Cycling Iceland 2013 - Overview and map

For a starter a few short remarks about the history of Iceland: the settlement of Iceland began at the end of the 9th century. Ingólfur Arnarson has to be mentioned, followed shortly afterwards by some 400 Norwegian chieftains, which divided the island among themselves. shortly afterwards the idea came up to meet annually, in order to handle legislation and jurisprudence centrally. This mixture of parliamentarism and oligarchy, the Althing, took place in Þingvellir (see also map / pictures stage 21).
The Icelanders - being true Vikings - were not content to be just farmers, but wanted to explore the sea, so Erik the Red sailed westwards with 800 people and founded two settlements in Greenland. Later Leif Eriksson (his son, as one can recognize by the Icelandic rules of name) discovered the west coast of North America and called it Vinland.

From the 13th century onwards, the motherland of Norway tried increasingly to control Iceland, which had previously been independent, and, by means of commercial boycott, forced a treaty that made this possible. From the 15th century (1397 Kalmar Union), the Danes replaced the Norwegians as a determining factor in Iceland.
There had always been disasters in Iceland: volcanic eruptions brought agriculture to a standstill, and the black death cost the life of 2/3 of the Icelanders.
When, in 1627, Algerian pirates plundered Vestmannaeyjar island (map / pictures stage 24) and some coastal islands, and carried off women and young people into slavery, there was little help from Denmark.

The political currents of Europe came to Iceland at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The ideas of nationalism were imported into the country by Icelanders who studied in other European countries, and in 1840 the Althing was newly established in Reykjavík (after abolition of its power in 1800). The driving force in the struggle for an independent Iceland was Jón Sigurðsson.
In 1918, the union agreement with Denmark, which had been established for 25 years, initiated Icelands independence from Denmark. After the referendum in 1944, the Republic of Iceland was founded at the historical site of the Althing, in Þingvellir.

Today, around 300,000 people live in Iceland (2/3 of them in the south west around Reykjavík) on a island of roughly 100,000 km², that are about 3 people per square kilometer (compared to the 12,000,000 inhabitants of Bavaria living together at 70,000km², thats about 175 people per km²).

In the first picture, I show a few roads and landscapes, which will appear in the course of the report.

The so-called Ring Road or "#1", completed in 1974, follows roughly the coast of Iceland (without the numerous peninsulas); It is 1336km long and drawn in blue. I have cycled three of the so-called highland roads (Icelandic Landsvegir): these are rough gravel roads, without bridges over the numerous rivers.
The area of the Westfjords in the north-west of Iceland and the peninsula of Snæfellsnes are marked in green.

On the second map my track is drawn in blue and the numbers denote various sights or milestones to organize my stories.

1 hiking area Þórsmörk
2 Between Skógafoss and Vik
3 Mýrdalssandur
4 Skaftafell and Svartifoss
5 Jökulsárlón
6 East Fjords and the north-east of Iceland
7 Asbyrgi
8 Dettifoss
9 Husavik

10 Highland track Sprengisandur
11 Landmannalaugar
12 Gullfoss
13 Kerlingarfjöll
14 Hveravellir
15 Vatnsnes peninsula
16 Westfjords
17 Dynandi waterfall
18 Látrabjarg

19 Flatey
20 Snæfellsnes
21 Þingvellir
22 Geysir
23 Seljalandsfoss
24 Vestmannaeyjar
25 Reykjavík

The journey begins in mid-July in Kevlavik, Iceland's international airport, in the south-west of the island, along the south coast to the hiking area (1) Þórsmörk

with moderate weather at the famous waterfall (2) Skógafoss to Vik, Iceland's southernmost settlement

crossing the (3) Mýrdalssandur to the glaciers.

(4) Skaftafell and Svartifoss, a famous waterfall.

icebergs calving at (5) Jökulsárlón

the (6) fjords in the east are a more isolated part of Iceland, here the Pass Hellisheiði on my way to the north east

The horseshoe-shaped valley (7) Asbyrgi was created by Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir and the most powerful waterfall in Europe (8) Dettifoss

Garðar Svavarson from Sweden landed in the 9th century in the area of ​​(9) Husavik, and perhaps even met numerous humpback whales in the bay.

I enjoyed wonderful weather on the highland track (10) Sprengisandur

And in the very popular hiking area (11) Landmannalaugar.

Icelands most famous waterfall (12) Gullfoss in the early morning and without other tourists. I continued to the second large highland gravel road, the Kjölur.

In (13) Kerlingarfjöll I did some hikes in the mountains.

geothermal area (14) Hveravellir, where you can enjoy, as in many other places in Iceland, a natural hot pot, a 40 ° hot bath which is fed from a river with boiling hot water and a second cold river.

you can observe and photograph seals at (15) Vatnsnes peninsula close to the Hvítserkur, a petrified Troll ...

continuing to te (16) Westfjords of Iceland. In the picture a 50m pool heated by geothermal energy at 40 ° in Reykjanes.

(17) Dynjandi waterfall in the Westfjords: almost 60m wide and several cascades that add up to about 100m height.

(18) Látrabjarg is the westernmost part of Iceland (and Europe) and home to many seabirds, mainly puffins, diving petrels and razorbills.

The island of (19) Flatey in the Breiðafjörður has been continuously inhabited since the first settlements in Iceland and is, to my knowledge, home to 10 permanent residents.

Snæfellsjökull is located at the western end of the peninsula (20) Snæfellsnes and rises 1446m above the sea. Jules Verne told a fantastic story "Journey to the Center of the Earth" about this volcano.

In (21) Þingvellir, as mentioned above, Icelands leaders met once a year for a parliamentary assembly. From a geological point of view, the site lies in the midst of a rift valley and is surrounded by four active volcano systems.

The (22) Geysir in the high-temperature area Haukadalur was named for hot water fountains, geysers, worldwide, depicted here is the neighboring geyser Strokkur, which breaks every few minutes and its water column reaches up to 35m ...

in the vicinity of the well - known (23) Seljalandsfoss the port Landeyjahöfn was built in recent years, from there the crossing to the

(24) Vestmannaeyjar, the western men's islands, takes about 30 minutes. The islands are of volcanic origin, some 70000-100000 years old and have experienced considerable growth 50 and 40 years ago.

At the end of my journey I spent a few days in the capital (25) Reykjavík, visited museums, churches, thought about my past weeks in Iceland


This was quick overview, to introduce the main sights of the trip and give an orientation. More pictures and a more detailed report on the next pages...