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Old 02-12-2012, 09:22 AM   #232
pip_muenster OP
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Karlsruhe, Germany
Oddometer: 478
Travel info & bike preparation

I've been asked about the trip budget and some other tips, so I thought I'd rather write something here, than writing multiple PMs.
Disclaimer: I hadn't spent much time on preparation myself, and am by no means an Iceland expert.

Travel time
The best season for the highlands might be July/August as many roads will be closed before that. When we arrived in mid-July, 1-2 highland roads were still closed. September seems also ok, but it may get cold in the night.
We spend 3 weeks and still had to skip some highlights.

Road conditions
If a road is closed, don't go! Check this website for up-to-date information on road conditions:
Fords and water levels can change within hours. Talk to other travelers and rangers. People may have a different understanding of where a bike can go, though. Offroad biking is forbidden as it may take years for the nature to recover from wheel tracks.

Weather conditions
Winds can be strong enough to blow you off the road, so check the weather forecast. Rangers and locals are a good source of information. We navigated around the bad weather which was easy as any part of Iceland is worth a visit.
Our travel companions spend 2 days to cover a stretch of a few hundred kilometers on the ring road (all asphalt) as the weather didn't allow for speeds higher than 30km/h.

In 2011, 1 EUR was about 160 ISK. Food was about 2x more expensive than in Germany, fresh meet or alcohol maybe 3x more. Fuel seemed to be about the same.
We camped most of the time which might have been around 10 EUR per person. You can also camp wild and use showers etc. for a little fee. Observe the basic laws for wild camping! Hotels and restaurants may be 50%-100% more expensive than in Germany, but we gained little experience here. Maddin and I shared a room in a guesthouse in Akureyri for around 70 EUR.
Whale watching was about 50 EUR for a 2hr trip, but we chose the speedboat option which was almost twice that. When we showed up, it was no problem at all to get on a boat without reservation.

Getting there
Right now, operates the only ferry to Iceland, departing from Hirtshals in northern Denmark, with a stopover on the Faroe islands (changing between 2hr and 2day stops). With a bike, this will set you back between 700 and 1,000 EUR. I've heard about people who shipped their bikes from Rotterdam or Hamburg for a bit more than 500 EUR, but don't know any details.

Bike preparation
This is what I did to the GS (and what I'd do again): full service, new TKC80 tires, headlight protector, a snorkel for the air intake, a breather tube for the final drive. Roughly following this thread: Deep water crossing prep
I took some tools and spares (e.g. rear wheel bearings), but of course not the ones I needed in the end. Luckily, Iceland is not the end of the world. My roadside assistance (ADAC) had the parts flown to Iceland within 48 hours. Think about a tire repair kit (and pump!).
Some highland routes have almost 300km between gas stations. Keep in mind that you need to be able to go back, if you can't cross a ford at any point.

One guy we met was only riding in the highlands and didn't even bother to bring the liner for his jacket. Fighting the terrain kept him warm. We found especially the stretches on the ring road and in the Western Fjords chilly at times. Bring rain gear.
You need a strategy for water crossings with depths well up to your knees. Kayak shoes, Seal Skinz, waders ... depending on how deep you want to go. Rivers with glacial (melt) water will of course be cold.
Tip for wet boots: Dry your feet and put on dry socks. Add a plastic bag and the wet sock on top. Better than getting a cold.

We had cell phone coverage almost everywhere, including many areas in the highlands.

Bring a storm-proof tent with lots of guy ropes. We found mainly soft soil or lava which was soft as sand when it came to fixing a tent peg. Only 1-2 days I had trouble to get a peg into the ground.

Apart from the waders, I had no special equipment with me. Keep the weight down.

I brought my DSLR because I love it and I bought it for these kind of trips. Most pictures were taken with a wide-angle or standard lens, so basically any camera will do. A graduated gray filter or a polarized filter allowed e.g. to bring more structures in the clouds. I carried the camera in a dry bag within my tank bag. The dry bag was my insurance for river crossings and, more important, provided a dust proof environment to change lenses.
I also brought a simple point and shoot which I always kept at hand. This was more important 'to capture the moment' as it allowed me to take pictures in an instance. The Olympus Tough is the toughest camera on the market I know.
I would have loved to have a tripod, to play with long exposures on water falls or at night. But in reality, with wide angle shots at daylight, it was never really required.

We bought excellent maps in the tourist office in Egilstadir (Iceland Kortabok). The maps we found at home were either lacking camp sites, gas stations or fords. There is also a free Garmin map.

Further reading
There is a lot of helpful information here on ADV, either in ride reports or in the trip planning section. Just search for Iceland. There's also an Iceland section on Horizons Unlimited.

I hope that's enough for a start, this is already the longest post within this thread ...
Reports: Nordkapp - Mt. St. Helen - Black Sea - Iceland - Morocco - Balkan
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