Summer in the Backcountry
Many countries have rich winter-fall-spring outdoor options, but unfortunately Iceland isn’t one of them. For adventure travelers, it’s all about Icelandic summer.
Land of the Midnight Sun
Fall, winter and spring are too dark and wet to fully experience Iceland’s magical backcountry. Iceland’s mountain roads don’t open until the middle of June because of snow and mud and access to the Highlands is delayed until July in some years. Roads are not the issue in Reykjavik, darkness is. There is just 4:24 hours of daylight in early January with a 77 percent daily chance of snow.
Summer is an all-together different animal. By Icelandic standards it’s balmy, with highs in the upper 50s, but perhaps more importantly the sun reappears and it stays light well into the wee hours. Iceland’s far north latitude just outside the Arctic Circle and its mountainous topography contributes to its unique weather and lighting.
The countryside opens up in summer, a lush landscape dotted with grazing animals taking advantage of the two month growing season. You know it’s summer by seeing the happy locals who after months holed up around the fireplace with a hefty book are out enjoying the majestic countryside.
August in the Fjallaback
For Tusker travelers the August Iceland adventure travel itinerary offers the best trail conditions in Fjallaback Natural Reserve, a 47,000 hectare hunk of volcanic crafted mountains interspersed by glacially carved valleys. In August the rivers are running as summer temps approaching 60 degrees have a melting effect. The Torfajokull Mountains within the reserve rise over 500 meters and are themselves weather makers adding mists and varying winds and light rain. Unexpected weather variations throughout the summer are the norm. Airtight rain gear and waterproof boots are advisable.
For Tusker’s other endeavors on horseback and at sea, conditions are conducive for enjoyable outings. North Sea fishing and whale watching excursions are blessed with less turbulent seas and the horse trails are less muddy in August.
Reykjavik’s Jazz & Runners
Reykjavik will never be mistaken for St. Tropez in August; it has its own Nordic charms. It’s the height of the city’s summer festival season, and every weekend something major is popping. The Jazz Festival attracts aficionados from all over Europe as well as top international acts. The Reykjavik Marathon rolls out on August 20 with a route coursing through downtown then along beaches and salmon runs. Over 3,000 runners will partake and over 170 charities will benefit. It coincides with Culture Night and over a third of the country’s population is in the streets of downtown Reykjavik celebrating the runners, Icelandic culture and the height of summer. Great chance to meet the locals. Can’t do that in St. Tropez.
Icelandic Seasonal Caveat
Here’s the big caveat for summer Icelandic travel. Because the three other seasons are either wet, dark and cold the majority of visitors come in summer. Not surprisingly there are lots of tourists and prices rise accordingly. However, Tusker’s itinerary will put you in the wilderness, so be prepared to meet Mother Nature, not busloads of geothermal spa hoppers.
Mother Nature can be fickle, so pack the woolies and the dry gear then luxuriate in Icelandic summer.