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Orkugangan (March/ April)

Start of Orkugangan at Þeistareykir
Start of Orkugangan at Þeistareykir

Orkugangan is an annually held cross country ski race from Þeistareykir to the town of Húsavík by Skjálfandi bay.

Participants can compete in 25km and 10km races while kids walk a distance of 2,5km. Orkugangan is suitable for beginners and experienced skiers alike because it is a a race for the entire family. Speed counts, but the joy along the walk counts more. Afterwards all participants enjoy a vitalizing hot soup in Húsavík during the award ceremony.

The race derives its name from the abundant natural energy in this region. It runs through the active rift zone of Northeast Iceland where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are separating. The terrain along the trail is mostly untouched wilderness with volcanic landscape; mountain ranges, fissures, hot springs and vast open lava fields, some thousands of years old and others barely 30 years old, with variously shaped lava sculptures. Geothermal energy is abundant in the earth below and in some places its force is visible above the surface.

The view from the trail is incomparable, offering a changing variety of scenic delights as you make your way from Mount Leirhnjúkur in Krafla caldera, trekking across the resent lava past Þeistareykir geothermal area and overlooking Skjálfandi bay and the mountains across it on your final descend to the coastal village of Húsavík.

In the past Orkugangan was also known as Buch Gangan in memorial of the founder of the first documented skiing school in the world, Nikulás Buch.

Check out the event calendar or the Facebook-page of Orkugangan to find out when Orkugangan is held next time.

© Aija Kotleva