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Extreme lands


Extreme lands


The article published in 2007 by the Euromoto magazine refers to the trip made in 2004 and already published here, in the press review. The text is obviously different from the one written for “Fuoristrada” and already reported in this section. At that time I was organizing the third expedition to Iceland, with a mini group to accompany and talking about it in the editorial office they didn't want to wait until the following year. The photos in the gallery relate to 2011, the fourth trip to the land of ice.

The experience instead of 2008, is published in the tour reports.

Yes, one of my favorite destinations ever .........

Read the story published in the magazine.

Probably nowhere else on Earth are the forces of nature as evident as in Iceland. Glaciers, active volcanoes, geysers, ice caps, waterfalls with an incredible flow of water, endless lava deserts seem to create a kind of competition to capture the attention of the visitor, often disoriented and helpless in the face of so much, sublime, majestic power.

“If you don't like our climate, just wait a minute” goes an Icelandic proverb and variability is one of the factors to consider most in a possible trip.

Iceland is an extraordinarily harsh and arid land, where fire and ice coexist, where incandescent rocks and icy waters form a unique and fascinating combination, where lights create unforgettable chromatic games that delight those who love nature.

In so much uniqueness, the bike certainly represents the best way to experience an adventure to discover this land, one of the youngest on the planet.

And it is precisely by understanding these immense forces that dominate Icelandic geography, that you can plan an itinerary tailored to your needs and driving skills.

The naturalistic attractions are innumerable, shocking and often close at hand: if we consider it part of Europe, here we find the waterfalls with the greatest flow of water, the largest glaciers, some of the most active volcanoes and the most intense geothermal activity of the continent.

You are really spoiled for choice !!

Such spectacularity, however, must be faced with caution and attention. It will not be as cold as many believe, but the variability and climatic adversities are certainly some of the factors to consider in a possible visit (see information box): rain and above all strong winds can sometimes represent a difficult and demanding obstacle even for the most experienced pilots. It is preferable to wait a few hours rather than venture onto roads where traffic is often scarce and urbanized areas are very distant from each other with virtually no possibility of finding refuge and shelter.

Let us remember that we are in the least populated nation on the continent, another of the primates of this country.

Indicative are the orange structures, real shelters, located throughout the country at the crossing points or where the weather conditions can be more adverse, in which it is possible to take shelter in case of need. Inside there are a couple of cots, a radio, but their use is allowed only in case of serious difficulties. An extra safety for cyclists and motorcyclists !!

But let's not be discouraged.

The arrival point by land will always and only be the port of Seydisfjordour, the departure and arrival point of any trip with a vehicle in tow, the docking point for the Smyril-Line ferries. From here the advice of the locals and the guides suggest to drive following an anticlockwise itinerary: the cyclists do it, but we guarantee that in any case being on a windy day in these parts, the mere fact of having it in front or behind is a nice advantage or disadvantage, depending on the case, even for those who are not forced to pedal.

Let's start talking about the landscape attractions that probably only this land can offer.

The falls, or foss. There are 5, even if we would like to add a sixth, Fjalfoss commonly called Dynjandi, a little out of the way, in that area of ​​the north-western fjords and which we will discuss extensively later: in order, Dettifoss, Godafoss, Gullfoss, Skogafoss, Svartifoss. Each different from the other, but all worthy of attention. The most striking thing is certainly the absolute lack of controls or fences that allow visitors to reach the brink of these wonders of nature. Following the suggested itinerary, the first will also be the most violent: Dettifoss is, in fact, the largest waterfall with the greatest flow of water in Europe. It is very difficult to remain numb in front of such a spectacle: the water, falling with an unprecedented power further downstream, reduces us to simple and helpless spectators immersed in an unreal landscape, speechless and amazed by a deafening roar. Here you have to go on a track (about 30km) but, believe us, it is absolutely worth it. The others, on the other hand, are easily accessible, since they are located in the immediate vicinity of the ss1, in Icelandic Hringbraut, in English Ring road, which represents, following mostly the coast for about 1500km, the main road artery of the island, now almost completely paved.

Iceland is one of the most spectacular volcanic regions in the world. There are about 200 postglacial volcanoes, at least 30 of which are still active. The average of eruptions is 1 every 5 years. In the active areas, volcanism is accompanied by high temperature thermal phenomena, such as sulphates, fumaroles and boiling water springs (hver), while in the oldest areas there are mineral springs with medium-low temperatures. These activities are evident almost all over the island but we certainly recommend those in the Myvatn, Geyser and Hveravellir area. The first gives its name to a nature reserve, where it is possible to explore the deep volcanic cracks Stòragja and Grjòtagja, the solidified lava blocks of Dimmuborgir, the large ash cone of Hverfjall and the geothermal phenomena of Nàmaskardh, used industrially.

The second, among other things just an hour's drive from the capital and less than 10 km from Gulfoss, offers the visitor the spectacle of the Stòrj Geysir, one of the most famous geothermal jets, reported in the news since the 1200s.

The show is really impressive, the spray reaches up to 50m, but not at fixed times. While waiting, you can pass the time with the nearby Strokkur, which erupts and gushes "only" 20m high jets of water every 8 minutes.

Hveravellir, on the other hand, can only be reached in July and August for a long, dusty, desolate, fascinating dirt road. 95km from Gullfoss or by cutting the island in 2 along the F35, for 200km of off-road vehicles. It must be said that this area is part of the central mountainous plateau, the last true desert land in Europe. Of the tracks that cross it, this is certainly the easiest, there are no fords to cross and the track conditions are constantly improving.

If you decide to try, gray sands and black stones will accompany you for almost the entire track crushed, in its final part, by the Langjokull and Hofsjokull glaciers.

Another essential attraction from the Icelandic experience is undoubtedly Landmannalaugar. Here too you have to face a track, the F208, about 40km, but the chromatic spectacle of this valley also in this case amply rewards the efforts made. If you thought you had by now cataloged all the possible color combinations during the trip, here you will have to change your mind once more. The peaks of rhyolite, a combination of minerals subjected to metamorphosis by geothermal and volcanic activity, which give the soil a reddish color, blend with the meandering lava flows, interspersed with the intense blue of the mountain lakes. Most surprisingly, a very low vegetation, a kind of moss of a very intense green. Really extraordinary!

But in the proposed itinerary we also managed to include the north-western area, commonly called the fjords. Despite the extraordinary beauty, they are the least visited part of the country, due to the impervious position, connected to the rest of the island by a narrow isthmus of just 10km which makes it a kind of island of 8600km square, and the climate that latitudes can be really hostile, on the edge of the Arctic circle and reaching out like a claw in the ocean towards Greenland.

Everything has an extreme aspect and the merciless geography makes the routes long and challenging in case of adverse weather.

At the time of the trip, work was underway to pave the eastern section of the 61, from Arngeroareyri to Isafjordour, a distance of 200km for less than 40 as the crow flies !! We proceed around 7 fjords even if the road is mainly maintained at sea level.

But if you like the 61, you will be thrilled with the 60, which descends south through some of the most spectacular scenery on the entire island. It is a mountain road, which winds through narrow passes, valleys with incredible chromatic varieties and impervious coasts. This is the alternative to be able to get to Isafjordour, but once you pass the villages of Flateyri and Pyngeri, it will become little more than a path. In this stretch, skirting the Dynjandisvogur fjord at high altitude, you will notice in the distance the harmonious Dyniandi, literally "thundering", the most impressive waterfall in the area. With a very wide front, more than 60m, it descends like a veil from the top of a 100m cliff, forming 5 smaller waterfalls at its feet. Scenographic.

A little further south is the junction for one of the main access points to the fjords area: the Brjànslaekur ferry terminal. For us, however, it is not over yet, so left for the state road 63. The road is not that great, but the point of arrival is the cliffs of Làtriabjarg, the main tourist attraction, which in summer becomes the observation point for thousands of birds. marine species such as guillemots, kittiwake and puffins, but also rarer species such as white-tailed sea eagles and Icelandic gyrfalcons.

The cliffs, in addition to being beautiful, are also located in the westernmost point of Europe, (N 65 ° 30'11''W 24 ° 31'44 ').

Well, these are the things that most interested and impressed us but, in the proposed itinerary there are certainly other destinations worthy of attention, it being understood that the path can be changed and twisted according to the needs of individuals. One thing is certain, regardless of routes, driving skills, type of vehicles used and time available: Iceland is certainly, with its scenic attractions and its irrepressible nature, a dream, a destination to be included in the programs of any motorcyclist tourist.

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