Challenge Sophie’s East Iceland road trip
All images © Sophie Radcliffe
Endurance athlete Sophie Radcliffe, aka Challenge Sophie, shares the highlights of her recent East Iceland road trip with Discover the World.
I’ve been dreaming of Iceland for years and am pinching myself that I’m finally here. Ever since the 2008 financial crash tourism to Iceland has exploded. Apparently the crash and the eruption of the volcano that caused global travel disruption in 2010 has led to a 600% increase in tourists visiting Iceland. Today I’m one of them.
I’m on the last day of a week long road trip with my brother, Luke, to explore all the East has to offer. Never mind the hot springs, bubbling mud pools and waterfalls, you had me at road trip! I think a road trip is firmly on my list of things I’d never say no to. Here are my top five highlights…
1. Climbing Snaefell
Iceland’s highest mountain, Snaefell, a volcano that’s been dormant for 10,000 years is one of the wonders of the East if you fancy a little adventure. Under the expert guidance of Skuli from Wild Boys, one of Discover the World’s partners, we took on the challenge to climb this stunning mountain.
2. Endless opportunities to admire waterfalls
Iceland is a true treat for the senses. You don’t have to drive far to find another beautiful natural feature that makes this country so unique and the waterfalls are definitely a huge attraction when exploring here. As we drove along, we’d see them cascading down the mountains and take detours to get up close. We even dunked our heads a couple of times to feel the power of the water surging over the cliffs. Amazing!
3. Natural Hot Springs
After a day driving, hiking or horse riding I couldn’t imagine a more perfect end to the day than relaxing in the hot springs or one of the outdoor hot tubs in the hotels we stayed at. Escaping from my dirty clothes and slipping into the hot water was truly divine. I loved relaxing and admiring the views, reading my book or even kicking back with an Icelandic beer.
4. These Roads
When I’m back in London at my desk I’ll close my eyes and remember cruising these roads! There’s a ring road that goes all the way around Iceland, but where possible we took detours to explore off the beaten tracks we often had entirely to ourselves. Cloud-shrouded mountains towering above us, the road winding alongside the fjords, driving from one tiny fishing village to the next. If you are a fan of road trips, you may just fall in love with driving here.
5. Quad Biking
On our last day we drove from a tiny fishing village, Breiddalsvik, in the Eastern Fjords with just 134 inhabitants, through the mountains to Hallormstadeur for our quad biking adventure. We met Jens outside a shack in the forest and jumped on the quad bikes. He explains the entire forest has been imported here as trees don’t grow naturally in Iceland. We cruise the trails for two hours, taking on river crossings, uneven trails that threaten to flip the bikes, low hanging trees that we need to duck under, stunning vistas over the lake with the Monster Myth and up and down dirt tracks that throw up dust in our faces. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. What a way to end our trip!
I know I said I’d share my top five with you, but there was something very special that really made this trip magical. Whilst staying in Breiddalsvik (the town with 134 inhabitants) we heard it was National Iceland Day and the town would be putting on a little celebration. Slightly inland from the shoreline stood an old wooden fishing boat which two local folk bands used as a stage to perform and light up the town and its people. Late under the midnight sun, we sat on the grass drinking Icelandic ale, feeling welcomed into the wonder of this small town.
Watch some video footage from Sophie’s Adventure:
Start Planning Your Trip
You can follow in Sophie’s footsteps on our 7-night Exploring East Fjords itinerary. This summer itinerary takes in the very best of the beautiful East Fjords. Alternatively, view all our Iceland fly drive holidays.
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