Become a Viking
I’ve been told that driving around in circles will get me nowhere. My counter argument is that driving in a circle around Iceland will take you everywhere! Before I explain why, I must induct you into the Icelandic and Viking culture properly. Kæstur hákarl is Icelandic for ‘fermented shark’ and is considered to be a delicacy in the country. Fermented shark sounds disgusting, and it is! If your stomach isn’t twisting in knots yet, think ammonia from cat pee and aged fish. Not good! Legend has it that eating fermented shark and chasing it with a shot of a local spirit (in this case brennivín) without puking makes a person Viking material. Iceland is extreme in many ways so if we’re going to tackle the entire country, being a Viking will probably help. Cheers!
My brother and I are travel enthusiasts seeking out unique places around the globe to engulf our senses with their rich cultural experiences. Iceland quickly made its way to the top of our favorites list because the country is incredible! A little research on the Internet will tell you that Iceland has countless opportunities for adventure, fine cuisine, and taking photos that you’ll definitely want to hang on your wall at home. Driving around the country and camping seemed like the most efficient way to see as much of Iceland during our four-day trip.
There are a handful of campervan rental companies, but Rent.is was the best deal because they provided all the essentials needed for camping AND FREE Wi-Fi! I know what you’re thinking, why go camping if you can’t unplug and get away from the world? Great question! The Icelandic language can be tough to speak, but it’s even harder to spell because of the different characters. Many cities and landmarks around the country share the same names so you have to be exact when entering information into your GPS. The Wi-Fi was a huge help in making sure we didn’t get lost because it worked in the most desolate areas.
There is a loop around Iceland known as the “Golden Circle”. The route takes you through the country where you’ll see lava fields, massive glaciers, seaside cliffs, fjords with endless waterfalls, and snow capped mountains that stretch out of the ocean. Our first day driving took us up the west coast and towards the north. Along the way we stopped to see Goðafoss, a waterfall of the gods. It is a must see if you’re heading to northern Iceland. This waterfall is right along the Ring road route and there are clearly marked signs. The east side of the waterfall offers a lot more vantage points for getting some great photos.
On a day that couldn’t seem to get any better, we made it further north and found a beautiful cone-shaped volcano. An impromptu hike put us on the summit for sunset. The best part about traveling Iceland in a campervan is having the ability to sleep near amazing, natural wonders. Our campsite happened to have a pretty good view that night.
The next morning we woke up with the sun and drove 15 minutes to a volcanic venting region. Pools of boiling mud and screaming steam vents surrounded us. We inhaled some sulfur and continued on our journey. The landscape can drastically change in a short distance because within 45 minutes we were driving up steep roads through the mountains when we were caught in a whiteout blizzard. The snow and wind only lasted an hour before the scenery changed again.
As we headed down the east coast of Iceland the sun lit a valley covered in waterfalls that have been flowing for hundreds of years. When the sun hits the water just right, you’ll see a beautiful green hue. It was amazing to be able to pull over and eat lunch next to this river gorge. The sound of the river and sunny skies made for a very relaxing lunch.
The southern parts of Iceland are a bit more habitable and that’s where you’ll find a lot of farmland. Most of the farms have massive fenced in areas where they primarily take care of horses, sheep, and cattle. Icelandic horses are one of the purest, strongest, and oldest breeds dating back to the 8th century. Of course they have brawn and beauty. Check out this pretty lady showing off her wind-blown mane and beautiful blue eyes!
[The Icelandic horse]
Ok, the country’s name is Iceland and I haven’t mentioned anything about ice yet. Did you know that Europe’s larges glacier resides in the southeast corner of Iceland? The massive slab of ice is known as Vatnajökull. There are a couple very unique opportunities in Iceland during the winter months. Some companies offer guided tours through glacier caves where you’ll see thousands of years frozen in magnificent blue ice. As the winter months fade away, temperatures rise and pieces of the glacier break off into a lagoon. Jökulsárlón is the name of the glacial lagoon and it’s not to be missed! I love being able to see the brilliant blue color intertwined with rock and sediment. Each iceberg has its own story to tell.
Whether your first task is to become a Viking or not, I definitely recommend exploring Iceland by campervan. Campsites are strategically placed around the country so you can easily plan your trip in segments. You can easily avoid the hoard of tourist crowds by camping near popular landmarks. We were often the first and only people to explore many tourist attractions each morning.
At the end of the road trip, my brother and I summed up the experience with one word, “How?” How was it possible to drive around one country and see such a vast difference in scenery? The experience of exploring Iceland is hard to put in words because even the best pictures will not do the views justice. Part of camping is feeling more at one with nature and for that reason; most of Iceland can only be felt, not explained.
Read more: The Puffinton Post
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