After the volcano Eyafjallajökull´s eruption caused ash clouds and chaos a few years ago a lot of people became curious about the island in the north. Iceland is now experiencing a huge increase in tourism.
Buses are carrying increasing numbers of visitors to Geysir, the beautiful waterfalls and the Blue Lagoon, while others put their boots on bound for Landmannalaugar.
No wonder. WOW – what a country! So wild, so beautiful, so … something else. Since we had two weeks at our disposal, it felt natural to make a road trip out of our stay in Iceland. After all, we wanted to experience as much of this island as possible.
Ring Road N1 is the one that takes you all around the island. Through massive lava fields, wide river valleys, past glaciers and over mountains where waterfalls flow down between narrow creeks and gorges.
Initially we wanted to ship our Land Rover to Iceland, but it was very expensive and time consuming. It would also mean three extra days travel each way for our British friends, as the only boat to Iceland leaves from Hirtshals in Denmark.
Instead we decided to rent vehicles on the island. We began by looking at camper vans, one each, but it was expensive. After some back and forth we ended up with this solution: A motor home where all four of us could stay and a 4×4 that could take us onto the smaller dirt roads.
‘You are the first I know of to do this’ the guy at McRent said when we picked up the motor home.
Yes, you can certainly go for a regular car too and stay in guesthouses and hotels for accommodation. There are many choices. For us it was important to have the opportunity and the freedom to travel wherever we wanted, when we wanted.
With the motor home we had our accommodation with us all the time. We also had the opportunity to cook our own food and so save some money. As the camper is not suitable to drive on roads that are unpaved, we could have missed out on many attractions had this been our only vehicle. Unless you join a guided tour and thus get transportation to places like the Askja crater, you will be unable to experience many places.
The camper also had a higher risk of being stuck due to weather conditions. In strong winds, the motor homes were ordered to remain parked up until the wind had calmed down. It could mean a day or more … Something we experienced on one occasion. You become very familiar with the site www.vedur.is when driving in Iceland.
There’s a lot of weather in Iceland and it can change quickly.
Off-road driving is not allowed in Iceland. One must follow the gravel roads, but occasionally they are ‘off road’ enough 🙂
It is not only the dirt roads you have to deal with, if you are venturing away from the Ring Road. Iceland has a lot of water flowing from the glaciers and down the rivers that work their way out to sea. If you drive to the Askja crater, up to Vatnajökull or to Landmannalaugar, you will most certainly have to ford a river. Depending on weather and time of year, be aware of the vehicle you are driving and whether it is possible to cross. Rental cars are not insured for water damages. You must therefore check the water level in the fords.
Our Dacia Duster did the job well and took us where we wanted to go. It was economical on fuel and the car rental company was easy to deal with. They are familiar with their vehicles being used on unpaved roads and make allowances for this. Sand and gravel insurance is highly recommended and is relatively low cost at approximately €5 per day. A new windscreen is very expensive in Iceland and a real possibility of breakage exists, due to the loose surface on many of the roads. We rented from www.gocarrental.is (don’t confuse them with other companies of a similar name) and were very pleased with their service.
No matter what you choose for yourself when planning a trip to Iceland: it is an amazing country and you will not be disappointed. We have more articles on Iceland to come here on Soletraveller. Stay tuned 🙂