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Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

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Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

My boyfriend and I are traveling to Iceland in June (2014) and have been guided by a number of agencies NOT to go to the West Fjords. However, we love hiking and the area seems far too good to pass up. We went ahead and made hotel reservations along our way because we were told that lodging is difficult to find if you do not, but now we are concerned that we may be trying to jam too much into our 12 days. Again, our focus is to see the beauty and do 2-4 hour hikes as often as there is gorgeous scenery to hike in.

Any advice

(a) on hikes along this itinerary

(b) on if this is overambitious and will leave us with little time for anything but driving?

Day 1: Arrive 6:15 am, At Reykjavík, rent car, drive to Hellnar (Snæfellsnes) (hoping to stop and hike along the way on the peninsula).

Stay at Hellnar Hotel

Day 2: Drive around peninsula and up to ferry. Take ferry (if we can figure out how to get a reservation) into West Fjords and see the Latrabjarg Cliffs. Hike around the cliffs for a few hours

Stay at Radagerdi Hostel in Patreksfjördur,

Day 3: Drive to Dynjandi waterfalls. and fjords (Flateyri, Sudureyi, Bolungarvik),

Stay at Gamla Guesthouse in Isafjordur

Day 4: Drive to Hotel Laugarhall in Bjarnarfjordur, 510 Holmavik, enjoying the fjords along the way. Hike path to waterfalls begins at the hotel. Stop along the way to see Museum of Witchcraft in Holmavik

Day 5: Long drive day to Akureyi. Hoping to find somewhere along the way to stretch our legs and admire beauty. Enjoy one of Icelands largest cities upon arrival.

Stay at Saeluhus Apartments & Houses

Day 6: See Godafoss, Hverfell crater, Dettifoss waterfall, Asyrgi Canyon

Stay at Vogafjós Guesthouse Mývatn

Day 7: We aren't really sure there is anything to see on the eastern coast if we've already been to the West Fjords. We are hoping to find something but it seems to be only fjords - possibly like the ones we saw (?) Option 2: Fly from Akureyri to Reykjavik to rent another car and visit the southern part of Iceland from there, skipping over the east.

If we go with option 1: Stay at Gistihús Olgu B&B, Egilsstadir

Staying with Option 1:

Day 8: Drive along east coast to Hofn

Stay at Árnanes Guesthouse in Hofn

Day 9: Visit the glacier lagoon in Jokulsarlon, Hike to Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park, see Laki Craters and hike Fjadrarglsufur gorge

Stay at Hotel Katla Hofdabrekka in Vik

Day 10: From Vik see Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss & Gljufurarfoss, Posmork, Landmannalaugar

Stay at Guesthouse Nonni in Hella

Day 11: Golden Circle: Geysir, Gulfoss, Pingvellis National Park

Stay at Hotel Björk Reykjavík

Day 12: Hafnarfjordur hike (4 hours), return to Reykjavik for 5 pm flight

Options we are considering:

1) Staying 2 nights (one additional night as compared to the itinerary above) on Snaefellsnes Peninsula - one in Hellnar, one in Stykkisholmur, to be able to hike more in that area and also get the early ferry and get to Latrabjarg Cliffs earlier

2) Staying an additional night In Isafjordur to be able to take a boat up to Hornstrandl and Hornbjarg

3) Dropping off the rental car in Akureyri, flying to Reykjavik, and renting another car there to drive to the south and the Golden Triangle. (We are seriously considering cutting out the east and the southeast, because it seems to have less variety)

Any advice with regard to this itinerary would be very appreciated, as well as any information about short (1-4 hour) hikes along the way.

ALSO - we've heard that we need to make ferry reservations if we are bringing a car, but the email we've found for the ferry bounces back. Does anyone know how to contact them and if reservations are absolutely necessary?

Thanks!

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1. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

This is a very ambitious plan, and some days are going to be veery loong. (day 2, 9, 10)

You need a 4X4 for the south in this plan, since it includes highland tracks, with river fordings.

And the most important of all, it has to be in second half of June, because many highland routes will not be open until then.

Have you booked accommodations ? If not, then I recommend you to get to it now, since many areas are totally booked up !

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2. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Hi Melinda, some parts of your itinerary is fine, others too ambitious. You are trying to cover a lot, and some parts are just way too optimistic. Since it is so detailed and long I can not really comment on everything you wrote, since that wil take too long, but I will try to cover some major points.

Day 9 and 10: It is just not possible to cover all this within two days, especially day 10 is totally impossible. What you want to do in these two days is more like 4-5 days in total.

Laki: Getting to and from Laki area is time-consuming and should only be attempted on your own if you have one of the biggest 4x4 cars. This detour is at least a half day project, maybe more, depending on how much hiking you want to do.

Landmannalaugar: A visit to Landmannalaugar is a full day minimum by itself, and maybe even more if you plan to do any hiking, and it is a long detour from your route. The best way to approach Landmannalaugar unless you drive a larger 4x4 is from west/north and that means you have to drive as far west as Hella and then it is several hours of driving, so this does not fit well with your route. You could do it as an extra day after overnight in Hella.

Thorsmork (not Porsmork): Same as Landmannalaugar, this is a full day or more. Getting into Thorsmork in your own car is not easy, and not really recommended unless you have the biggest 4x4, and even then you should no try to cross the biggest river there on your own. There is a special bus that goes there, but for a day tour it only leaves you with a short time for hiking before you have to return.

You do not say what car you are renting, but you should note that the places mentioned above are only for 4x4 cars and Thorsmork and Laki only for the biggest 4x4s.

If you are into hiking and nature, Landmannalaugar, Thorsmork and Laki are really spectacular places, but you will not have time for them unless you cut out several other days from your itinerary.

Skaftafell: The Skaftfell area really deserves more than just a passing through and the short hike to Svartifoss, I would have tried do spend more time here if hiking is important to you. I recommend you also try a short glacier walk with guide if you have the time.

Also: Depending on the date, some of these places (Landmannalaugar, Laki) may not be accessible until around the second part of June, the actual dates vary from one year to another.

As for the idea of dropping of the rental car in Akureyri and returning to Rekjavik by plane: In my personal opinion this is a waste of time and resources and will not really save you much time all in all. If you plan to go as far as Myvatn and Dettifoss you may just as well continue through the East Fjords to Höfn. If you really do not want to spend any time in the East Fjords then you can always drive from Myvatn to Höfn in one long day, and that would in my opinion leave you better positioned for the rest of your route than the option of returning to Reykjavik.

The East Fjords: I am sure you will find plenty of things to see and do in the East Fjords as well, and there are many hiking oportunities. The east Fjords are in some ways similar to the West Fjords but not quite the same. Lots of spectatular scenery and hiking oportunities. Check for example this: nat.is/gonguleidireng/gonguleidir_viknaslodi…

But again it would take several extra days, so you have to make a choice, you can not cover everything even in twice the amount of days you have.

Hiking: In general there are hiking possibilities all over Iceland, but you may not find it all documented online. A small overview is here: nat.is/gonguleidireng/gonguleidir_allt_landi…

but do note that this is only a small part of what is available and covers mostly the longer trails. There are probably thousands of local trails and a lot of them are either not documented, at least not online. In several areas local hiking maps exist, and you may find them locally. Look in local shops, gas stations and guesthouses and hotels, they sometimes have them. For example: I found a series of 4-5 hiking maps for the West Fjords region in local shops in the area.

Day 5: calling Akureyri a city is maybe a bit of a stretch, it is only around 17-18 thousand people :)

Day 12: "Hafnarfjordur hike" not sure what you plan here. Hafnarfjordur is a town outside Reykjavik (almost like a suburb to Reykjavik these days). But within the whole Reykjanes peninsula there should be a selection of short hikes available.

The ferry Baldur: The website says that you "must book in advance for cars", so I guess that would be the safe thing to do if you want to be sure to get a place on the ferry.

http://www.seatours.is/ferrybaldur

Day 1: For hiking, if you are up to it after the early arrival, one possibility is to hike the trail to the waterfall Glymur. It is a 2-3 hour hike and some extra driving, but it is a very nice alternative without too much detour.

There are more details I could have commented on but this is all I have time for now.

Edited: 23 April 2014, 10:20
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3. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Thank you so much for this information! It appears our itinerary needs to reworked (and our trip could have been disastrous - you've saved us!).

We do like to hike, but we will probably skip the locations that are very difficult to reach. Also, we are traveling in early June, so according to both of your feedback, some areas we may not be able to reach anyway.

Thank you so much also for the feedback on the domestic flight. It seemed like a good idea but we weren't sure.

I'm going to make some major adjustments and I'll repost if you wouldn't mind taking a second look then.

I can't thank you enough. If you do have any more suggestions, they will always be welcome. We usually just play our vacations by ear, but with what we've read about the difficulty finding lodging, we feel we really need to map out the itinerary in advance and stick to it!

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4. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Melinda-

Here is my itinerary for 8 days in June. Given you are willing to skip Laki and Landmannalaugar, you can insert 4 days in the Westfjords at the beginning of the trip, or, modify day 1 to see the Snaefellsnes peninsula, stay day 2 there, and then go to the Westfjords on day 3 and spend 3 days there. What do you think?

Day 1: pick up rental car from Blue Car Rental at KEF, drive around Hvalfjordur, hike to Glymur. If the weather looks like it will be windy and rainy, I may skip the hike (I did it last year and although spectacular, there's so much else to see!) and instead see the Hafnaberg and/or Krisuvik cliffs in the Reykjanes peninsula. Check into inn at Borgarnes. Take a long nap in the afternoon (I will be tired from the flight and lack of a night's sleep!) and then go out later to see Hraunfossar, which I missed last time.

Day 2: drive to Akureyri via the Trollaskagi peninsula. Perhaps see Hvitserkur along the way? Spend the latter part of the day walking around Akureyri. I'll stay at a farmstay about a 10-minute drive south of town.

Day 3: Destination today is Borgarfjordur Eystri / Bakkagerdi, with a stop to see Myvatn along the way. Once I get to Bakkagerdi, I'll head to Hafnarholmi to see the puffin colony, and if I have time, end the day with a short hike in the hills above town.

Day 4: Explore the Eastfjords. I plan to take a look at Seydisfjordur and then follow the coastal road to see the fjords to the south. I'll end the night at a guesthouse in the countryside west of Hofn. Before getting there, however, I want to hike around Stokksnes, which looks like a beautiful area to the east of Hofn.

Day 5: I would like to see Jokulsarlon in the morning and then spend the rest of the day hiking around Skaftafell national park. I may try to fit in a glacier walk/climb with a guide while at the park. In the evening, I'll drive to Vik to see Reynifjara and Dyrholaey, and will overnight near Vik.

Day 6: On this day, I would like to do a tour/organized hike to Thorsmork (the hike between Skogar and Thorsmork is often called the Fimmvorduhals hike, named after the mountain pass you have to traverse). This is pretty much a full-day affair! I'll plan to see Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss today. Will stay near Vik again.

Day 7: Wake up in the morning and drive to Hveragerdi, where I'll hike to the hot river in the geothermal valley of Reykjadalur, which is just north of town. I'll drive to Reykjavik in the mid-afternoon so that I can have the rest of the day to have a nice dinner, go in some of the shops, and perhaps see some live music later at night.

Day 8: I should be at the airport around 3:00 P.M., so I'll have the morning and early afternoon for a leisurely stroll around Reykjavik.

You should be able to do all of this in a regular, non-4WD car. I had a small car in the Westfjords and it was fine. Just remember that you cannot drive on F-roads or ford rivers in a non-4WD car.

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5. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Thanks. i am going to incorporate elements of your trip into mine. I appreciate you sharing your trip details!

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6. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Hi Melinda,

That is a super cool itinerary!! We were in Iceland last year in August. Weather in Iceland changes constantly. We had a similar plan of going to Hellnar and Westfjords, but when we landed in Iceland there was rain and storm predicted for Westfjords. So we ended up changing our entire itinerary and did Route 1 instead. So have some wiggle room in your plan, so that you can change / update plans based on weather. Have fun, I am sure you will love Iceland.

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7. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Thanks so much for your feedback Travelbug. I appreciate it. Unfortunately, my understanding from the "experts" is that traveling in August is nothing like traveling in June, in that you really can't "play it by ear" when it comes to accommodations. As a matter of fact, when we made the above changes to our itinerary, we found that we really had to search to find anywhere at all to stay around Lake Mytan and we could definitely no longer get our first choice in any location where we moved the date. It seems the lodging fills up pretty quickly and.. as we're finding, the last room in a hotel might go for double what the first room went for. There are also a cancellation fees at most places if you don't cancel at least 2 days before arrival. So, this is what has us so stressed out. It appears that whatever itinerary we map out - we'll have to stick with it- or risk full cancellation fees (of 100% of the rate) as well as being left with no place to sleep or being left with only very steeply priced accommodation if we do stray from our itinerary.

At this point we are wishing we had booked our flight for a less popular month. The weather might be worse, but at least we wouldn't be locked into a route - come rain or shine!

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8. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Yes Melinda, I think this is one of the traps that self organisers might be able to do better if they had talked to the local business, first, and then planned Then they may have known that a self organised plan might or might not work. Enjoy your trip whatever you will do.

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9. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

Aussiegrannie - I'm not sure what the intent of your message is? We did contact an agency but they also wanted us to buy into a fixed itinerary. Are you implying that they could have made weather related cancellations at no charge and gotten last minute rooms? Or are you implying that they would have warned me not to travel in June (because they were happy to send me a fixed itinerary for June).

I'm not sure I understand your message.

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10. Re: Ring Road and WestFjords too much in 12 days in June?

When you say highland locations, do you mean West Fjords or the interior? Thx.