Icelandic Saga 2019
They call it the land of fire and ice, a vast landscape of frozen tundra with a vignette of snow-capped peaks atop towering slopes. The scenery is punctuated by hot springs and showering geysers, that bubble up through the very crust of the earth, steaming and spitting their way into the atmosphere.
IcelandThe panorama feels like a portrait of another time, an ethereal place from some other part of history, it cannot fail to inspire and enthral and place you under its spell. The plains are the herding grounds of the great Icelandic Horse, and an animal more sagacious you will not find. It is a privilege to see them master the rough and perishing environment of their homeland with consummate ease, a zenith to which we as adventurers in this land can aspire to reach.
And then there are the roads
Sparsely populated, loosely tarmacked tracks that twist and dance across frozen rivers and around fjords, all in the shadow of the majestic mountains. Each change of direction brings another magnificent view, another natural wonder to digest. But as the sagas recall, opt er flago i fogru skinny; A witch often has fair skin. For whilst you are enchanted by her visual spell, the challenge of driving and navigating across the 1200 miles or so of enthralling roads will become that much greater and the reward for conquering the topography that much sweeter.
The regularities will take us off of the beaten track, and even sections of the main Icelandic ring road turn to gravel in parts. What is assured is an absence of dual carriageways and clogged roads, as the free-flowing tarmac winds its way around Iceland’s ancient landscape, much like a river cutting through the rock. Narrow bridges cross rivers, ravines drop away from the edges of the roads in places and volcanoes, hot springs and glaciers stand sentry around the unspoiled countryside, providing the backdrop to a driving paradise. Where there is tarmac, the blacktop is mostly unblemished but once the pitch does give way to the gravel and scree the fun really begins. Pure driving, in a way one cannot experience in the overpopulated roads more common to Western Europe, here the lines of shingle cut through the drama of the scenery like the capillaries of a leaf. Slender and probing, disturbed only by the dust clouds kicked up by the motion of a motor car in flight across the land.
The challenge of keeping time on the testing surfaces will keep the drivers in check, particularly with the enjoyment of the driving experience forever urging you to push on. Navigators too will have a hard task to remain vigilant with the maps, when faced with the spectacular views of a primeval landscape, who’s route-finding cues and features often repeat and in such a vast panorama will no doubt have even the best navigators scratching their heads and second guessing themselves.
This land is still one of the great adventures, one of the wild places that secretes wanderlust into our very core. To navigate across it in wonderful cars, with like minded souls simply serves to add an extra dimension to a place that would already leave you breathless. Across 1300 miles, 18 traction opposing tests and 25 perplexing but awe-inspiring regularities, Iceland will take your heart, but enrich your soul. So, join us on this magnificent expedition and take the first steps to creating your own Icelandic Saga.