South West Iceland Itinerary
In this South West Iceland Itinerary i will give you a brief run down of the places to visit if you only have a few days. I have spent quite a lot of time in Iceland training for Antarctic expeditions. However, most of the time has either been spent upon the glacier or else stuck in a room trying to develop specialist camera equipment that enabled us to send live footage back from Antarctica (that is another story though!!).
After my last training trip, I was determined to cram a bit of tourist time into the few days I had before flying to the next job. So this is by no means an exhaustive South West Iceland Itinerary, but if you only have a few days, it might just help you see some pretty spectacular sights!
Firstly I would say if you do want to get up on to the glacier, you can’t go wrong with getting in touch with Arctic Trucks. They are a company that adapts Toyota Hylux’ for polar travel. They use them in Iceland to be able to drive up on to the glacier and access the more remote and inaccessible areas of Iceland. They have a wealth of knowledge on Iceland, many of them working in the mountain rescue. Although more expensive than doing it yourself, you would undoubtedly see more of the island. It was with Arctic Trucks that I got to see Bardarbunga erupting, overlooking it from the glacier while all roads around the area had been closed.
After finishing training and coming down off the glacier, the touring could begin! The first thing to do was to find a vehicle that would allow us to travel on the interior gravel tracks known as the F roads in Iceland. You need a 4×4 to be able to drive them as they involve river crossings and sometimes very rough ground. The cheapest 4×4 we could find was a Suzuki Jimny. Though mocking the size of it compared their enormous trucks, the guys at arctic trucks assured us that it would get us around if we were careful.
After sorting out the car, we drove straight to the Frost and Fire Guest House about 40min from the airport. It was afternoon by the time we got there, so we dropped our kit off and walked up into the hills behind the town. You need to head up past the steaming geysers that are scalding hot, and higher up you reach a river that is the temperature of a hot bath. The perfect way to wash the drive and flight out of your system. When we were there, it was relatively empty and not many people around. I think it is mostly locals that know about it.
As it got dark, we walked back down to the guest house to have dinner. The guest house also has Jacuzzi’s that are fed by the hot springs, which are awesome to sit in and watch the Northern Lights flickering overhead. Although not quite the same as being up in the hills, after dinner we could not resist another dip with a whisky. I highly recommend spending a couple of nights at the guest house. The food is excellent and having a pre or post-dinner drink in their hot tubs looking out across the river is pretty special.
As we did not have long to explore, and most of our driving would be taking us East, after one night we moved to an Airbnb lodge we had rented further in that direction where we spent the next couple of nights.
On the first day, we left early to drive into Landmannlaugar, I can’t recommend this enough. However, if you do this, make sure you check that the roads are open and are safe to travel. After high rainfall, I think some of the fords might be difficult to cross in a smaller jeep. However, we managed fine in the Jimny and loved every second of it. The landscape is almost lunar, unlike anything I have seen before! We drove in and joined the F208, which took us back on to the ring road afterwards. It is a long day (especially if you are getting out at every turn with your camera!) but with a bit of planning can easily be done. This site is useful as a planning tool and tells you which roads are gravelled.
The final day of our itinerary we drove along the southern ring road as far as Jökulsárlón. Again, leave as much time as possible as it is a spectacular drive and is well worth taking your time. Vik is an excellent place to stop either on the way there or the way back if you want to pick up one of the famous Icelandic Jumpers at the Vik Wool factory just beside the road. And lastly, if you get the opportunity, Skógafoss Waterfall is worth visiting twice- once during the day and once at night.
So there you have it. My South West Iceland itinerary. As I said, it is a whistle-stop tour and if you have longer, stay longer and make the most of it. But if you only have 4 or 5 days and want to pack as much in as possible, then this might be a good starting point to plan from. I have deliberately left it vague as following these routes you will stumble along so many spectacular sights, and it is more fun to discover them for yourself! If you do want any details or tips leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.