I really hoped we weren’t going to come across any rivers during our road trip around Iceland. I’d read all about them in my guidebook:
“… many people have drowned in their cars attempting to ford rivers in the interior… once in [the river], don’t stop (you’ll either start sinking into the riverbed or get swept away)… If in doubt, it’s much better to wait for the river to subside or for the weather to improve than to take risks.”
It seemed to me that it’d be much better just to stay at home. I wanted a road trip, not an arduous expedition; I wanted to marvel at Mother Nature, not risk my life battling it.
There are a number of obstacles to taking a car around Iceland. For a start, it is a country utterly bereft of asphalt. Beyond Route 1, which wriggles around the island’s perimeter like a lasso, and a handful of conjoined squiggles that lie across the map like worms searching for food, the country is naked. Add to this the devastatingly changeable Iceland weather conditions, and landscapes so distracting it’s a genuine struggle to keep your eyes on the road, and you can begin to understand why car insurance is so important in this country.
Yet these also happen to be the exact same reasons that a road trip is one of the most glorious things to do in Iceland. This is a country that you could easily circumnavigate in an (admittedly long) day, during which you’d find yourself in almost completely isolation, save for a smattering of other vehicles along the route. It’s difficult to think of a better way of seeing one of the world’s most attractive islands, especially when it’s so easy to hire a car from Reykjavik.
Thankfully, the worst I encountered during my own road trip around western Iceland was a heavy shower, which didn’t even manage to dampen my spirits, never mind my shoes. Having said this, the rapidity with which I saw the morning’s blue skies fade behind a menacing grey ceiling was enough to deter me from ever testing the veracity of my guidebook’s warnings.
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