Road Trip in Iceland, Our Winter Guide!

Iceland. There are certain destinations where you only go once, others where you will return tirelessly – you know it at first sight.

The itinerary was overall: to go around the island, going out as often as possible of the circular road to explore the crossing paths (our credo;)).

But this time is in February, and it changes a lot of things. It’s a bit like another journey, another world, a white, mysterious, silent, a little more dangerous planet. We’re gonna have to tame the road. Not so simple in the middle of winter…

WINTER TRAVEL IN ICELAND

Advantages / disadvantages of a winter trip

amazing landscapesChoosing winter to visit Iceland is a very good idea! There is less tourism, the prices are lower than in summer, and of course you have the Northern Lights!

The days are shorter… but not that much: on February 15th, it’s 9:30 am to 6 pm! You can check the day here, depending on the month. On this point, I think it’s best to avoid December and January (unless your priority is the Northern Lights that require the night!).

Some small disadvantages: some places are inaccessible in winter, such as all the Highlands (the very wild center of the island), some roads are closed, not all hotels are open, some hikes inaccessible. Off-season Iceland, you know.

But what a joy to dive into a hot spring surrounded by snow-covered mountains, to visit an ice cave and to ride in all this mysterious white! The winter atmosphere is sublime. The colors are sublime. We also found the glaciers even more beautiful in winter! It’s transparent blue; it’s thick white, it’s also a very special polar light, subtle, soft, all in shades, from pink to blue… It’s a light that nourishes your thirst for adventure, that deeply marks the eyes, the spirit!

Organize a road trip in Iceland

The first time, we left alone without preparing anything (road trip of 1 month in summer). This time we tested Guide to Iceland to rent the car, book hotels and activities.

The advantage is that it costs you nothing, and you have someone to take care of your itinerary and reservations. It is a local platform specialized in Iceland, super complete, designed and managed by Icelanders. For those who like to be taken care of and have a local contact, it’s cool. They have an agency on LA main street in Reykjavík (Laugavegur 12a), so you can easily come and see them.

And I want to tell you something crazy: if you like this article and you want to make the same trip as us, send an email to Emilie (emilie@guidetoiceland.is, she speaks French:)) and ask her “the road trip of Carnets de traverse”! So you have nothing to do, and we can guarantee you a great trip (10 days), without tiring you to organize (and I repeat, it’s free!)! You can also ask for it as a basis to modify it as you wish…

Driving in Iceland in winter

spas and pools everywhereWe reassure you right away: driving in the middle of winter in Iceland is feasible.

The cars and tires you rent in Iceland are all adapted to ice. Over ten days of driving, I hardly felt the car slip or skate on the frozen roads, it was almost surprising (except once, and it scared me a little I must admit, but the conditions were hard, and we had looked for it a little).

You obviously have to be even more careful and drive even slower than in summer! In a blizzard, snow drifts on the side of the road (snowdrifts formed by the wind) can be dangerous because they surprise you when visibility is reduced!

How to dress? What equipment is needed?

Iceland in February it’s cold, let’s not lie to each other.

However, the temperatures are not horrible in itself: between -10°C and 5°C displayed at the thermometer in February, which is not so terrible considering the latitude!

No, your real enemy is WIND. With wind, a “nice” temperature of -5°C becomes rather -10°C or -15°C felt…! So you have to plan the clothes accordingly:)

The best thing is to lay layers of clothes on top of each other, that’s THE Nordiques’ anti-cold technique – and they know their subject well! It is also more practical because when you go in the sun and out of the wind, you can remove a layer easily.

Reasons not to travel with a drone!

I travel a lot, and I have been a big fan of photos and videos for many years.

The drone has been in my eye for a long time, but I finally gave up taking one with me on my trips. It is not a matter of budget or technology, but for many other reasons. In this article, I tell you why I do not travel with a drone.

1. A drone takes up space and weighs!

drone photography in asia

If you already do photo and video with me, you know that your backpack quickly fills up with devices and accessories of all kinds!

So is there room for a drone in this whole mess?

With a minimum of organization and a bag a little bigger, I think I could fit a small drone like the DJI Mavic. It will also need to consider keeping a little room for batteries and remote control. With all its accessories, count between 1 and 1.3 kilos to add a drone to your bag. And again, it was because we chose the DJI Mavic. The drones of competitors are bigger and heavier, as are the older versions of DJI and its Phantom. So we have to compromise because we can not wear everything.

2. The legal aspect can be a pain!

In Europe, legislation on drones is beginning to be structured, and many rules are being put in place.

quadricopter shot over a beach in australiaMany countries have followed this route of laws and are sometimes much more severe than in Europe. For example, in Belgium a permit is required, even for a leisure flight, in Germany it is necessary to have an accurate insurance according to the region and Morocco, or Brazil confiscates the drones when entering the territory. Of course, we need to check his information because we are not specialists.

You will understand, you will not be able to do anything, anywhere with a drone. You even risk a confiscation at the border.

3. The drone shots do not represent what I see in real life!

I have to admit that drones make great shots. I recognize it without a problem, and I will even tell you more, I am sometimes jealous of the shootings made by some other bloggers travelers I greet in passing. Nevertheless, it disturbs me because ultimately the views taken by my drone will have been seen only by my drone itself and not by me.

4. The safety of drone flights!

I did some drone flights with a friend, and I think it takes a minimum of training to master the craft perfectly. It is essential when traveling because we often go to places.

A mini drone might be a better option for you on the long term if you travel a lot. Click here to find more!

Our Camping Adventure Last Week End

One winter a friend of mine Ken and I decided we were going to try roughing it for a week at Lake Berryessa. We went to a place we called the Fill.  Some of our friends we had invited told us that camping at Lake Berryessa at that time of year was not just roughing it, it was nuts. A couple of them had tried it before and had only lasted for a couple of days because of the rain and cold. So naturally we were going to prove them wrong.

The first day we spent getting our camp all set up. We had our stove, Coleman lantern, sleeping bags and a Coleman catalytic heater and firewood for our campfires. We did have my pickup truck with a camper shell just in case it started to rain. We built a fire pit, collected some pine cones to help start our campfires, and we also had some fire starter sticks.

Roughing this up

We made some beds on the ground out of pine needles and whatever else we could find that was soft for under the sleeping bags. Since we were roughing it, the only food we took with us to eat was two loaves of French bread, a ten-pound sack of potatoes, a dozen eggs and three five-gallon bottles of water to use for cooking and drinking. Since we were going to be roughing it, we didn’t bring any meat because we were going eat all the fish that we caught at the fill. We had fished there many times before and had always had excellent luck catching everything from trout, catfish, crappie and an occasional bass. That night we built a campfire and tried our luck at cat fishing. We fished until about two in the morning and caught zip. So we went back to camp and went to sleep. About two hours later we woke up to the sound of rain. It was pouring. Our campfire was gone, so we got in the back of the camper shell where it was dry and a little warmer. Talk about roughing it.

A Fishing Heaven

On day two we fished for trout most of the day and managed to catch a couple of pretty nice ones, of course, we used up most of our live bait minnows and lost about half of our lures. At least we got to eat some fish with our bread and potatoes.

inside the boat
Inside the boat

That night we tried our luck at cat fishing again with the same result. Zip. This time, we decided to crawl into the camper shell to sleep just in case it rained again. When we woke up in the morning it was so cold inside the camper shell we thought we were asleep inside a freezer. We got up and started our Coleman catalytic heater to help us get warm. It was so cold outside there was frost all over everything including our firewood. It took us about an hour to get a campfire going. It did help having the Coleman fire starter sticks. Roughing it isn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be.

The next three days went just about like the first two, raining, cold and no fish. By then we had gone through all of our bread, eggs, potatoes, firewood and most of our Coleman fuel. We were starting to think if roughing it was such a good idea. But at least we had a big pile of pine cones, some of our Coleman fire starter sticks and our Coleman catalytic heater to keep us warm.

Day six we caught two catfish about four inches long. We figured by the time we got done cleaning them; there wouldn’t have been anything left so we threw them back in the lake. We heard some shooting and saw a flock of mud hens flying by, and one of them fell into the water about 100 yards away from us. We watched it slowly float to shore for about two hours.

Since we didn’t bring any meat because we were roughing it, we were so hungry that even mud hens were better than starving. I grabbed it out of the water and plucked it, cleaned it, and skinned it as good as I could. We got the campfire going with the rest of the pine cones and the fire starter sticks and cooked up the mud hen.  The pine cones gave the mud hen a different taste.

Day seven we woke up, and the sun was shining, it was about 60 degrees, and we could go home without losing face. We did learn an excellent lesson that week, don’t go camping without proper camping equipment and supplies even if you are going to try roughing it.

A superb outdoor adventure that we won’t forget. If you are after a tent, then here is everything you need to know about camping tents!