(Must be read in dramatic cinematic voice or it won’t work)
In a world where everybody spends their holiday in Thailand or Dubai where it is sunny and hot all the time, one couple chooses to go the exact other way. In May 2018 they’re going to a place where it’s windy and cold and the weather changes twenty times a day. Follow them on their trip around Iceland!
On a sunny Sunday afternoon our heroes arrive in a purple plane, in which by airline policy only the cool kids sit in the back. Join them as they’re trying to find the camper rental company, when the guy from Rent.is who was going to pick them up at the airport was waiting for them in the lobby all along, which is totally awesome by the way.
They then start their trip and just hit Road 1 which encircles the whole island. While driving they are just fascinated by the sheer beauty of this country and find their first campsite right next to Seljalandsfoss with a view so impressive no seaside view hotel room can match.
After a comfortable night’s sleep in the back of their camper they enjoy a light breakfast and a cup of tea in the sun to warm themselves up.
Heading west they pass the notorious Eyjafjallajökull and after taking a dip in a warm pool beneath snowy mountain ridges they leave their camper at a parking lot and head for the plane wreck of Sólheimasandur.
Located just an hour’s walk through a gravel desert where at some point you start asking yourself whether a rusty wreck from a fifties military aircraft is worth the effort… but it is and if you´re not an old lady with arthritis you should definitely consider it.
Just a few miles east lies the beautiful black sand beach, which fair to say can get pretty crowded with other people but to see white waves crash onto black sand under a clear blue sky is something you’ll remember for quite some time.
The next item on the Icelandic-must-see-list will define the horizon for almost a whole day their trip: the mighty Vatnajökull, the biggest glacier in all Europe, so huge you can only see outskirts of it.
And for some more spectacular views just head for one of the glacier lakes on the southern shore, where Vatnajökull calves icebergs into a lake producing majestic views and you can pick the tiny remains off the shore.
If it wasn’t for the obligatory Asian travel groups taking the weirdest photos, like the girl standing in the freezing cold in her wedding dress, you might think you’re just a few miles from the north pole.
Heading further east and leaving the last tourist hot spot in the southern region behind our couple finally gets what they wanted: empty roads, remote villages and no one else. Just the two of them, the camper, Iceland ponies and the breathtaking wilderness of Iceland.
The road now takes them east until it meets the horizon and leads into a completely new region: the eastern fjords. Cranking up the lord of the rings soundtrack one could easily picture oneself riding over the prairies of middle earth. looking in the rear view mirror they remember what Gandalf taught the dwarfs, that sometimes you need to look behind. Because if you head only into one direction you miss half the view.
Following the road around the fjords they enjoy the ups and downs and turns of the road which are just fun to drive on keep looking for whales, seals and puffins. Heading into the mountains and the lava fields of the northeast they enter the most remote part of Iceland, where there are no houses for miles and miles to come. But even there you can enjoy music via your smartphone because the car provides with free WiFi. But even you don’t bring a map your smartphone will do just fine because even in the desert you have 4G mobile connection and you’re not feeling like you´re in a third world country like Germany.
Visit Europe’s most powerful waterfall Dettifoss in the middle of nowhere, the same waterfall where that guy from Prometheus fell down for no reason in probably the worst movie of the alien-franchise. after almost suffocating in the fascinating yet stinking sulfur fumes of Hverir they climb down into Jon Snow’s and Ygritte’s love cave just a few more miles west.
Just on the other side of the mountain they take a warm bath in a geothermal bath themselves with a staggering view of lake Mývatn, the Hverfjall volcano and snowtop mountains. and by the way the ticket is only a third of the price compared with the so celebrated blue lagoon on the Reykjanes peninsula and far less crowded. So if you´re heading north anyway and you want to take a swim in volcanic minerals you can just skip the overpriced version in the south.
After spending another night in sleeping bags in the spacious back of their camper while outside the cold wind is howling our couple packs up their things and head north to the Húsavik whale museum. This is a place you should definitely take the time and visit, because there’s loads to learn about whales, whaling and whale watching. With some luck you might just see a living whale swimming and diving in one of the fjords in the area.
The car itself is perfect for longer trips. If you’re hungry just pull over at one of the numerous parking spots with a view and refill your batteries. the built in fridge keeps your food and drinks cool, there’s a little stove on which you can make some coffee or fry some eggs, the car radio has Bluetooth if you want to listen to some music like the Icelandic band Sigurrós which matches the landscape perfectly. even if you want to rest a bit because the almost constant daylight messes with your sleep rhythm you just climb into the back, close the curtains and have yourself little nap.
After their visit the two just keep driving and driving until they arrive in the west and search for a campsite. little did they know they were about to run into an adventure. at 8pm it starts to rain and when they arrive at their planned campsite they find out that it hasn’t opened yet. But a nice lady tells them about another campsite just twenty kilometers across the hill. the camper climbs up the mountain as the rain turns into snow and the wind turns into a minor storm. they can’t see a damn thing but need to keep driving afraid once they stop they get stuck.
At this point we’d like to make quick suggestion for fellow campers to come: Your camper is pretty tough and the Icelandic roads, are in a surprisingly good shape. except for the mountain roads where 4×4 cars are essential, you can drive on most of the roads. route 1 and all the roads with double digits will do just fine. But you should always avoid the roads with triple digits! those are mere paths and hard to drive on.
Back to adventure time: after struggling for half an hour the snow turns back to pouring rain but finally they see the long awaited sign for the campsite… which is also closed. So they drove through a mountain storm for absolutely no reason. the next campsite is in Akranes and another half hour away, but it is right next to the ocean and you’ll be falling asleep listening to the waves crushing in. just to be awakened by hail smashing against the car the next morning and the wind making the car bounce. the wind, just the wind and nothing else.
Off to Þingvellir, the ancient capital of Iceland where the Icelanders met for centuries and you can literally walk between the continents. on the one side Europe, on the other side North America. a few miles inland lays Geysir, mother of all geysers. In this area our couple gazes upon the sheer power of nature and tectonics and realizes how little and insignificant man is.
Arriving in Reykjavik they must accustom to other people again. But Icelanders are pretty cool and have a good sense of humor. Visit Perlan, take a walk in a glacier and learn how the glaciers in Iceland will almost be gone by the end of the century because too many people including Mr President aren’t getting the difference between weather and climate.
Here at Iceland’s capital city, after 8 days and 2100km, after they driven through lava fields, crossed deserts, climbed mountain ranges, survived storms, counted every tree they saw (about 20) and encircled the whole island their journey ends. our heroes return their camper, get back to the airport, enter the purple plane again and lift off.
Back to a country without volcanoes, back to a country without miles and miles of wilderness, back to a place far less spectacular and far less majestic. But not without already making plans for their next viking adventure in Iceland and remembering an important lesson they learned: It´s always worth taking a look behind.
Editor’s note: As this wonderful CamperStories was made in a format not fully supported here, we wanted to let you have the chance of enjoying the original work, as it was made before we picked it to pieces. If you hit the picture to the left, it will take you to the original PDF file.
Read more: Visiting Iceland by Camper
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