In 2020 we drove to the North Cape with an Audi e-tron. This year we wanted to try something more challenging. The idea was to explore the remote highlands of Iceland with an electric vehicle.
To get to Iceland you have to take the ferry from Hirtshals in northern Denmark. The drive from southern Germany to Hirtshals was uneventful with a couple of fast 150kW charges along the highways and an overnight stay close to Hamburg. Our e-tron charging card worked flawlessly both in Germany and Denmark.
At the ferry to Iceland, you can find a mix of highly modified 4x4s and big expedition vehicles. Our e-tron Sportback appeared to be a bit out of place.
The ferry ride with the Norröna takes two full days. Often, it can be quite rough. Last time we had 7m waves and everybody was seasick. This time we had a very smooth ride and really enjoyed the two days on the ship.
Halfway between Denmark and Iceland, the Norröna makes a short stop at the Faroe Islands.
Due to Covid restrictions, it was not possible to leave the ship during this break.
Regarding Covid: to enter the ship in Denmark, we needed a test not older than 72 hours and certification of our vaccination. But there were neither any additional tests nor any quarantine required for leaving the ship in Iceland.
After another night at sea, we finally arrived at Seyðisfjörður on the east coast of Iceland.
The first larger town in Iceland was Egilsstaðir, where also the first 50 kW DC charger was located. To our surprise the charging was completely free, no card and no authentification were needed.
Our plan for the first days was to explore the eastern highlands. We started with the F910 road, also known as Austurleið. This is an easy-to-drive gravel road that leads to some nice hot pools.
It was also a good first test about what kind of ranges we could expect with a fully charged e-tron on highland tracks.
Our first destination on the F910 was Laugarfell. This is some kind of small paradise in the highlands with beautiful waterfalls, Icelandic horses, and an idyllic landscape.
But the highlight of Laugarfell is clearly its hot pools. There are two of them. A larger one with 37°C hot water and a smaller one with 41°C water temperature.
At Laugarfell you can also find the only charger which is located directly in the highlands. It’s only an 11 kW AC charger and a bit unreliable. But spending two hours in the pool while charging the e-tron back to 100% in the middle of the highlands was really cool.
From Laugarfell we continued on the F910 to the Karahnjukavirkjun dam and hydropower plant, where we had a funny experience.
A few km before the dam there was a sign about some construction work and intermediate road blockages. Directly at the dam, we were stopped by some security people and told that there is some work going on. We were allowed to continue but we should absolutely not stop anywhere near the dam. Then they added that we were also not allowed to take any pictures. That was the moment we got suspicious. When we drove along the dam at first everything looked like normal construction work. There were some trucks, a crane, and a couple of people running around with protective helmets and high-visibility vests. So far so good. But looking more closely there were far too many expensive cars standing around. In addition, we saw one guy with a huge professional cinema camera. And after closer inspection (of course without stopping) we found a truck trailer with an open door and were able to get a brief view of some shiny prototype cars inside. The final clue was that far too many of these construction workers were wearing jackets with a Land Rover logo. So in the end it was pretty clear to us that they were either filming a Land Rover commercial or a scene of a feature film production with Land Rover as their main sponsor. We’ll probably know it in a couple of months.
(Update May 10, 2022: They were filming the commercial for the new Range Rover Sport, you can find the result here)
From Karahnjukavirkjun it was a short but beautiful drive to the Hafrahvammagljúfur canyon.
The side-track to the canyon was very rough and washed out. Since we didn’t want to get into trouble on our first day in the highlands we drove it only halfway and explored the rest by foot.
Opposite of the Hafrahvammagljúfur side-track starts another side-track from the F910, which leads to Laugarvellir, a hidden gem in the highlands. Laugarvellir is probably the most beautiful natural hot pool in Iceland. It has a 40°C hot waterfall and two levels with different temperatures. At the lowest level, the hot water rinses into an ice-cold river. Since we arrived quite late there the last visitors had just left and we had the pool for our own.
Our base camp for exploring the eastern highlands was the Hengifoss Guesthouse which was located near the start of the F910. It also had a free 11 kW AC charger which we used every night. It worked perfectly and every morning our e-tron was back to 100%.
Close to the guesthouse you can find two spectacular waterfalls: the Hengifoss and the Litlanesfoss. I prefer the later one and we spent some time there trying to get some good footage of this waterfall.
On this trip, we also wanted to document our experience in a couple of short films. The first episode is now available on YouTube.
After our first test drive with the e-tron on the F910, we felt confident to explore some more difficult tracks in the eastern highlands. More about this in the next part.