Discover Thakgil: A magical adventure in Iceland

Discover Thakgil: A magical adventure in Iceland

IJsland Thakgil

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Thakgil (þakgil) is one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. This remote valley, located on the south coast of the country, offers a breathtaking landscape and a unique experience for travelers seeking tranquility and adventure. In this article, we’ll guide you through the routes for your adventure in Thakgil, where you can revel in the natural beauty and hidden treasures of this magical place.

Route and Transportation to Thakgil

Starting from Hotel Katla, you will depart from the main road 1. Following this, you’ll drive 16 kilometers on a challenging, narrow road, for which we recommend a 4×4 vehicle. We used a Suzuki Jimny, which worked perfectly fine. A larger car is more convenient if you’re traveling with more than 2 people. Without a 4×4, you can reach the campsite, if you enjoy rough roads. However, the most comfortable ride is in a sturdy vehicle.

Download the map from Google Maps or in advance, as there is little to no reception within Thakgil. Always be mindful of the weather conditions.

Below, you’ll find a map of the hiking trails.

IJsland Thakgil

Lodging in and around Thakgil

You have the option to drive back and forth to Hotel Katla or stay overnight at the campsite with a tent or a log cabin. There’s even a cave for shelter or cooking. The campsite provides showers and toilets. To make a reservation, you should contact them through the website. We went there without booking and still found a spot, so that option exists as well. The campsite is open from June 1st to September 15th.

What to bring:

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Plenty of water
  • Some (salty) food
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Camera
  • Cash

IJsland Thakgil


Your adventure in Thakgil begins after a beautiful drive through the Icelandic landscape. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the majestic cliffs, lush green fields, and babbling streams characteristic of Thakgil. You can choose to stay at the Thakgil campsite, pitch your tent, and relish the simple pleasures of outdoor life. For those seeking a bit more comfort, there are also cabins available for rent. Alternatively, you might visit for a day, park your car, and then head out for a hike.

Thakgil is renowned for its pristine natural beauty. Put on your hiking shoes and explore the valley on foot. There are several small trails to follow, each with its own unique charm. Take a leisurely walk through the greenery, listen to the soothing sound of flowing streams, and breathe in the fresh air. There’s also a waterfall near the campsite, just a few minutes’ walk away. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views.

IJsland Thakgil

Yellow Route (17 km, 6-8 hours, 600 meters elevation gain)

Discover the 17-kilometer hiking trail, which takes approximately 6-8 hours and involves an elevation gain of 600 meters. Begin your adventure slowly as you gradually ascend to higher altitudes. After about three-quarters of an hour of walking, you’ll reach some flat areas with glacier ice and permafrost. You can certainly touch this natural wonder, but take care not to damage it, as that would be a shame. Continue on your path and reach a waterfall that disappears into a glacial river. Here, you’ll find the fork between the red and yellow routes. Choose the yellow route by turning right and enjoy a magnificent journey towards the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

During this route, you’ll encounter various landmarks, although the signage is not always very clear. Fortunately, you can rely on the traveler’s stones that guide your way. As you continue the route, you’ll eventually reach the Huldujökull panoramic view, a breathtaking spot where you can relax and enjoy the tranquility. Here, you can not only revel in the silence but also experience the impressive sound of glacier pieces falling.

From this elevation, you’ll traverse the mountain peaks surrounding the campsite. Take a moment to relish the panoramic view of the valley behind the mountain and other parts of the Mýrdalshreppur glacier. After crossing the purple route, leisurely walk back via the rear trail to the campsite. Here, you can soak your tired feet in a stream and enjoy the tranquility that the campsite offers.

IJsland Thakgil

Red Route (13 km, 4-5 hours, 500 meters elevation gain)

During your adventure in Thakgil, there is much more to discover. Similar to the yellow route, the start is peaceful, gradually ascending in altitude. Here, as with the yellow route, you’ll walk until the junction. Then, you’ll take a left into the mountains.

Here, you continue climbing higher and can enjoy the first mountain, Maelifell, a densely vegetated volcano. Take note, this is 1 of the 10 Maelifells in Iceland, to avoid confusion. Next, you walk along the valley, where you can fully admire the breathtaking mountain range on the other side. After numerous more views over the valley and climbs through the mountains, you reach a grassland where you can experience a Swiss Alps-like feeling. Then, it gets exciting because the last stretch leads you along a narrow ledge to the end of the mountain fork.

IJsland Thakgil

On both sides, you can experience the most beautiful and thrilling views. Here, you’ll need to cross the ice-cold glacier river twice. In the middle of summer, the water level may reach your knees, so bringing a towel and water shoes is advisable. Afterwards, you walk back for another fifteen minutes to the campsite, where you can relax and recuperate after a beautiful and exhilarating hike.

IJsland Thakgil

Purple Route (12.5 km, 3-5 hours, 250 meters elevation gain)

For the purple route, you cross a small stream and immediately begin a real ascent. You’ll need your hands and feet to reach the top of the steep mountain. Experienced hikers won’t have much difficulty, but less experienced hikers should take it easy. You couldn’t wish for a more beautiful start to the route. It’s important to climb steadily and occasionally look back to where you came from, as the view is stunning.

IJsland Thakgil

Once you reach the top, you’ll have an immediate view of a beautiful valley. After a short walk across the mountain, you begin your descent. This isn’t an easy descent, so take your time. After descending, you have the option to choose between left and right, and it’s best to head left first. Here, you can visit the Remundargilsfoss Waterfall.

IJsland ThakgilAfter enjoying the waterfall, you head the other way for a steep climb upwards. Here, you’ll reach a magnificent viewpoint where you can relax and revel in the stunning scenery. From there, you’ll overlook the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. On the way back, you’ll first follow the same route down, then loop around the mountain to return.

IJsland Thakgil

Guided Cave Tour

A popular activity in Thakgil is a guided cave tour. Explore underground tunnels and chambers formed by the interplay of ice and fire. This unique experience provides insight into the geological history of the country and the incredible forces that have shaped the landscape. Let yourself be enchanted by the mysterious atmosphere of the caves as you navigate through narrow passages and admire fascinating formations.

IJsland IJsgrot

Thakgil is a place where time seems to stand still, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and a chance to relish the simplicity of nature. Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply seeking relaxation in an enchanting environment, plan your next trip to Iceland and discover the magic of Thakgil for yourself.

Iceland is an island with many hidden and exposed beauties. There’s plenty to explore and see. If you wish to explore more of the country beyond just the south coast, take a look at our reports on the 9-day itinerary or 16-day itinerary through Iceland. Alternatively, consider exploring the other side of Vík towards Vestmannaeyjar, an island close to the coast.

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