Sunday, 10 January 2016

Iceland 2.10: Following the Kjölur Route

On our previous visit to Iceland in 2013 we were restricted to the "normal" roads because of the vehicle we'd hired (a VW Golf).  This time we were determined to go off piste and explore the highlands, so a 4x4 was mandatory.  Crossing the centre of Iceland required careful planning, not least because there are very few places to stop and absolutely nowhere to buy fuel.  As a result we made a "pit stop" just outside Geysir before leaving the world of tarmac roads.

As well as being able to buy fuel, the service station stocked other essential supplies like bread, biscuits, skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and - oh yes - horseshoes!

Route 35 soon became a gravel road, although at this stage it was still passable in "normal" vehicles.  Later on we met the signpost telling all hirers of non-4x4 vehicles to abandon hope if they entered the wilderness.

The Kjölur Route was the easier of the two highland crossings we did, which is why we attempted it first.  When I say "easy", I mean that the road is well marked and all rivers had bridges.  Pure luxury...

It was only after the enormous jeep had passed us that we realised it was British.  It was followed shortly afterwards by a couple of motor cyclists, presumably riding 2x2s.

The scenery started to become more spectacular the further we travelled.  This is a large lake at the end of a glacier, with the ice-cap of Langjökull in the background.

Dotted across the highlands are small huts offering basic accommodation for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.  We stopped at one which was also a coffee shop, where we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch.  I also treated myself to a beautiful Icelandic sweater, hand-knitted by one of the local women.

Another of the travellers' huts, this time dating from 1930, was being looked after by a couple of school teachers from Reykjavík who spent their summers "going back to basics".

Talk about a loo with a view...

The final image demonstrates how important horse riding is in Iceland, as there was a horse track alongside the gravel road all the way across the Kjölur Route.