The first episode of our brand-new series, Tough Trucks – Iceland, takes viewers on a spectacular scenic journey with host Laura Guiauchain along the highways and back roads of the Nordic island country – across black desserts, bare volcanic rock and through rivers!
We begin our journey around Iceland in the spectacular Fjallabak National Park, spending a night in the mountain huts at Lanmannalauger before exploring the breathtaking scenery of the park with its geo-thermals, spectacular rocky outcrops, mossy streams and ubiquitous rainbows and lakes.
Heading along the south coast we skirt past the Seljalandsfoss and Skogar waterfalls which are beautiful but crowded with bus tours from the capital, Reyjavik.
Heading further eastwards we slip beyond the reach of the day tours and out into a more remote and peaceful Iceland. On a sunny day its a mesmerising experience to drive for hour after hour as the scenery changes; one minute you feel you are in the Scottish Highlands then a strange mossy lava-scape takes over, only to be replaced in turn by a vast glacial panorama with the vast Vatnajokoll ice field stretching down to the roadside from its icy mouth.
Our next stop is the spectacular Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a primeval landscape that transports you straight into the world of ‘Game of Thrones’. Then at the Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, you can watch seals frolicking around the eerie and surreal shapes of miniature icebergs which are trapped in the lake before they reach the sea.
For decades Icelanders have modified trucks to conquer the landscape they inhabit. In Hofn ,we take a truck right up to and across the southern edge of Vatnajokull, Europe’s most voluminous glacier. There are spectacular views back down to the coast from a ridge at the edge of the glacier.
There is so much incredible geology and geography in Iceland that its easy to focus to make this your main focus, and feel as though you are missing out on the local culture. However, as our journey is in September, it is a time where you are sure at some point to pass a local sheep-herding festival. The farming communities are located in the more fertile lowland areas but the sheep are grazed communally in the highlands all summer. With winter approaching they’re herded down to special pens in the lowlands.
The next leg of our journey takes us from Hofn around the south eastern edge of Iceland and up into the highlands. On the way we stop off at the old turf cottages at Saenautasel where we met up with the octogenarian Atos who was actually born and raised in this barren spot for the first 15 years of his life. These turf-covered cottages are a place to get a feel for the old crofting settler-life, where life was hard and food scarce.
By now the crowds of the coast and the ring-road are far away and we head across the moonscapes of the interior, traversing black rock deserts and over barren lava formations.
The destination of our truck trek is Askja Lake and the spectacular Viti Crater Lake beside, which can be reached after a 40 minute trek from the road’s end across a black lava field. This is one of those locations to take a seat and sit for half an hour taking in the weird and wonderful enormity of the landscape around you.
Next we drive up to the north of Iceland to the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon to witness its mind-bending geology. We start at the Selfoss Waterfall – a magnificent horseshoe-shaped cataract; then travel downstream to the most powerful waterfall in Europe; Dettifoss.Icelanders have been modifying their trucks for well over 50 years to take visitors up into the highlands and onto the glaciers. We join brothers Thordur and Urn whose grandfather was a pioneer who opened up many of driving trails into the highlands in the middle of the last century. Moving down the west coast we catch an old NATO rocket launcher right up into the heart of the Longjokull Glacier. Here, inside the glacier itself, we see layers of ice laid down year after year just as one sees with rings in a tree trunk. The last leg of our journey takes us back into the centre of Iceland where electricity from a hydro turbine heats the huts using water from the large geothermal field just upstream. Iceland is now almost 100% powered by renewable wind, hydro and geothermal energy all the more prescient in the face of climate change.
with special thanks to
KERLINGERFJOLL MOUNTAIN RESORT
ÁSTA RUT HJARTARDÓTTIR
YSTAFFELL TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM
THE CRUISER CLUB – REYKJAVIK
REYKJAVIC LIGHTS HOTEL
LANMANNALUGER MOUNTAIN HUTS
ISAK TRUCK HIRE
ICEAK TRUCK HIRE
VOLCANO HUTS THORSMORK
LAMBHUS CABINS HOFN
LILJA GUESTHOUSE HOFN
KALDBACK KOT COTTAGES, HUSSAVIK
SKLALDARVIK GUESTHOUSE AKUREYRI
SAELUHUS APARTMENTS AKUREYRI
INTO THE GLACIER
INSIDE THE VOLCANO
titles & graphics
COLIN WINSTON FLETCHER
post production coordinator
Filmed, produced and directed by
Produced by Pilot Film and TV Productions for Travel Channel International
© Pilot Productions MMXVII