We had already heard from other riders that all the central roads on the island were still closed due to snow and lack of melting after a very cold spring. It looks like the dream to ride the “central cross roads” of Iceland will not be possible.
Getting back to the car deck we found that they had loaded the vehicles from the Feroes like a complex jigsaw puzzle. There were bikes, cars, and motor homes parked in all directions. Some were so close that the people could not get into them until the other cars had unloaded.
We unloaded from the ship to find ourselves in a cathedral valley around the port of Seydisfjordur dripping with waterfalls.
Rising up out of the valley on the switchback road we then crossed the snow-covered plains. We saw several guys unloading snowmobiles! We later heard that when people arrived the week before us the road was snow covered.
We were of course pretty happy to see the view from the top of the pass of the green valley below in Egilsstadir. At the viewpoint we saw our first “what were they thinking” incident. A rented camper had been driven off the highway onto the gravel side road, but on backing out they had run it off the road into the steep deep verge and were being winched out by several guys in 4×4 s.
Here we stopped for some Icelandic Kronor at the ATM. You hardly need cash here as they accept Visa almost everywhere. Even the campground attendants walk around with a visa machine. The other thing you need to work out right away is how the gas pump system works. We had been told “ you have to guess the exact amount you need and prepay at the pump on your Visa”. This is of course not true, but I met several riders who still thought this after 2 weeks on the island. You preauthorize up to the amount selected and then of course are only charged for the volume you use. There are detailed instructions in English at the station where there ferry docks, but of course no one fills up there since they left Denmark with a full tank. We did not see the sign until the last day when we gassed up to go to the Faroes. This was not necessary since the gas on the Faroes is actually cheaper because of subsidies.
We have 2 days to meet our friends at the Reykjavik airport 720 km away via the south shore route, “turning left”, or “going clockwise”.
We did turn left at Egilsstadir on the highway 1 or the ring road, which is paved for about 20 km and then turns to a firm dirt road. We took the cut off on the 939 to meet the pavement where it meets the #1 again.
Going over this pass there are incredible views of the snow covered peaks and hundreds of waterfalls. There are several large ones along the way. Here we saw the “what were they thinking” incident number 2 for the day. We were taking some photos at the falls and this guy was attempting to back his car out and onto the road when he went off the road, into the ditch and hooked himself on a rock. He dug the rock out and we along with 3 German riders who had stopped pushed the car back up onto the road.
You meet the highway 1 again and the pavement, but there are a few short unpaved sections on the way to Hofn.
We experienced our first Icelandic tunnel. They are located all over the island and are 2-7 km long. What is amazing especially in the northwest is that they spend tens of millions on burrowing thru the mountain for the small village on the other side.
The only reindeer we saw the whole time were just off the highway, but the terrains was deep wet moss and so we could not get close to the herd.
Here we took a detour into the town of Hofn. From the far end of the town after going past the pier you can look back to the view of all the glaciers extending down from the mountainside above the ring road.
Just past Hofn is Jokulsarion lake where the Breidamerkurjokull glacier has retreated and now calves into the glacial lake. This fills the lake with ice burgs. They then flow out under the bridge via a river and into the ocean.
The black sand beach there is completely littered with ice cubes!
From here we continued along the National Park to the campground at Skaftafell, which is situated right at the base of the glacier. The camping here in Iceland is very organized and reasonably priced unlike hotels and guesthouses. The procedure is to find a spot and set up your tent. Eventually someone wanders by with a visa machine to take payment and hand you a sticker to put on your tent’s guy line. It varies whether showers are included or you need to but an activation card. Most are included especially in the north and in most there also was washing machines. All had hot showers and wifi.