One of my very best friends and I started our Iceland journey on the 20th of August of this year. We are 26-years old men from The Netherlands and were really excited to explore Iceland. On the other hand we didn’t know what to expect. We wanted to see the volcanic landscape and knew that we would see a lot of waterfalls. We decided to rent a campervan so we would be really flexible and able to see the whole country. And that’s what we did. We drove from the west, to the south, to the east, to the north before we handed in the camper back in Reykjavik.
Camper van pickup
After we picked up the camper at the Keflavik airport, we drove to Hveragerði. There we saw a waterfall with children jumping off of it. We already enjoyed visiting this small waterfall, which was only a foretaste of what was yet to come.
The next waterfall was Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall is located pretty close to the road. The thing that makes this waterfall special is that you can walk behind it. In my opinion this also gives you the best view. After Seljalandsfoss we went further to see Skógafoss. We also passed by Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that disturbed all airplane traffic in 2010.
You can see Skógafoss from below and from above. This watefall is more powerful than Seljalandsfoss. So all the waterfalls we saw on day 1 were really different from each other. Each waterfall has it s own charms. I think it depends on your own taste which waterfall you love most. But why should you choose? They’re all awesome!
Afterwards we went further down the south. We saw Dyrhólaey and Vik in Mýrdal where you can see beautiful black beaches. Next to such a black beach we parked the car to spent our first night in the van.
Read more: Where to camp in Iceland
Skaftafell National Park
It was only in the morning when we were able to see how amazing the landscape was actually. It is great to just park your car somewhere to wake up the next day surrounded by beautiful nature.
We could only see our own footsteps in the black sand, when we leaved the spot to head for natural park Skaftafell. This park is located at the foot of Icelands highest volcano, Öraefajökull, and Europe largest glacier, Vatnajökull.
There we saw Svartifoss, which means black waterfall. It owes its name to the background of the waterfall, a black wall of rocks which is extraordinary formed. Of course we saw the glacier as well. We booked a tour so we were even able to walk on it! With our crampons we were able to see the glacier from nearby.
Another amazing experience and definitely one of my favorites. Great ice blocks were floating in the lake with seals swimming around the blocks looking for food. We decided to stay the night there.
It’s really rare to wake up, look through the window and see some gigantic ice blocks in a lake. Although I couldn’t get used to this great view, it was time to move on. Up to the north east of Iceland. This day we drove a lot of kilometers.
We didn’t see a lot of specific must sees, but the ever changing landscape itself was breathtaking. Every now and then we parked the car for some great wide views on the outstretched landscapes. After visiting Borgarfjörður Eystri we went to the north to see Dettifoss. This is the most powerful waterfall of Iceland, is a hundred meters wide and looks a little bit like the Niagara falls. Sellfoss is located near Dettifoss and also worth seeing!
We headed for Húsavík but didn’t want to miss the Ásbyrgi Canyon. This canyon is filled by pine trees and when you scream you can hear the echo of what you’re yelling plenty of times. We parked our car close to Húsavík and stayed there for our third night.
Húsavík is called the whale watching capital of Europe. Of course we took our chance to see these grotesque creatures. We saw a minke whale and a couple of humpback whales. It was great to see these giants and actually I wanted to go again!
However, Iceland has more to offer so we continued our journey to the lake Mývatn. Around this lake you can see a lot of natural remarkable phenomena caused by the volcanic activity. From hot springs to fields of lava and from craters to mud pools. For me this was one of the greatest highlights, because this unique volcanic landscape is extremely different from anything I have seen so far in my travels.
Goðafoss was the next waterfall we visited. After seeing it from nearby we prepared some food. The already delicious meal tasted even better with a view on the falls! Afterwards we went to the north west. We drove through the Skagafjörður valley and saw lots of Icelandic horses. We parked our car on a campsite with a great view on the ocean.
Day 5 – Hraunfossar
The next morning we were suprised again. We saw two hot springs so we decided to ‘chillex’ a little before we moved on to two other waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. And if you think, two waterfalls again? Aren’t you getting tired of all these falls? Don’t they look all the same?
No, they don’t. Especially Hraunfossar is unique. This waterfall is so wide and you can’t see where the water is coming from. Actually the water is coming out of the rocks, where the water finds its way through. So no, I didn’t get bored of waterfalls at all!
After visiting these falls we headed for the so called golden circle of Iceland. Before we started our journey I looked up all the highlights of Iceland, to be sure we didn’t miss anything. While I was driving, my friend used the WiFi that was available in the car. He said to me: “There is a waterfall nearby, maybe we can see this one too”. “Sure, why not”, I said.
We parked our car as close as we could get. I think the waterfall was only one kilometre or so away as the crow flies. It turned out to be a tough hike and it takes a while before you get a view on the waterfall Glýmur, the highest waterfall in Iceland. The hike was tough, but it was worth every step of it.
The further and higher you get, the better the view. The water of the Glýmur falls down 198 metres. If I had to choose my most special moment of the journey, I would choose this hike with the Glýmur and spectecular view as rewards.
Glýmur is one of the best kept secrets of Iceland. So between you and me.. I can recommend anyone in a healthy condition to put this waterfall high on their list of must sees in Iceland.
After our hike we drove to the national park Þingvellir. We spent the night there to see the golden circle on day six.
Þingvellir is a national park. Back in the days the parliament was seated in this natural amphitheatre. After visiting this beautiful place we went to the second stop of the golden circle,
Geysir itself isn’t active anymore but Strokkur is. This geysir blows water thirty metres high in the air every five to ten minutes. A stunning natural phenomenon. We finished the golden circle by visting Gullfoss, what also would be the last stop, and thereby last waterfall, during our trip with the van. Gullfoss showed us again that the power of water is incredible. It was a worthy last stop before handing in our campervan in Reykjavik.
With very heavy hearts we handed in our car, of which we of course became very fond of. The van made it possible to see every part of Iceland. I really recommend you to make the whole round, instead of only visiting the west of Iceland. A lot of people choose to do that, and although the golden circle isn’t like The Sagrada Familia or the Eiffel Tower, it is more touristic than the other parts of Iceland.
To make a long story short: it was amazing! And we still had some days left in Reykjavik.
Day six was a Saturday so we went out to see the nightlife of Iceland. We had a great night and enjoyed everyone going wild.
Day 7 – 10
We used these days to explore Reykjavik, visit Blue Lagoon and relax after our journey around the country. In Reykjavik we saw the Hallgrimskirkja, the hilarious penis museum, some bars and terraces while enjoying the summer sun. It gave us the chance to think about all those amazing things we saw.
Iceland was without a doubt one of the most beautiful countries I have seen in my life. After ten days it was time to go home but I will never forget these days. Especially the six around the country with the campervan really blowed my mind!
Steffan Hamhuis, September 10, 2016
Read more: Trip of a lifetime
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