Iceland Northern Exposure – A Great Gravel & Wild Roads Adventure

Highlights

  • 701km / 436 miles
  • Approx. 65% / 454km of route on gravel roads
  • 3 Regions – Snaefellsnes Peninsula, West Fjords & Highlands
  • Ride through the land of Fire & Ice
  • Swim in natural thermal hot pools
  • See volcanoes, glaciers & geysirs
  • Ride to the most Westerly point in Europe
  • All accom, transfers, RBC guide, trip back up vehicle & driver included

Number of Days:
9
2019 Land Only Price From: COMING SOON
Grade: Spicy
Group Size: 6-12 (Smaller Groups by Arrangement)
View: Kit List

Dates:

Please call us on 01768 778848 for our Iceland Northern Exposure dates in 2019

Dates are available for Private Groups by arrangement – contact us for details

Trip Overview

Day 1 Arrivals Day

Arrive at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland’s principle International airport, in time for the group transfer at 16:00.  Those arriving to coincide with this time will be transferred to Reykjavik (approx. 40-45 minutes) on the group transfer service, which is included in the trip price.

On arrival in Reykjavik we head first to our agent’s office where we build up our bikes.  After a quick shake down ride we then transfer to our accommodation, close to Reykjavik City Centre.  Depending on how the day unfolds there may be time to visit one of Reykjavik’s famous, geothermally heated swimming pools and relax in the outdoor hot tubs.  This evening we meet up as a group for a meal and a pre-trip briefing.  Reykjavik has a fantastic range of restaurants and the standard and variety of the cuisine will come as a pleasant surprise to first time visitors to the Iceland.  There’s also a very active nightlife and music scene for those that don’t mind a late night …. and the early start that follows tomorrow.

Overnight in a Guest House or Hotel close to Reykjavik City Centre.  N.B. Tonight’s meal is not included in the trip price.

Day 2 Great Gravel, Wild Wilderness & Stupendous Skies

Today is a stunner of a day and is a fantastic introduction both to Iceland and the country’s awesome gravel roads.  We start with a short transfer by minibus (approx. 1 hour) into the heart of Iceland’s oldest National Park, and site of it’s first parliament.  This gets us clear of the Reykjavik conurbation and means when we start our adventure we’re straight onto the gravel.  The geology of Iceland is fascinating and our start point is close to the rift valley that has been formed as a result of the divergent drift of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Heading North we ride inland along the foothills of the Mt Skjaldbreiður volcano, a huge shield volcano (1,060m) that was formed during a prolonged eruption about 9,000 years ago and dominates the horizon.  Leaving the National Park behind we ride into the wilderness and a land of not just big, but massive skies.

Lunch is picnic style and is served from our support vehicle which also carries our spares and tools, should they be required.  More gravel and stunning scenery follows after lunch before a short section of tarmac that takes us to tonight’s rural accommodation.

78km / 49 miles (approx. 95% / 71km on gravel roads).  Overnight in a country Hotel.  Meal/s included: B / L / D

Day 3 Westward Ho

The overall bias today is more towards tarmac but the incredible landscapes and ever changing light more than makes up for that.  Having said that we’re quickly onto gravel this morning and heading West we pass through a landscape that is more cultivated than yesterday’s.  Before too long we’ll see mountains on the horizon, this range marks the start of the 100 km long Snaefellsnes peninsula.

Snaefellsnes, which is best known for the 1,446m high volcano Mt. Snaefellsjokull – the entrance to the subteranean adventures in Jules Verne’s classic ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.  The peninsula features dramatic volcanic peaks, sheer sea cliffs, sweeping golden beaches and beautiful lava flows covered with thick green moss.

106km / 66 miles (approx. 26% / 34km on gravel roads).  Overnight in a country Guest House.  Meal/s included: B / L / D

Day 4 Peninsular Pedalling

Riding West and into the Snaefellsjokull National Park on tarmac we then take to the gravel and climb up to a glacier before dropping back down to sea level on the North side of the peninsula.  Passing through small towns and communties and taking the dirt roads where possible we ride to Stykkisholmur, a beautifully situated and historic harbour town overlooking the broad expanse of Breida Fjord – which we’ll cross by ferry tomorrow morning.

109km / 68 miles (approx. 24% / 26km on gravel roads).  Overnight in a Hostel (dormitory style).  Meal/s included: B / L / D

Day 5 Europe’s Most Westerly Point

We start the day by taking the ferry across the Breida Fjord, which takes approx. 2 1/2 hours.  The fjord is renowned for its natural beauty and remarkable wildlife.  Dotted with many islands and rocky skeries this area is the only marine conservation area in Iceland.  The ferry makes a quick stop at Flatey Island, which is the only island still with permanent inhabitants although there are now only a handful of people residing on the island permanantly.

The region we are heading to is known as the Westfjords, a very diverse, remote and spectacular region.  The roads are part tarmac and part gravel and today’s ride destination is Látrabjar which is Iceland’s, and Europe’s, most Westerly Point a distance of 89km / 56 miles, a 50/50 ride on gravel & tarmac.  The cliffs at the Westernmost point are Europe’s longest bird cliffs and home to millions of birds including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and razorbills.  This site is important on a world scale as it hosts up to 40% of the World population of species such as the Razorbill.

We now have a chance for some relaxed sightseeing as we transfer by minibus for approx. 2 hours to our hotel in a small fjord side town, but if anyone fancies some additional riding today we’ll stop and unload the bikes and ride the final 20km’s or so.

90km / 56 miles (approx. 50% / 45km on gravel roads).  Overnight in Hotel.  Meal/s included: B / L / D

Day 6 Hardcore Gravel

Today’s a hardcore gravel day as we explore the Salarvogur trail which goes around the promontory that separates the Dyrafjordur Arnarfjordur fjords.  This narrow gravel road, which follows the shoreline, is one of a kind in Iceland with beautiful views of the glacier carved valleys and it was constructed by a local with the help of a small bulldozer around 1970.

After riding around the promontory we then head South via the beautiful Dynjandi waterfall and after a full day and 100k’s through remote and varied coastal & mountain terrain we call time on the riding today and make a transfer of approx. 3 hours to tonight’s hotel.  By doing this we open up access to our final two days of riding across the Icelandic Highlands which, if travelling soley by bike, we would be unable to do.

100km / 62 miles (approx. 95% / 95km on gravel roads).  Overnight in a Hotel.  Meal/s included: B / L / D

Day 7 Into the Icelandic Highlands & Natural Hot Pools

Leaving the coast we head inland and into the Icelandic Highlands.  Aside from the first few kilometres as we leave the town, and civilsation, behind today is a gravel day and it’s a stunning ride through an extraordinary landscape.

Passing between two of Iceland’s larger glaciers, the Langjokull and Hofsjokull glaciers, we’ll stop at geothermal springs where we have a chance of taking a dip in a hot pool.  Tonight’s wilderness accommodation overlooks Mt.Kerlingarfjoll capped with it’s own small glacier.  This dormant volcano still holds enormous heat and in Hveradalur, Hot Spring Valley, we see the result of thousands of years of geothermal activity and glacial erosion. The combination of colourful boiling mud pits, pure yellow sulphur and snow is extraordinary.

Today’s a long day and the wind in Iceland can be very strong and make for tiring riding.  We will therefore keep the support vehicle fairly close today so that if anyone fancies a short break from riding, or want’s to call time on riding early, then that option is available if required.

138km / 86 miles (approx. 95% / 131km on gravel roads).  Overnight in a wilderness Hostel (dormitory).  Meal/s included: B / L / D

Day 8 Alright Geysir

This trip is as much about the incredible landscape as it is about the spectacular riding and today is no exception.  This morning we head South over the Kjolur Highlands and down to the famous Gullfoss waterfall.  We have the opportunity to go out to the very edge of the falls and witness it cascade into the Hvitargljufur Canyon.

As we get closer to journey’s end at Geysir the gravel road ends and we roll in the final twenty-odd kilometers on tarmac.  Geysir is an area of intense geothermal activity with the original Geysir that other similar ‘eruptive springs’ elsewhere are named after. The most reliable eruption comes every 5-10 minutes from a spring called ‘Strokkur’, the 30-metre jet of water and steam is spectacular.

This area became Iceland’s first National Park in 1928 and World Heritage Area in 2004 and it sits right on top of a major fault line.  The area abounds with waterfalls, immense fissures and the largest lake in the country and we round off our adventure with a little exploring before we transfer back by minibus, at the end of the day,  to Reykjavik (approx. 2 hours).

After returning to the Capital we’ll first stop off at our agent’s office and repack our bikes into their travel boxes and bags.  Bikes sorted we then transferring to our accommodation close to Reykjavik City Centre before heading out for a celebratory end of trip meal.

80km / 50 miles (approx. 70% / 56km on gravel roads).  Overnight in a Guesthouse or Hotel close to Reykjavik City Centre.  Meal/s included: B & L.  N.B. Tonight’s meal is not included in the trip price.

Day 9 Departure Day

Based on the departure time of the earliest return flight a single group transfer service will leave the group hotel three and a half hours before the first return flight.  This transfer is included within the trip price and all clients regardless of their departure time are welcome to use this transfer.  Anyone not wishing to use this transfer will be responsible for their own transfer arrangements & costs to Keflavik.

What’s Included

  • 8 nights accommodation* – 4 nights in Hotels, 2 nights in Guest Houses & 2 nights in Hostels.
  • All meals as detailed in the trip overview.
  • Meal Key: B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner. Please note that all lunches are picnic style and are designed to suit cyclist’s appetites.
  • Single timed group airport transfers at the beginning and end of your trip.
  • All baggage transfers in our baggage vehicle.
  • A provision of complimentary Clif Bar nutritional products over the duration of the trip worth over £50 per client.
  • The services of a Rather Be Cycling Bike Guide.
  • The services of a baggage vehicle driver / trip assistant.
  • Access to commonly required tools, spares, mechanical advice & assistance.

* All accommodation is allocated and priced on a twin occupancy basis with exception of the two Hostel nights. Please contact us for Single Occupancy Rates.

What’s Not Included

  • International and / or Domestic Flight/s to and from the start and end points of the trip.
  • Visa/s if necessary.
  • Travel Insurance – Compulsory.
  • Meals not included in the trip overview – on this trip all meals are included with the exception of the two evening meals when we are in Reykjavik.
  • All drinks e.g. bottled water, coffees, teas, alcohol, etc.
  • Entry fees e.g. to visitor attractions, etc.
  • Spare / replacement bicycle parts & accessories e.g. tyres, tubes, wheel/s, etc.
  • Other expenses e.g. souvenirs, additional food, laundry, etc.
  • Tips – at your discretion.

Bike Spec

  • This is a cycling holiday that uses both gravel and tarmac roads, which we call Adventure Cross.  We have found that the ideal bikes for this trip are either a cylocross bike with heavy duty tyres (i.e. a 30c minimum width and with thick tyre side walls) or a hard tail mountain bike fitted with robust semi slick tyres and, ideally, forks which lock out.  Modern cyclocross bikes or 29ers are both great for this type of adventurous, and at times rough, on/off road journey, with the bias in favour of crossers.
  • A wide range of gears is suggested for this trip as whilst the climbs are not especially high or long the wind in Iceland can be tremendously strong and the gravel heavy going after rain.
  • Your bike should be fully serviced, and thoroughly tested, before your holiday.

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