Routes & Locales of ICELAND: A Detailed Itinerary

Tripoto
17th Jul 2016

A landscape of stark variations and unmatchable beauty, Iceland is best explored when you are on the roads. A self-driven road trip is the most preferred option to witness Iceland and this post is a detailed itinerary of our 8 day trip through the entire circumference of the tiny volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Photo of Routes & Locales of ICELAND: A Detailed Itinerary 1/1 by Sayantan Saha

Dates:

We visited Iceland from July 17th to July 24th 2016. We selected these dates because of the infamous Icelandic weather. During this time Iceland has sunlight for nearly 18-20 hours daily. Being very close to the Arctic Circle this island country experiences 6 months of day and 6 months of night and in July one would be able to drive around the country till late in the evening. We were a group of 2 guys & 4 girls but chose the option of camping for the night stay as Iceland as it is extremely safe and we had no issues whatsoever.

Day 1: 17th July 2016 Reykjavik

We landed at Keflavik International Airport at about 3:30 in the afternoon and as soon as we stepped out of the airport we could feel the chill in the air. Although it was summer the wind was strong making the temperature drop. We picked up our ride from the airport office of Bluecarrentals.is. We had pre booked the car (it is always advisable to pre book especially during the peak season). It was a deep black Mitsubishi Pajero and it was love at first sight. Driving the car felt as a dream. We then reached the main city of Reykjavik and picked up our camping gear from Iceland camping Rental Company which was also pre booked. We then drove around the city and camped at a camping spot in the city after dinner. Reykjavik was a beautiful city in itself with an amazing waterfront where people went cycling and running.

Photo of Reykjavík, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

This was the day when our Icelandic odyssey really began. After having a quick breakfast which we cooked at the campsite itself, we set out along the ring road south-east from the Icelandic capital. Mostly people take the north-western route but we took the opposite one (I don’t know why). Our first pit stop was at a pretty little town known as Selfoss. On the way we witnessed beautiful flowery fields under a perfectly clear blue sky. There were also huge volcanic rocks covered with moss. The first major attraction we reached was Geysir, a town after which the word “geyser” has been named as Geysir was the first known geyser to the Europeans. It consists of a number of natural hot springs and the one which erupts regularly is known as Strokkur. After our date with the hot springs it was time to experience two majestic waterfalls Gulfoss and Seljalandsfoss which are among the most popular attractions in Iceland. After this we reached Vik nearly at midnight and set up our camps under a beautiful small hillock. It was tough to set up camps as Vik was very cold and windy but the thrill to set up tents by ourselves is something else.

Photo of Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

We started our journey early next day and our first stop was one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss along the Skoga River in South Iceland is among the waterfalls with the maximum amount of water spray. The spray regularly produces single or double rainbow but we were unlucky as it was a cloudy morning. In spite of that the view was breathtaking. The next one our list was the DC 3 crash site on the Sólheimasandur beach made famous in India now by a Shahrukh Khan movie. There is no direct road to this crashsite and one would need to stop at a small gate at co-ordinates (63 27.546-19 21.887). If one is driving east then the small gate will come at the right side of the road. We parked our car near the gate and started our long walk towards the crashed plane. It was about 4kms that we had to walk to reach the site but the view was just amazing. A crashed white plane on a pitch black beach along the sea. Although the walk was tiring along the black beach, it was really worth it. After this we drove a long 140 kms through the mysterious and majestic Icelandic countryside. Eerie Volcanic rocks gave an otherworldly feeling and we also took a few detours along mountainous highland roads. These roads are unpaved gravel roads where it’s a must to have a 4X4 vehicle. The long drive led us to Skaftafell, a preservation area in South-East Iceland which is a part of the larger Vatnajokul National Park. We decided to pitch our tents in the beautiful campsite surrounded by huge glacial mountains on one side and beautiful mountain brooks and waterfalls on the other and this was one of the best sites where we camped in.

Photo of Skaftafell, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

The fourth day began with an attempt to reach Svartifoss. It was a long trek from our camping ground on a thin manmade path through dense shrubs and beautiful wild flowers. Although we could not finally reach Svartifoss due to lack of time the attempt was worth remembering. From here we moved to another famous natural marvel of Iceland, the glacial lagoon Jokursarlon in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. This lake had icebergs some of which are 1000 years old. A lot of aquatic and avian fauna was also visible including Arctic Terns and Seals. We had also planned for a tour on an amphibian boat along the lake but was there were paucity of tickets. The color of the icebergs were clear blue, it is here that I finally understood why the “white walkers” in Game of Thrones have blue eyes because earlier I always thought ice to be white. From Jokursarlon we had an epic drive for more than 400 kms right upto the shores of Lake Myvatn where we camped for the night. While on the way to Myvatn we stopped for diesel at Hofn. We reached Myvatn late at night at about 1:00 AM and set up our camps at the shore of the lake. It off course did not matter as there was still enough daylight to set up our tents and cook dinner.

Photo of Jökulsárlón, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

The beauty of our campsite on the shores of Lake Myvtn was so amazing that we had decided to keep our camp at the same place and keep it as a base to visit places nearby. We started with a medium distance drive to the whale watching capital of Iceland, Husavik. Husavik is a small fishing town along the North Atlantic coast. Although it was very cold, rainy and windy we decided to go for the whale watching trip and the whales sure did not disappoint. We spotted atleast 4 whales and a lot of other avian fauna like puffins. This was also the day we had our first taste of the local Icelandic cuisine and for a person like me who loves fish, it was a delight. From Husavik we made our way to another famous waterfall Detifoss and then we went to a place named Námaskarð which did not seem earth like. It was filled with hot mud pools, solfataras, fumaroles. The name of the area was Hverir Geothermal area. After such an interesting day we were back at our beautiful campsite. Here is where we met the old camp caretaker who took us to a different world thru his stories. He told us about the Huldufolk, the hidden people of Iceland. He told us about trolls, elves and fairies who supposedly come out in the month of August when the long night begins to set in. Stories like these sent a chill down my spine even though I am a staunch non believer in ghosts. That surely was a night to remember as after hearing these stories we walked to a beautiful small church by a graveyard at 3:30 AM.

Photo of Húsavík, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

We started for Krafla site of a major volcanic eruption known as the Krafla Fires of 1975-1984 next day. The various overlying lavafields give an interesting striped appearance to the area on a larger scale. Some areas of lavafields that are still steaming, and there are solfataras and various lava formations. After Krafla we started towards Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland. On the way we stopped at Skutustadagigar which had a beautiful bird trail and another waterfall known as Godafoss (The Fall of the Gods). Akureyri is a beautiful little town on the sea and the colorful houses were straight out of a fairytale. It also felt very good to experience city life after many days in the countryside. We were back on the road by evening and reached Hvammstangi village in the north-west part of the country, on Vatnsnes peninsula, situated on the Miðfjörður. We camped for the night there. We even had a small party with a few Icelandic folks that night.

Photo of Krafla, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

This day was ear marked for the Snefellesness Peninsula located in Western Iceland. To reach Snefellesness we had to take a detour off Ring road towards the West. We passed by a lot of beautiful fishing villages like Arnarstapi, Hellnar, Rif, Ólafsvík, Grundarfjörður. On this day we also stopped by Kirkjuvel, the famous conical mountain. We visited Djupalosandor to witness the remains of the Grimsby shipwreak. Snefellesness Peninsula is considered as a mini Iceland and it takes nearly the entire day to experience it. In the evening we started the journey which was the beginning of the end of our epic road trip. We drove straight to Keflavik airport via Reykjavik. One notable feature of this journey was the underwater tunnel to reach Reykjavik. We spent the night inside the car as one of our friends (The credit for all the images here is hers) had a flight early next morning.

Photo of Snaefellsnes, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

Day 8:24th July: Reykjavik:

The final day of our Iceland trip was spent in a bit of shopping, tasting Icelandic cuisine and exploring the city. We also visited Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland. We camped for the night at the same place where we camped on the first day and our journey had come to a full circle finally. Early next morning with heavy hearts we were back to the Keflavik International Airport for our flight back to India via Paris.

Photo of Reykjavík, Iceland by Sayantan Saha

This surely was an experience of a lifetime. I would surely come back to Iceland, this time during the long winter nights.

Some Points:

1. Car Rental: Blue Car Rental Iceland : http://www.bluecarrental.is/

2. Camping Equipment Rental: https://www.iceland-camping-equipment.com

3. Distance covered: About 2200 kilometers

4. Speed Limits: Normal Roads – 90 kmph, Gravel Roads – 80 kmph

5. NS stands for Night Stay

Best Time to Visit: May to July (Unless you want to see northern lights and trolls)

Note: We also missed the West Fjords due to lack of time, but it is a must visit

8 Comment(s)
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Are Camping sites bookings considered for Iceland VISA?
Mon 06 05 17, 02:03 · Reply · Report
Indian domestic driving license will work right? Any things that people need to take care about while renting car?
Sat 05 27 17, 09:17 · Reply (1) · Report
yeah it works...no issues
Thu 06 01 17, 11:21 · Report
Friends, i did a 2 week road trip, driving 4000 kms including East fjords. I am writing a book on this to be out on 15th Dec. if anyone needs details please email me on guptamit76@gmail.com
Mon 10 31 16, 09:14 · Reply · Report
Ok thanks a lot for all the information....can I get ur direct contact so that I can contact u if I need any other information as we r planning to visit iceland soon
Wed 08 31 16, 10:01 · Reply (1) · Report
www.facebook.com/sayantansaha010 Add me on fb...I ll share conatct details there
Fri 09 02 16, 06:59 · Report
Is there any danger from wild animals or so while residing in camps ???
Tue 08 30 16, 03:04 · Reply (1) · Report
No no.....the most dangerous wild animal in Iceland is the Arctic fox and that too stays only in west fjords
Tue 08 30 16, 09:43 · Report
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