Adventure in Iceland
– Let’s go honeymooning on an island and lay on the sand all day long for an entire week. We’ve already spent many summers on the beach, with the heat, the sunburns…
– Adventure then?
– Adventure on an island.
Soon after we discovered the campervans for rent, which is exactly what we needed: a humble house with wheels. We reserved the campervan and bought the flights, and forgot about the trip until the departure day. We couldn’t wait to see what was waiting for us there.
Day 1 – Into the wild
We set off on our journey. First, we’ll visit the well known Golden Circle: the location of the boundary of the tectonic plates of Europe and America, the world’s oldest parliament, Iceland’s biggest lake and Gullfoss, which we have no idea what it is but appears on every map. .
Before leaving Reykjavik behind, we buy some food and beverages (mainly tasty and unhealthy supplies). We’ve no idea when we’ll encounter the next grocery store, so we firmly nod at each other as we stuff it all into the camper van.
We get to Þingvellir, and very soon we find a huge fissure we assume to be where the plates encounter. It reminds me that the earth is just as alive as we are. We explore the place while running and shaking to get rid of the flies. There are many many flies, hopefully just in here. I try to find a place to put one foot on a continent and the other on the other one, but it’s too scary.
We‘ve begun the trip in the evening, we barely have been to one spot but it is late already, so we’ll go to Geysir and sleep there. Tomorrow will start early in the morning. We’ll review how the campervan’s heating system works.
Read more: Where to camp in Iceland
Day 2 – Geysers, mountains and icebergs
We slept like babies and managed to visit the Geysir area before anybody else. A strong and persistent smell fills the air, it’s a bit unpleasant at first, but it turns unnoticed once we get use to it. Anna’s idea of boiling eggs using the heat of one of the tiny hot streams scattered all around the place works out and we end up having a great breakfast.
The second biggest geyser explodes and squirts every 10 minutes and that allows us to take plenty of pictures.
We give up waiting for the big geyser to get active after a long time chilling close to it. The road is calling.
Next stop is the still unknown Gullfoss. It’d be so easy to look for what it is using the campervan’s WiFi. Too easy. So we just drive until we bump into the sign indicating its location and the parking place. We start the hike leaving the camera in the car, guessing that the phones would do the trick.
After walking barely a hundred meters we run back to the camper van to get the camera. Apparently foss means waterfall because right in front of us, invisible from the road, a humongous crack on the earth let 150 cubic meters of water per second fall into a river.
The day has done nothing but start, so we head to a zone called Landmannalaugar. We’ve seen pictures of it and looks amazing. However, since we can’t quite reach the zone without a Super Jeep, we decide to drive around it and see what we find.
Soon enough, we spot a cool looking mountain. We resolve to hike to the top, which takes most of our day. We might have not been able to get into Landmannalaugar as it’s meant to be done, but the sights from this summit were amazing.
On our way to the south we come across the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which erupted in 2010. We commit to learn the proper pronunciation as soon as possible. Another great waterfall, Skógafoss, confirms us the meaning of foss.
The sun is taking ages to set. We visit the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, where the cliff seems naturally pixelated and some creepy pointy rock pillars emerge from the sea, as if an ancient ocean god tried to grab the cliff with its gigantic claws right before getting petrified.
It’s time to go to the east. It will be a long day, specially for Cento, he’ll have to drive quite a lot of kilometers. The coastal landscape is amazing, particularly bright when the sun is low, and it is very heterogenous. The glacier Vatnajökull is immense! We couldn’t help going as close as we could. Chilly. Of course, we are in Iceland.
Cento has driven a lot, and the GPS shows a lake just by the road, so we’ll stop here, eat and stretch.
The lake was full of icebergs! It starts right where the glacier ends, and it flows into the sea right here, under a moving bridge. Furthermore, it’s almost midnight, and the light is spectacular. Everything is intense blue.
Day 3 – Pools, canyons and lakes
First thing in the morning, we decide to go to Höfn’s thermal pools and chill. We use the opportunity to ask a local how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull and he gladly takes some minutes and patience to teach us.
There are different pools in here, each one at a different temperature and apparently the normal procedure is to go into the ice-cold one, followed by the hottest one at 42º C/108º F and then gradually switch to the mild ones at 40º C/104º F and 38º C/100º F. Anna couldn’t believe the warning sign in the hot pool, against the possible harm caused after spending long periods of time in there. I swear it, she could even bathe in lava. I had to convince her to get out of there.
To make up for the time spent on the pools we’ll take a shortcut on our way up to Egilsstaðir. Taking the road 939 instead of continuing along the 1 will save us probably one hour. This road takes us over the mountains, offering amazing sights.
Dettifoss & Ásbyrgi
Time for another tough choice, we can go to Akureyri directly using the main road and pass by a lake called Mývatn, or keep going north to another waterfall called Dettifoss, some strange geological formation named Ásbyrgi that looks like a gigantic horse footprint said to be done by none other that Odin’s eight-legged flying horse, and arrive to Akureyri much. later.
After finding out that Mývatn stands for “lake of the tiny flies”, the second option sounds more appealing, so we head north through landscapes that seem at first the surface of Mars and, later on, the Moon.
Dettifoss was as impressive as expected, and so was Ásbyrgi. We see the northern fjords for the first time and can’t count how many different species of birds we spot.
Since we still have some time we agree on driving back to east for a while just to give a chance to the Mývatn. Totally worth it.
Day 4 – Dalvik and Akureyri
Today we’ll go on a tour from Dalvik and watch whales in Eyjafjörður. They say that sometimes there are Blue Whales.
We’ve seen a lot of White Beaked Dolphins but not a single whale, and we have fished. It is amazing how easy is to fish in the middle of a seagulls banquet. We just have to put the boat where they are and in less than a minute you will catch a fish. The guide gut, bone and clean the fish in front of us and when in Dalvik, he put it all in a barbecue with butter and spices. Our tour has been the first in three months in which they haven’t seen any whale, and they tell us we can come back today or tomorrow. Everyone has left with the next tour and Cento and I have approximately five different kind of grilled fish for lunch, just for us. We’ll spend the afternoon visiting Dalvik and Akureyri and come back again tomorrow.
Today’s sunset has been specially beautiful.
Day 5 – Whales
We feel lucky today, we’re sure the whole fjord is going to be a whale party this time.
Today’s guide seems to be more experienced. Half sea-dog, half comedian, he makes the whole crew laugh while he gives us information about the local wildlife.
This time it just takes half an hour to spot the first Humpback Whale! The ship gets closer and closer trying not to scare it. It’s actually a common attribute of the Humpbacks to be curious and friendly and play around the ships, and that’s exactly what happens.
We’re all so focused on taking the perfect picture when it surfaces, that a second whale takes us by surprise. We watch them both passing under the ship, going from one side of it to the other, surfacing and turning around on their backs. One of them even waved at us with its 3 meters long fin!
After a while, the captain decides that it’s time to fish, so we move to a spot with dozens of seagulls hovering over it. It takes literally 5 seconds for Anna to fish a cod, so big that she asks for help to reel up.
Today everyone wants some grilled fish so we just stay for a small piece and we hit the road again. The plan is to arrive to Reykjavik today.
Stopping close to Blönduós to fill the van’s tank, we hear that there are many seals close to Hvammstangi and that, even though the best way to watch them is to take a guided ship tour, it’s also possible to spot them by driving along the road 711. We use some time searching for seals.
It doesn’t take too long to see a couple of them chilling on a beach, but since we can’t find a way to get closer we just end up taking pictures from a very long distance. They don’t offer a great show anyway.
We arrive to Reykjavik still on time to have dinner at a bar-café-restaurant-pub called Prikið. The Hangover sandwich and the Snoop Dog burger will remain for years on my top ten list of the best things I’ve ever eaten. For sure. And mine.
Day 6 – Reykjavik
We could use some rest, so this morning we’ll go to Laugardalslaug, the biggest pool complex of the city.
I love hot pools. There was an indoor swimming pool all for us! People seem to prefer the ones outside. A staff member has even put music for us.
We’ve opted for gastronomic tourism. We’ll try to taste all the affordable restaurants and stands we can. It’s weekend, so the flea market will be a good place to start. There’s kæstur hákarl, a national dish consisting in fermented shark. They used to cure it in a hole in sand. The smell is very strong, actually I’ve been told to try it while pinching my nose. It hasn’t been the best experience, but ambulating in Kolaportið, the market, is very nice. I like this kind of markets a lot, and apparently Icelanders do too.
We’ve read somewhere that in Tryggvagata there is the best frankfurt parade in Europe. It might be, I haven’t tried them all, but so far I can’t prove otherwise. We have to return the campervan this evening.
We’ve had dinner at a sushi restaurant called Sushibarinn. Cento says it is the best sushi he’s ever had. And I say the beer was even better: Einstök Arctic Pale Ale and White Ale.
We have a long list of places to go tomorrow. A local guy told us where he goes after every long night, Hamborgarabúllan. We also want to try the popular sheep head. I definitely will want another Prikið’s cappuccino with extra cream. Icelandic Fish and Chips sounds like a nice option too. But so it does Prikið’s Hangover sandwich and Snoop Dog burger again.
Read more: Top 10 swimming pools in Iceland
Back in Barcelona
I don’t know how, but we managed to eat in all those delicious places the day after, our last day before departure. However, there are many places we didn’t see. We’ll definitely come back to Iceland. And we’ll definitely rent a camper van once again.
Read more: Camper honeymoon in Iceland
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