Iceland travel blog – Girls on tour
By: Anique Doets and Kelly Niermans
After both wanting to tour around Iceland for years our time had finally come. A five day tour in the south of Iceland, which even made us miss Kingsday (and yes, that’s a big sacrifice) was about to start. After a thorough preparation, a checklist of the sights we definitely needed to see and with a suitcase full of warm clothes, rain-resisted clothes, towels, sweaters, thermo-clothes, socks specially made for walking, normal socks, warm socks, shirts without sleeves, shirts with sleeves, leggings, some more sweaters (the weather seems to be unpredictable) and food we were ready to go!
After arriving at Keflavik airport and our first contact with some locals (Heya!) we picked up our camper van at Rent.is and headed to our first stop: the Pink pig supermarket (Bónus), not the most exciting start, but definitely a good place to get some affordable food for on the way. After a small check 1) food for the coming days and 2) our camper, Yup, it was time for our first (exiting) stop: the Blue Lagoon.
Online we read that it would be a bit touristic, but it looked too beautiful to skip. The Blue Lagoon definitely is a touristic place, but it was an amazing and relaxing experience anyways. It’s mainly the light blue hot water surrounded by the black landscape that makes the sight to special.
Fully relaxed we got back in the car and headed to our first sleeping place: okay, we didn’t really have a place in mind, but ended up somewhere on a parking lot close to Mt. Esja. Completely covered with rain-restraining clothing (rain pants and a bright red IAMSTERDAM poncho) we cooked our first meal under a picnic table. We figured this would be a strategic set so we could minimize the amount of times the flame of our camping gas stove would go out (only happened 3 times!!). After dinner we spend the night under a tree with singing birds and the mountains on our right side. Which sounds more idyllic than it actually was?! The landscape was amazing, but the cold… definitely something we had to get used to and wear at least five layers of clothing (at least!!).
Day 2 – The Golden Circle
We woke up at 6.45 and started the day with the same singing birds as we ended the previous day with. Some jumping jacks to get warm and we were ready to head to our first stop of the day:
Þingvellir national park. THE place to walk, yes walk from Eurazia to Northern America in a second (!). The way to get to the national park is just a beautiful as the park itself, so don’t forget to look around. We continued on the Golden Circle which means our next stops were the Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall (both amazing places). Every time when we were about to leave the sights, we saw packed touring cars arriving in the distance. Which means we were super lucky we could see the places without having too many other people hanging around.
The biggest benefit of having an own car was that we were able to spend as much time at each place as we wanted and could stop wherever and whenever we wanted. The Faxifoss waterfall is not an official part of the Golden circle, but since you drive directly past it, we decided to include it. After a lunch with a view on the Faxifoss waterfall it was time to relax again, so we headed to the Secret Lagoon. Compared to the Blue Lagoon this place is much cheaper, less crowded and the water is super clear. However, we felt a bit like Koi carps in a pond. Again fully relaxed we ended our Golden circle tour at Kerið and then drove southwards via Selfoss to the Seljalandfoss- and Skógafoss waterfalls. Don’t skip them! Even after seeing so many waterfalls they were still impressive!
Since we had complete freedom and definitely a preference for beautiful sights we decided spend the night on the campsite close to the Skógafoss waterfall. We parked our car as close to the waterfall as possible. Due to the rain we also cooked our second dinner covered by our super charming rain ponchos. Which seemed to be entertaining for the other tourists; instead of a beautiful waterfall they now also had two crazy Dutch girls in bright red ponchos where they could point at and make pictures of. Definitely tired, but overly satisfied we covered ourselves in our five-layered pajamas and fell asleep.
We started the day with an amazing view on the Skógafoss waterfall and after tying up our orange bandanas (today is Kingsday J) we drove east to Vík to see the black beach. The days before, the weather was mainly cloudy, with every now and then some rain. Today it was completely sunny with a beautiful blue sky!
After a morning-beach-walk we headed back to the car and prepared ourselves for our travel to the east. The temperature dropped the more east we got and at a certain point we even saw oncoming cars that were covered in snow. A bit confused we concluded that they must have come from the mountains. However, the temperature kept decreasing and a few kilometers before arriving at the Jökulsárlón glacier lake we ended up in a snow storm with corresponding snow blade machines. The complete opposite of the weather we had 20 minutes ago! The Jökulsárlón lake was definitely worth the drive. The lake is absolutely beautiful and we even were lucky enough to spot a curious seal.
After freezing at our most east destination we drove back to the Skaftafell National park to go walking. Again the weather here was the complete opposite and luckily enough we were exposed to a full blue sky again. The Skaftafell National park offers multiple walking routes in different levels of difficulty and walking time. We decided to do the two shortest walks and headed to the Svartifoss waterfall first and secondly walked to the beginning of a glacier.
Both were definitely worth the walk! After walking we decided to already drive in the direction of Reykjavik and visited Reynisfjara and Dýrhólaey on the way. At Reynisfjara we read all the warning signs about snake-waves, but of course went there to see the powerful crashing waves by ourselves. From there on we could already see the Dýrhólaey and couldn’t wait to go puffin spotting (don’t know if it’s actually called like that, but it sounds pretty coolJ).
Probably just like every other tourist we wanted to see a puffin so badly that on the way back from the Skaftafell national park we almost forgot to look at the beautiful landscape. We visited every website known that could tell us how to find or recognize a puffin. So, did you know that when they fly they look like clumsy clowns that will fall down and are trying to kill themselves by just diving down to the water?! (See, that’s some useful info). We scanned every nest and every bird that was within the distance we could reach with the camera we brought. Unfortunately we did not manage to see oneLL). Our last stop before the campsite was another (hidden) warm water pool. To reach this pool you had to walk for approx. 15 minutes from the parking lot into the direction of the mountains. The past days we were fantasizing about our own Bear Grills moment; the one where we had to cross a river while carrying our bags on top of our heads. And we got it YAY (!), a bit less spectacular, but at least we crossed a small river by jumping from stone to stone. This pool was much colder than the other ones and unfortunately had a lot of algae floating around. Nevertheless, the way to get there was much cooler than getting to the other pools.
While bathing, we remembered that on our way to the east we had seen a campsite close to the Seljalandfoss waterfall and decided to head there to spend the night. Unfortunately, we just finished
our camping gas and since it was already late there was no opportunity to get a new one. This almost, yes almost meant eating pasta what was a bit too al-dente. Which makes this campsite is definitely worth mentioning. The showers were okay, but they had a kitchen!!!! and therefore saved us from eating raw pasta and uncooked vegetables. After our lovely dinner and again with the sound of another waterfall as lullaby we slept like a baby.
Day 4 – Reykjavik
After a nice breakfast and some hot tea at our amazing campsite we drove to Reykjavik. Google had told us that we could park for free close to the Hallgrímskirkja. And when we entered the church it was one like we’ve never seen before; no stained glass and completely white. However, it was super impressive. We were really lucky and entered while the local youth was practicing their Icelandic church songs for the service of the coming Sunday. After our visit at the church we wandered around Reykjavik and headed to the center first, then the harbor and later the Reykjavik city hall. At the city hall we asked one of the employees (she was super friendly) about the main highlights of Reykjavik which we should really see in one day. She got us a map and pointed out almost everything we had already seen, except the Opera house and the Sun Voyager, so we headed there.
After all the walking we had already done this day and the past busy days we felt like we needed a proper Icelandic beer. We found a nice bar in the centre and realised the happy-hour concept had also reached Iceland. This meant that in this bar every beer and snack was half priced (that’s how we like it J). At the same time it looked as if our first chance to see and actual puffin (after our failure of the previous day) appeared here. No, it’s not that the Icelandic beers have something in it that starts making you see things (or as we say in the Netherlands: je ziet ze vliegen!). But the puffins where there … on the menu, as a SNACK! They offered them steamed and baked!!!! WHAAAT. Anyway, we couldn’t get ourselves convinced to really order the dish and let this opportunity pass. However, we must admit we definitely kept an eye on the other customers in the bar to see if one of them had ordered the dish (it would in theory count as seeing a puffin, but of course not in its most lively and colorful version as we would have loved to see). After spending some hours at the bar we headed to the Reykjavik campsite to spend the night. Definitely another campsite which is worth mentioning, since they also have a nice kitchen and all accessories needed to cook are available. After again a nice meal, we tucked ourselves in our lovely camper van bed for the last time.
Day 5 – 🙁
Slightly sad but with a bag full of memories we will never forget we headed home. Even though we saw a lot in the past five days, Iceland has so much more to offer. And we will definitely come back another time to explore the north and maybe the highlands of Iceland (and to drive one of those trucks with enormous wheels, YAY (!) we are already exited). Additionally, a tour on the water to spot wales and puffins (we can definitely not die in peace before we saw one) is also something we added on our to-do-list.
Thank you Iceland and we will meet again soon. To be continued…
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