Iceland Trip

For ham folks who stumble here, the tl;dr is I’ll try to activate four parks on the air as TF/WT8P. I will be QRP, which means CW or FT8 are preferred modes. Logging should happen pretty quickly because Iceland is well-connected.

I’ve been overthinking my trip to Iceland, but this is what I’ve settled on:

Day 1: Arrive 6:15 am and rent a car. Overnight in Reykjavik.

Map showing route from Keflavik airport, via Blue Lagoon (geocaches, currnetly) then Reykjavik where I"ll overnight.
KEF to Blue Lagoon earthcaches, some puzzles, then Reyjkavik

A friend of mine said the Blue Lagoon is a must-do, but if I’m being honest, it looks super crowded and kind of touristy. I will likely decide to actually “go in” as it gets closer to travel time. I’ve been told that most towns have public pools that are a gathering place for locals, which sounds more my thing.

Overnight is in Reykjavik, where I’ll have some time to wander around town, looking for geocaches and shaking off jet-lag cobwebs until my Food and Drink Adventure starts. I’ll be back to Reykjavik before I leave to see more of its offerings.

Day 2: Golden Circle Tour. Overnight in Hvolsvöllur.

Reykjavik to the big national parks

This will be the “big site” day, where I’ll visit:

  • Þingvellir National Park – an UNESCO heritage site for its historical significance. There is a cluster of geocaches here to help frame the time spent.
  • Geysir (not to be confused with Geysir, the place I’m renting my car from) – is the first geyser described in print. Its sibling, Strokkur, is 100m south and still active.
  • Gullfoss is one of the more spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.

If I’m running ahead of schedule (which seems unlikely), I may try to grab that earthcache (Kerið Crater) on the way to my lodging in Hvolsvöllur.

Day 3: Waterfalls, Waterfalls everywhere, and they’re good to drink. Overnight in Vik.

Continuing along the South Island Ring Road 1, I’ll have a lot of time to get out and enjoy the waterfalls:

  • Seljalandsfoss — a 60m tall waterfall and close to Gljufurarfoss Canyon.
  • Skogafoss — This waterfall has an area (and geocache) behind the waterfall. (Apparently so does Seljalandsfoss.)
  • Sólheimasandur plane wreck – what remains of a US Navy DC3 that crashed in November 1973. It’s about a hour hike there and back from the main road.

Closer to Vik, and time permitting, there are some interesting basalt structures to visit.

Day 4: Kettle Holes and Iceberg Lagoons. Overnight in Höfn

This is another day of awesome sites, including a few locations where movies (Die Another Day) have been filmed. I’ve been told that Fjallsárlón is a less-crowded alternative to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and a place that I’ll stop first anyway.

Day 5: Eastern Iceland. Overnight in Myvatn.

The next few days was the hardest area to plan. I’m visiting Iceland in off-season, which means the weather could be sketchy at times, though much of this will be mitigated by sticking to the main Route 1.

I am planning to my KX3 (QRP) with me and, conditions-permitting, this will be my first POTA activations here as TF/WT8P of TF-0006 Holmandes National Reserve (Grid IP25), coinciding with CWOPS’ CWT at 1300z.

I was initially thinking I’d overnight it in Egilsstaðir, which would break up my driving day, give me an opportunity to do laundry, Vök baths, and provide a chance to visit the East Iceland Heritage Museum, but consistent lodging options became a challenge. To be sure, there are some awesome sounding places in the upper northeast, just few facilities there, and not something I’d feel comfortable visiting late in the year. Also, apparently Iceland doesn’t really have laundromats outside of Reykjavik, so I might as well wash stuff in a sink until later. 🙁

Day 6: Myvatn Layover

There are several interesting sites in the area, including:

  • Skútustaðagígar – pseudocraters formed by gas explosions. Their presence in a wetland has led to this being a great spot for bird watching.
  • Dimmuborgir – weirdly-formed towers of lava rocks and cliffs.
  • Hverir – highly geothermal and stinky area near Lake Myvatn.
  • Myvatn Nature Baths – this is the smaller facility in the north.

I’m hoping to do my second and third POTA activations. TF-0010 Mývatn NR (Grid IP15) is right where I’ll be staying the two nights, so as long as the weather cooperates, it should be an easy one. The third, TF-0008 Vestmannsvatn Nature Reserve, is northwest.

If lodging wasn’t a problem, I would have stayed a third night to allow time for seeing Dettifoss, famous for its appearance in the beginning of the movie Prometheus (the prequel(?) to Alien). Also Husavik looks like a lovely day trip. Ultimately, switching rooms/checking out three times in a row wasn’t worth the hassle, so I’m …

Day 7: Back to Reyjkavik

On the way out, I’ll stop at Goðafoss for the waterfall and geocaching. Next town is Akureyi, which will probably be a breakfast stop before picking up the penultimate waypoint for an Adventure Lab whose bonus final is somewhere near Reykjavik. It’s the last of long drives.

Back in Reykjavik, I hope to do the Northern Lights Tour.

Days 8-10 Explore Reykjavik (and do laundry)

I also hope to activate my fourth (and last) POTA in Iceland, TF-0001 Herdubreidar Fridland NR (Grid HP84).

I’ll also be doing the Reykjavik Food Tour, which only has one overlapping spot with the Food and Drink tour above. Finally, the obligatory tourist visit to Sky Lagoon before heading out.

I decided not to visit the Snæfells Peninsula on this trip as it would have jammed a lot more into the short time I have there. If I can convince family members to come with me next time, it’d be an easy visit.