Iceland Bike Trip – part 2
I left off on the last blog as we arrived in Vik, the southernmost city in Iceland, about half way through our journey. At this point the riding was feeling easier for me, but the wind that was blowing against us most days did not make the actual pedaling any easier.
On the day we left Vik we encountered such wind again and when we were looking for a sheltered place for the night found an old hut that was a couple kms off the main road. It had been built as a shelter for travellers but the main road had since moved so no one else stopped in while we were there. It was a great find and we were happy to be out of the wind and rain that night.
We biked through a large lava field on day 12 of our travels. The lava is all covered in a thick moss which made for a very comfy nap spot for me while Luke too pictures. The scenery changes very subtlety in Iceland, from a distance it all looks similar, but the change from Lupins to moss covered lava was pretty cool.
As we were making good time on the bikes we decided to do a little side trip up a 4WD track to see the Laki Crater. We stopped first in the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur to go in the hot pools and stock up on food. We anticipated it taking us 3 days to complete the loop. Sadly we only got 18km on the first day (we needed to do 36). The road was very bumpy with lots of steep hills and loose rocks, and proved to be a bit more than I could handle with the loaded bike. So we admitted defeat, mainly because we didn’t have enough food to last us if we kept up at the current rate. The day was not really a waste though, we stopped at a beautiful canyon and camped near another stunning waterfall, and as always the scenery was beautiful.
After stocking up again and soaking in the hot pools in Klaustur we carried on the ring road heading east. We stopped at an old farm, Nupsstaour, that used to be a tourist attraction but after the old farmer died in 2010 at the ago of 101 it has been closed. There were a few people who had walked up to the old farm house and buildings so we decided to have a look as well. It used to be considered the most remote farm in Iceland, and was cool to see the grass covered roofs and visit the little chapel.
Our next stop was Skaftafell National Park. We camped on the edge of the park our first night there overlooking one of the glaciers. It was easy, and allowed, to free camp as long as you were not within 5 km of an actual campground or in a National Park.
Skaftafel is one of the main tourist stops, so the trails and the campground were busy. But it was worth a stop. We hiked up to the waterfall and then Luke carried to hike high above the valley while I went back to rest my legs.
The next day we hiked out along the valley bottom to look for some natural thermal pools that we had read about. They were not marked on any of the park maps so we weren’t sure if they still existed or if the locals liked to keep it a secret. We did find them, 2 murky little pools, but they were hot and the view from was amazing.
On day 18 we biked 51km and got to Jokulsarlon, the Glacial Lagoon. Another popular stop on the tourist trail it is an absolutely beautiful spot. The lagoon flows into a river which meets the sea after about 500 meters. Big chunks of ice wash up onto the black sand giving it the name of Diamond Beach. We camped on the edge of the lake that night and Luke was rewarded with some great sunset shots.
After 2 more long days of biking we made it to Hofn, I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy to reach a destination! We still had 5 more days left of our trip but this was the point where we could get the bus back to Reykjavik. I can easily say that biking in Iceland was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I was proud of myself that I kept going for 20 days. And the funny thing is, that I think I would possibly do it again! Not in Iceland, but maybe somewhere the weather was a little more friendly. All up we biked around 800 km in 60 hours over 20 days.
Back in Reykjavik we rented a car for our last 4 days and travelled around the Snaefellsjokull peninsula. We hiked up an old volcano, spent a day walking along coastal trails, and admired more stunning scenery. Perhaps worth a mention is that we saw the tallest structure in Europe, a gigantic radio tower (maybe not that interesting!).
Overall we loved Iceland. It can be expensive, but if you cook your own meals and stay at campsites (or fee camp) the cost is not that bad. I would recommend travelling there, and cycling if you are looking for an extreme challenge!
We’ve made a video of our travels, it’s a little long but a good watch , you can find it from the link at the top of the blog or click HERE. (The video doesn’t seen to play on all tablets for some reason, but works fine on computers.)