I started dreaming about going to Iceland when I first saw photos of the country. The landscape was so beautiful that I couldn’t stop wanting to see it all. When we decided to go, we spent hours looking up things to do and places to see. Every time a photo of Iceland came up on my Instagram, I had to send it to my boyfriend. By the time our trip came around, I had sent him hundreds of photos. This was the first real vacation either of us had taken since we had graduated university and started working, and we were both very much in need of a break. We were so excited, and couldn’t wait to start the trip.
We had decided we wanted to see the whole island, and after consulting with friends and the internet, we decided that the best was to do that was to rent a camper. After some research, we decided the best option was the Camper van from Rent.is. This turned out to be one of the best decision we could have made.
We had just nine days with the camper, and started our trip going to the south. We went to Þingvellir National Park, to see the continental rift. Being geologist, this place held a special draw for us. It was amazing to see the basalt ridges and the stream running between them. The rest of the south went by in a series of black sand beaches, waterfalls and glaciers. We saw the beaches of Mýrdalssandur and walked behind the falling water of Seljalandsfoss. We stared out at the beautiful glacier carved mountains, covered in green grass and rushing streams.
The best part of the trip was the glacier tour we did in Vatnajökull National Park. We spent four hours trekking along the surface of the huge glacier. We needed clamp-ons and rope clips for most of it, making sure we didn’t fall down into the deep crevasses. We walked over the marbled surface of the ice, listening to the sounds of the glacier all around us. The view was breathtaking, and we had over 200 photos that day alone.
We got rained on quite a bit in south Iceland, and were so thankful we had the camper. We would pull into the campsites, and watch other people setting up their tents and think to ourselves “I’m glad that’s not me!” We couldn’t help imagining how wet everything would be in the tent, then packing up in the morning before everything dried out, and setting it up in wet again the next night. It was nice to have the comfort and convenience of the camper to keep everything dry and in one place.
We continued on from the south to east Iceland, driving around the fjords. We stopped in the cute town of Seyðisfjörður, with the plan of trying to find a kayak rental, and going out onto the water. Unfortunately, weather wasn’t on our side, and we decided not to brave the cold and rain. The view was still spectacular as we drove around the shoreline of the fjords from the comfort of the car. Some of the roads had switched to gravel by then, and then the van was in desperate need of a wash. We were really happy to have the camper van for this part because our camper van was fairly new and it had no difficulty navigating any of the roads we encountered on our trip.
North Iceland felt like we were on Mars. We followed the Ring road inland and the landscape became dry and barren. There were rolling hills covered in rocks and sand, with very little vegetation around. It felt like a completely different planet from the green hills and waterfalls of the coast. We found a campsite near Möðrudalur that had a wind shelter build for cooking. Cooking at campsites was a big part of a trip. The camper van was fully equipped with gas stoves and cutlery, making it easy for us to cook at nights. This helped us save a lot of money, allowing us to spend our money on seeing the beautiful sights.
We carried on through North Iceland, driving around Jökulsárgljúfur National Park before heading to Lake Mývatn. We stopped at the Mývatn Nature Baths for a soak in the hot springs and beer overlooking the lake. We chatted with some other tourists there and compared trips, talking about where we’d been and what else we wanted to see. It was a beautiful day and a cause for a much needed break from the road.
We continued on after than into Akureyri for the night. There we managed to find the most beautiful Icelandic wool blankets, and each got one to bring home. We had been looking for one since we had left Reykjavik and had stopped in stores in every town we had passed. We had seen a few nice ones, only to discover that they had been “Designed in Iceland”, but made elsewhere. We were so happy to actually find some that we like, and were “Made in Iceland.” I spend much of the rest of the trip curled up in mine in the passenger seat of the van.
We ventured off the Ring road as we continued on, and took a trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. There we drove along sweeping cliffs and through vast lava fields. The landscape had once again changed as we neared the coast. We took a break from driving and walked along the cliffs from Hellnar to Arnarstapi, where we stopped for fish and chips. We had been told by a friend that Snæfellsnes was the place to get fish and chips, so had be holding off for them, making them up in our minds as the most spectacular, delicious food we would eat all trip. We stopped at the local food truck by the side of the road. They lived up to all our expectations. For days afterward, my boyfriend said that he would give me up if he could just eat those fish and chips again.
We were almost done the full loop after than, which unfortunately meant that our trip was almost over. We had saved the Blue Lagoon for last, thinking that a relaxing afternoon in the hot springs would be exactly what we needed to finish off. We relaxed and had a drink lying against the rocks, and covered our faces in silica masks. It was the prefect end to a perfect trip.
After that, all that was left was setting up camp one last time before returning the van to Reykjavik in the morning and heading home to return to our lives. It was a trip that made us fall in love with Iceland, and one I know we will never forget.
Read more: How to travel Iceland without a schedule
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