Exploring Iceland by yourself
This is the story of how I traveled Iceland in 9 days with a rented camper from Rent.is. First and foremost, it was an awesome and wonderful trip: breath taking landscapes, amazing people and great seafood!
I flew with WOW Air from Montreal. My big bag pack and I landed in Keflavik early in the morning, and headed to Reykjavik. I walked through downtown to the main tourist sites: Hallgrimskirkja, Harpa , Old Reykjavik and many more. I enjoyed the fact that the city is well designed for pedestrians, with its numerous boardwalks and crossing lights. I also appreciated that drivers were kind to tourists. I had dinner at Sea Baron where I had the best lobster soup of my whole life. My last stop of the day was at KEX hostel, where I sat at the hotel bar and chatted with the barmaid, Icelanders are so nice!
Day 2 started with a brisk three kilometers walk towards the camper rental center in the East part of town. I walked to enjoy the various parks and stopped at Kringlan mall for a coffee. The rental agent gave me a warm welcome and explained to me all the features and equipment included with the 2017 VW camper, everything advertised online was delivered. I hit the road at noon and headed to Bónus for a cheap camping grocery. Tuna pasta, sardine sandwich and eggs were the staple of my diet as pesco-vegetarian.
First stop at Glýmur waterfall to begin my clockwise trip of the Ring Road. I really broke a sweat for that wild hike but the view and waterfall were totally worth it. Quick stop in Borganes and I drove to Buðir, the black church. First night cooking and sleeping with the camper was amazing, ice cold beer, spaghetti and wonderful green Northern lights.
The sound of the waves breaking on the coastal cliffs, the volcanic landscape and the rising sun made up the perfect atmosphere for a morning walk on the shore of Arnarstapi to kick start day 3. A couple of stops in Snæfellsjökull National Park, then driving to the main activity of the day : Kirkjufell hike ! I had lunch at the base while watching Kirkjufell waterfall, which are beautiful! It took me about 1 hour and a half to reach the greatest 360 view of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Hiking alone requires a bit of risk management, especially in the tourist off-season, where I have not came across anyone during the whole hike. I reached the lovely town of Stykkishólmur to get an amazing view of the ocean and the old orange lighthouse. Heading off to Bjarkalundur for the night, no need to mention that I slept like a baby that night after all that exercise, plus the camper’s bed was really comfortable.
The drive through the fjords on route 62 was worth the detour of day 4 in West Iceland. Got to Rauðasandur by mid-morning, ate my typical snack (Skýr and almonds) while admiring the rosy sand of the wonderful beach. After a long drive on gravel road, I finally got to the famous Dynjandi waterfalls, which I treasured with at least one hundred pictures. It was clearly the most beautiful and impressive waterfalls I have ever seen!
Thank you to the fuel-efficient turbo diesel engine of the camper this 650km detour in the fjords only cost me 2/3 of a tank. Drove up to Háls for the night, once again Northern lights lit up the sky. I enjoyed the view from a camping chair included with the camper while sipping an Icelandic ale.
Day 5 started with a quick stop in Akureyri to visit the main attraction. Goðafoss was worth the half-hour halt to admire the craft of the nature through out the years. Then I got to the sporty activity of the day : Vindbelgjarfjall hike. The 360 view of Mývatn National park was breath taking; I managed to take a couple of pictures of the area under a clear blue sky. Headed to Mývatn thermal sources, took a couple of minutes to accommodate to the smelly odor, and enjoyed the sight.
The powerful Dettifoss was the next stop, I trekked along the cliff to get the best pictures of those monster waterfalls. Got to Hengifoss by 18h00 for a nightly hike, I got a good view of the waterfall, as the sunset approached. I lit up my frontal lamp and made my way down. By now, you must have noticed that I really enjoy waterfalls and hiking! I drove by night to Höfn, were I enjoyed the well managed camping.
First sight of day 6 was Jöklasel glaciers and ice cap; I had the chance to admire the view under a rainbow due to the foggy morning. On my way to Jökulsárlón, a huge police truck was blocking the road. The police officer walked up to my camper window and informed me that the road was close due to floods and there were no way around for a 2×4 camper. Therefore, I hit the road for a 9 hours drive counter clockwise. It was a long day but I really enjoyed the drive once again in the wonderful landscapes of Iceland. By night, I got to Reykjavik main camping.
Woke up early, to get to Þingvellir National Park before all the buses full of tourists. I walked an hour across the various paths of the park while taking a couple shots of the scenery under a clear blue sky. Headed to Geysir to see from my own eyes the water burst 30 feet in the air. Then stopped to Gullfoss, to enjoy the view of those massive waterfalls. Thereafter, I ate my lunch straight of the camper hood in the parking lot, I am a simple man traveling alone, so no need for fancy restaurants! Drove to Seljalandsfoss, took a water fume shower then I suddenly decided to hike to the top of Gljúfrábúi waterfall located a few miles up north. There were no clear paths, just aim for the top; this is how we do it in Iceland! I got an amazing view of the West and the ocean. I snacked a bit on my way to the plane wreckage near Vik. In my opinion, the 6 kilometers walk is a bit overrated to see a crashed plane. Drove by night to Jökulsárlón. During the road, I enjoyed the Northern lights.
The rising sun woke me up, I took a glance outside of the camper, the scenery of the ice sculptures and the perfectly clear water amazed me. I was so hypnotized by the landscape that I even forgot to eat breakfast! Jökulsárlón was awesome, end of discussion! I got to Vik for lunch, then stopped to Reynisfjara. The dark sand, the giant cavern, the black sky and the powerful waves breaking against the cliffs made the perfect scene for a sinking ship movie. The size of the cavern and the basalt columns are quite impressive! Last Stop of the day: Blue Lagoon. By 16h00, I tried to enter Blue Lagoon, but I had not prebook, so I booked for 20h00. During the waiting period, I got to Reykjanesviti to take one last look at the ocean! I ate my usual dinner: tuna spaghetti with a cold beer in the middle of nowhere, near a cute lighthouse. It was so easy to cook anywhere with all the included cooking equipment. Lucky in my miss planning, I soaked in Blue Lagoon while watching the dancing green Northern lights.
Day 9, last day, I brought back the camper by noon. After all the paperwork, the staff even offered me a ride to BSI, Icelanders are so nice! I declined the offer because I had some time to kill before my flight. I took a walk in a park, ate one last Skýr and got to BSI. I really enjoyed my trip to Iceland! The landscapes are amazing from east coast to west coast. Icelanders are very warm with tourist, I highly recommend Rent.is for car and camper renting, they have a great customer service and cheap price for quality stuff ! I felt safe traveling alone. One more happy French Canadian who visited Iceland !
Read more: From the land of sea & sun to the land of fire & ice
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