Why Iceland?

This is the nearest absolutely wild corner of Europe, full of geothermic activity and purest air!

This is a plan for someone who visit Iceland and do not have lot of time...

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Day 1

From Paris to Akureyri

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Ok, we've got our BOB trailer (which we bought just yesterday afternoon!) and we packed it full: a tent, 2 sleeping mattresses, 2 sleeping bags in compressing bags, my clothes, Justine's clothes. The rest goes into Justine's bike bags: lyophilized food for the inland, the petrol stove and, a bottle of rum! The bike bags will be attached to the rack. Not enough time to catch a bus so we take a taxi to the airport, no luck there's no monospace car but luckily we get everything into a Mercedes, the bikes and the bags in the bike bags go into the trunk, Bob goes on the rear seat!
The flight is with Icelandair discounted tickets. Each bike bag weights more than 20 kg but we do not pay for overweight. As we approach the island the sky gets clearer and we can see the glacier!!! Well, next time we'll take the places on the right.... We are waiting quite long for our bikes but they arrive at last and we catch a flybus to Reykjavik. It arrives at a hotel but we need to get to the BSI bus terminal, so we quickly take a taxi (600IKR) and we are in a bus going to Akureyri just 5min before the departure (17:30)! We're in Akureyri at 23:20 and the driver is very kind leaving us at the camping site - well it's not far from the bus stop (before the Tourist Information Office) - but it's 100m higher and our bikes are still in bags! The camping is big and there isn't a lot of tents or cars: the 20th of June is just a beginning of the season. That was a very long day.... [Now, we know that there's a bus from Reykjavik to Akureyri going through the inland desert, more tiresome journey but more interesting]

 

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Day 2

From Akureyri to Asbyrgi

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We cannot stay very long in the tent in the morning: it's too hot!!! I have to carry the bags from the camping to the Tourist Information. First we thought about staying in Akureyri (LP says it's one of nicest Iceland cities but really it isn't). Before leaving we have time to buy a fuel to our stove on a petrol station and visit the "old" city, just in front of the Tourist Information. The bus at 10:30 gets us to Husavik at 11:40 through quite nice highland valleys. Here we assembly the bikes. The weather is beautiful: no wind, no cloud!
The road (85) along the west coast is not so interesting but the east cliff is very nice and we find some puffins but too far to make good photos.
As we approach the Asbyrgi camping we notice impressive fissures in the ground, and the camping is in a canyon, between two of them.
This camping is the best we will see in Iceland: 500IKR per person, free dryer, 100IKR for a hot shower, bread, milk and cookies to buy, lovely setting, nice warden, silence, what do you need more? We are the first Polish people this year.
That's the 21st Jun so it's a longest day here (my GPS says the same: no sunset no sunrise! We're 30 km from the Arctic Circle. In Reykjavik we heard that people roll naked on the grass but here it cannot be quieter.... I made some photos of the midnight sun.

 

 

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Day 3

Biking in J÷kulsargljufur National Park

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Weather is still excellent. At 9:00 we leave everything on the campsite and choose the easiest path that goes along the canyon through which flows Jokulsa a Fj÷llum, the Iceland's second longest river. The canyon was formed by jokulhlaups - floods caused by volcano explosions under the glacier. The path which is a horse riding path starts at the As farm, then we find the actual hiking path. The biking is more difficult as the path is narrower and quite deep. Sometimes we must carry our bikes. We do not meet anybody until we arrive to the Vestaldalur camping, which in fact isn't worth visiting: no water, no food. On some energy bars we continue to Vigaberg parking where we climb out of the canyon and join an F road back to Asbyrgi. This rough road (F862) goes up to around 350m and then flies down and down to a crossroad where the Asbyrgi direction is indicated. We're back at 23:00; this was a very tiring journey.

 

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Day 4

F862 once again

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Weather is still excellent! Today we leave the campsite with Bob and other luggage. We move very slowly because the road climbs steadily to the highest point and then goes through a hilly landscape all the time. We leave our luggage at a crossroad with a road going to the Dettifoss waterfall ("the greatest volume of any waterfall in Europe"). The view is nice with a low-lying sun and double rainbow above the canyon.
From this point the road is getting worse for cars (it is prohibited to not 4WD) but better for bikes, there is no more "wash-board" like surface! We are riding through a Martian or moonlike landscape until it gets too cold - it is about midnight that we set a camp. We have just enough water to cook Chinese noodles....

 

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Day 5

F862 once again (2nd day) and Myvatn

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Weather is still excellent!! In fact we are about 8km to the Ring road, but the road goes down. Already on the Ring road, we can see a steaming field from a distance. An industry building, we say, but as we approach we see tourists and it turns out to be a geothermic field with extraordinary mud bubbles and steaming vents! It is called Hverar÷nd. Then we climb and descend a 10% hill on the way to Myvatn. The road passes by the geothermal diatomite plant with a beautiful turquoise artificial lake.
We're on the camping at noon and there's a well-equipped shop ("supermarket") where we buy fresh things. We camp (500IKR), eat, and take a shower (100IKR). At the reception we learn that the Askja road is still closed.... The camping has a tent with cooking facilities (the only camping like this we've seen in Iceland), even a big pot ideal for making spaghettis. But after a long time of synthetic meals we prefer 10 scrambled eggs on bacon.
We spend the afternoon visiting the Myvatn lake surroundings: first we went on bikes to Grjotagja fissure where we hope to take a hot bath but water is too hot, 60░C. Then we continue on a road and then we must walk with our bikes through 2km lava rubble along a fence. We flat our tires to climb Hverfell crater (the surface is volcanic sand) but it is too steep, but once on the edge the path is rideable so we make a round trip (the crater is 1040m diameter). I downhill from the crater but Justine dare not.
This evening it'll be a killing 250g of spaghetti per person (with tomato sauce and Gouda cheese).

 

 

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Day 6

Krafla and Dimmuborgir

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Weather is, well, a little windier and some clouds appear. Here again a 10% hill and we decide to take a "short cut", which goes along Dalfjall ridge. The path is partly rideable but it's a very difficult up'n'down and we have to carry bikes 30% of time. As we reach a lava field completely covered with snow we decide to join the road.
The view from the road is rather industrial: a geothermal power plant that takes the entire valley. We continue along the pipes and climb to the parking lot where we take a tourist path,
Like all tourists we visit a fresh lava field with geothermal "features" like boiling water lakes and lot of steam. The lava is very impressive. Then we continue along the main road to the Viki Crater Lake, which has very nice colors.
The road back to Myvatn is much easier but monotonous except the 10% hill....
After a meal we take a road round the lake to the lava field called Dimmuborgir. When we arrive there at 9PM, we leave bikes at the entrance and visit for about an hour. There is nobody except us (we read in the guide that average 1000 people per day visit this spot...). The features are enormous; there are some caves and the field looks very nice in "sunset" light.

 

 

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Day 7

All day bus ride to H÷fn

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We've found the Myvatn Lake itself less interesting that it seemed to be after having read the guide. So 2 days were OK for us.
Just before taking a bus, we make a short ride to the bird reserve (I think the bird reserves in Poland are much nicer...).
The bus to Egilssta­ir (at 10:30) goes across a stone desert. I am skeptical about doing this part on bikes: there is nothing during something like 150km, except the road, bridges, electricity grid, and the landscape changes so slowly.
Just before Egilssta­ir there is a very nice canyon and lots of waterfalls on both sides of the road.
Our bikes arrive with no problem (they were attached at the back of the bus, on steel "corns"). We change money and eat launch (there is a really big supermarket just by the bus stop that is in front of the camping).
The next bus driver is faster (maybe retired Formula 1 driver?). The weather is getting worse and worse, it's normal - we are going to the south of Iceland! Just before H÷fn we stop on a saddle with fantastic view on "sundur" (sand fields by the sea).

 

 

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Day 8

H÷fn to Skaftafell (1)

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The camping in H÷fn is rather open to the wind but there is a nice view on the coast. The port is worth seeing but attacking birds can be annoying. We thought about making some bigger shopping in the supermarket but the shop is small and there is no real choice.
That's our first day on the south coast: we have light back wind and nice sun! The road is very... straight! The part just after H÷fn goes through bird reserves.
In the evening we stop by Jokulsarlon glacier, where one can see the glacier falling into pieces melting and floating to the sea. Here we leave our bikes and make a 3 hour walk to the glacier (but we do not reach it). An enormous sea hawk attacks us as we try to approach its nest - we are really impressed!
We continue on the Ring Road but tired we stop at 11PM and camp by the road.

 

 

Day 9

H÷fn to Skaftafell (2)

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We arrive to Skaftafell at noon. This is the first bed weather day in Iceland! Only rain and fog. We walk to the Svertifoss waterfall but there's nothing to see, everything is in fog. We go to a viewpoint called Sjonarnipa: no chance "here is the glacier!" but nothing to see. Going down by another path through dense "forest" we get our shoes completely wet. Goretex=f%$^@ $hit!

 

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Day 10

Skaftafell

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In the morning we go to Svinafell village to arrange hiking on glacier and maybe ice climbing... No chance the village is rather dead and the "information center" at camping is closed (the swimming pool is closed as well).
In the afternoon it gets nicer so we decide to hike around Skaftafellshei­i mountain. We make some nice shots of Svertifoss (really worth seeing) and go Svarthamragil, a small lake in front of glacier. Here we cross Morsardalur river and continue in beautiful valley of Kjos (we think it's one of the nicest spots in Iceland!). I am very unhappy because the sun is just in front of us so we cannot really appreciate the colors of rocks... Remember to go there as early as possible!!! It is very late when we decide to return, and we're running out of fuel (light sandwich lunch only...) so the way back we nearly run: the guide states 10-12h for a trip - we did it in 8h (with long photo sessions)!

 

 

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Day 11

Skaftafell (2)

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Today is a cool day (we are dead after yesterday marathon). And the weather seems unstable. We only go onto Skaftafellsj÷kull glacier, that's a short walk behind the Information Center but there are excellent spots for photography and, again, it stops raining and the sun is shining!
In the evening I am not tired enough so I take my MTB and make an excellent ride to Svertifoss and than to Sjonarnipa. This time the view from the point is excellent; you can see the glacier cut into a mosaic by fissures.

 

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Day 12

Landmannalaugar

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We wake up very early because the bus to Landmannalaugar leaves at 8:00. The worst news is that it rains, so the tent will be moist... In fact our tent, our bikes (packed in bags) and the Bob go to Reykjavik. We called the bus terminal luggage storage in Reykjavik and they said it was no problem (but we'll have to pay 250IKR/day for all pieces of luggage.
The road to Landmannalaugar is very hilly. Sometimes we do not see the road on "blind summits"! The bus stops at Elgja valley but we only see some sheep and that's all. Then the road goes very often across rivers (it might be up to 40cm in deepest places).
At noon we arrive at the camping-hut. The atmosphere in the hut is not very "mountain hut"; there are a lot of people. As usual we meet the same German couple (remainder: we've already met them in the first bus...): I suggest a photo together :-)
It's still raining, however we make a short walk to Ljotipollur Crater Lake. The track is very bad marked so it is better to follow the road. With a national park map and my GPS we find the lake, which has nice red slopes. By good weather this track is feasible on MTB.
In the evening we relax in the hot (rather: warm) stream just by the hut.

 

 

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Day 13

Landmannalaugar to ■orsm÷rk Trek (1)

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We wake up early. But the kitchen is open from 7AM (that's a strange thing in a mountain hut). Well, they (the Germans!) are faster than we and we start 0.5h later. The nicest views on rhyolite hills are just after the lava field: the mountains on the horizon seem to be Hollywood film decorations - they are so close and so incredibly colorful! As we reach the saddle the snowfield begins. We will walk on the snow nearly all the time from Hrafntinnusker Hut (which is empty when we prepare our lunch) to Alftavatn hut. Here we get a little lost (I want to go on to Hvanngil Hut but in the guide it is stated that it is an old hut) and, after crossing the same stream twice we decide to go back to Alftavant. This is a quite old hut, with dark inside. It rains.

 

 

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Day 14

Landmannalaugar to ■orsm÷rk Trek (2)

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The weather is not so bad. We leave just after the Germans and catch them later. We cross many streams, some very cold, some knee deep. One hour later we arrive to Hvanngil Hut, which is one the newest huts on the trek. On this part of the track we walk on a black stone desert almost all of the time, which is really knee killing. The Emstrur Hut is very nice. We stop here for night. We still have time to go to Markarfljot canyon. Just take a compass and follow the South-West direction in a straight line (there is no path). You will arrive on the canyon edge with a beautiful view on multi-color walls (nicer than J÷kulsargljufur!). Then you can climb following a path, up to the highest point. I shoot one film here.

 

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Day 15

Landmannalaugar to ■orsm÷rk Trek (3)

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This is the least interesting part of the trek, just going through fields of sand. There is another point of view on the canyon, and a crossing of a stream that flows into the canyon (a small bridge). There is another bridge just by a big waterfall and small footbridge on a stream dropping into one and a half m large fissure (I would say it is possible to jump over blowing water!). Just before ■orsm÷rk there is a quite large stream to be crossed and you step into a green forest. We choose the Husadalur hut where the bus stops.
Here we can buy some sweet wafers with lots of jam and a glacier of whipped cream :-) (we are running low on calories because we have lost our Snickers and chocolate bag the very first day of the track...)
First we think about taking the 15:30 bus to Reykjavik but after a short reflection and careful reading of the guide we find a better solution: we are 4 so we can charter a small airplane to Heimaey Island (Vestmannaejar)!!! The warden calls the company and it is ok, they will fetch us from a near airstrip tommorow at 9AM! Moreover it is cheaper than going to ■orlaksh÷fn and taking a ferry (300IKR/person)! Excited with this arrangement we visit the Ůorsm÷rk area. It is not as nice as we thought it would be but there are good views on sand fields and a glacier (from a Valahnukur hill with view disk).

 

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Day 16

Going to Heimaey!

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We are waiting from 8:45 on the strip. That's in the middle of nowhere, the wind is blowing, and we keep waiting. The plane is not coming. Justina and I, we run to the Hut - the warden calls the company (Flugfelag Vestmannaeja) - they cannot take off because of fog. We wait in the hut for a bus... we call again the airline: they will try to come at 15:30. Rather pessimist we go to the same place and we wait. That's a time race between a bus and a plane :-) And, the plane comes first (but it wasn't obvious!!!).
The flight is short (abouth 20min) but views are fabulous, even with rather bad weather.
The airport is in the middle of the island. From there we go by foot to the village, which is in our view the nicest one in Iceland. Here we separate: the Germans go to the camping, we go looking for a sleeping bag accommodation. First we enter the "hostel", a quite sad place... Than we try Skolavegur 15 and we are the last who stay because every bed is booked for a fashion show this weekend. We do some shopping in a "big" supermarket and we have to buy one more film (one Velvia costs 1060IKR...).
The weather gets much better. We climb very steep Storaklif where is the radio tower... and some puffins! We have the best (and the last...) view on the village.

 

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Day 17

Heimaey

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This day we wanted to visit the coast. Well, we have no luck: there is lots of fog and it rains. Still we decide to make a walk round the island. On the west coast we approach some puffins. However, even with a zoom they are too far for good photos. And the light is rather low. There are more puffins on the east coast but they are more afraid (it is understandable: we found puffin carcasses in the supermarket :-)
In the afternoon we have just one hour and a half to see the Eldfell crater. We don't see a lot of it. Well, we walk in a cloud... In many places the rock is very hot and incredibly colorful.
We thought we'd almost miss the ferry (at 16:30) but the ferry is full of people coming to the show (I think there is rarely so many people on the island!).
We are at 20:00 in Reykjavik. First we check if our bikes and bob are in the luggage storage - it is no surprise they are there - we are in Iceland, aren't we? We just take the bob bag (with the tent) and go with another Germans (that we have met before) to a camping field.
The camping field is far from the city center and to get there from BSI terminal you must walk to the bus stop (bus number 5), which was hard to find.

 

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Day 18

Geysir & Reykjavik & Paris

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In the morning we decide to visit Geysir. We have just one day left so we must go like other tourist, on a bus trip (the bus leaves from the terminal at 8:30). There is a free transfer bus from the campsite to the bus terminal but it doesn't come... we take a bus 5 and we are at the terminal just before the bus leaves.
We visit first the Gulfoss waterfall, which is rather impressive. Then the bus stops for 2 hours at the Haukadalur geothermic site where the Strokkur geyser spouts rather irregularly, sometimes low sometimes very high. I think it is much better to see it when it is windy (and the sun is shining...) because there would be lesser vapor that hides the explosion.
We are back at 16:30; we pick up the bikes (and we don't have to pay!), assembly them and go to the camping on dinner. It rains but we are determined to see Reykjavik.
We begin our visit from the port, and we cannot really find any nice places... In the port we see some clear sky on the horizon and in 1h we have a beautiful blue sky! We climb to Ískjuhli­, that is a group of water tanks, a piece of nice modern architecture. There is a nice view on Reykjavik too (maybe no as nice as from the Hallgrimskirkja church but it is closed at 23:00 anyway). From there we go once again to the downtown. It is about midnight but there is still lots of traffic in the center, even a traffic jam!!!
As we arrive to the campsite it is 1:00 and really cold. We have to pack up the bikes in the bags, and we go sleep for 2 hours: a flybus will fetch us at 5:30 from the camping (that's nice!). We check-in at 7:00. It is finished but we still have get home: we find an excellent way to go to Paris - Air France bus - no need to descend to the RER station, change trains with luggage etc. In 1.5h we are at Gare Montparnasse and from there a direct train home.

 

Statistics:

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Average temp:

day

15░C

night

  7░C

 

Useful www links (in English): Road conditions, Bus scheadule