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 Post subject: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:11 pm 
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For summer 2019 (mid-July to mid-August) I'm planning a trip to the south... well, south of our normal play area which is above the Arctic Circle. I've booked a ferry from Hirtshals, Denmark to Seydisfjordur (town in eastern Iceland) and hope to be able to drive around for about a month: camping, walking, swimming... maybe doing some fishing. Think I've persuaded the sandbag to come along for the trip out there and the brat (she'll be 14 and probably have her own ideas and want to listen to her own music - I might put her in the back :twisted: :lol: ) to join me for the return and we might meet up with friends in Reykjavik. Not sure if anyone has been to Iceland recently or going this year, but any "updates" would be welcome - if anyone is going next year it might be fun to meet up... or join forces (maybe we can book our very own fuel tanker delivery in the highlands :mrgreen: )

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 Post subject: Re: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:29 pm 
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So, anyone going to Iceland this summer? If all goes according to plan we'll drive off the ferry in Iceland on the 18th of July and leave on the 15th of August. I'll probably get a camping card and a fishing card, and it looks like fuel range won't be a problem (have three jerry cans) - but I've not figured out if there is such a thing as fuel discount card I could get hold of (if there is it'd quickly make sense).

I'll bring fluids for an engine/LT95/diff oil change, spare air filter and some parts, but hope to arrive prepped/serviced before getting on the ferry in Denmark - it all the depends on the logistics of the 1,000 mile drive south plus ferry from Norway to Denmark. I'll bring some bridging ladders, hi-lift jack, bottle jack, manual winch with straps and chain, only one spare tyre, a couple of manual foot pumps (I think they're smaller and more reliable than the small portable compressors and it looks like deflating for grip won't be a frequent exercise) and I'll probably leave chains behind as they're mostly good on hard packed snow. I'll have a fridge but figure on supporting the Icelandic economy by shopping locally - might arrive with the full alcohol allowance though! Might bring a portable wood stove for heating and cooking and wonder if it's possible to buy wood, or charcoal at the petrol stations - anyone know?

Aim to take it nice and slow, go walking a bit, spend some time fishing - if the weather is less wet and windy somewhere that's where I'll go... Might have company that'll want to watch whales, relax in the thermal pools and go horseback riding. If anyone else is going, it'd be nice to meet up!

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 Post subject: Re: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:06 pm 
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Hiya
We went Sept/Oct 2011. We got a camping discount card but very quickly wished we hadn't I think because to use it meant not staying in the camp grounds you might otherwise have wanted to since it only covers some. So do we drive more to save a few quid with the card we paid up front for or stay where is more convenient and ignore the card. May have changed now tho.
In a nice big book shop in Akureyri we found a guide book to off road routes and another on hot springs from the same publisher. The hot spring one was particularly awesome, you would never find a lot of them otherwise. If I could remember where they were I'd post up the ISBN, they both made a big difference to what we did.
If you put "Island Vegaatlas ~ Iceland Touring Atlas Spiral-bound – 2015" into Amazon etc you get I think the current version of the road atlas we had which was really good, showed a lot of campsites too, and tarred/gravel/other roads to give an idea of travel times perhaps, gravel usually meant big pot holes.
If your ferry stops in the Faroes walk off for a Chinese nearby. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:33 pm 
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Thanks for the tips. I see the camping card is still pretty limited, which is too bad, be nice to think there was a way to save a few kroner... But I suppose it's Iceland, it'll be stupidly expensive! I went there in the mid-nineties and had the Icelandic price shock administered to me... then the country went bust and was nice and affordable, then it's economy recovers and prices for everything becomes totally irrational again... and in a stroke of brilliance I buy a ferry ticket forcing me to drive the single most thirsty vehicle I've ever owned (and I've had quite a few big v8s) through the county with the highest fuel prices in Europe to Iceland... Not sure how their fuel prices rank, but I think it's best I don't look. And now they're making a concerted effort to get everyone to use campsites where you have to pay, Blue Lagoon has become an expensive spa (instead of just a place to soak in geothermal waste water etc etc.). Anyhow, I just hope I get there, if I make the ferries and arrive I'll be happy whatever the costs!

I've managed to get a ton of maps downloaded on phones and tablets, and I'll bring some paper versions. Best map I found this time was a 2017 map made for bicycle tourists - it mentions ford depths, and has decent distance information together with camp sites etc. I'll look out for anything better when we're off the ferry in Seydisfjordur and finding the hot spring map would be a very big bonus - thanks for that tip!

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 Post subject: Re: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:31 am 
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Hot springs guide is a book, I think by a local. It has been on Amazon but only one copy sometimes.
We extended our return ferry while there to the last vehicle ferry listed of the year. That meant only two campsites were in theory open but the one we tried wasn't anyway. Not only was water turned off at all of them we tried but the waste pipes were removed too, but therefore free anyhow! Washing machines would as likely be in a sports centre perhaps so as available without campsites.
I didn't realise prices had gone back up so much! :(
Of course there are lot of hot springs out in the middle of no where, one called Viti I think (there are a few Vitis?) is at the bottom of a small crater. Book photo shows about a hundred people in it, which is a long drive inland, then a fair scramble down the slippery muddy crater slope to the waters edge which I did, but then bottled out because just what exactly would I be standing on and how hot was that?! Or at roughly 1 or 2 o'clock on Vatnajokll (Kverkfjoll?) where a hot spring meets the cold melt water coming out from under the ice sheet, so you could sit in the ice tunnel in the stream where hot blends with cold and pick the temperature which suits while hoping the roof stays put :) But what is directly under the surface, especially with a heavy vehicle, doesn't really want thinking about, or the fact that there are three active volcanoes there which if one goes would remove the whole island. Mad.
Have fun and report on return please :)


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 Post subject: Re: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:07 pm 
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I went with three others in 2004, (a convoy of 3 101s) and I'm really glad I did. When we went, we could catch the ferry at Lerwick on the Shetland Isles. Sadly, that stopping point was removed soon after.

When we were there, locals were saying that Hekla was some decades overdue for her eruption, and going from historical precedent, the longer between eruptions, the worse they were. They are still waiting!

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 Post subject: Re: Iceland 2019
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:58 pm 
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Long overdue update on Iceland - figured no one was going anywhere anyhow :roll:

First, only way of getting there, as far as I could tell, was to take a ferry from Hirtshals via Torshavn, Faroes, to Seydisfjordur, Iceland. Hirtshals is located on some sand in NW Denmark, there are some ferries from Scandinavia to NW Denmark but for the rest of the world it's not much of a hub, but, Denmark is a small country, so driving to/from Germany is four hours (call it 6 in a 101, or call it a day and visit some nice cities). On the way back we went towards Copenhagen (camped in Roskilde for some days) and hopped on a nice ferry for much of the way. In Hirtshals and surrounding areas there's plenty of camping and accommodation, nice beaches, nice towns etc.

The ferry to Iceland is operated by Smyril Line - it's expensive and the beer is terrible (from what I could tell Faroe beer comes with "tasty" preservatives... I'm sure there is some absurd back-story to this. Anyhow, the ferry goes to/from Iceland via the Faroes (didn't stop off as I was seriously worried about the beer).

Arriving in Seydisfjordur my wife and I immediately enjoyed the nice clean air and we imagined that the surrounding scenery, hidden by the fog and low cloud cover probably was stunning - in fact, it is a beautiful location as my daughter and I were lucky enough to see on our return journey. There weren't any memorable border formalities, apart from paying to have the fishing equipment disinfected which I imagine was relatively expensive, but I chose not to focus on the cost of this or anything else in Iceland - I was there back in the 90s and went around in a hired 4x4 (Suzuki) and already knew that Icelanders fully understood that money has no inherent/intrinsic value, something I learned too when I paid about GBP120 for pizza for three people.

After getting off the ferry we left Seydisfjordur and headed inland up into the mist. Soon we were climbing a steep track, crossing a few small streams and once beyond the coastal mountains we were up on the central lava plain. Luckily there was pretty good visibility and we spent out first few days exploring the central plain, going for some walks up to some glaciers and mountains. Any map of central Iceland will show lots of sights worth seeing but it's good to check that routes don't become dead ends, unless you've got the time for it. It's normal for some routes to be closed because they're deemed to have become damaged or they're too wet to drive. There are always water crossings and most are pretty minor, but there are some deep crossings which a normal 101 should not attempt - what I found is that if you look at a map and see unpaved roads and "4x4 only" tracks then they're all fine to drive... it's when you start looking harder and accessing specialist maps that you can find tracks which are either unpassable or not a lot of fun to drive due to being very demanding.

Driving with the wife we were in a bit of a rush as she needed to get back to work, so we pretty much crossed the interior, visited Landmannalaugur and went to Reykjavik - this meant seeing and experiencing volcanos, lava fields, hot springs, geysers, water falls, rivers and in general the "other-worldly" landscape of Iceland all in about a week. Travelling to/from Iceland by air is, or at least used to be, easy and fairly cheap.

After the Reykjavik airport drop-off, I went fishing for a week. I had bought a national fishing card/license and looked for the most inaccessible lakes and spent about a week "wild" camping (with permission from landowners) at two lakes and visited another for a day. Iceland is a fishing destination - coming from Norway the big difference seems to be the trout fishing - only caught one small arctic char (released) and I basically ended up eating trout three meals a day for a week to make sure nothing went to waste. I caught everything on sinking flies/nymphs. My largest trout was about 4kg/8lbs+, which is a good size fish and I was able to release it, most "late evening" fish were around 2kg/4lbs+. The downside to fishing in Iceland is that if you fish late evening between the hours of nine and eleven at night, you'll catch all the fish you can handle, but fishing during the rest of the day yields fewer and smaller fish. I spent the days reading, walking, sleeping, relaxing and preparing and eating trout! Another thing worth mentioning about fishing is that most fishing is private and even if you have the fishing card you're supposed to check in with the land owners - instead of being a hassle, this ended up being a bit of a treat as it's a chance to actually meet local people.

At one lake I also ended up towing a local fishing card holder out as he'd gotten stuck. Later on, heading back to the Reykjavik airport the major ring road, I managed to cram a couple of cyclists and their bikes into the back for a to drive through a tunnel, barred to cyclists/pedestrians, which went beneath a fjord. It always feels nice to be of assistance in that "101 way".

After the week of wild camping I visited a normal campsite that had laundry facilities and did a few weeks of washing in preparation for picking up people at the airport. I also did a bit of maintenance: unclogged an axle breather, changed some inner tubes, checked/replaced some fluids. The inner tube debacle was the only "serious" issue I had to confront on the whole two month trip and was totally due to the fact that the wheels were old and rusty and rust flakes were abrading the inner tubes causing slow leaks (ok, "bad maintenance").

At the airport I picked up my daughter and three other families from the UK/South Africa/USA, and one seven seater 4x4 rental car - now we were 13 people in two cars; by the time the 101 was loaded with six people and pretty much all the luggage/supplies it was the first time in my ownership it achieved a "proper" gross weight. Now that we were a large group: we camped at proper campgrounds, didn't eat trout three times a day, saw all the "sights" (we even took the 101 on a glacier, the rental had to be left a couple of hours walk away due to ground clearance issues). In short, it was a success, no one complained (a miracle), and the kids all wanted to drive in the back of the 101. We were very lucky with the weather, it didn't rain (much), which meant camping was nicer and the rental could make the various river crossings, though some people found the nights a bit cold.

After a couple of weeks I dropped some people off at Reykjavik airport and we left the rental behind for a tour of some of the "lesser" sights (Snaefell peninsula, "church" mountain, Vik and black beaches and the iceberg lagoon) - a week later my daughter and I made the return journey to Norway via the viking ship museum of Roskilde and the amusements of Copenhagen, and my journey to the south was over after about two months on the road (I started north of the Arctic Circle).

Facilities in Iceland were ok. Camp sites were ok - the "camping card" was, as the poster above said, a waste of effort/money. Super markets are well stocked and, compared to Norway, not expensive, compared to England, more expensive, compared to France, a total ripoff... Eating out was hilariously expensive, I think even young kids were able to learn that the value of money is only a figment of someone's deranged imagination (a valuable lesson).

So, Iceland is beautiful and impressive and, sadly, for most somewhat inaccessible.

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