Chilling around Iceland
Day 1 – South Iceland
After a long 7 hour plane ride with little sleep we arrived in Iceland at 06:00 AM! We grabbed our Camper van and headed out to get groceries in Reykjavík. We then had a nap in a parking lot while waiting for Bónus, the grocery store, to open. None of the labels were in English! Murray bought yellow mustard for his sandwich, which turned out to be much different than Canadian mustard! Finally, after a few more setbacks (like having to call the rental company to explain how to close the side van doors because we were too tired to figure it out) we set off on the Ring road!
We visited the COOLEST hot spring river, which was about a 2 hour round trip hike. There were lots of cool geothermal pools along the hike in, including several which were visibly boiling and said to be over 100 degrees Celsius.
We ate a pasta dinner in the trail-head parking lot and then headed to our next destination, Seljalandsfoss waterfall! We got to experience the midnight sun when we explored the waterfall at midnight, which was incredibly cool. The camper van was so cozy and warm- especially with the heater!
Day 2 – South Iceland
Today we woke up at 01:00 PM (oops, jet lag got the best of us) and realized that we slept beside a really cute grass-roofed shelter that was previously used by houses nearby as a place for the milkman to store the milk so that it was out of the sun or cold while waiting for the people to pick it up! We headed for our first stop, Skógafoss waterfall! It was an incredibly powerful waterfall and after waking up and making breakfast in the pouring rain, it was very nice to have the sun come out briefly to greet us. On the way to the waterfall we stopped at at the Rútshellir caves, which were very dark and spooky.
After this we headed for the Sólheimasandur plane wreck, which ended up being a 2 hour round trip hike to a beach in the blistering wind and rain. The plane was from 1973 when a US navy plane ran out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing on the beach (everyone survived). The plane was made famous by Justin Bieber who can be seen skateboarding on the plane in one of his music videos!
Next we headed for Kvernufoss waterfall where we met a man from Kamloops, BC (very close to home in Canada) who was hitchhiking around Iceland for a month and gave us some travel tips – what a small world!
We then went to Reynisdrangar beach, which was known for its black sand, basalt sea stacks, puffins, and SNEAKER waves. Upon entering, there are many danger signs warning you that some powerful waves can sneak up behind you going much further up shore than thought possible and sweeping you out to the ocean.
We parked our camper van where we could hear the sound of the nearby waterfall!
Day 3 – Southeast Iceland
Today we woke up and headed to our first stop – Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. It was a very cool canyon with walls over 100 m high (also where Justin Bieber filmed his music video).
We then headed towards what would be the COOLEST AREA that I (Tori) have ever seen, Vatnajökull National Park. It consists of one of the largest glaciers in all of Europe and it covers almost a quarter of Iceland. With every corner you turned on the Ring road, there would be an even larger and more impressive glacier waiting on the other side. I gave up on taking pictures of all of the smaller glaciers that make up the Vatnajökull glacier, mainly because there were too many, the size of them wouldn’t fit in my camera lens, and I was just too overwhelmed. The glacier was in sight for almost 2 hours of our driving! We also were lucky enough to experience our first day of sunshine!
We parked our camper van at the visitors center of the national park and set off on our first hike of the trip, up to the Sjónarnípa viewpoint, which was a 3 hour hike that overlooked the Skaftafell glacier. On the way up to the viewpoint we stopped at Svartifoss waterfall, which displayed cool basalt volcanic columns all around it.
After Murray finished his peanut butter and jam sandwich number 3, we drove to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which is a body of water ~248 m deep that holds all of the glacier chunks that have detached from the Vatnajökull glacier. We made it just in time for sunset and I can honestly say it’s the coolest sight I have ever seen. We saw seals weaving between the icebergs and even a large chunk of ice break off and fall into the water! The ice chunks eventually leave the lagoon and float down a channel, under a bridge, and then into the ocean where they wash up onto a black sand beach called Diamond Beach!
We made pizzas in the Diamond beach parking lot and befriended a woman from Denmark who needed help fixing her camper stove. We parked our camper van at Diamond beach right beside
the crystal ice chunks that covered the beach. This was my favourite place I’ve ever parked a car!
Day 4 – East Iceland
Today we woke up in the blistering wind and rain (so nice to have the comfort of the camper van), took in the amazing views of it and Jökulsárlón Lagoon once more, and left for our big day of driving. Originally, we were supposed to be in Northern Iceland by this morning, but there were still so many items on our Southern Iceland bucket list and we weren’t willing to cross any items off!
As we ventured into the town of Höfn, Murray tried to find a shower for me because he could not contain himself from making jokes at my greasy hair (and I don’t blame him). We went to the town pool and ended up spending an hour playing on water-slides before finally using the facilities and showering. The pool even had an ice bath, Murray lasted a quick 10 seconds fully submerged and I lasted 2 seconds half submerged.
We tried to go Stokksnes Beach and Vestrahorn mountain, however it was too cloudy to see the mountain and the wind was too strong, so to us it wasn’t worth the entry fee. Still looked nice from the parking lot though!
At this point, we had been driving for a long time and we were getting very hungry and cranky. I fell asleep and Murray woke me up a while later in front of a 60’s style diner (which after a few minutes we realized had a separate menu in English, thank goodness)! We enjoyed a delicious burger and fries, quite a treat after 4 days of pasta and canned soup for dinner. We also treated ourselves to Oreo ice cream in a waffle cone!
After Murray showed me the scene from the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty of Ben Stiller long boarding down a winding hill, we knew we had to drive the same hill. The hill climbed quickly in elevation and within 10 minutes we reached the top. We found ourselves inside of a rain cloud so dense that we couldn’t see 5 feet in front of us and there was snow surrounding us. After 30 minutes of crawling through the fog, the cute non-touristy town of Seyðisfjörður appeared, where parts of the movie were also filmed. We stopped at a waterfall called Gufufoss and then got back on the road.
While driving the landscape suddenly changed and we felt like we had landed on mars (it was actually called Námafjall Hverir). We were surrounded with what looked like mini volcanoes blowing off hot steam.
We were overly joyful to be sleeping in a warm van away from the storm that was raging outside.
Day 5 – North Iceland
Today we had another long day of driving! We had a slow start because it was still cold, windy, and raining and we were unmotivated to stand outside and boil water for our oatmeal. We decided to head straight to Goðafoss waterfall, which was right beside where we parked the van for the night. The waterfall was another amazing one, there have been so many on this trip! The cafe at the falls was nice enough to give us hot water for our 02:00 PM oatmeal breakfast.
We saw many beautiful views as we drove and we eventually made it to the town of Akureyri where we got more groceries and filled up our water jug. Akureyi is a cute ocean town, and is the second largest in all of Iceland at 20,000 people.
We made a stop at Kolugljúfur Canyon which was a beautiful canyon that has many waterfalls and large cliffs. Because we arrived late in the day, we had the whole place to ourselves which was pretty cool (love that midnight sun).
We made a stop to take a closer look at the Icelandic horses as well! They are much shorter than horses in Canada and have very long hair that covers most their face. It’s quite funny to see!
Day 6 – West Iceland
Today we woke up bright and early – well, 11:00 AM but that’s the earliest we have woken up so far thanks to the midnight sun and going to bed at 03:00 AM. We boiled water for our oatmeal and for a Malaysian woman’s coffee who was overly joyed to find us and our boiling water in the middle of nowhere.
We helped a family from Wisconsin USA (Go Packers- Murray) find the Gerðuberg Cliffs – which turned out to be a cool set of basalt cliffs only 5 minutes away from where we were sleeping! After hearing about how conflicted the family was about where to go in Iceland and what to see, we gave them our itinerary and recommended the route that they should take (we probably sounded crazy raving about how cool South Iceland was because we were still in such awe of the past several days). They were very grateful and we were glad that they ran into us at the right time, as we know how difficult it is to put together an itinerary that doesn’t leave anything out!
We then proceeded into the Snæfellsnes Peninsula where we saw Kirkjufell Mountain (the most photographed mountain in all of Iceland). We talked with a local woman working at the information center in the small town of Grundarfjörður who filled us in on the daily life of a small village local Icelandic. The town had 850-900 people and was one of the cutest ever! She said that they have been trying to get over 1000 residents but it’s really hard.
We visited the Vatnshellir caves, the Saxhólar crater, and also the Lóndrangar cliffs.
At this point we were very hungry and had realized that we were low on fuel for our stove and we forgot to pick more up. We attempted to cook our spaghetti and after an hour of trying, we settled on the worst dinner we have ever made consisting of raw spaghetti, banana, orange slices, pepperoni and a PB & J sandwich. At this point it was 10:00 PM and we headed for a hot spring that we had heard about. It was the cutest hot spring which only had room for 2 people, but it had the most amazing views and we watched the sunset from it (the sky cleared up just in time).
We met a couple from New Jersey who did a photo shoot with Murray and I in the hot spring (because my camera battery died 2 days ago and they were kind enough to take photos on their camera to send to me because my iPhone did not do it justice). We also met another nice young couple from Iowa in the parking lot who gave us good tips on where to go in Switzerland (they also were really intrigued to hear all about Banff National Park, a place they’ve always dreamt of going).
We watched an incredible sunset begin from the hot spring at 10:00 PM and I as I sit in the camper van writing this blog (at 02:15 AM) the sky still is as pink and orange as it was 4 hours ago!! It is literally a never ending sunset and a perfect way to end our last day in Iceland!
Read more: A Weekend in Iceland
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
Iceland Travel Guides
If you like what you see, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!