Good preparation is the key for a successful travel. Keep the below points in mind and remember that your first destination should always be this homepage.
- Always leave your travel plan with someone who can react if needed
- Check the weather forecast. In Iceland the weather can change fast
- Remember to bring the right equiptment for the kind of travel you are planning
- Map, kompass and GPS should always be used when travel outside urban areas
The first question that comes up for every hiker is where to go and what hiking trail to choose. Is it a well-known marked trail or off the beaten path? Regardless of what is decided, proper trail selection and route planning are essential components to a successful hike.
To ensure a better hike keep this in mind:
- When choosing a hiking trail, hikers should always use themselves as a frame of reference, i.e. their level of fitness and their experience and knowledge of hiking.
- Don’t set out to do too much, plan reasonable distances each day.
- Keep in mind that even though a trail may have markers, visibility can be so poor that it is not possible to see from one mark to another.
- Compasses and GPS devices should be brought, alongside the knowledge of how to use them.
- A route plan is an important aid for every hiker. With a route plan you can plot day trips, distance to hike each day, write down accommodation details, a contingency plan if that might be needed, and other things that are important in making a good hike even better.
- The route plan should be left with a trustworthy person. He or she will then have exact information about the trip, in the event that a situation may arise in which it is needed.
Hikers should consider
- To keep an eye on their hiking companions; you never know when exhaustion or something else will kick in.
- If induced repetitive strain injuries begin to crop up, stop immediately and mend them as well as possible. Don’t delay as that only makes matters worse.
- Be prepared for sudden weather changes and check the daily weather forecast with the ranger or warden before you start your hike each day.
- Stick to the route plan that was arranged before you left. If you change your route plan, let the person who only has a copy of the original know about the alterations or write the changes down in guest books at lodges.
- Make a point to always write your name and the date in guest books for security reasons.
- Do remember to properly organise your backpack. The heaviest objects should be placed closest to the back. Ensure that the backpack is not too heavy; if it is, it can ruin an otherwise pleasant hike.
Water sports are both common and popular in Iceland. It’s definitely fantastic to experience nature while in the sea or on lakes, not to mention the possible views of the birdlife, though there are so many fun things to do, it’s necessary to remember safety. If an accident occurs on water you need to have a foolproof plan.
Most people choose to watch birds, experience nature, and of course whale watch by going on an organised tour. Others prefer to travel around independently and borrow or rent a boat for that purpose, although not for whale watching.
- Check your boat, wether it leaks, wether the motor is working correctly, wether the oars ar in order and if there is enough fuel
- Take with you mobile phone or other type of telecommunication
- Leave behind your travelling plan which includes where to go and how long you are planning to stay
- Make sure to have the right clothing because even if the air temperature is pleasant, it won’t mean a thing if you fall overboard. With that in mind, be appropriately dressed.
- Weather forecasts are something you should always check if you’re going out on water or on a boat, for both long and short trips, as the weather in Iceland changes abruptly.
- Alcohol and sailing should not be mixed.
- Everybody is supposed to wear life jackets
- The life jacket must fit and this is expecially important for children
- Children must never be unattended close to sea or lakes and of course never alone sailing
- If you are sailing on a oarboat be sure that your oars are secured so they will not float away
The Icelandic horse gives Icelanders and foreign guests immense pleasure, both as a source of recreation and as a way to enjoy nature in Iceland.
There are multiple hazards in horse riding and it is imperative to maintain the highest safety standards. The first thing people can do is choose a horse that is well-suited for their ability, as this can prevent accidents from occurring.
A horse and rider act as one unit, and if the horse is well trained its reactions should be rather predictable. The rider needs to understand what messages his or her behaviour and the environment send to the horse and should likewise be aware of what messages the horse sends.
Keep the following in mind:
- Horses that are prone to striking out, biting or exhibiting any other dangerous behaviour must be tagged so that others know to be extra cautious around them.
- Safety equipment needs to conform to CE quality standards with basic requirements regarding safety issues for each relevant group of products.
- A riding helmet is standard equipment for a mounted rider and for dealing with dangerous horses. It protects against head injury.
- It’s absolutely essential that children wear adequate helmets that are properly adjusted and comfortable.
- A helmet that has suffered an impact is no longer safe and should not be used.
- A safety vest gives protection against trauma to the back and rib cage. Vests reduce the effect of impact by spreading the force over a greater area. This decreases the risk of ribs, collarbone, or vertebrae breaking with a fall, as well as that of a spinal cord injury.
- Safety stirrups are designed to prevent the rider from getting stuck in the stirrups in the event that he or she falls off the horse’s back and is dragged.
- Reflectors and lights are necessary so that others on the road can see the horse and rider in twilight or darkness.
- Saddles should be fit for both the rider and the horse. Examine the condition of the saddle well. Be sure that the leather is soft and strong. Remove saddles that are cracked, dry and worn down. Verify that the saddle works well and is fit for the horse that it is intended for, is adjusted and correctly used.
Most tourists that come here to bike go around the country via the Ring Road for at least some of the way; others choose rougher roads and use the Kjölur mountain route or other routes in the highlands.
Biking in lowland areas
But let’s consider what you should bear in mind when biking in the lowland areas of Iceland, such as on the famous Ring Road. Apart from the bike itself, clothing plays the next most important role. Here in Iceland we sometimes say that a light breeze is just hurrying by as it is often windy. What’s more, summertime temperatures can drop quite drastically and wind chill can even bring temperatures below zero.
Keep in mind that in Iceland there are few or no specific bike paths or roads. You’ll therefore be riding either on paved roads in varying condition, or on gravel roads. Be very familiar with the route you intend to use so that you can properly evaluate what kind of bike you’ll need. Regular street bikes are, for example, seldom suitable outside of urban areas.
- Warm underwear
- Wind- and waterproof outerwear
- Biking gloves
- Repair equipment (tubes, tires and tools)
- Extra clothing
- Good food, icelandic of course
Biking in the highland
When biking in the highlands of Iceland there are other things to consider as conditions are very different. First, we should mention the responsibility that lies with a cyclist in relation to the Icelandic environment, which is delicate as the summer is very short. Roads, trails and footpaths need to be followed as bikes can easily cause harm to nature in the same way as cars. Consequently, never bike off-road no matter how tempting it may be. If a situation arises in which you need to cross over a sensitive area, simply pick the bike up and carry it.
If you’re going to bike in the Icelandic highlands then you should only use a bike with shock absorbers. They not only make the journey a safe one, but also more enjoyable for the biker.
- Extra good underwear with good isolation, even when wet
- Extra chain and tools to repair it
- Tape for emergency repair
Roads and paths in the highlands of Iceland are challenging and at the same time very exciting. Aside from that, the views simply have no equivalent. Focus on biking and stopping rather frequently to take photos or enjoy the scenes before your eyes.
Remember to give someone a copy of your route plan as well as instructions regarding when to take action if you’re not heard from. Writing your name down in a guestbook is not just a courtesy, but also an important safety precaution. But above all, you should choose a route that is suited to your abilities, enjoy the trip and return home safe and sound.
- Dress according to weather and conditions. Leave a route plan behind and never travel alone to the mountains.
- Keep a pace that matches your competence in biking. If you no longer have full control of the bike, then slow down.
- If something appears difficult or dangerous then it probably is.
- Get familiar with the intended route in advance and choose one taking your abilities into consideration. Bring GPS devices or maps.
- Treat the environment with respect. Stay on paths and trails. Carry your bike over sensitive nature areas.
- Be an exemplary role model for other cyclists.
Whether you dive in the ocean or in a lake, the temperature is relatively low, usually between 2-8°C. As a result, you’ll always need a full body drysuit for diving. Another thing to mention about diving in Iceland is that currents by beaches are powerful and changes of weather are abrupt.
In the last decade kayaking has become more popular every year, both sea kayaking and white-water kayaking. They’re both a challenging and fun way to get closer to nature and test yourself at the same time. Both types require a firm minimum knowledge base that you can obtain at courses in kayaking clubs.
- Good underwear, must isolate even when wet
- Waterproof outerwear – kayak suit
- Life jacket should always be used
When planning a sea kayak trip the same rules apply as with other trips: give a copy of your travel plan to somebody who will stay onshore. The plan should say where you’re going, how long you’re travelling and where you’re staying for the night. Thoroughly check the weather and wave forecast for the route that you’re planning to go on and what the tide and currents are like there. The equipment list should always include a GPS device and a telecommunication device, and both should of course be water resistant or be kept in waterproof containers. Last but not least, sea kayakers should be able to easily get themselves out of the kayak if the kayak capsizes. However, even better would be to know the special kayak roll and be able to right the kayak yourself. As in all trips, an excellent and experienced travelling companion is worth his or her weight in gold.
Organising white-water kayaking trips has completely different rules. In white-water kayaking it’s vital that the entire group have adequate experience so that everybody can react if anything goes wrong. The trip should always be geared for the least experienced member of the group. If the river hasn’t been previously kayaked, one should familiarise oneself with rapids, whirlpools, strong currents, waterfalls, and other things that can affect the kayakers’ safety. Besides good clothing, the equipment list should also include a throw line, first aid kit, telecommunications device and of course extra clothes.
Finally, it should be mentioned to carefully put the kayaks back on a trailer or onto the roof of a car because not only can the kayaks be damaged if they are blown around by the wind, but they can also cause serious accidents
If you would like to go on your own and you possess the knowledge and background that is needed, then there are some things to keep in mind. First, as always, you should let someone know where you plan to go, how long you’ll stay and give them a copy of your intended routes. Secondly, you should check the weather report and conditions for the area. Finally, be sure your equipment is in working order. The equipment list should contain, in addition to the ice climbing equipment: good inner and outerwear, extra clothes, snacks, flash lights, a first aid kit, GPS devices, maps and telecommunications devices.
Rock climbing is another component of climbing sports and is mostly done indoors during winter and outdoors during summer. The main climbing areas here in Iceland are Stardalur, just outside of Reykjavik, Valshamar, right by Hvalfjörður and Hnappavellir, close to Skaftafell – the last location being a sort of Mecca for rock climbers in the summer. We’re not aware of any travel companies offering rock climbing trips, but The Icelandic Alpine Club has sponsored trips and courses.
Though solo climbing is customary among rock climbers, it’s still always advised to climb attached by a line and wearing a helmet and other appropriate safety equipment. It’s also necessary to have standard climbing equipment along as well as communication devices.
This is the top device for finding one’s way and at the same time the most secure because it does not use batteries and no technological problems can occur. The only thing needed is a traveller who knows how to use his or her compass.
Due to Iceland’s position, it’s necessary to calibrate the compass between the geographical and magnetic North Pole. This distortion is called magnetic declination. This means that when you have found your route on a map you should add the magnetic declination before heading out. In the same manner, you should remove the declination when you change course from the mapped route.
Magnetic declination in Iceland ranges from 12 – °18° from east to west. Before travelling you should find out the magnetic declination on that area.
You shouldn’t forget that a compass has multiple uses: it has a lid from which you can drink the best water in the world from clear mountain streams, and you can use the mirror to make sure you look respectable for your next place of stay.
Most people are familiar with GPS positioning equipment – they are a built-in feature in many new cars. These devices are just as useful aids in finding the right way in the wilderness. Today it is possible to get a good map of Iceland for Garmin GPS devices and the maps are available in many places, e.g. online, so that you can order them and put them into the device before arriving in Iceland.
Remember to set the device to WGS84, which is the “map datum” to which most maps from Iceland are tuned.
Before departure, it is a good idea to get the positions of lodges, campsites, fords across rivers, and other things that make a journey safer. Such information can be obtained from fellow travellers in Iceland and elsewhere. Remember that batteries in GPS devices do not last for particularly long. You should accordingly bring enough batteries and/or conserve usage of the device.