Eight days of moderate cycling on paved and smooth gravel/lava roads, with options to hike, ride horses, explore Þórsmörk by 4WD, or take a short flight to the Westmann Islands. In June and July the sun never sets, and hotpot soaks are nightly rituals.
Iceland is awe-inspiring. The landscape, so newly formed, refreshingly pristine, and geologically active, defies portrayal with words and pictures, although it will inspire you to try! Steam rises from hot pools on volcanic mountainsides, and glacier-fed waterfalls tumble down to the lush lands below. We have combined the best scenery with the least used roads, and the most comfortable hotels. We provide abundant vehicle support, while you ride the wide open spaces, breathing clear air warmed by the Gulf Stream, and bathing in water heated by the earth. When the road beckons in front of you, and the sun illuminates the rivers, pastures, and icecaps all around, you will be moved by the sheer magnificence of your surroundings. You may ponder, as you gaze into the Mid-Atlantic Rift, or soak in your hotpot beneath the midnight sun, the humbling power of the dynamic earth.
The cycling begins in Hveragerði, not far from Reykjavik. You will ride around the lake of Þingvallvatn to the ancient parliament at Þingvellir, then to Geysir and the impressive waterfall at Gullfoss. Skirting the mountains on fairly level roads at their base, you will cross the fertile Biskupstungur (“Fields between Rivers”) to the lava fields below Mount Hekla, and riding under the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier between Hvollsvollur and Vik before taking a ferry to the spectacular Westman Islands for a final afternoon of exploration on foot, or exploring the magical nature reserve at Þórsmörk – “Thor’s Playground”. You will rest in a charming combination of small inns, Scandinavian-style guesthouses, and comfortable hotels. You will be able to ride to your heart’s content, but will occasionally need to switch from your bike to a vehicle capable of carrying you across rivers. Bring your sense of wonder and adventure!
Early afternoon pickup in Reykjavik for transfer to your guesthouse in Hveragerdi. Outdoors, you will enjoy numerous hiking trails along geothermal hillsides, the hot swimming pool and “hotpot” beside the river. Indoors, you will enjoy a geothermal sauna. You will test your bikes, and depart early for dinner in a nearby coastal village, after exploring the greenhouse community, where tropical plants grow at the Arctic Circle, thanks to the unlimited hot water just beneath the earth’s surface here. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only)
Guesthouse Frost og Funi (Frost & Fire), Hveragerði
Day 2: 70km/45 miles
Ride on quiet gravel and paved roads around the shore of Þingvallvatn, to the site of the worlds oldest surviving parliament at Þingvellir. There you can stand on the edge of the Mid-Atlantic rift, and enjoy gazing into the depths of the clear glacial water of the lake, at the divergence zone of tectonic plates.BLD
Hotel Hengill, Nesjavollum
Day 3: 53km/32 miles or 69km/43 miles
Ride on paved roads to the namesake of all geysers, at Geysir. Stop for lunch options overlooking Laugarvatn, then ride the rolling road along its shore toward Geysir. You will spend the night in private cottages near the geyser, which will allow you to visit it after the crowds from Reykjavik have left for the day. Watch the late-night sunset as you sit beside this magnificent natural wonder. BD
Hotel Geysir, Geysir
Day 4: 44km/28 miles or 98km/60 miles
Visit the magnificent waterfall of Gullfoss, then enjoy a downstream ride along the banks of the Hvita River. Afternoon optional stop at Skalholt, a modern church with stained glass mosaics on the ancient site of the first Christian bishopric in Iceland. This spiritual centre has been a theological powerhouse since 1000A.D. In 1953 foundations were laid for the new church. During excavation, the remains of a 1309 cathedral were found, including the carved coffin of Pall Jonsson, a hard-as-nails bishop whose death in 1211, according to Pals Saga, was greeted with an earth tremor and deluge. When excavators opened the coffin in ’53, there was a downpour again – the biggest in many years. BD
Hotel Hekla, Selfoss; or
Hotel Fludir, Fludir
Day 5: 44km/28 miles or 95km/58miles. Afternoon hiking option
Today’s long ride takes you up the banks of the Pjorsa River, by the newly constructed hydroelectric facility at Stöng, and downstream to a uniquely Scandinavian retreat in the middle of the volcano Mt. Hekla’s lava fields. Along the way, you will visit the reconstruction of traditional Icelandic homestead which was abandoned in 1104, during an eruption of Hekla. You may even be able to take a short hike to a beautiful waterfall nearby. The most intrepid cyclists can ride the rest of the way to the hotel, across a hydroelectric dam and endless fields of lava and pumice. The hotpot at your hotel will be a welcome site if you decide to do this afternoon ride! BLD
Leirubakki Guest House, Landsveit
Day 6: 69km/44miles
Following mountain roads through lava fields, farmlands, and around the volcano range of Hraun, you will ride to Sudurlandsvegur, near the valley of Þórsmörk. Stop on the way to visit Keldur, a prime example of later homesteading featured in Njal’s Sagas. When you arrive in Hvollsvöllur, you can visit the Njal’s Saga museum for enlightenment about this integral part of Icelandic culture. BLD
Hotel Ranga, Sudurlandsvegur
Day 7: 80 km/50miles
Follow the coast under the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. The wind blows here, and we adjust the days plan to take advantage of a tailwind. The ride is flat except for a couple of good climbs near Vik. You will gather for a picnic lunch beneath the waterfall Skogafoss, where distractions include a very interesting folk museum. Additional options include visiting the glacier and seeing the puffin colony at Dyrholaey. BLD
Day 8: Westman Islands or Thorsmork.
A short ferry between cliff-dwelling seabird colonies will take you today to the Westman Islands, where a recent eruption created Surtsey – one of the world’s newest islands. It also forced a night-time evacuation of 5300 residents, and buried 400 homes under a new 600ft mountain of fresh lava. You can climb this still-warm lava mountain. The story is fascinating and the location provides a particularly beautiful setting for the last day of this adventure. If weather interferes with getting to the islands, the alternative is a 4WD trip up the Þvera valley to Þorsmörk, to enjoy uncountable waterfalls as they cascade off the volcanic plateau, and to explore the hidden paradise of Þorsmörk (“Thor’s Forest”) nature reserve – one of Iceland’s most spectacular but inaccessible wildernesses. Sealed off by three glaciers, two rivers, and a string of mountains, it reveals glaciers, wildflowers, and bird-filled willow woods. Return to Reykjavik by 17:00. BL
Start: BSI Bus Terminal or your inn in Reykjavik, 13:00 day one
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