WH(WK) Expo to Iceland with family August 2013

#1
Hey Everyone,

I've been a long time reader of this site and have enjoyed reading your posts, some great builds and journeys on here.

I'm UK based and we're first timers to this.

We bought our Jeep late November 2012 as our family transport, a 2006 Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi Overland.

The dealer selling the Jeep had converted it to run on dual fuel, either petrol/LPG.

With work lined up for me for the next 12 months, I thought it would be nice to take a family vacation during the school Summer break.

Florida is our usual holiday destination if we can manage it, but my wife and daughters (10 and 8 years) weren't keen due to the Summer heat and increased visitor numbers.

Since getting the Jeep, I had been looking around for off road driving lessons for my wife and I, when I found our 2013 holiday destination:

http://www.venture4x4.co.uk/destination_iceland.php#tour

Iceland brochure here: http://www.venture4x4.co.uk/Brochure/complete_brochure_lowres_Sept2012.pdf

With all the family keen to do this holiday, we contacted the organisers Andrew and Dawn and paid our deposit.

We set about looking for an overland/off road specialist that could help us outfit the Jeep for this holiday - I know that you're supposed to pick your vehicle based on what you want to do, but we had always wanted a Jeep and that's what we committed to.

Being UK based, we've had some trouble getting UK expo companies interested and supplying us with what we need as they're mainly used to dealing with Land Rover. Some of the larger companies specialising in overland preparation never bothered to return phone calls or queries I had made.

The requirements needed for the trip were:

1. All terrain tyres.
2. At least one spare wheel.
3. Carry 20 litres of drinking water.
4. Tent.
5. Storage for clothing and a few days supplies.
6. 300 mile fuel range.

Since the Jeep had been converted to run on LPG, the spare wheel storage (under the rear of the Jeep) has been used to store the LPG tank, we had our first challenge of where to store the spare wheel.

Not being a large 4x4 and carrying 2 adults and 2 children, we had storage issues to resolve.

To top off everything else, LPG isn't available in Iceland so we're having to run the Jeep on the expensive stuff, so yet another storage requirement for fuel.

My wife and I had not been camping since we were teenagers also meant that we had to come up a steep learning curve too.

So with a few things to contend with, we set off in February this year along a path of learning with the aid of some great people to help us realise our holiday.

I can say that we're near enough ready and I'll post up pics and updates of the Jeep's journey so far.

We travel out on the 3rd of August, less than 3 weeks away now.
 
#5
Our issues:

1. All terrain tyres - which to choose?
2. At least one spare wheel - where to put it?
3. Carry 20 litres of drinking water - where to put it?
4. Tent - which to get and where to put it?
5. Storage for clothing and a few days supplies - in the back somewhere?
6. 300 mile fuel range - running on petrol only, meant we needed at least one jerry can.

2. Looking at other Jeeps and spare wheels, I liked the idea of storing the spare on a swing away at the back of the Jeep.

4. Tent, we liked the idea of a roof tent, practical and fast to put up and take down, but all the family staying in it for a prolonged period?

6. Jerry can, could go on the swing away.
 
#6
We had a chat to some people on our journey to get things moving for the Jeep, most seemed either not interested or unable to help us.

We did get some good advice from someone selling roof tents - he thought I was having a mid-life crisis, wanting to do this trip with our children.

His advice turned us away from the idea of using a rooftent, since we had to take it down when wanting to move the Jeep.

A tent seemed much more sensible for us, since there will be times when we can pitch the tent and then drive off somewhere else using the tent as our base.

Using a normal tent, also meant that we could use our roof space as an additional cargo area and wouldn't be used solely to store the tent.

We asked a local camping store whether they had anything that would compete with a roof tent, they suggested we visited them and had a look at this: https://www.vango.co.uk/vango-airbeam/kinetic-600.html

We were sold. The tent was comfortably large, plenty of room for my wife and I with our children, with space for somewhere to sit if the weather's not good.

The tent could be set-up in 5 mins due to using 3 air beams that are pumped up, deflating is just as easy - we do have to roll around on the tent to get all of the air out of it though :)

Seeing this tent helped form our plans for the Jeep and things started to fall into place.

We could carry the tent and other items on the roof, the rear hatch area would be additional storage, the spare wheel and jerry can could be carried on the swing away.

We just needed to find someone to either source the roofrack and to source or build the swing away for us.
 
#7
It can be quite windy in Iceland, I'd have been tempted to go for an Oztent RV-4 if you didn't go for a roof tent. I spent 3 weeks in Iceland and my rooftent was ideal. Ground tents seemed to get a bit of a battering. The other issue being, a lot of the ranger stations/camp sites dont have grass to pitch tents.

Your jeep seems to have roof rails. It'd be easy enough to get some sort of roof basket on Ebay and clamp it to the rails.

And you've not mentioned a fridge, i'd have thought an Engel or Waeco would be high up on the list.
 
#8
Thanks for the advice Colin.

We were advised that Iceland can be windy, our guide suggested taking a ground tent as well, if we were going to take a roof tent.

Our guide used to use a roof tent for this trip, but has now opted to use just a ground tent to due to the high winds.

Since we're stuck for space we had to go for the ground tent rather than taking both.

Our Air Beam tent has stood up well to 50mph+ gales on one of our dry run camping weekends.

The fridge also is a "nice to have" rather than a "must have" for our trip, stopping mostly in campsites and some nights of wild camping, there are places that we can get fresh supplies from.

The standard roof rails on the Jeep aren't strong enough for carrying much more than the tent.

I'm liking the look of that Oztent though!

Forgot to ask, how was your trip to Iceland?
 

SSF556

SE Expedition Society
#9
Great platform.....too bad it is not a diesel for fuel economy and distance. Check out my build for ideas....
 
#10
Yeah, I had a superb time. I went in 2008, not been back since despite wanting to, other things keep getting in the way.

This is our route - starting and finishing in Seyjisdford in the East.



From the port we travelled East then South on the F910 - the route that only opens for a couple of months of the year. From there it's was a drive along the South coast before coming back to Reykjavik then following a sort of clockwise route back to Seyjisdford.

Here's a video my mate knocked up, gives you an idea on the 'roads' that you'll be driving.


I'm surprised that you're being told that a fridge isn't essential. I wouldn't dream of doing it again without one - especially if you've got kids. It gets pretty warm during the day and any fresh food in a car is likely to go off. Fresh food and cold drinks for the kids were a bit of a must-have. The F910 (the cross country route) took us 3 days with wild camping. There's is nowhere on that route to buy stuff.

This was the deepest crossing we had, the water level is lowest in the morning due to glacial melt in the afternoon when the sun comes out, as your jeep is Petrol, I'd make sure you pack some WD40.



As you can see, not much grows....

 
#11
Great platform.....too bad it is not a diesel for fuel economy and distance. Check out my build for ideas....
Hey scootr, you have a great Jeep! I have read your build thread before.

I know that being petrol won't get any distance endurance awards, I have a distant dream to drive from UK to Mongolia, would be great to that in our Jeep, but that's another dream for another time. Maybe a more realistic dream, would be to tour North America before the petrol prices become like the UK.

I was surprised (as are most people) at the off road capability of the stock Grand Cherokee - as was my offroad instructor and expo builder.
 
#12
Yeah, I had a superb time. I went in 2008, not been back since despite wanting to, other things keep getting in the way.

This is our route - starting and finishing in Seyjisdford in the East.
Thanks for posting the pics and video Colin, that looks fantastic, sounds like you miss touring Iceland.

That's a shame that things keep getting in the way.

Iceland seems to be a place that draws people back after visiting.

Our guides have managed to run tours there for the past few years spending most of the Summer out there.

Re the fridge, that's what we've been advised. We are making frequent stops, maybe we'll be living off dried fish :)

And thanks for WD40 tip, that is on our "required" list.

Your rig looks good btw.

I'm at work at the moment, so won't be able to post up my next set of pics until early next week.

We're driving up to our expo builder this weekend for a final check over, with some basic training for simple mechanical things and then heading up to Northumberland for our final practice camp before our trip.
 

Tony LEE

International Grey Nomad
#13
Icelanders mostly eat normal food so just about every town has a supermarket offering at least basic supplies so regular availability isn't going to be a limitation on all except the trips across the interior and as for temperatures - they tend to be reasonably low so food isn't going to come alive and run away that quickly - and anyway, baked beans on toast will keep you going for the times when you can't have thick tee-bone steaks every meal.

If you want to reduce the risk while retaining most of the experience of the interior, you could consider doing road (F)35 which goes north south between two of the glaciers but which is easier going and then do some of the shorter ego-boosting "F" roads as well.

BTW "the water level is lowest in the morning due to glacial melt in the afternoon when the sun comes out" Apart from the slight problem that for the last three weeks the sun barely ever goes down, I have never figured out how regardless of how far away the glacier is and how steep the terrain and whether there are any "storage" lakes in between, somehow the low water always gets to the road you are on just in the morning. Very convenient. Perhaps the Icelanders have their big-foot 4WDs fitted with tractor tyres because they haven't figured it out either.

Petrol is around 250 kronor per litre at the moment and since all rural pumps are automated, the usual way is to buy prepaid cards of 5000 and 10,000 K. That will get you a whole 20 or 40 litres at a time.

Depending how long you are here for, you might consider getting a Iceland Camping Card. http://www.campingcard.is/ Costs 100 Euro and is valid for a whole family for up to 4 days at a time at around 45 campsites spread pretty evenly all throughout Iceland. Typical camping fees are 1100 K per person per night, little kids mostly free, so if you use it more than about 6 nights you are square. (ALL sites so far have plenty of nice thick turf to pitch your tent on. Often they have hedges to calm the winds down a bit too, although "calm" is a bit relative in many parts of Iceland. Often sites are next to swimming pools and hot pots (at extra cost not covered by the card)
Last time we wild-camped/free-camped for most of the 3 weeks but this time we are here for 9 weeks so have been using the camping card a fair bit and so far have used sites for 20 nights so we are considerably ahead on the deal after 29 nights.

Roads and facilities have improved hugely in the 6 years since our last visit

Ah, yes, having read the Brochure, it looks as if the itinerary covers things pretty well.

What was the cost of the tour?
 
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#15
What was the cost of the tour?
Tour price only came to £1700 in total for our family of four, that price includes the following (from their site):

  • Assistance with booking either the Smyril ferry or Shipping container (commission free).
  • Camping in Hirtshals, Denmark (One night immediately before embarkation to Iceland).
  • Meet and greet at Hirtshals, Denmark.
  • Assist in entering Iceland.
  • All campsite fees in Iceland.
  • Tour leaders (male and female) on call 24hrs per day to ensure that your expeditions runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Support vehicle on call 24hrs per day. We will assist you with any problems and do our best to help repair them if possible. If necessary we will assist you in getting to a recoverable position.

then another £1800 for the ferry, we paid a little more so that kids can look out of a porthole in the cabin on ship.

Total comes to £3500 plus fuel and expenses - not bad for an adventure holiday for our family and probably will cost less than our usual trip to Florida.

We did pay for the modifications to the Jeep, but now we've got them done, we can reuse it for similar holidays, so haven't added them into the total cost.

We're going for 3 weeks.

Thanks for your comprehensive post there Tony, a lot of good information.

BTW had a look at you galleries, some amazing shots in there.