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Author Topic: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?  (Read 2530 times)

John Hollenberg

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Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« on: November 19, 2017, 02:07:17 PM »

I am planning my first photo trip to Iceland in June, 2018 for 10-12 days, leaving Los Angeles either June 8 or June 15.  Will have 1-3 friends with me.  Am planning for Southern Iceland (hopefully including Landmannalaugar) and perhaps the Snaefellsnes peninsula.   On our trips we usually like to wing it, stopping wherever we happen to be for the night to get a motel.  Will this be doable without reservations (excluding Landmannalaugar where we would book a hut well in advance)?  Will the number of tourists be significantly less at these times than the beginning of July?  I have the "Forever Light" ebook (quite useful) and have studied as much as I can.  Any other suggestions appreciated also.
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2017, 03:56:22 PM »

I am planning my first photo trip to Iceland in June, 2018 for 10-12 days, leaving Los Angeles either June 8 or June 15.  Will have 1-3 friends with me.  Am planning for Southern Iceland (hopefully including Landmannalaugar) and perhaps the Snaefellsnes peninsula.   On our trips we usually like to wing it, stopping wherever we happen to be for the night to get a motel.  Will this be doable without reservations (excluding Landmannalaugar where we would book a hut well in advance)?  Will the number of tourists be significantly less at these times than the beginning of July?  I have the "Forever Light" ebook (quite useful) and have studied as much as I can.  Any other suggestions appreciated also.

Without reservations you will not be able to do it (assuming you want to stay in a proper lodging and not on a campsite). Till around 2013 or so it was possible to wing it in Iceland without prior reservation. No more, and certainly not along the south coast.

The number of tourists before June 15 will be less, but this is relative. Things have changed rather dramatically in the past 3/4 years.

Landmannalaugar routes may not be open by June 15. There's no way to know this far in advance.



Daniel Bergmann

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2017, 05:33:21 PM »

Rajan is correct, there is no way to get accommodation in June without booking far in advance. Especially in the southern part of the country. Snaefellsnes has also got very busy. Even fully booked there in May. Tourism in June in Iceland is now as heavy as in July. Less traffic in the highlands though fro obvious reasons as most of the highlands don't open up until early July.

If you want to include Landmannalaugar then do so at the end of your trip, which should ensure that the road in from the north will be opened. It usually does open between June 15-25. You can stay at the nearby Hrauneyjar highland base and travel into Fjallabak from there. Takes about an hour to drive into Landmannalaugar.

John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2017, 10:39:25 PM »

Thanks to Daniel and Rajan for very useful information.  I have a pretty close to final itinerary now, but not sure where to stay for each night.  In parentheses when knowing where to stay:

Day 0 - (Reykjavik, June 16)
Day 1- The Golden Circle
Day 2 - Selialandsfoss & Skogafoss
Day 3 and 4 - Vik coast
Day 5 - Moss covered lava rocks & Fjaorargljufur Canyon
Day 6 and 7 - Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Ice Beach and Skaftafell National Park
Day 8 - Vesturhorn mountain and Laekjavik coast (Hofn, June 24)
Day 9 and 10 - Landmannalaugar (Hrauneyjar highland, June 25-26)
Day 11 - (Reykjavik June 27)
Day 12 - Fly out June 28

Questions:

1) Any suggestions on towns to stay in for Days 1-7?  I am awaiting a map I ordered that may help me also.
2) Will I be able to get to other places in the interior highlands on June 25 with 4WD vehicle, or is Landmannalaugar the limit for that time of year?  If so, should I allow more days Hrauneyjar highland and less elsewhere?

Any other suggestions welcome.
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2017, 11:39:42 PM »

Thanks to Daniel and Rajan for very useful information.  I have a pretty close to final itinerary now, but not sure where to stay for each night.  In parentheses when knowing where to stay:

Day 0 - (Reykjavik, June 16)
Day 1- The Golden Circle
Day 2 - Selialandsfoss & Skogafoss
Day 3 and 4 - Vik coast
Day 5 - Moss covered lava rocks & Fjaorargljufur Canyon
Day 6 and 7 - Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Ice Beach and Skaftafell National Park
Day 8 - Vesturhorn mountain and Laekjavik coast (Hofn, June 24)
Day 9 and 10 - Landmannalaugar (Hrauneyjar highland, June 25-26)
Day 11 - (Reykjavik June 27)
Day 12 - Fly out June 28

Questions:

1) Any suggestions on towns to stay in for Days 1-7?  I am awaiting a map I ordered that may help me also.
2) Will I be able to get to other places in the interior highlands on June 25 with 4WD vehicle, or is Landmannalaugar the limit for that time of year?  If so, should I allow more days Hrauneyjar highland and less elsewhere?

Any other suggestions welcome.

Quickly -

It is not necessary to keep changing hotels. For example, Seljalandsfoss, Skˇgafoss, VÝk can use one common base. I recommend Hˇtel FljˇtshlÝ­ near Hvolsv÷llur (you will have a beautiful view of Eyjafjallaj÷kull; this area is also of significance in Icelandic sagas). Second choice - Country Hˇtel Anna further up in the Eyjafj÷ll region. All these hotels have Tripadvisor reviews.

Fja­rßrglj˙fur and Eldhraun ("Fire lava," which is the moss-covered lava) are just outside KirkjubŠjarklaustur. I recommend Hˇtel Klaustur. From here you could also take the Nyr­ra Fjallabak (F208) route all the way to Landmannalaugar. The other approach to Landmannalaugar is from Hrauneyjar (which you can get to from Hella or Hvolsv÷llur). Don't be fooled by the "4WD" label if you plan to take the F routes yourself. Most of the 4WDs rented are city SUVs and although car rental companies will tell you they are suitable for F routes, you are ultimately responsible if things go wrong. There are glacial rivers to ford and all insurance becomes invalid if you incur damage while crossing rivers. Rent a high-clearance robust vehicle such as the Toyota Landcruiser and take EVERY kind of insurance offered (if peace of mind means anything to you).

For J÷kulsßrlˇn, I recommend Hali Country Hˇtel. (Avoid Guesthouse Ger­i, which is its neighbor unless you have absolutely no choice.) The Skaftafell area is an easy drive from either KirkjubŠjarklaustur or from the J÷kulsßrlˇn area, so you don't have to take accommodation there. But if you want to, there's Fosshˇtel Skaftafell which is quite nice. There are also two new Fosshˇtels now - Fosshˇtel J÷kulsßrlˇn (not close to, but within easy driving distance of, the glacial lagoon) and Fosshˇtel N˙par (alternative to staying in KirkjubŠjarklaustur).

Finally - give your planned itinerary a second thought. One possibility is, after the Golden Circle, drive all the way to H÷fn and start your south coast exploration driving westward. On your eastward drive to H÷fn you will be able to take mental notes on what you may want to come back to later for a more detailed look. Also, you will have two possibilities of getting to Landmannalaugar (stated above). Your final night (Day 11) can be spent in the Hvolsv÷llur area instead of ReykjavÝk, especially if your Icelandair flight back to the US is around 5 pm in the afternoon.







John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2017, 02:54:20 PM »

Don't be fooled by the "4WD" label if you plan to take the F routes yourself. Most of the 4WDs rented are city SUVs and although car rental companies will tell you they are suitable for F routes, you are ultimately responsible if things go wrong. There are glacial rivers to ford and all insurance becomes invalid if you incur damage while crossing rivers. Rent a high-clearance robust vehicle such as the Toyota Landcruiser and take EVERY kind of insurance offered (if peace of mind means anything to you).

Thank you for excellent and detailed suggestions.  I will study them before making reservations.  The one thing about the Toyota Landcruiser is that it is very expensive (almost $800 a day where I looked), meaning we would probably want to return to Reykjavik and only rent the Landcruiser for the last couple of days when we plan to drive the F roads rather than having it for the entire trip.
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2017, 03:28:14 PM »

Thank you for excellent and detailed suggestions.  I will study them before making reservations.  The one thing about the Toyota Landcruiser is that it is very expensive (almost $800 a day where I looked), meaning we would probably want to return to Reykjavik and only rent the Landcruiser for the last couple of days when we plan to drive the F roads rather than having it for the entire trip.

That quote doesnĺt sound right. For a little more than $800, you can get a private superjeep tour into the Highlands.

The quote I get at ReykjavÝk Rent A Car (reykjavikrentacar.is) is around $250 per day for your dates. See attachment.

John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2017, 11:56:38 PM »

That quote doesnĺt sound right. For a little more than $800, you can get a private superjeep tour into the Highlands.

The quote I get at ReykjavÝk Rent A Car (reykjavikrentacar.is) is around $250 per day for your dates. See attachment.

I don't know how I got that almost $800 number, I think it was a quote for 3 days I thought was for one day.  Thanks for the correction.  Seems reasonable now.
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John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2017, 02:26:16 PM »

The other approach to Landmannalaugar is from Hrauneyjar (which you can get to from Hella or Hvolsv÷llur).  Don't be fooled by the "4WD" label if you plan to take the F routes yourself. Most of the 4WDs rented are city SUVs and although car rental companies will tell you they are suitable for F routes, you are ultimately responsible if things go wrong. There are glacial rivers to ford and all insurance becomes invalid if you incur damage while crossing rivers. Rent a high-clearance robust vehicle such as the Toyota Landcruiser and take EVERY kind of insurance offered (if peace of mind means anything to you).

If our only plan for the interior is to go to Landmannalaugar from Hrauneyjar, will a city 4WD suffice?  I understand that doesn't involve any river crossings.
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2017, 09:22:56 PM »

If our only plan for the interior is to go to Landmannalaugar from Hrauneyjar, will a city 4WD suffice?  I understand that doesn't involve any river crossings.

Yes. There is one river crossing just before you get to the campsite in Landmannalaugar but people with smaller vehicles usually park and then walk across. Make sure you have the proper footwear.

John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2017, 05:15:32 PM »

The other place in the highlands I would really like to see is Laki Craters.  Is it reasonable for us to try to drive there in late June (we have purchased tickets for our flight June 15-29) if we have a Toyota Landcruiser instead?  Are there other places in the highlands we could reasonably drive in late June with the Toyota Landcruiser like Eldgja?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 09:48:17 PM by John Hollenberg »
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2017, 01:20:33 PM »

The other place in the highlands I would really like to see is Laki Craters.  Is it reasonable for us to try to drive there in late June (we have purchased tickets for our flight June 15-29) if we have a Toyota Landcruiser instead?  Are there other places in the highlands we could reasonably drive in late June with the Toyota Landcruiser like Eldgja?

Thanks.

You will need a vehicle at least the size of a Toyota Landcruiser to negotiate the route to LakagÝgar. This is assuming you are familiar with driving rough tracks and crossing glacial rivers whose flow can change on a dime depending on conditions.

Another possibility to consider - take a flight over LakagÝgar. The terrain around the Laki craters is best appreciated from the air. See - http://www.flightseeing.is/project/laki-craters-and-surroundings-t2/


 

John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2017, 11:53:43 PM »

Rajan,

Thanks for your helpful suggestions.  We have our flights booked and have tentative hotel reservations (very difficult to find around the Skaftafell area even now more than 6 months away, other areas were somewhat difficult to book also and we had to take what we could get).  Now have a total of 8 people going, 5-6 are not photographers, 2-3 are photographers.  Most of our party love to hike, which we will be doing in addition to photography.  Here are the reservations we have:

Jun 16-18 - Hotel Lambafell, Eyvindarholar (half way between Hvolsv÷llur and Vik)
June 19-21 - Fosshotel Nupar in KirkjubŠjarklaustur (possible drive to Laki Craters if water level in rivers permits)
June 22 -     Hotel Skaftafell
June 23 - Hotel Laki in KirkjubŠjarklaustur
June 24-25 - Kerlingarfj÷ll Mountain Resort (off route 35)
June 26-28 - Highland Center Hrauneyjar (visit Landmannalaugar and  Haifoss/Granni, other places if time and motivation)

Any suggested changes appreciated (assuming we can find reservations).  Want to consider climbing Hekla if we can figure out where to start from and how much distance/elevation.  We are used to hiking/backpacking at altitudes over 3,000 meters so not a problem if distance isn't too far.  Our 4WD vehicle choices are Toyota Landcruiser 76 or Land Rover Defender (same price).  Do you recommend one over the other?  Any suggested place to rent from?

Thanks again for all your help.  It has been invaluable.
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2017, 09:54:10 AM »

Want to consider climbing Hekla if we can figure out where to start from and how much distance/elevation.  We are used to hiking/backpacking at altitudes over 3,000 meters so not a problem if distance isn't too far.  Our 4WD vehicle choices are Toyota Landcruiser 76 or Land Rover Defender (same price).
My wife and I have been to hekla, but our information is a bit dated (1974!)

We were on a camping/hiking tour using a big Mercedes bus and a substantial food/tents/supplies truck. The route in to Hekla was what is called a "track," and it was virtually invisible to the bus passengers. The bus driver knew his way around extremely well. But even so, we came to one place where the bus got hung up going over a bluff, so the driver got out a shovel and spent about fifteen minutes rebuilding the road to free the bus. Then later on, the bus sank into the soft volcanic ash quite near the mountain and couldn't make it up a gentle slope. The truck then detoured around the soft area to get ahead of the bus and attached a tow rope to get the bus moving again.

The entourage stopped when both drivers got as close to the base of Hekla as they felt was safe. Our group of hikers then split in two, with the faster group making it all the way through the wind-blown snow to the summit, which was quite spectacular. With snow all over the upper half of the mountain, the return trip was mostly sliding down the hill.

Hiking up and down the mountain was easy. Driving in and out was anything but. So I would not attempt Hekla without an experienced guide driving a vehicle with which he was very familiar.

I hope you have a great trip and will show us some good photographs when you return.

-Eric
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John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2017, 09:52:03 AM »

The route in to Hekla was what is called a "track," and it was virtually invisible to the bus passengers. The bus driver knew his way around extremely well. But even so, we came to one place where the bus got hung up going over a bluff, so the driver got out a shovel and spent about fifteen minutes rebuilding the road to free the bus. Then later on, the bus sank into the soft volcanic ash quite near the mountain and couldn't make it up a gentle slope. The truck then detoured around the soft area to get ahead of the bus and attached a tow rope to get the bus moving again.

The entourage stopped when both drivers got as close to the base of Hekla as they felt was safe.

Hiking up and down the mountain was easy. Driving in and out was anything but. So I would not attempt Hekla without an experienced guide driving a vehicle with which he was very familiar.

Thanks Eric.  Good information.  I found a description of the starting points, apparently there is a lower point that is easy to get to and a higher one that requires 4WD.  Sounds like that higher starting point may be a bit over the top for a mere mortal.

http://www.westcoastpeaks.com/Peaks/hekla.html

https://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2016/05/06/hekla-the-medieval-gate-to-hell/

After reading the article in the second link, my brother commented that he "has always wanted to visit the medieval gate to hell". ;)
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Rajan Parrikar

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2017, 03:17:50 PM »

John,

Sounds good.

Although both are capable, the Toyota Landcruiser is better suited for your purpose, according to my friend B÷rkur who knows these vehicles very well. The Land Rover has more fancy features which means more chance of the electronics failures.

Next to Hekla is Leirubakki. Iĺve stayed there several years ago. They have a fine restaurant. See - http://www.leirubakki.is/www.leirubakki.is/index.html

Your accommodation choices look good. I still recommend you consider Hˇtel FljˇtshlÝ­.

Ericĺs account should give you additional insight into what to expect.





John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2017, 03:28:32 PM »

Your accommodation choices look good. I still recommend you consider Hˇtel FljˇtshlÝ­.

We would have considered that hotel, but they are sold out for the dates we expect to be in that area.  Over 6 months in advance!

Thanks.
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Daniel Bergmann

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2017, 04:57:09 PM »

Rajan,

Thanks for your helpful suggestions.  We have our flights booked and have tentative hotel reservations (very difficult to find around the Skaftafell area even now more than 6 months away, other areas were somewhat difficult to book also and we had to take what we could get).  Now have a total of 8 people going, 5-6 are not photographers, 2-3 are photographers.  Most of our party love to hike, which we will be doing in addition to photography.  Here are the reservations we have:

Jun 16-18 - Hotel Lambafell, Eyvindarholar (half way between Hvolsv÷llur and Vik)
June 19-21 - Fosshotel Nupar in KirkjubŠjarklaustur (possible drive to Laki Craters if water level in rivers permits)
June 22 -     Hotel Skaftafell
June 23 - Hotel Laki in KirkjubŠjarklaustur
June 24-25 - Kerlingarfj÷ll Mountain Resort (off route 35)
June 26-28 - Highland Center Hrauneyjar (visit Landmannalaugar and  Haifoss/Granni, other places if time and motivation)

Any suggested changes appreciated (assuming we can find reservations).  Want to consider climbing Hekla if we can figure out where to start from and how much distance/elevation.  We are used to hiking/backpacking at altitudes over 3,000 meters so not a problem if distance isn't too far.  Our 4WD vehicle choices are Toyota Landcruiser 76 or Land Rover Defender (same price).  Do you recommend one over the other?  Any suggested place to rent from?

Thanks again for all your help.  It has been invaluable.

First of all, no one is hiking up Hekla at this time. The volcano is ready to erupt and if it has not done so next June it can simply go off at any time. Last time it erupted (in 2000) it gave less than 2 hour notice. So Hekla is currently closed off for hiking. There is however a lot of good hiking to be done in the Landmannalaugar area but expect snow on paths this early in the season. If the Landmannaleid route will be open from Landmannavegur east into Fjallabak reserve, then you can take the Krakatindar track a bit south of the main route. You will shortly notice a parking area and from there it takes about 45 minutes to hike to Raudufossar waterfall. Hiking further up into Raudufossafjoll mountains is a magnificent hike. Then in Landmannalaugar itself you can hike to Mt. Brennisteinsalda and if you want a more spectacular view then you can go further afield across Vondugil and up Mt. Hßalda. The view from Mt. Blßhn˙kur (a steep hike near the campsite) is also magnificent.

The rivers to Laki are not glacial so the amount of water in them is related to the amount of snow melt and rain. None of them is particularly deep and just require a slow and careful crossing. You don't need a big SUV like the Landcruiser. Something like a Dacia Duster will do. But having a Landcruiser 76 will certainly give you more clearance for crossing and you don't have to worry about getting water into the engine, as long as it has a snorkel.

Your hotel itinerary looks quite good. Kerlingarfjoll is another wonderful area for hiking. It is however at a considerable altitude so prone to high wind and stormy weather.

John Hollenberg

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2017, 11:22:07 AM »

The rivers to Laki are not glacial so the amount of water in them is related to the amount of snow melt and rain. None of them is particularly deep and just require a slow and careful crossing. You don't need a big SUV like the Landcruiser. Something like a Dacia Duster will do. But having a Landcruiser 76 will certainly give you more clearance for crossing and you don't have to worry about getting water into the engine, as long as it has a snorkel.

Daniel, thanks for detailed information.  Apparently the internet is quite dated with descriptions of hiking Hekla.  We plan to rent a Landcruiser with a snorkel to give us peace of mind and the chance of going as many places as possible.  Would we be able to drive to ١rsm÷rk at this time of year with the Landcruiser or is it too early?
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Kevin Raber

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Re: Iceland in June - Will We Need Motel Reservations?
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2017, 11:56:26 AM »

There is no one better than Daniel for Iceland information.  He knows everything about Iceland and then some.  The Icelandic horses are a wonderful thing to photograph even if Daniel avoids them.  I do hope you enjoy your trip as Iceland is one of my favorite places on the planet. 

Daniel, thanks for helping out.  Glad to see you online enjoying your membership ;-))  :o :o :D

Now if I could only get Daniel to write an article.
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