A tour through Iceland
The land of rainbows and waterfalls (and some sheep)
Hello. We are Daniela and Martin. A 32 year young Chilean-German couple on our trip around the world. Even though we are probably not the most spontaneous people this trip for sure has been. With about 2 weeks of preparation dedicated to quitting jobs and getting rid of all our stuff, the trip to Iceland was also a rather short term decision. We booked the camper about a week ahead and October 1st was day 76 of our journey and day 1 of our 14 day camper tour through Iceland.
These are our personal highlights from Iceland – read on for the full story!
1. Watch the entire night sky come alive with the Aurora Borealis
2. Watching a couple of humpback whales for about 40 minutes in the afternoon sun out on the ocean
3. Enjoying the Blue Lagoon with a cool beer 😉
4. Preparing and eating delicious Thai curry with rice and other delicious food using 1 pot and a gas burner in our mobile home
5. Sleeping in the middle of nowhere alone with the most amazing clear sky
6. A collection of waterfalls and rainbows that followed us throughout the journey
7. “Swimming” under a freezing waterfall – like a Viking 😉
Arrival and the half-golden circle
We landed at about 2 am and went straight to the hostel in Reykjavik to get a few hours of sleep before picking up our VW-Bus Home. We thought that having a 4×4 Campervan would allow us to be highly flexible by allowing us to take all roads in Iceland while carrying our bed, kitchen and living room with us.
Day 1 was mainly getting groceries and buying the last pieces of warmer clothing (this is what happens when you suddenly decide to fly far north when you almost only packed t-shirts and shorts for months on Ibiza, southern Spain and Portugal) and then heading out towards the Golden Circle. We didn’t get very far before it was getting dark so we stayed at a camping site quite close to Reykjavik. Next day we stopped for a house under lava and got to a nice camping site closely before Gullfoss and right after the Geysir where we made an early stop to have our one way BBQ (great acquisition!!). We had lamb filet with rice for late lunch.
In the morning we got up early and went to see the Gullfoss waterfall early on which was really amazing. Then we started driving back to get onto the ring road, but first we made a stop at Geysir and managed to catch a boomerang right at the time of the explosion (after freezing our hands for about 13 mins while holding the cell up in the air).
Rainy west and lunch on the volcano
We headed towards the west end of Iceland on the lookout for one of the other important attractions of Iceland – an open Vínbúðin 😉 . A few hours later amidst our first rain we found a campsite right next to the Snæfellsjökull National Park, with the volcano right by the ocean -unfortunately it was closed. Luckily another one was just ten minutes further down the road. After an early night the next morning we continued our tour around the volcano and stopped for lunch with a great view of the coastline right next to the top of the volcano. We obviously also so another waterfall on the way there. We didn’t catch the troll that’s supposed to live there though. Given the weather we decided to head north quicker though to increase our chances to finally see some Northern Lights beyond the once’s we saw from the plane before landing.
Whale watching and thermal water in the north
After only a night in the west we started heading towards Húsavik and booked a whale watching tour for day 7 of our trip. On our way up we saw another waterfall with a few natural pools at the bottom. Out of some strange impulse Martin couldn’t help but wanting to suffer and jump inside one…it lasted for about half a second. But it was worth it… later we learned “always be yourself, unless you can be a Viking. Then, always be a Viking.”
On arriving to the north we found the nicest camping ground of our trip. Nestled in a hillside it had an amazing view and very limited light pollution to be able to enjoy the night sky. Unfortunately still no KP index that would allow auroras visible to the eye. But a least our camera managed to get a green view.
The whale watching tour was amazing. We followed a couple of humpback whales for about 40 minutes in the freezing cold icelandic ocean. Luckily the boat crew provides a thermal jumpsuit, hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls, .otherwise we would have probably died.
The same evening we went to the “cheap” blue water therms…stupidly we went at night so we didn’t really enjoy the view as much as the smell which is rather strong here. Having a ice cold beer in the hot water with an amazingly clear sky and stars above however was an amazing experience…and we still had the Blue Lagoon on our list. We stayed another two days in the north visiting the Mývatn lagoon and the Aldeyjarfoss further inland.
South and Southeast: Glaciers, blue lagoon and finally the long awaited aurora
After the north and still no aurora visible to the human eye we decided to head straight south with already less than a week left. We got until about Höfn where we stayed almost in the city as it was already quite dark on arrival.
Here we decided to book the Blue Lagoon as we were told that you had to book in advance. Obviously it was already fully booked for day time for every day including our day of departure. And we didn’t want to miss the sight of the blue water again… the only option seems to be booking a night at the hotel which was about 600 USD,..not quite a bargain. We even wrote directly to the administration but they don’t seem to make exceptions.
With a bit of a disappointment we went to visit the amazing glaciers in Vatnajökull which cheered us up as well as another trip to Vínbúðin!
Close by we also walked through the waterfall (Seljalandsfoss) and saw the black beach. Worst wind ever. Only took a picture and retreated to our camper. A great one, thought, in fact is my official Facebook photo.
We also visited the equally stunning and unpronounceable Fjaðrárgljúfur.
While staying at the camping next to the walk-in waterfall we also finally managed to see what drove us to go to Iceland beyond the pure nature in the first place. The whole sky became alive with green smoke-like clouds of Auroras above us. Worth every single second looking at the sky on the lookout. KP index 7!!!
On our way to one of the less touristy glaciers we found a nice spot to park right next to a small river and bridge. Here we decided to spend a night in the wild. We should have tried this before. With most of the camping sites charging extra for showers anyway it was the perfect combination of having nature for ourselves during the night and then getting back into civilization for shower and bathroom usage in the morning after breakfast out in the wild 🙂
And doing even brought us luck. We had been checking availability for Blue Lagoon several times a day and had already given up and about to book the hotel when we found a standard slot on our last day and booked immediately.
So after returning our camper without any trouble we took a bus to blue lagoon and stayed until closing. Then on to the airport to spend the worst night in Iceland waiting for our 6 am flight to London. Our next destination on our trip..
Now we are in Thailand on day 133 of our world trip and still think of Iceland as the highlight of our journey so far and decided to buy a camper once we are back settled in our new home! WE’LL DEFINITELY COME BACK!
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