Guesthouse Nónhamar is located at the foot of Öræfajökull glacier which is Iceland's highest mountain, 2.110 meters high. The glacier, which extends south from the Vatnajökull ice cap, is the country's largest stratovolcano. This is a violent volcano that has erupted twice during historical times, first in 1362 and then again in 1727.
In 1362 the volcano erupted explosively, completely destroying the Little District (as the area was called prior to the eruption) with glacial outburst floods and tephra fall. The district became the "land under the sand" and was renamed Öræfi (wasteland). More than 40 years passed before people again settled the area. The second eruption began in August 1727 and lasted for almost a year. The ash fall was so great during the first few days that it was impossible to distinguish night from day. However, fewer people and livestock were killed than in the earlier eruption, and no farms were destroyed.
The highest point of Öræfajökull is Hvannadalshnúkur. This is a popular, yet challenging hiking destination that certainly offers a rewarding glacier experience. The walking distance to the top is about 11 kilometers and the trip takes from 10 up to 15 hours. Total elevation gain is more than 2000 meters and if weather permits, hikers will enjoy breathtaking panoramic views when they reach the top.
Climbing Hvannadalshnúkur is a must for any serious hiker. However, even though there is no technical climbing involved in the ascent to the summit, it is both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore, no one should hike Hvannadalshnúkur without a qualified and experienced guide.