of your hike & route)?

  • Pick N Mix – 13 January 2011 | Cupcakes and Mace said:

    [...] This mini doco is beautiful and made me start looking at flight prices immediately (again). Her FAQ on the MADE IN ICELAND doco is an inspiring short read as [...]

  • Made In Iceland | Modern Wifestyle said:

    [...] find Klara’s Q&A’s from the trip at Travelettes.net Categories: Inspiration, Movie, The Weather, Travel Tags: alone, austrian, Iceland, Made in [...]

  • Attila said:

    Klara,
    As you might already know, I am already fan of your film.
    I may well do the Langmannalaugar route this year and I was quite sure you went there too on your trip. Your FAQ however mentions “Laugavegur”; I wonder whether it is a typo, or not?

  • As Ink Remains // Friday Finds + 5 Things said:

    [...] in Iceland by Klara Harden. It’s a video diary of a girl who has trekked across Iceland, on her own. [...]

  • Made In Iceland | FATEUSER said:

    [...] Ella es Klara Harden, una chica Austríaca que hizo un viaje solitario de 25 días por Islandia y lo documentó todo en vídeo y fotografías. Creo que es un corto de 16 minutos que merece mucho la pena ver. Si queréis leer más sobre ella y sobre el documental os dejo el enlace aquí. [...]

  • kylie said:

    Hi Klara,
    I love your video so much. Very inspiring to say the least!
    I just have a few questions about the camping and the huts you stayed in. Did you just pitch a tent anywhere? or did you have to pay for a camp site every time you stopped for the night? are the huts free to stay at? You journeyed during high tourist season, did you come across a lot of people during your hikes?

    …sorry (so many questions), I am just so fascinated by your adventure, and would really love to do the same!

  • MADE IN ICELAND | Il blog di Oz said:

    [...] IN ICELAND FAQ: travelettes.net/made-in-iceland-faq/ Featured on nomadearth.com/2011/10/31/made-in-iceland/ Thanks for the support! [...]

  • made-in-iceland-from-klara-harden-on-vimeo-lets | {joycreation} said:

    [...] week with an inspiring short movie by Austrian cinematographer and photographer Klara Harden, who hiked Iceland on her own for 25 days! It wakes the adventurer in me and makes me wonder what it would be like to travel [...]

  • MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo. MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo. Let’s | {joycreation} said:

    [...] week with an inspiring short movie by Austrian cinematographer and photographer Klara Harden, who hiked Iceland on her own for 25 days! It wakes the adventurer in me and makes me wonder what it would be like to travel solo [...]

  • Yasmin said:

    wow! wow! wow! I have thousands of dreams and you show me to let them come true. thank you! you are a inspiration!

  • Made In Iceland « Pau Mateo said:

    [...] Ella es Klara Harden, una chica Austríaca que hizo un viaje solitario de 25 días por Islandia y lo documentó todo en vídeo y fotografías. Creo que es un corto de 16 minutos que merece mucho la pena ver. Si queréis leer más sobre ella y sobre el documental os dejo el enlace aquí. [...]

  • Marie said:

    Hallo Klara,
    ich stell dir die blödste Frage, die man auf so ein Video stellen kann: Darf ich dich fragen, wo du diesen schönen Pullover gekauft hast?
    Alles Gute für dich.

  • Sara said:

    I would love to know what GPS and equipment you used while you were out there! Like your tent and backpack, and things like that.

    I’m always so interested! Your video has been so inspiring to me!

  • Amy said:

    Hey Klara,
    I’m not sure if you still check this site because the last reply was you did was in 2011, but i’m doing your documentary for a journeys study for my HSC and just wanted to know, what was your purpose for undertaking this hike through Ireland, why did you go? and what was your aim in making this documentary for people to view?
    Thank! Amy

  • Michael said:

    Hi Marie, auch wenn gerade Sommer ist, auf dieser Website solltest du, was den Pullover angeht, fündig werden -> http://www.icewear.is/

    Der nächste Winter kommt bestimmt ;)

  • Thenomadicnepali said:

    Awesome, I have the dream to go to Iceland and trek alone as I am fanatic about hiking alone. I have travelled alone for 128days in Nepal across Himalaya which is my home country. I want explore other place too and ICELAND is on my list.

  • Brian said:

    Hi Klara,

    I came across your video (and consequentially, this page) as I continue to prepare my trip to Iceland next year. In all of my planning, it has been recommended that I travel to Iceland in the Summer to enjoy the best weather and accessibility to the parks and trails, but they say it can be very crowded and expensive in the Summer compared to late spring or early fall. In your experience, was it very crowded while you were there? What month did you visit Iceland in?

    Thank You for your video and this page to aide in my planning!

    V/r,
    Brian

  • wgopnTV: Made in Iceland ‹ We go on plane now?We go on plane now? said:

    [...] IN ICELAND FAQ: travelettes.net/made-in-iceland-faq/ Featured on nomadearth.com/2011/10/31/made-in-iceland/ Thanks for the [...]

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