Hiking… with a four-year old

We’ve been in Iceland for just under 3 weeks and have done a few hikes so far. We need to be realistic of what we can do with Liam, but we’ve come prepared with a child-carry backpack so that when the hike gets too long for Liam, Kai will carry all 20 kilos of him (plus clothes and backpack!).

It’s hard to say if the first hike we did, just two days after we arrived, was a success or not. I mean we did get through it and it was stunning, but all three of us were in a foul mood that day. I think it was because we were just getting used to being around each other pretty much non stop.

That hike was in Skaftafell National Park, a 5,3km loop with one of the main attractions being Svartifoss, a waterfall falling into an amphitheatre of dark hexagonal basalt rocks.


The next day, the sun was shining and everyone was in better spirits so we did a shorter, 1 hour walk to the other main site in the park, Skaftafellsjökull, a very large glacial tongue where sadly you can clearly see how much the glacier has retreated in recent years.

Pro-tip: For these walks we have started using the trick of giving Liam my Fitbit, so he can track how many steps he does. It has really worked a charm for us! When he’s losing steam we challenge him to the nearest 1000 and say then we’ll stop for a snack. #childbribery

After Skaftafell we moved on to Landmannalaugar, a most striking place between mountains, a glacial river and a large lava field. Iceland offers nonstop stunning scenery, but for me this has been at the top of the list. The mountains here come in all shades of grey, green and orange, and that combined with the black lava stones and the blue sky made the 3 hour hike just perfect. Liam and I ended our hike by heading to the hot springs, where a very hot stream mixes with a cold river, and you just have to find a spot where they mix nicely. Kai in the meantime extended his hike by heading to the nearer mountains and getting even better views of the whole area.

Side note: In order to get to Landmannalaugar we drove the F208 dirt road from Skaftafell. That was our first real 4×4 road, 60kms in about 3.5 hours, including several river crossings. I can’t start to describe how beautiful the scenery was, but I was also glad to arrive and stop all the bumping around.

As we approached Landmannalaugar’s campsite, we passed two guys walking and carrying very large backpacks. As we drove past them I noticed one of them pointed at something on his t-shirt. I told Kai to stop and check if they were trying to say something to us. We rolled down our window and they start speaking in Swiss German; turns out they’d seen our license plate and the guy was pointing at a small Swiss flag on his shirt. With only 2 kms to go, we offered to give them a ride, but they declined since they had already walked a whopping 50kms that day (in 10 hours!) and the end goal was so near. We convinced them to at least take their backpacks, each weighing 25 kilos. They gladly accepted!

I certainly can’t ever see myself doing anything like that, but who knows, maybe Liam joins the hundreds of hikers that trek these mountains on foot when he’s older.

2 thoughts on “Hiking… with a four-year old

  1. I was the same places back in… 2003 (?) and had the same weather exactly… 😮 Rain at the waterfall, blue skies in Landmannalaugar…I loved it a lot. We even got the extra bonus of Northern Lights up there. But it came at the cost of a very cold night in a tent 😉 (Also we drove a small Toyota up there…. no 4×4 by a long shot. We had to take the long route I guess and even then there were some steep slopes that I had serious doubts about… ;-))

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ohh great tip about the fitbit – we’re debating getting Isabelle her own camera, just so she’ll leave our phones alone so I bet a fitbit is a huge success! Have fun – it all looks stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

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