Mit Land Rover Serie II nach Island – ABC für einen “Offroad”-Trip

Mit Land Rover Serie II nach Island - ABC für einen
With Land Rover Series II to Iceland - ABC for an "Offroad"-Trip

Even before the journey began, we had to turn our travel planning upside down. The first roadtrip with our Iveco camper was planned. All-terrain mobility, living cabin with kitchen, bathroom and above all the parking heater let us look full of joyful expectation towards the highlands. Ingmar, our friend and co-owner from Iveco, wanted to take it over after three weeks in Rejkjavik and bring it back to Berlin. The route had already been worked out and the holiday was approved by our bosses. But when we booked the ferry there was no room left for our 3.15 meter high vehicle. Also the lady at the service hotline could not find any more place. And now what? Where else? After we had been looking forward to Iceland so much, that was out of the question. So we booked the place on the ferry to Iceland for our Land Rover Series II LR88. With one click the highland tour with comfortable cabin and heater became an adventure in 1959 with tent.


Mit dem nun folgenden ABC für einen “Offroad”-Trip in Island möchte ich euch eine kleine Starthilfe für die Planung eures Roadtrips geben. Ich habe das Wort “Offroad” in Anführungszeichen geschrieben, denn wir bleiben auf den Straßen bzw. Pisten. Das Fahren jenseits der gekennzeichneten Strecken ist in Island verboten. Aber dazu komme ich später noch. Nicht alle Buchstaben beschreiben ein Thema, das direkt mit einem Roadtrip in Verbindung steht, mir aber trotzdem erwähnenswert schien. Ihr findet also neben Tipps für euren Roadtrip auch noch ein paar Tipps für weitere tolle Erlebnisse und Sehenswertes außerhalb eures Fahrzeugs.


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Table of Contents and Quick Navigation

A like Arrival
B like Book recommendations
C like Camping
D like Diamond Circle
E like Expedition vehicle
F like F-roads (Fjellvegur)
G like Golden Circle
H like Highland
I like Icelandic Horse
J like Seasons
K for Kjölur Gravel Road
L like Land Rover Series 2
M like Mosquitoes
N as Emergency App 112
O for Obsidian
P like Packing list
Q as in Cross-country
R like Ring road
S like Safety on the road
T like Refueling
U like Accommodations
V as Traffic sign
W like Wind and Weather
X and Y how ?
Z like Stopover Faroe Islands
Epilog - The End of a Road Trip with Land Rover Series in Iceland


Note to the English translation: Since the article was originally written in German, the ABC does not quite fit in English. For example, under J there is now a word with the initial letter S or under T there is a word with the initial letter R. Please don't let this irritate you.


A like Arrival

If you want to go to Iceland with your own vehicle, you first have to go to the north of Denmark. The Smirilline's Norröna ferry departs twice a week from Hirtshals in the high season. In the low season only once a week. In the high season you have the choice if you want to do a stopover on the Faroe Islands. This is highly recommended as the islands are beautiful.

The cost of a return trip depends on the size of the vehicle. In addition there is the cabin for the night. The cheapest option are cabins with sunbeds. This means that on three floors you sleep ninth in one berth. With a little luck it is not fully occupied. If you want a little more comfort, you can also book a cabin for two people. It is best to book as early as possible, especially if you want a cabin and have a vehicle over 1.90 metres high.

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B like Book recommendations

Before I went to Iceland for the first time, I read several Iceland sagas and Iceland mysteries. My picture of Iceland was a little preformed. I expected a wild country with blood revenge and serial killers. Luckily, I was quickly taught better. Nevertheless I can recommend the old Iceland sagas to every Iceland traveller, because they represent an essential part of the historiography of this country. I especially liked the saga of Njal and the saga of Grettir. And maybe one or the other dares to approach the Icelandic epic par excellence: the Edda.

More recommendable books:

  • for the bird identification the Cosmos Bird Guide*,*, kurz auch “Svenson” genannt
  • die Islandglocke* und die Atomstation* von Halldόr Kiljan Laxnes
  • various Iceland thrillers by Arnaldur Indridason

As trackbook we had the GPS-Offroad Travel Guide Island from Sabine and Burkhard Koch*. The book describes 27 offroad routes and gives difficulty classes in connection with the vehicle classes. The travel guide is supplemented with general travel information on Iceland and off-road driving tips.

In addition to Trackbook and GPS we had the Freytag & Berndt Car Map Iceland* on a scale of 1:400.000

As a travel guide I can recommend:

  • Michael Müller Publishers: Iceland *
  • Rother Hiking Guides - Rother Hiking Guides* - are always a good choice for hiking lovers. There are numerous tours including additional information, e.g. on difficulty, requirements, altitude profile and detailed route descriptions.

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C like Camping

The country has tightened its camping rules. Especially in the south of the country wild camping is now forbidden.

Most campsites are well equipped with a lounge, hot showers and cooking facilities. In addition, some had a nice cafe, such as the campsite in Möðrudalur or Kerlingarfjöll.

You can find a nice overview of the campsites in Iceland here.

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D like Diamond Circle

The Diamond Circle is a circuit situated in the north-east of Iceland, which passes some of the most beautiful and impressive sights and landscapes on approximately 260 kilometres. Due to its remote location in the northeast of Iceland, this route is less touristic and not as crowded as the Golden Circle in the southwest of the country. Some of the highlights of the Diamond Circle are

  • Lake Mývatn
  • Geothermal bath Mývatn Nature Baths
  • The Hot Springs Hverarönd
  • Volcanic landscape Dimmuborgir
  • Waterfall Dettifoss
  • Horseshoe-shaped gorge Ásbyrgi
  • Puffins on the Coast of the Tjörnes Peninsula
  • Whale Watching in Húsavík
  • Góðafoss waterfall

Want to know more about the Diamond Circle? Then it goes on here .

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E like Expedition vehicle

When the destination Iceland was determined, I was very excited. Because I was expecting the most adventurous expedition vehicles everywhere on the roads. So the really big vehicles, which never get stuck and in which a small family can live for months.

But then most of the vehicles in the highlands were small off-road vehicles. We only met a Unimog with cabin and a big MAN at the beginning of our road trip on the ferry to Iceland. Maybe we were too early? Or maybe the larger expedition vehicles prefer to drive on the wider roads? We felt really comfortable in our small Land Rover series in Iceland. We couldn't drive all off-road routes, because the ground clearance wasn't always sufficient. But the tracks we were able to drive we experienced very intensively. Roadtrip in the highlands of Iceland with Land Rover Series II.

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F like F-roads (Fjellvegur)

Driving the F-roads in the highlands is a unique experience and a must for every off-road trip in Iceland. The landscape is wild and desert, sometimes you are surrounded for hours by black sand and black mountains with white snow speckles.

The F-roads are mountain roads that can be influenced by seasonal changes and closures depending on weather conditions. These are unpaved roads, some of which cross rivers. For this reason, they can only be navigated by a 4×4 vehicle. If you are using a smaller off-road vehicle like our Landy, you should be prepared for the fact that you won't be able to get any further and have to turn around at some point, because there is too much water in one ford, for example. The spare petrol canisters should therefore be sufficiently dimensioned and filled. Furthermore, an extra portion of food for driver and passenger can not harm.

If you want to drive the F-roads, choose your routes carefully. Try to be as realistic as possible about your vehicle and your driving skills. Trackbooks give hints on the difficulty levels of the routes. If you're on your own and you're unsure at a certain point, such as a ford, wait until another vehicle arrives. In the best case the driver can encourage you to speak, in the other case he can drag you out of the ford. Maybe you want to practice first? Then you can take part in one of the ADAC's offroad trainings. Another option is to take a guided 4×4 tour through Iceland. Usually there is even a mechanic who can treat minor breakdowns on the way.

By the way: in the highlands many vehicles without front number plates came towards us. These seem to get lost during fording.

The most important F-roads and the average opening hours are listed below. Due to the unpredictable weather, however, F-roads can even close in summer. The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration therefore publishes an annual brochure für ausländische Reisende mit dem Titel “Gebirgsstraßen”.

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G like Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a route in the southwest of Iceland near the capital Reykjavík and ideal for a mini road trip. There are several places of interest to visit on this route. Due to its proximity to Reykjavík, this tour is very popular with tourists and therefore very popular. So try to be there before or after the day guests from Rejkjavik so that you can enjoy the sightseeings in relative peace.

The individual sights of the Golden Circle Roadtrip are:

  • National Park Þingvellir
  • Geothermal power plant near Nesjavellir
  • Geothermal area Haukadalur (Geysir and Strokkur)
  • Gullfoss waterfall
  • Church Skálholt
  • volcano crater Kerið

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H like Highland

Checklist before a road trip to the highlands:

  • Do you have the right vehicle? A 4×4 vehicle with sufficient ground clearance is mandatory for an off-road trip in Iceland.
  • Choose the route according to your abilities. A route that overtaxes you will not please you and may put you in unpleasant situations. Trackbooks or internet forums give hints on the level of difficulty.
  • Make sure that the tracks you want to ride are already cleared. What is the current state of the track? Is there any information about the water level at the fords?
    Information about weather- and season-related road openings and closures can be found at road.is or at + 354-1777.
  • Check the weather forecast and be aware that the weather can change quickly at any time.
  • Take enough food / fuel with you.
  • Adjust the tyre pressure if necessary.
  • Are GPS, map, compass clear to use?
  • The roads can be rough and the maximum speed can be reduced to approx. 40 km / h. Make sure that you plan enough time for your road trip in Iceland.

And after that? Check the vehicle and tighten a few loose screws if necessary. Is the license plate still there?

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I like Icelandic Horse

Iceland is not only characterized by volcanic landscapes, waterfalls, glaciers and geysers. The Icelandic horse is also an integral part of the landscape, especially in the grassy areas in the southwest of the country.

It is a tough and robust breed that can be kept outdoors all year round and is also very frugal. In the summer months hundreds of animals are let into the highlands, which then roam semi-wild. In September, as soon as food becomes scarce, they are driven back into the lowlands in an impressive spectacle.

Because of his additional gait Tölt, the Icelander is also a popular leisure and sports horse outside Iceland. If you feel like a ride, you can do so almost anywhere in Iceland. You will often find signs on the roadside leading to a farm. Otherwise there are offers for example at the camping site or in the tourist information. If you can already ride, ask for a quicker ride in a small group. Otherwise it can happen that you are only walking in a large group of beginners.

Important: The Icelandic horse must be protected from horse diseases from the mainland. Therefore the things with which you go riding should not have had horse contact in your home country or be disinfected.

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J like Seasons

Iceland can be well visited both in summer and winter. Summer scores with long bright nights, open highland routes and a unique fauna and flora. Autumn and winter, on the other hand, are attractive with northern lights, snowy landscapes and reduced numbers of visitors. After all, many activities are possible all year round. Even the highlands are accessible by special glacier vehicles. You shouldn't try this with your own vehicle or rental car.

The tyres of the rental cars are usually equipped with spikes and allow you to make relatively safe progress even with the frequent snow drifts.

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K for Kjölur Gravel Road

Es gibt zwei Pisten, die das Hochland in Nord-Süd-Richtung queren: die Sprengisandur (F26) und die Kjölur (F35). Die Kjölur, auch Kjalvegur genannt, ist eine einfache Piste, weil die Flüsse mit Brücken überbaut sind und die Befahrung auch mit einfachen PKW möglich ist. Das “F” für Fjellvegur wurde der Kjölur daher auch aberkannt. Die Strecke ist etwa 180 Kilometer lang und erstreckt sich zwischen Blönduós im Norden und Haukadalur im Süden. Sie führt durch karges, einsames Terrain und wird gesäumt von den Gletschern Langjökull und Hofsjökull. Für Abwechslung sorgen hingegen die vielen Schlaglöcher, die ein zügiges Fahren über die waschbrettartigen Abschnitte jäh abbremsen können.

The Kjölur gravel road is also one of the historical connecting routes. It was used as a road to Þingvellir at the time of the land seizure, where a kind of parliament was gathered every year to exercise jurisdiction. The old route now runs west of the piste and is used by hikers and horsemen.

A trip to the Kerlingarfjöll thermal area is definitely worthwhile. You will find a nice campsite with cabins and a cosy cafe. The area is ideal for long walks and after the hike you can relax in the hot pot or under a hot shower.

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L like Land Rover Series in Iceland

To drive with our Land Rover Series II LR88 to Iceland was something very special. If we had only asked for a donation of 2 Euro for every photo taken by us and our Landy, we would surely have been able to finance the ferry tickets. I even got exchange offers: Land Rover Series II against a Land Rover Defender - I refused.

The Land Rover Defender is a very popular snow groomer among Icelanders. The tyres are much bigger than we are used to in Germany and the ground clearance is also impressive. But also the old series are well known to the Icelanders. Some were found - unfortunately often no longer roadworthy - behind the barns of the farmhouses.

The little Landy has fought bravely on the slopes. Since he is very light and has a short wheelbase, we were able to drive on tracks with longer vehicles, for example the track to Herðubreið mountain. Nevertheless, the ground clearance and mudflat depth brought us close to our borders and therefore we did not try the runway F210 because of the fords.

Our tank only had a capacity of 40 litres. Therefore we have three spare canisters aus Stahlblech mit je 20 Litern mitgeführt. Das hat immer gereicht.

We have also taken the noise insulation very seriously: We have therefore lined the engine compartment and inside the footwell with sound-absorbing bitumen panels. Under the roof, we have also glued sound-absorbing foam on the inside. For the sound insulation we used the following:

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M like Mosquitoes

In mild, windless weather, mosquitoes can become a plague in some regions of Iceland. You will soon long for a little wind or a short shower that will drive the mosquitoes away.

Lake Myvatn is known for its abundance of mosquitoes and is even named after it. Here it sometimes comes to a mass appearance of the mosquitoes, which fortunately do not bite. But when they buzz around the face in dense clouds and penetrate the eyes, mouth and nose, they quickly become a strain.

The black flies are different. With them, the females bite and feed on the blood, which they suck from a small wound. Black flies occur especially near watercourses, as the larvae of black flies develop in watercourses.

Mosquito spray or mosquito nets for the head are a great help. Make sure that the mosquito net is coloured black, as it offers a better view than light-coloured nets. The mosquito nets can be bought at petrol stations or DIY stores, for example.

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N as Emergency App 112

Die 112 Island-App von Safetravel's 112 Island app increases the safety of your Iceland trip or hike in lonely areas. Since its introduction in 2012, it has made it easier for the rescue service to find people in an accident. In an emergency, it helps to determine the exact location by storing GPS signals from your mobile phone. Your route becomes traceable for the emergency services and valuable time is saved during the search. The app also has an emergency call button that immediately forwards the GPS signal of the location to the rescue station.

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O for Obsidian

Für alle Game of Thrones Fans wird es jetzt interessant. Denn entlang des beliebten Wanderwegs Laugarvegur erstrecken sich ausgedehnte Obsidianfelder, unter anderem das Laugahraun in der Nähe von Landmannalaugar. Der Berg Hrafntinnusker ist mit Obsidian übersät. Hier findet ihr eine Wanderhütte mit zugehörigem Campingplatz, wo ihr euer Zelt im Schutz von Wällen aus dem schwarz glänzenden “Drachenglas” aufbauen könnt.

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P like Packing

The most important luggage was Duck-Tape and WD 40. Then came the tool box, the spare parts box and then the rain gear and mosquito spray. With the Duck-Tape we sealed leaks on our roof on the second day. It was raining and we had to put our luggage in waterproof garbage bags in the car.

Everyone who has made a longer tour with tent overnight stays knows this: the annoying unpacking and repacking of tent, sleeping things, cooking things and everything else you need. Only good organization of the luggage in the vehicle and a well-rehearsed division of labour can help.

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Q as in Cross-country

Driving off the piste not only leaves unattractive traces but also damages sensitive nature and landscape. In the harsh climate the plants have a long regeneration period, so that the traces are often still visible after many years or even decades. Real off-road driving is illegal in Iceland and is therefore punished. The yellow track next to the lanes marks the track. And this should not be left at all. Also not to park the vehicle for the overnight stay beside the runway. A marked parking space must be found for breaks. In case of oncoming traffic it is therefore necessary to drive backwards in case of doubt until a marked alternative point is reached. During our tour we never got into an unpleasant alternative situation and did not observe any other drivers.

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R like Ring road

The ring road circles the entire island along the coast for about 1300 kilometres. It can be driven with every vehicle class and passes many popular sights. There is only one lane in each direction and there are usually only a few cars on the way. Only in the area around Rejkjavik it can come to denser traffic.

On the ring road there are two different speed limits. On the asphalted sections up to 90km/h, on the unpaved ones only 80km/h are allowed.

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S like Safety on the road

Beim Autofahren in Island gibt es ein paar Dinge zu beachten, die ihr aus Deutschland eher nicht kennt. So müsst ihr zum Beispiel stets damit rechnen, dass Schafe auf der Fahrbahn sind. Ferner müsst ihr bei den sogenannten “Blind Hills” etwas mehr aufpassen. Auch einige Verkehsschilder sind etwas speziell. Ich habe euch die Dinge, die mir im isländischen Straßenverkehr aufgefallen sind hier zusammengestellt. Weitere Informationen findet ihr auch auf der Seite der Icelandic Road Guard..

The speed limit is 90 km/h on paved roads, 80 km/h on unpaved roads, 50 km/h in urban areas. Also note that the road surface can suddenly change from asphalt to gravel.

Many bridges are built with only one track. The vehicle that is closer to the bridge always has the right of way.

All over Iceland it can happen that animals are on or off the road. Drive especially carefully if there is a herd to the right and left of the road. Animals may want to change sides spontaneously, especially if lambs are separated from their mother. Often riders cross the road, sometimes even with free-running herds. Be considerate here.

If the wind is too strong, it can happen that the vehicle is pushed off the road by a gust, especially in winter. It can happen that roads are closed during storms, even the ring road.

Last but not least: Don't let the great landscape distract you too much. If you want to take a closer look, look for a suitable stop that won't endanger other road users.

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T like Refueling

The petrol station network along the ring road is relatively dense, so finding a petrol station during your road trip should not be a problem. There are even a few petrol stations in the highlands. However, you shouldn't rely on the fact that you'll really get fuel there.

Since most vehicles don't have an endless tank, take enough spare canisters with you. The 20 litre canisters of the German Armed Forces have proved their worth with us. If you have to refill on the way, be careful not to spill anything and pollute the environment with it.

Refuelling in Iceland is a bit different than in Germany. Most of the time you have to buy a prepaid card before refueling. With this card you can also refuel at any time at the automatic pay stations of the unmanned gas stations.

Further information and a map with the petrol station network can be found here.

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U like Accommodations

Even the most enduring camper needs permanent accommodation from time to time. We left our tent packed in the car every few days and spontaneously booked a room for the coming night in the afternoon. Our excuses - constant rain, charging batteries and washing clothes - always helped us to turn a blind eye to the salted prices.

During our tour we didn't have any difficulties to get accommodation spontaneously. However, we were also very flexible in our choice of location. However, you should expect prices between 80 and 100 Euro for a night in a double room. Only sometimes we found reduced last minute offers.

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V as Traffic sign

On Iceland there are some more specific traffic signs, especially on the F-roads. Below you can see two typical examples. You can find more Icelandic traffic signs on wikipedia..

A confusing hilltop. Source: Wikipedia
Road only with all-wheel drive. Source: Wikipedia

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W like Wind and Weather

From an inexplicable touch of carelessness we left our rain trousers in the tent. Probably because the sun was shining and there was no cloud in the blue sky. It should become also only a small excursion. From the camping site at the Askja we drove up to the Viti crater. When we got out of the Landy we applied some sun cream as a precaution. Less than 15 minutes later we found ourselves in the heavy snow rain. Persistently we went on towards Viti crater and trudged through the snow fields. We firmly believed that the shower would end as fast as it came. After all, it is said that the weather in Iceland can change every five minutes. But this time the weather took about 45 minutes and we came back to our Landy soaked to the skin.

In Iceland you must be prepared for all 4 seasons at all times. Because the weather can change rapidly. The best clothing is the onion layer system. What should not be missing is the rain jacket and rain trousers. And if it's not raining, they offer good protection from the wind. But also the sun cream has to go. The same goes for the sunglasses, because they also protect sensitive eyes well against the wind.

You can find quite reliable weather forecasts on the website of the Icelandic Meteorological Weather Service vedur.is.

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X and Y how ?

Can you think of anything about X and Y? Not with the best will in the world, but I would be grateful for any pertinent hints.


Z like Stopover Faroe Islands

We had decided for a stopover with three overnight stays on the Faroe Islands. And we soon realized that the Faroe Islands were worth a trip of their own. We visited the main island Streymoy and the islands Vágar and Eysturoy which can be reached via tunnels or bridges. You can read more about our stopover on the Faroe Islands here .

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Epilog - The End of a Road Trip with Land Rover Series in Iceland

Good thing there's an ADAC. Here I have to do some advertising and can only recommend you to join. Especially for a roadtrip with vintage cars.

The Landy apparently liked it so much on Iceland that he wanted to stay longer. Two days before our friend Ingmar wanted to take the ferry back to Denmark, he didn't let himself clutch and shift anymore. The workshop in Iceland did not find a solution in a hurry. So at the end the little one was towed onto the ferry and taken directly from Denmark to the Landydoc in Berlin. He quickly found the mistake: A bolt from the clutch linkage had said goodbye on one of the pistes.

Meanwhile I was three times in Iceland. But also after the third stay there is still so much on my wish list, so that the next road trip is already in planning.


Have you ever made a road trip in Iceland yourself, maybe even in the highlands? How did you like it? Do you have any questions about my article or further suggestions? If so, please write me a comment!


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